The Saga of the Expectant Mustangs


Back when Cody and Cavalry first arrived here, adopters were told that most of the mares were pregnant—made sense, since no colts were ever gelded and the stallions ran with the mares 24/7. Now, Cav was about five months old, or thereabouts, which meant Cody could foal as early as mid-June. Or, really, as late as November.

Since I was sure she was pregnant, I started reading up on mares in foal and foaling in general. This is what I found:

A mare’s gestation is on average 340 days but it can go well over 360 days or as early as 315 days. There is no such thing as a “Due Date” for mares unfortunately. But most mares give signs of approaching labor to help us out in this area. Some of these signs are:

  • Waxing
  • Relaxing of the pelvis and vulva
  • Filling of the udders
  • Drop in mare’s abdomen
  • Attitude may change Appetite may change
  • No resistance in the tail
  • Texture of udders

Several mares from Cody’s herd were foaling over the course of the spring, and I watched that mare like a hawk. In February, I started feeding her alfalfa so there would be no worries about fescue toxicity and pregnancy complications. In March, I checked her ‘round the clock, even sleeping in the camper a few times so I could watch, just in case.

Nothing. She showed numbers 2, 4, 6, and 8. I took pictures from every angle, daily, sometimes twice a day. I swore she was going to foal any minute.

Nothing.

Now, here’s the important part regarding that list. There is a disclaimer:

Some mares may display all of these signs, and some may not display any of these signs.

Well. Isn’t that special.

It’s almost November, and that mare STILL looks pregnant from the rear. But I’ve pretty much given up on having another Catnip baby. Cav’s going to have to be an only child . . .

Then, in July, I had a new vet come out to give the girls their shots and do pregnancy checks. Nickel was suspiciously big for a young horse who’d been fighting for hay in South Dakota. Then again, she’d shown signs of estrus and had let Cav mount her a few times—although we can’t be positive he was fertile, and actually, most of the time he wasn’t exactly sure what he was doing.

Nicky’s pregnancy test came back positive.

All it showed was that she was at least 120 days into gestation, which means she was covered before mid-March; she arrived here mid-February. Cavalry could well be a teenage dad . . .

Of course, he may not, and all the numbers suggest is that Nicky will have a foal sometime between the middle of November and the middle of February.

In late August, Nicky’s back end started to soften and sag (numbers 2 and 7); this means she’s about four weeks or so from delivering. This was also two months ago. Remember the disclaimer? She’s also a maiden, never had a foal before best we can tell, and maiden mares tend not to follow any so-called rules. Sigh. The vet also said she likely wouldn’t have any milk until delivery or right after. Or not. Who knows?

So I wait . . .

Enter Charm. I was told she was pregnant on her arrival in August. Having gone through all that mess with Cody, I wasn’t sure about anything. I thought she was probably just saggy and overweight. A few weeks later, her udders started to fill; that was a month ago.

She got bigger; in fact, so much so that more than one person has mentioned twins. The vet, however, said she’s just stretchy because of her age and likely having had at least 15 foals previously. Good thing one of us is experienced with foaling!

Now, as I write this, she’s showed all the signs—for a good week, at least. Some of it is hard to tell, like her attitude; she hasn’t been here long enough for me to judge this. And she’s not a fan of touching from her belly on back, so no, I’m not going to poke her butt or try to move her tail . . .

Also, I did a double-take when looking at Valentine one day a month or so ago. She did gain a lot of weight pretty quickly, which has slowed down, but something about her shape looks familiar. And she’s just a baby, two years old. Surely I’m imagining this, but the vet looked at her and said, and I quote, “Hmmm.”

Uh-oh.

 

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