Dystocia for Dummies!

(this page was written and illustrated by Lisa, age 15)


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The following story could be the first chapter for a book that we have talked about writing someday. The title would be:

Miniature Horses for Dummies

Inspired by our friend Skye

We are not being cruel to Skye, she encourages this joke! We met Skye just over a year ago, and she knew nothing about Miniature Horses. Nothing about any type of horses for that matter. She kept us laughing by calling the halter a harness, or by saying that her horse was braying or her donkey was neighing. Over the past year, she and her family have become very dear friends, and she has learned so much about the fascinating world of horses. In fact, she has learned so much that sometimes I will forget she hasn’t always been a horse person until she slips and says something like, “Donkey got all excited today and started neighing!” Anyway, this is the story of her first mini baby that was born in June, 2009. We love you, Skye! 

"I mid-wifed a horse..and all I got was this T-shirt!"

Sunday, June 7, 2009, was just like any other Sunday. Church in the morning, went to a friend’s high school graduation in the afternoon, and went to check on a very pregnant mare in the evening. This certain little mare is Flabys Special Addition, a twenty-one year old, 30” tall, sorrel pinto Miniature Horse. For the past month, we have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of her new baby. Usually, when we have a pregnant mare, we check the calcium level in their milk every day and that way, we have a very good idea of when the mare will foal. Addy was different. She refused to give us any milk, thus limiting us in our abilities to check the calcium level. Because we had no idea of when she would foal, her owner, Skye, faithfully stayed awake to watch her on the cameras for approximately 30 nights! Every evening, we would go over and see if there was any milk. The answer, as usual….no. 

My mom had been down with a terrible stomach flu for the past three days. So, instead of her coming to check Addy, my dad took us over to try to get milk from this mare. I had a headache, as usual, so I stayed in the car while Jessie, my youngest sister and our pro-milker, went out to the barn to check Addy. About three minutes later, my dad came running out the front door, very unusual, and jumped in the car, exclaiming, “We need to run home and get the milk strips! Addy gave a ton of milk!” In a very short amount of time, we were back at Skye’s, ready to test the milk. Jessie, also known as Doctor J, proceeded to give the verdict that the calcium level was very high, and Addy would have a baby in the next 24 hours! We alerted the neighborhood!  

Around 10:30 PM, my mom, Jessie, and I went to spend the rest of the night at Skye’s in anticipation of the baby showing its face before morning. The clock struck 11:00, then 12:00, and still no action. At midnight, Skye’s son and his girlfriend decided to turn in for the night, and my mom, who was still not feeling good, moved to a couch in the other room to try and get some sleep. Skye had Jessie and I laughing as she swore that every night, Addy would lay down between 12:00 and 12:20. “Watch and see,” Skye said, “She better stick to her routine tonight; I don’t want her to prove me wrong!” Sure enough, at 12:15, down she went, much to our delight. Time still wore on, and no baby. 1:00, 1:30, 2:00, and I decided I wanted to try to sleep for a little while.

The next thing I remember, it was 4:47 AM, and I could hear Mom and Skye speaking quietly, yet very excitedly. In a flash, I was wide awake, and sat up asking what was going on. Addy had gone down two or three times in a row, unusual for her. Suddenly, she lay flat out and her legs went stiff. This was it! Jumping up, I ran to the kitchen sink to wash up incase I had to assist. Luckily, I had the presence of mind to take off my watch and ring and put them on the counter. My mom rushed to use the bathroom before everything started, and I was planning on using it after her. I never got to, for Addy got up, went down, and started pushing. Quickly getting her phone, Skye called Resa, our local horse midwife. Screaming for my mom and Steve, Skye’s husband, we rushed out the door into the dark towards the barn. We also called our local vet and told him that the mare was going into labor and we may need his help. As it was, everything went so fast that the vet never made it in time!

Trying to stay quiet for Addy’s sake, my mom, Skye, and I jumped into her stall while Jessie dug her camera out of her pocket. Addy continued pushing, and within a few seconds, we saw a small white bag. Thank God! No placenta previa here! Next, we saw one hoof, and it was facing down, so we knew that the baby was not backwards. On top of that was a little nose, but as we watched, no second hoof appeared. It was really dark, and all we had to see by were flashlights and headlights. My mom bent down to make sure that all we were seeing was one hoof, and sure enough, no second hoof was there.




For a second, we all just kind of stood there, not knowing what to do. All I could think about was our mare Jewel, whose birth last year had had both front legs back. The longer we waited, the harder the baby was getting shoved against the pelvic rim. As all these thoughts were going through my head, I heard my mom saying that she hoped Resa got here soon. Turning to her, I said, “No, mom. I’m ready, let me go in and see if I can fix this. The sooner we get started the better.” She hesitated just a second longer, and then said, “Alright. Jessie, get the betadine and start mixing it with water. Skye, we’ve got to get this mare up. Lisa, wash your arms with the betadine/water, put on the lube, and get ready to go in.” Skye agreed with our plan of action, and immediately got the halter on, and went to work. From that moment when I realized that I was actually going to have to put my arm in Addy and try to reposition the baby, I honestly don’t remember that much. According to my mom, I ran over to Addy, slapped her butt definitively, and yelled, “Get up, Addy!” (I don’t remember that at all!) Addy quickly got up, and my mom started walking her to try to slow down the contractions. Meanwhile, I scrubbed my arms with the betadine, grabbed the lube, and, squirting some on the ground first (to maintain cleanliness), coated my arms in it. 


I want to take a paragraph out of the story here for some education. Last year, our Jewel had a very difficult birth. Both of the baby’s front legs were deflected back, and it took us almost an hour to pull the baby out. (Click here to read more on Jewel's birth) Both mom and baby survived and are fine, but we learned many things from that birth. For instance, when Jewel’s baby came, we rushed to the barn, and all that was coming out was a nose; there were no feet. We were very nervous, and waited till Resa came to try and pull the baby out. In the mean time, the mare was contracting and this was actually making the problem worse by pushing the baby harder and harder against the pelvic rim. This made everything very tight and difficult to work with. Instead of just letting her push and push, we should have taken her out and started walking her. When a mare walks, they can contract minimally to not at all. Also, when you go in to try and reposition a baby, either you or a helper should push the baby back in as you are trying to work. This gives you more room to try and free up the leg, but can be very difficult to do as the mare is contracting and pushing against you. If you are still having difficulty getting the baby out, take the mare on a hill and put her on it with her head downhill. With her in this position, gravity is helping pull that baby back in. When we had fought Jewel for a long time, we called a very experienced mini breeder. The first thing he said was, “Well, are you walking her?” Our response was “no” to which he told us to get her out of the stall and start walking. Now. After hearing how long we had struggled for, he told us to not try and work on the baby again until we got her on a hill. We walked her for about 10 minutes, and then put her on a hill in our driveway. This was how we finally got the baby out. So, when we first went to Skye’s to check Addy, we looked around for a hill incase anything went wrong with the birth. There was a perfect hill right outside the door of her barn, so I knew that if need be, I could use that.



OK, on with the story! I really don’t remember going in, but the next thing I was actually aware of was having my right arm tightly jammed between the baby’s shoulder and Addy’s pelvis. For a second, I was really, really grossed out. Touching my palm was a slimy, bloody, wet, maybe dead baby horse, and on the outside of my hand was a mare’s pelvis bone. The part that really freaked me out was how the pelvis bone felt. If you take your tongue and run it on the top of your palate you feel a hard surface with little ridges. That was how this felt on my hand. In shorter time than it took to write this, I got over my fear by the realization that she was still contracting very hard, and it hurt my arm. I don’t remember this either, but my mom said my face contorted and I looked up and said, “Mom, walk her. These contractions are killing me.” I was really scared, and starting praying desperately. So I am now scrambling around in the straw on my knees behind this mare, and my arm is still inside her. I can remember praying so hard that all would turn out well.  As I felt around in these very cramped quarters, I couldn’t find the knee that was supposed to be in there. “Oh God!” Paying close attention to what I was feeling, I realized that I was trying to find the wrong leg. The leg I was touching was the leg that was already out and in good position. Once I made that discovery, I quickly withdrew my right hand and reached in on the other side of baby with my left hand. Right away, I knew this was the correct side. I was able to find the knee, and get my fingers under it. As I started pulling up on the knee, I was pushing the baby back by it’s forehead with my right hand. While pushing back pretty firmly, I worked the knee up over the pelvic rim, and I felt it start to give. All of a sudden, the knee came forward; Addy gave on more contraction, and I felt the wonderful feeling of the baby’s foot sliding into my hand. Overjoyed, I remember to catch the hoof as it came out to make sure that it didn’t rip the mare’s inside. I started exclaiming, “I got it! I got it! I got it!,” but was soon caught up in another problem. The second that foot was free, the whole baby started coming out very, very quickly. (Remember that Addy is still standing up) Before she had any time to lay down, the baby slid all the way out. The only thing I could do was catch this slippery bundle so that it didn’t rip the placenta out of the mare. I was so relieved that baby was out of mom, I just kept saying, “Thank you God, thank you God!” 


As soon as the baby was all the way out, my mom ripped the sac off its face, and started squeezing the liquid out of its nose so it could breathe. For a few seconds, there was no movement from baby, and we were all terrified that it might be dead. After what seemed like forever, the baby gasped and started breathing. Everyone there started breathing at the same time! Now, Addy wanted to see baby, so she started to turn around. But the problem was, the baby was still attached by the umbilical cord, and if that was pulled, it could either pull the placenta out, or give the baby a hernia. Skye was trying to keep Addy still by her halter, but Addy was very persistent, and was succeeding in swinging her butt around. Luckily, Steve was there (I have no clue when he appeared on the scene!) and he was able to get on Addy’s left side and keep her still. Just then, Addy had a few more contractions and totally soaked me with amniotic fluid because I was directly behind her. My very sympathetic mom started cracking up as I was doused again and again with this gross, brown liquid. Alright, I can laugh at it now, and it must have looked funny to them, but it was not funny to me at the time. The temperature was only about 60-65 degrees, and I was so wet that I could literally wring liquid out of my pants. Needless to say, I was freezing!

So now, we were kind of stuck in this position. We didn’t want Addy to move, because we didn’t want baby or mare getting hurt, but the baby was wriggling, and getting rather heavy to keep holding. I looked up at Skye and said, “OK, you can let her lay down now if she wants to.” Here is where Skye’s non-horse side came out. Very firmly, she looks at Addy and says, “Down, Addy, down. Down, girl. C’mon, Addy, down, down.” After a couple seconds of that, she looks at us and says, “Uh, guys, I’m gonna need some help here getting her down.” And that cracked us up!  We even got it on video!!!   Click To Play

It soon became apparent that Addy was not going to lay down, so we got some thin string and cut the umbilical cord. Once that was cut, we were able to get the sac off of baby, and let baby down in the straw. We were all amazed at the beautiful bay colt that was there.


The placenta soon passed, and we filled it with water to make sure there were no leaks which would mean some was retained. All was good as far as that went.

Click To Play Video


At first, baby had a little trouble finding the milk, and so we milked some out of Addy, and syringe fed about 6ccs to baby. Within the next three hours, baby was eating fine. We also gave baby an enema so he could pass the meconium easily.  That afternoon, the vet came out and double checked everything. He said everything looked great, and that baby was very healthy. Yay!!!! For right now, Skye is calling the baby Bam Bam, but that may change.....

Below is a very cute video of baby neighing at about 2 hours old. Skye exclaims, "Oh! It made a sound!" and everyone cracks up.


I just want to give all the credit for this miraculous birth to the Creator of all. I was not the one who delivered this baby safely. God merely used me as a tool to show His power.  There is no way that this baby would be here if it had not been for God, and I believe that He gave this baby to us for a purpose. This incredible experience that I have been through will be one I will never ever forget. After telling this story to people, everyone is asking me if I am planning on having a career as a vet. As incredible as this was, I don’t think I would ever be able to be a vet, but I would love to breed horses. The whole miracle of the breeding process to the actual birth fascinates and amazes me. Every time a baby is born, be it a horse, dog or bird, it never ceases astound me that the when the two animals breed, it somehow creates a new animal. The fact that there are not more problems is credit to God in itself. When I watch a baby be born, and how the mother’s maternal instincts are there, I don’t understand how someone can believe that there is not a God. If He didn’t exist, how would this tiny baby know where to look to find its first food? How would the mother know that she has to lick the baby, or it will die of cold? How do the animals know these things? The only real explanation is that there is a Master Mind that controls all.  

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”    Psalm 19:1 

P.S. When I grow up, I plan on being a mom and a piano teacher!! Music, horses and children are my main loves.

Written by Lisa of Painted Sun Miniature Horses

Painted Sun Miniature Horses is sharing with you what we do to maintain the health of our horses. This is not intended to direct you on how to care for your horse. The intent of this is only to share what we do. We advise you to consult your veterinarian before making any changes in your horse's health care. The information found on our website is not to supersede the advise of your veterinarian. Painted Sun Miniature Horses cannot be held liable for the care of your horse(s).

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