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The Foaling Diary

My name is Fast Colony, but you can call me by my stable name "Colony". My owners, Bill and Lill Nichols of Mares' Nest, made a suggestion. I am due to foal in about a week and they asked me to write about my experience in a daily diary page.

At first I hesitated, but then I realized that many people might find it helpful. I'm a sixteen-year-old Thoroughbred mare, but the foaling process is the same for any breed. I've had five babies, so the experience is not a new one for me. Anyway, here goes.

MARCH 1, 2012:

I'm living in a foaling stall right now. It's bedded down with fresh shavings, but I'll have nice clean straw when my people think I'm getting close to having my baby. 

there's another foaling stall across from mine where my good friend Courtly Colors lives. She is due at about the same time as I am. Weather permitting, we go out to a pasture together every day.

I had my vaccination about a month before my due date. I think my owner said it's a combination of tetanus, flu vaccine and eastern and western encephalitis. Getting shots is not my favorite thing, but I don't object because I understand that this will assure that my baby will get all the necessary protection through my milk. I heard them call the first milk "colostrum". I don't know why. To me it's just food for my little one.

Today was a rainy one so we didn't get to go out to the pasture. Our stalls have second doors which allows us to go out into  paddocks as we please. I overheard my owner say that from now on the door was going to be kept closed at night. Our stalls have a heat lamp. I like it because I can stand under it and keep toasty warm.

That's enough for today. Please check back tomorrow for more news about the foaling process.

Bye until tomorrow, Colony.

MARCH 2, 2012:

It was an uneventful day today. The rain clouds passed over the Sacramento Valley and headed for the Sierra where it'll turn to snow. I haven't seen snow since I left my birth state of Kentucky.

With the clear blue skies my friend "Courtly" and I were able to enjoy going out to the pasture. We are back in our stalls now and getting ready to sleep.

Bill, my owner, just came out to check and see how we are doing. He said he was a little concerned because I have not started making a bag. That means I have not started producing milk. I usually start about three weeks before I foal. Today is my 340th day, which is the average gestation period. He also said that some mares show little or no signs of milk until they foal, but I always have in the past.

Bill keeps close records of all the mares. He said that I am usually nine or ten days late foaling, so I guess there's nothing to worry about. He had my doctor check me over about a month ago and everything was fine. He says he doesn't like surprises, that's why he does that.

Courtly is due in five days, but I hear that she is usually four or five days late. Maybe we'll foal at the same time.

Well, it's time to get some sleep. More tomorrow, Colony.

MARCH 3, 2012

Good evening. It's about midnight and Bill just came out to check us out. It was a pleasant day today with little to report. 

I like it when Bill comes out to see us. He always checks to find out if the muscles around our tails and vulva have loosened up. That is kind of personal, but he is very gentle. Besides, he brings us carrots and we get a third feeding of grain.

Everything was normal and he said we were not ready to foal.

I understand that there are television cameras in our stalls and they can monitor us 24/7. I guess we don't have much privacy, but at least I know that, in an emergency, we are in good hands.

Life is good. Check back tomorrow, Colony

MARCH 4, 2012

It was another bright, sunny day. Not a cloud in the sky. Courtly and I got to go out into the pasture again. It was almost like spring. The tempature was in the low 70's. 

We're back in the stalls now and it's late evening. Bill just came out to look us over and we had our late night grain and carrots.

There is no change that would indicate a near foaling, but my baby was very active this evening. She was kicking up a storm in there.I think she's very eager to get out and get on with her life. I say "she", because when there is that much activity, it's often a filly. At least that's what Bill said.

Tomorrow I think I'll tell you a little about my family history.

All for now.....Colony 

MARCH 5, 2012:

Still no activity as far as foaling. All is quiet. Bill says that if we don't begin showing some sign of producing a milk bag, he is going to have our doctor, Dr. Josh Holme, come out and make certain that all is well.

It seems like a good time to tell about my family history, as I promised yesterday. Bill gave me the information. I hope I get it right.

In 1999, Bill went to the Keenland Sale in Kentucky. He was looking for a mare, for his good friend Walter Thomson, to breed to Flying Victor. Walter had shares in that stallion and Bill was the Syndicate Manager.

Bill said he looked at dozens of nice mares and really was impressed by a beautiful mare named Deluxury. She was a Stakes Winner of $126,050 and he purchased her for $28,000. She had only one foal of racing age. That foal was a filly who won two races and had sold as a yearling for $25,000. Guess what. that was me, Fast Colony.

Deluxury was in foal and produced a very nice filly. Unfortunatly, the filly died of an infection when she was a couple of months of age.

In the meantime, Deluxury's second Kentucky foal ended up by winning $195,039.

Her first California-bred foal, a filly by Flying Victor, became the top priced yearling in the Northern California Sale, bringing a bid of $40,000 and ended up by earning $192,006. She is now a broodmare in New Mexico and is owned by Bill's good friend Jim Spence. Deluxury, now twenty-two years of age, is retired here at Mares' Nest.

That's it for tonight. Tomorrow I'll tell you how I came into the Mares' Nest story.....Colony

MARCH 6, 2012:

It was another clear day and we were able to enjoy the pasture, although it was quite windy.

It's almost midnight and Bill just came out for our late night visit. Yesterday he said that he may have our Veterinarian out to make certain that all was well. However, he told me that he decided to contact a friend of his who has a major breeding farm she said that all of her mares were very late in producing a milk bag and that they were two or three weeks late in foaling. He seemed relieved to hear that and has decided that we are acting normal for this year.

I promised to tell you more about my family. I can't finish my story, but will tell you a bit more. My father's name is Colonial Affair. He was a very good racehorse and won the Belmont Stakes. That's the third leg of The Triple Crown. I understand that he was a good sire here in The United States and was sold to South America, where he is now a leading sire.

I raced for two years and won at ages two and three. After I was retired, I came to the west coast and became a broodmare. 

I'm ready to get some sleep now and will continue my story tomorrow.....Colony.

MARCH 7, 2012:

Another pleasant day today, but a bit windy. It's late evening and Bill just finished our last check-up. He said that he thinks I am beginning a little "pre-bag". That's what he calls it. I guess that means that I am progressing normally. The "pre-bag" is a small amount of filling in front of the teats.

More about my production record. When I completed my racing career, I came west to Idaho. My first foal was a colt. He sold in an Idaho sale as a yearling for a paltry $800. He began his racing career with eight seconds in a row. He just didn't seem to want to put his nose in front. He finally decided to get up enough courage to enter the winners circle. By the time he finished his racing career he had four wins, ten seconds and a third and had earned nearly $50,000. He was certainy a bargain buy.

I had another foal in Idaho, but she wasn't very succesful.

In November of 2004 I was sold to my present owners of Mares' Nest. At that time I was in foal to another Idaho sire and had a filly on February 5 of 2005. She was a very nice filly and won two races, placing in five more.

Bill and Lill said that they bought me in order to breed me to Flying Victor and get a foal by the same cross that produced Luxury Flight. My next foal was a colt by Flying Victor. I'll tell you about him tomorrow.....Colony.

MARCH 8, 2012:

It was another pleasant day and a bright cool night with a full moon. Of course I can't see the moon, because I'm in the stall. I'm taking Bill's word for it and I'm certain that he wouldn"t lie to me.

I seem to be making a small bag now, so I hope I'll have my new little one within the next few days. Courtly is doing fine, but hasn't started a milk bag yet.

Bill says that he just got word, from our good friend Jeannie, that the great mare Zenyatta had her first foal tonight. It is a boy. I'm so happy for her. One of her relatives is here at Mares' Nest.

There's no sign that I'll foal for the next night or so, so I'll finish my story about my Flying Victor colt. He was such a handsome boy. He was big, with a great shoulder and hip. He was sold through the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association Sale in Northern California for $7,000. His buyer was a leading trainer in Southern California. His name was Quick Vic. My son, not the trainer.

They must have thought highly of him, because he was entered, for his first start, in a $60,000 Stake race at Hollywod Park.                              

He broke poorly from the gate and didn't do well. However he did win three races and placed in others. I was so proud of him.

It's time to call it a day. Until tomorrow....Colony  

MARCH 9, 2012

It's been a lovely, but quiet day today. It's early March, but feels like Spring.

Bill tells me that I am progessing with my bag development, but am still a few days from foaling. Of course that does not mean that I won't be watched closely as foals seem to arrive whenver they are ready and one never can take anything for granted.

The normal gestation period is 340 days and I am now at day 347. My average is 348, which means that if I reach my average, I'm due shortly after midnight. It's now 11:30 P.M. Who knows?

More tomorrow.....Colony

MARCH 10,2012:

Well, another day has passed without a foal. I'm bedded down tonight with lots of fresh, bright straw. I understand that all of the necessary foaling stuff is awaiting the birthing time. There is a tail bandage and big soft towels to dry off my baby. The Veterinarians phone number is next to the phone, just in case there is a problem. There is also a container of disinfectant for the navel stub. You can't be too careful about infections for the little ones. The first three days are the critical ones. Bill says that it is important to read the page titled "Foaling Process".

Tomorrow is the date that Daylight Savings begins. Instead of making us wait an extra hour for breakfast, the folks at Mares' Nest feed us a half hour late in order to not get us too upset. This is just for the first day.

All for now......Colony

MARCH 11, 2012:

It was another pleasantly warm spring-like day, but I was happy to come back into my stall and enjoy the comfortable straw.

Bill just gave us our late night check up. He says that I am progressing normally and my bag is growing daily. Also, the tail muscles are beginning to loosen up slightly.

He also says that I should mention that another sign that foaling is getting close is when the mares back up to a wall and rest their rears against it. There is one other thing that happens at Mares' Nest, but he says he has not heard of it elsewhere. Our grain ration has pellets containing the vitamins and minerals. When it gets to between two or three days of foaling, the mares leave the pellets. As soon as they foal, they begin eating them again. Strange. I haven't gotten to that point yet.

Courtly is doing well, but still looks to be a few days behind me. It'll be great when we both have our foals and can go out together with our babies. I'm certain that they will become fast friends.

Goodnight.....Colony

MARCH 12,2012:

It was another uneventful day. I am now ten days late to foal and my good friend Courtly Colors is five days overedue. Rain is predicted for tomorrow, so we'll probably have to remain in our stalls. We really enjoy going out to the pasture.

Not having any news, I thought it would be a good time to tell you a little about my buddy Courtly.

It was way back in 1995 when Bill bought Hot Colors, for his good friend Walter Thomson, out of a sale in Southern California. Her father was named Pirate's Bounty and she was a full sister to three Stakes horses.She sold for $9,000 and was in foal to a horse named Cutlass Reality. That foal won nine races and earned over $77,000.

As with Deluxury, Bill selected her to breed to Flying Victor. Her next foal was a filly by Flying Victor. She sold for $19,000 and became a Stakes Winner of $99,903. What a nice mare Hot Colors was and what a bargain.

The next foal was my friend Courtly Colors. She was retained and raced by Mr. Thomson. She raced only as a two-year-old. Her racing career had it's happy "highs" and sad "lows". I'll tell you about her racing record tomorrow.

Until tomorrow....Colony

MARCH 13, 2012:

It rained most of the entire day and Courtly and I spent the day in our stalls. As I mentioned, we have paddocks so that we can go out whenever we want. The door is only closed at night. I actually stayed out most of the time. Bill and Lill feel that as long as their horses have shelter they can usually make their own decisions regarding using the shelter or braving the weather.

I'm still progressing slowly and am now eleven days overdue. That's a new record for me. Ten days was my longest. This will give me a chance to tell you about the racing career of my friend Courtly Colors.

Courtly began her racing career in Arizona in the Spring of her two-year-old year. She ran second once, but when racing ended at Turf Paradise she came back to California. On September 22 she won a maiden race at Sacramento. She came from off the pace and won by five lengths. She next started at Bay Meadows in an allowance race and again came from off the pace and won by five.

Her owner, trainer and all connected with her were so delighted and confident in her ability that it was decided to enter her in the Bam's Penny Stakes at Bay Meadows. Her regular rider was unable to ride her and a new jockey was assigned. Courtly's trainer, Duane Offield, explained to the jockey that she liked to lay off the pace and make a run for it in the stretch. He misunderstood and instead of keeping her five or six lengths behind the leaders, he took her back more than twenty lengths. It was too much to expect of her, but she came roaring down the stretch, passing horse after horse. She finished third. At least she was Stakes placed.

Unfortunatly, a few days later she shattered her ankle while taking an easy gallop. Bill says that they were lucky to save her. She was retired and is now a broodmare.

Maybe I'll have some foaling news tomorrow.....Colony

MARCH 14, 2012:

Well, it was another rainy day. I know that we need the rain and that we have had a dry winter so far, but I sure would like to get out on the pasture during the daytime.

I'm afraid that I don't have anything exciting to talk about. Courtly and I are still taking our time about foaling.

Bill says that there is one thing our readers can learn about this situation. That is patience. I have to admit that I am beginning to lose mine. I'd sure like to be able to take care of my baby, but I have to wait just like everyone else. 

I understand that there are a large number of people who are checking into the web site daily, just to find out how I came through the foaling and how my baby is doing. I really appreciate the interest and concern.

Tomorrow, if there is still no baby to talk about, I'll tell you about the sire.

Colony.

MARCH 15,2012:

Another rainy day and we are both still pregnant. However, Bill says that I am beginning to "point". Instead of the normal round look of a pregnant mare, the conformation changes. Shortly before foaling, the foal changes position. It gets into a sort of a sitting position with its' front legs pointing toward the birth canal. The change of position and the added pressure causes the conformation to take on a look that Bill calls "pointing". This generally happens when a mare is within a couple of days of foaling.

Courtly is not pointing yet, but the muscles around her tail are beginning to soften up. All mares do not point, but most of them do.

All for now, Maybe tomorrow?......Colony.

MARCH 16, 2012:

There has been little change since yesterday, including the rainy weather.

It's well after midnight and Bill just checked us over and fed us our grain and carrots. I'm more than two weeks overdue now and if it weren't for the late night visits and treats I would be very frustrated. I've always been between two and ten days over, but never have I carried one this long. I'm going to convince myself that it's taking longer because it's a special one. Of course I always think all my babies are special.

I promised to tell you something about the sire of my foal. His name was Olympio. I say "was" because unfortunately he passed away last Fall. This will be one of his last foals.

Olympio was a very fine race-horse. He started four times as a two-year-old and won twice including a graded stakes race at Hollywood Park.

At three he won seven stakes and placed in three others from only eleven starts. He won The Hollywood Derby, the Oaklawn Derby and The American Derby, earning over a million dollars. He retired at four, earning $1,456,315.

Tomorrow, if I haven't foaled, I'll tell you about his foals.

Time for bed. Goodnight.....Colony.

MARCH 18, 2012:

I apologize for not making a diary entry yesterday. Bill said that he is to fault, not me. It was a long day for him and he just didn't get it done.

Today was a mixture of showers and some sunshine, but still no foals. All I can say is that I, along with Courtly are one day closer to foaling.

I'll continue my talk about the sire of my foal. Olympio had a rather remarkable record. He sired twenty-nine Stakes Winners and an additional twenty who placed in Stakes races. His foals earned nearly nineteen million dollars. My baby will be one of his last foals. Actually, at the rate it's going, it may be the last.

I understand that my foal will be sold in a yearling sale next year, unless it's sold privatly before that.

I hope I'll have foaling news tomorrow.

Thanks for reading my diary.....Colony.

MARCH 19, 2012:

Unbelievable! Courtly Colors and I just seem to be in a holding pattern. Neither of us appear to be any closer to foaling than we were two weeks ago, Of course the only sure thing is that we ARE two weeks closer than we were two weeks ago.

Bill says that I should remind people what is expected in a "normal" foaling. (If there is such a thing) 

On the average, mares foal 340 after conception. About three or four weeks prior to foaling, the mare shows signs of starting to make a milk bag. A few days prior to foaling, the foal changes position and the mare develops a "pointing" shape to her belly. Any where between a few hours and a few days prior to foaling the mare begins to develop "wax" on her teats. However, some mares never do wax. Shortly before foaling most mares become restless and begin walking around their stalls. Just before they lie down to foal, they begin to show warmth and begin sweating.

Now, that's the text book foaling process. As you realize by now, all mares do not read the text book. Courtly and I are an example of that.

Oh well, maybe tomorrow will be the day....Colony.

March 20, 2012:

What a lovely spring day this was, but no foals as yet.

The farrier was here today and our feet are trimmed. Our foals may not notice, but we feel better and want to make a good first impression on our little ones.

It's a bit after 1:00 A.M. and Bill just came by to see how we were doing and give us our late feeding. He seems to think that we are both ready to foal and should do so before the week-end. 

Courtly and I have both never foaled before 1:00 A.M. and never during daylight hours. Bill says that they have about 25% of their foaling during the day. That's very unusual. He feels that it is because the mares feel secure and comfortable at Mares' Nest. It is a quiet place with little noise.

All for now.....Courtly.

MARCH 21, 2012:

Still no foals. I'm going to skip a day or so making entries in my diary. Everything appears to be normal. We are just slow in getting the job done.

As soon as something interesting occurs, I'll be here to let you know. I hope it's tomorrow.

Colony.

March 28, 2012:

Finally something to report.

Yesterday, my Doctor came out to check out Courtly and myself. He felt that everything was normal, excepting the length of gestation. At about 9:30 P.M. this evening, I began to feel warm and to sweat slightly. At 9:40 I began to have labor pains. My people bandaged my tail and added some additional straw to my stall. The pains were light at first, but became heavier.

It looked as though there may be a problem at first. The "bubble" appeared and one foot. However, it was upside down. Often when this happens, the foal will rotate into the proper position when the mare gets up and down a couple of times. Another method is to have someone walk the mare in short circles several times. After a few minutes, my foal was in the proper position

At 10:00 P.M. I had a beautiful chestnut filly. Of course I always think my babies are beautiful, but I'm certain she is special. Her navel was treated with a disinfectant to avoid any infection and she was dried off with towels. She stood a little after 11:00 P.M. and nursed at 11:35 P.M.

It's really important to keep everything quiet during the foaling process. Keep talking and any unnecessary noise to a minimum.

I need my rest now, but I will tell you more tomorrow.

Colony.

MARCH 29, 2012:

After a much needed good nights rest, my foal and I are doing fine. I "cleaned" (passed the afterbirth) at 12:30 A.M. I understand that that is well within the safety range. Anytime a mare goes six to eight hours and has still not passed the afterbirth, a Veterinarian should be consulted.

My filly is just slightly larger than the average size at birth. Bill was relieved. I carried the foal for 365 days and he feared that it would be too large and that I would have a difficult birth. Fortunately, all was well.

Note: A few days prior to the expected foaling date, make certain that the mare is not sutured. A Vet. will often suture a mares' vulva in order to prevent infections from fecal material. This is important if the vulva is tipped, as in an older mare. With Fast Colony it was not necessary, but Courtly Colors was sutured and had to be opened.

Today after Kathy (Bill and Lill's daughter) arrived, my filly was imprinted. (Please refer to the page titled IMPRINTING) She is a very active young one and resisted the procedure. That's not unusual. It just takes longer to attain the desired result and it also takes considerable patience on the part of the person doing the imprinting. Note: It's a good idea to have a three person team doing this. One to hold the foal, one to do the imprinting and one to hold the mare. Sometimes the mare gets upset at having so much attention given to her foal. In my case, I'm an old pro and have experienced this many times. Because of that, It was not necessary to hold me.

My buddy "Courtly" looks very close to foaling and I will report on her condition in a day or so.

Colony.

MARCH 31, 2012:

First I want to let everone know that al is well with my baby and me. She"s a very energetic one, running circles around me in the stall. I'll be happy when the weather clears up and we can go outside for a couple of hours so that my little one can burn off some of the excess energy.

At 1:50 A.M. Courtly Colors went into labor. Our stalls are across from one another and we can see each other easily.

Courtly foaled very quickly. She had a lovely bay filly at 2:00 A.M. and cleaned immediately. Her filly stood at 3:10 A.M. and nursed at 3:30 A.M. There were no problems.

Courtly carried her filly for 364 days. That was just one day less than I did. The foal was only slightly larger than normal and robust. The name of the sire is Globalize.

Later in the day, Kathy imprinted the filly. She was much more accepting of the process than was my baby. She actually seemed to enjoy the attention and continued to follow people around after they were finished with the imprinting. I think she is going to be more people orientated than my little rascal.

Note: At Mares' Nest we always worm the mare shortly after foaling. Reportably, this will reduce the chance of a worm infection in the foal.

All for now....Colony.

APRIL 4, 2012:

What a lovely day today. The sun was bright and it was a warm spring-like day. Finally, I was able to get out to a small pasture with my filly. We were out for three or four hours.

My little one was facinated by everything. She had no idea that the world was so big. She was a little confused by the bright sunshine and hesitated coming out of the barn, but she quickly got accustomed to the idea and ran around the pasture. She kept me busy trying to keep up with her and making cartain that she didn't get in trouble.

When we came in, at feeding time, she was one tired baby and slept for a long time.

My friend Courtly and her filly enjoyed going out into her paddock. Her stall door was open so that she could go in and out as she wished. Well, almost. What she wished was to go out, but she had trouble convincing her daughter to go with her. It took many attempts before her filly would follow her, but once she figured it out, they enjoyed the sunshine.

The weather report says that it will be clear and sunny  for several days . That's good news for us. We'll be able to enjoy the exercise.

More in a day or so....Colony.




Other Information You May Be Interested In

Signs of foaling.

Information on newborn foals.

Read More About Common Foal Problems here.

Need to know information on caring for foals is here. 

Read about the foaling process.

What you should know about orphan foals. 

Read a diary of foaling, from the Mare's perspective


You are invited to visit the home page for Foal To Yearling Halters here.