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The Foal Watch

Nothing is more rewarding to horse people than watching a special mare deliver a stunning new foal. However, because most horses give birth sometime between midnight and daybreak, waiting for the big event is a venture that requires careful planning and dedication.

  • 10:00 PM - Gather up sleeping bag, alarm clock and back issues of your favorite horse magazine and head for barn where you plan to settle down for the night.

  • 10:01 PM - Return to house for some popcorn and an ice-cold drink.

  • 10:10 PM - Head back to barn. Your flashlight goes out halfway there but you figure you can make it by memory. Pat your faithful ranch dog's head as it pants and slobbers at your side.

  • 10:11 PM - You suddenly remember you have no ranch dog. Run screaming back to the house. Change flashlight batteries. Change underwear. Return to barn.

  • 10:15 PM - Establish foal watch headquarters in empty stall next to beloved broodmare.

  • 10:16 PM - Enter broodmare's stall for the 5,687th inspection of her vulva and udder. Broodmare flattens ears for the 5,687th time.

  • 10:17 PM - Sigh audibly, leave stall and head for house. Dial your veterinarian just to make sure he/she's home.

  • 10:19 PM - Return to barn and squirm into sleeping bag. Set alarm to go off in one hour and shut off light.

  • 10:20 PM - 40,000 sets of furred feet become active as the entire mouse population of the county runs wind sprints in the loft.

  • 10:25 PM - Sit up when something with bigger furred feet joins the overhead track meet.

  • 10:26 PM - Flick on light -- listen to the absolute silence.

  • 10:27 PM - Flick off light.

  • 10:28 PM - Wind sprints resume and Big Foot seems to be winning.

  • 11:18 PM - Finally fall asleep.

  • 11:19 PM - Alarm goes off.

  • 11:20 PM - Peek through knothole at broodmare. Mare pins her ears.

  • 11:21 PM - Reset alarm and flick out light.

  • 11:22 PM - Flick on light. Realize that drink was a mistake and head for the house to "eliminate" the problem.

  • 11:25 PM - Resist urge to phone veterinarian.

  • 11:27 PM - Trot back to barn. Left boot is sucked off in mud hole. Hop three steps before the foot missing a boot plops into another mud hole.

  • 11:28 PM - Return to house and change one sock.

  • 11:29 PM - Walk back out to barn.

  • 11:30 PM - One last check of broodmare through knot hole. Her ears are still pinned.

  • 11:31 PM - Set alarm to go off in one hour and turn out the light.

  • 11:40 PM - Wake up suddenly and check knot hole. Mare is lying down!

  • 11:41 PM - Enter broodmare stall complete with Ye Olde Foaling Manual, an armful of clean rags, iodine and a tetanus shot. Mare breaks wind and gets up. She looks at you and has the gall to pin her ears.

  • 11:45 PM - Return to sleeping bag. Flick out light.

  • 11:52 PM - Shift around and then remove flake of hay that feels like a boulder from under your sleeping bag.

  • 12:01 AM - Wake up suddenly because you realize that you can't hear clock. Flick on light and make sure clock is running. Remove some shavings from your ear and flick out light.

  • 12:29 AM - Fall asleep
  • .
  • 12:31 AM - Alarm goes off.

  • 12:32 AM - Eyes feel like somebody put sand in them. Stagger to knot hole and view an extreme close-up of the mare's rear end. No change in status.

  • 12:33 AM - Crawl back to your sleeping bag. Set alarm and flick out light. Left foot cramps. Shove foot into bottom of bag and hold for five minutes.

  • 12:38 AM - Cramp over. Relax foot.

  • 12:39 AM - Left foot muscles again try to turn into a pretzel. Struggle out of sleeping bag and hobble around stall for another five minutes.

  • 12:44 AM - Cramp over. Return to bag. Right foot starts to twitch.

  • 1:10 AM - Fall asleep.

  • 1:39 AM - Alarm goes off. Think you hear something, but your body tells you it must remain in the sleeping bag for just a few more seconds.

  • 6:30 AM - Wake up. Glance at clock. Attempt to leap from the sleeping bag. Fall into polyester/fiber fill heap in the shavings. Crawl to knot hole, peer into broodmare stall and see two sets of pinned ears.