Life or death foals, DIY one-sided milking, windswept legs, film stardom and “Go Honeysuckle, go!” – it’s another average month at TGS with Lucy Procter.
One such troublesome filly was foaled in early April. We were delighted with her during her first 24 hours, but by the second morning she had collapsed, and we couldn’t get her up to drink from her dam. Our vet attended quickly, and we stomach-tubed milk stripped from the mare into the foal, to help alleviate dehydration and further deterioration in her condition.
Despite various vet-administered drugs and even roping – a practice whereby one attempts to replicate the squeezing of the foal that would naturally occur during the foal’s passage through the birth canal, thought to help alleviate the symptoms of a ‘dummy’ foal, which can be caused by too swift a foaling – there was little
improvement in the foal’s condition, and it was decided that she needed intensive care that could only be provided by a specialist veterinary hospital.
Doug had already left for Cheltenham, as we had Last Royal (regular readers will remember him as
Honeysuckle’s frustrating little brother), making his handicap hurdle debut in the afternoon and, as the chosen vet hospital was en route, I swiftly changed into clean racing clothes and set off in the lorry to deliver the poorly foal and her dam to hospital, before going on racing, only to watch Last Royal fall at the last.
Definitely one of those not so good days at the office! Having been diagnosed with sepsis on the brain, we were delighted the following morning to receive the news that, with round-the-clock veterinary treatment, the foal’s condition was improving. Three days later, we collected the mare and foal from hospital and the foal has been thriving ever since. So, a happy outcome in the end!
Just from the left bar thanks
Another tricky foal was one that simply refused to drink from one side of his dam. With the dam producing more and more milk that wasn’t being drunk, we had to manually strip the milk out to help the mare feel
more comfortable. However, her bags quickly became so tight it was difficult to milk her out by hand. So I made a makeshift milk pump, by cutting off the nipple end of a syringe and reversing the plunger – by
drawing the plunger down, the milk easily flowed into the syringe and could be emptied into a jug and the process repeated. We were stripping the dam out several times a day like this, until eventually the foal
decided that he would drink from both sides after all.
A skiing foal
Some foals are born with crooked legs and, if left alone, many will self-correct over the first few months. However, to produce a top equine athlete, correct conformation is vital to help reduce injuries during a
racehorse’s career – and thus poor conformation will reduce a horse’s sale value. One foal last month had been born, what in the industry is called ‘windswept’, which means that their hind legs look a bit like a skier doing a hard, fast turn. With doing nothing more than putting supportive, resin extensions on the side of the
foal’s hind feet, six weeks later the hind legs are now perfectly straight and strong.
In other news…
On the racing front, our daughter Alice has had another point-to-point win, this time in the Ladies Open at the Cattistock Races at the end of April, and Freddie, who is in the States riding in timber races, has so far won five ‘sanctioned’ races and is second in the table for prize money won. He will remain in America until their Spring season finishes at the end of May and will hopefully return for their Autumn season, but more about this next month.
Our final racing news has to be all about Honeysuckle yet again, who remains unbeaten, having claimed her 16th win in a row since debut and her 12th Grade One victory, when she won the Punchestown Champion Hurdle on 29th April.
We were amused to hear from one local vet that her daughter’s young Pony Club friend, whose elderly pony is called Honey, is regularly to be heard happily shrieking “Go Honeysuckle, go!” as her pony takes off around the arena at pony club rallies.
Lucy Procter, co-owner of The Glanvilles Stud (TGS), shares her diary of life on a Thoroughbred stud.