I haven't been here in ages and kind of missed this place. I want to share a story which happened to me this past spring. It is indeed very rare, but none the less I will share.
Last March I had a 4yo maiden mare foal a beautiful colt. I've had this mare since she was 8 months of age. She was always raised in a group and even when she was a racehorse she was always turned out in a herd situation. During her pregnant months I had her turned out with my Alpha mare as she was in foal, but didn't have a foal at foot. Annia latched onto Stella, the Alpha mare, and I was glad she had a kind mare to learn from and to keep her company.
So Annia after foaling turned super aggressive with us. Not a problem as we could deal with her and sometimes this happens. She was never allowed to not let us in, but at the end of the day it was only us she would tolerate and the vet for some reason. She was a super mother so we did let her be as we knew we could attend to things that needed attending to.
A month later Stella foaled a gorgeous filly for us. This was a mare we've had trouble getting in foal so I was especially excited about this one. We turned Stella and her baby in a field next to Annia and her baby for 3 weeks. As always, Annia couldn't bear to have Stella out of sight. And always about this time, I start turning out with the herd of other mares and foals. Never ever have I had a problem and Stella usually makes sure everyone minds their manners.
So the morning came for turnout together. We first walked Annia and Damien down, then we went back to get Stella and Daphne. Daphne walked with me to the field like a lady and I was happy at the prospect of her having some company to play with besides boring mom. So put them in together and all of them did a little canter around the field as is normal. At one stage Annia came over a bit quickly to inspect Daphne and Stella told her off which is the right thing to do. But for some reason I had an odd feeling about things in my stomach. But I usually do with this type of thing anyway. Then in a blink of an eye, Daphne, went around to the other side of her mother. Next thing I know, Annia is attacking Daphne like something I'd never seen and then let out an almighty kick. Stella had tried to intervene and the kick was the last thing Annia got in. At that stage, by the sound, I knew the filly would have to be put down. Above the hock, Annia had broke the filly's leg in half. Obviously, the catching of the now fatally injured filly and catching the other **tch were not pretty.
I have gone over it time and time again in my head. Because really, I blamed myself for all of it. Yes the thought did cross my mind to shoot the other mare, but 2 days previous she had been confirmed in foal to a 2time Breeders Cup winner. And maybe I missed something all together, something I didn't understand in horse nature. I mean so many people have foals out with a mixed herd and never have problems. Annia was obviously on her on with her foal for the rest of the year. I thought the foal was going to be backwards at weaning, but he was the best one. I'm sure he was happy to have friends his own age.
After weaning, I put Annia back with the herd of 4 other mares. Amazingly, she latched back on to Stella and never leaves her side. My only thought is maybe she was jealous of Stella's foal. I really don't know, but she will never be going out with another mare and foal to find out. Stella wasn't bred back last year as we missed her first ovulation and I hadn't the heart to keep trying as she has been difficult in the past. I was too fet up at that stage to keep trying anyway. Her cycles were a little wierd after losing the foal but we will try again this year.
Anyway, I just wanted to share this experience and like I said, it is so rare. Those of you who are new to foaling shouldn't be worried about this type of thing. But those of you with aggressive mares, just always pay attention. after foaling this mare is a wagon, but luckily for me, my husband is an Irishman with more tricks up his sleeve than she has.
Ive heard of this kind of thing happening with a friend of mine. The found the foal walking in circles in the pasture. Went out to investigate and found that the foal had had its head crushed in on one side by a hoof. They suspect it was one of the other mares that hadnt foaled yet, that got into a fight with the mother of the foal, either trying to steal the foal, which often they do, or a fight to eliminate the foal altogether. I never put out a foal and mare in with other mares. I know lots of people do, but I dont breed that many mares so I cant take any chances. My mares and foals are put out in individual turnout until the foal is weaned, then the foals go out together in a kindergarten band and stay together until the show season starts. THose that are going to be show horses are either sold, or trained while the rest go on to new homes or eventually turn into broodmares.
Terri: Had the same thing happen to Echo and JJ last year. She even foaled with her two still prego pasture mates. It wasn't until the next day when Lena & Blossom decided to "team up" against the foal and attempt to seperate him from his mother. Thank goodness we were all home and between 4 of us grabbing halters and whatever else we could grab onto...we came out of it with just a baby run through the fence. Thank goodness my husband was there to "catch him" as he hit the fence. He got him detangled in seconds and other than a few scrapes, he got through the trauma unscathed.
I, like you, don't know if it was Lena (the experienced broodmare) that started it because she is such a mother hen and she was trying to steal him or if Blossom instigated it because she was a maiden and couldn't understand what this little creature was or if it is because Echo is the Omega of the bunch and both of these dominant mares were in a death/destruction mode. Don't know. Now, once everyone had their foals on the ground, I did turn them all out together again and things were completely uneventful.
The best I can do is to have that knowledge now going forward. I know that Echo must be on her own with her foal. And since Blossom is not going to foal this year, I will probably remove her from Lena's birthing area as well.
Terri, don't beat yourself up too bad. Who would know? I certainly didn't expect the reaction I got from my mares either. And certainly not the reaction after already being together for 24 hours. It could have been me just as easy.
I'm wishing you a better foaling season this year.
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