Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Epona's Homecoming

After meeting with our veterinarian last night, who gave us a lot of encouragement regarding Epona, and instruction on how to continue her care, we hauled her home alone. I was worried about that, but she did really well. We had to stop for gas, and I went into the trailer with her. She was concerned, but quite calm.

We didn't know what to expect when we got home, but it didn't go anything like we would have imagined. All the horses ran to the west pasture fence line, curious about the trailer, but calm. Epona stayed very quiet. As we went to open the doors, Epona finally whinnied out, and Cowgirl's head flew up--her eyes wild. She started running full bore through the field, up through the North Pasture, and into the turnout, where the gate is directly in front of the barn and trailer. She was frantic. She looked like she would break the gate down.

Epona unloaded calmly, with a little push from me, and walked nicely into the barn, even though the herd were all running wildly and the dogs were barking. When we got her into the stall, Cowgirl began running back and forth through the turnout, which got all the horses running--and it was completely crazy. Still, Epona remained calm and even started eating and drinking.

At some point, Cowgirl could see that Epona was safe, and she started to settle down. She stood at the fence most near the opening to the barn--and remained there most the night, at least until I couldn't watch anymore.

I had thought it might be the opposite--Epona going crazy and Cowgirl remaining calm. I didn't realize how much Cowgirl loved her, I guess. I thought that after five days she might be a little over it. But no, she knew her baby's whinny, and she wanted to keep her baby safe.

On my last trip to the barn, around 11 last night, I laid with Epona and petted her all over. She allowed me to touch every part of her body without flinching. She even picked her head up and laid it on my chest as I stroked her neck and cradled her. When I left the barn, I saw Cowgirl in the same spot, staring at the barn, and I walked to her and held out my empty palms. She buried her nose in them over and over, smelling her baby. Epona whinnied, and it sounded like, "I'm okay." Cowgirl answered, and it sounded like, "I'm here for you."

I cried.

This morning, I went out to the barn to sit with Epona as she ate. She does better if you're near her and petting her. I'm sure it reminds her more of the intimacy of nursing. 

She drank about 1.5 gallons of water, and quite a bit of timothy hay. As in the hospital, she isn't quite up to speed on the milk pellets, but getting there.

She dropped weight at the hospital, and the vet said it will be about a three week transition, where she will look thin and scraggly, but she will eventually start to thrive and gain weight again, like a normal foal.

Cowboy wasn't the best babysitter. He was a bit too mean, and she didn't really like him. He was an orphan foal himself, and always an omega in the herd. I switched him out for Tumbleweed, who Epona seems to like much more. She was, after all, raised by an alpha mare. Two months with an alpha mama, and she has developed preferences for alpha horses, of which, Tumbleweed is also one. So is Foxy, but Foxy developed milk...so that can't happen. Here are some clips of Tumbleweed and Epona.

And in the barn, from the barn camera view.

 

These are minor things, and I'm really happy about how she is transitioning. We will continue the auditions if we have to, but Tumbleweed might be the guy for the job. We will see.

The mares all stand around Cowgirl, as she changes places to where she can see Epona best. I have to say, I admire horses even more after seeing all of this. When we left Epona at the vet, the herd stood near Cowgirl at all times, and seemed to be comforting her the best they could. There was real concern and love on their part. It continues now. There's such a grace extended by them to her. It's all very beautiful to witness. Other-worldly. Sometimes, I feel like I'm in a movie about horses, it seems so surreal and almost unbelievable. Can this really be happening? Are horses really this noble? 

YES.

On another note, my daughter has started cramping, and is on bed rest. I think all of this has been too stressful.  She also found out that she was exposed to Covid at work. 

We told her not to worry about Epona anymore. We will take it from here and make all the decisions, arrangements, and follow-up visits to the vet. 

It's an interesting season of life around here. Never a dull moment. Lots of love, faith, grace, surprises, beauty beyond belief, life lessons, and the unknown. Always the unknown.

6 comments:

  1. Firstly, I hope your daughter can stop stressing now and take better care of herself now that Epona is on the mend. And it will be a big help now that you've taken on Epona's care. She should rest and relax. I hope she doesn't contract the Covid.

    Loved her videos and I think she and Tweed will be just fine. It looked like in one video he was trying to teach her how to groom. "No, we don't groom mouths, we groom necks, see, like this!" I think he will take care of her, after all they're the two babies and should bond.

    I do feel sorry for Cowgirl. It must be upsetting for her to have her baby back and not be able to be with her. But in time that will change and she will have her back by her side. I agree, horses are amazing noble creatures and they do care about and support one another. I could tell you many stories of interactions I've witnessed over the years with our guys.

    Hang in there. Everyday is better and better.

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    1. I think you’re right about T. She was trying to lick him, and would probably try to nurse, if she could. He was saying, no, we’re not like that. I removed him, and traded for Leah, but again, she’s just not that into her. Leah is another Omega style, and Epona doesn’t seem comforted by that. So, I’ll probably put Tweed back in tonight. I let him out with the herd and he and Cowgirl fought a lot, so he may need to be in for awhile for his safety. We don’t need more drama now. Foxy defended him, but it was a bit much. Beautiful is also locked in.

      Yeah, poor Shiloh. I hope she doesn’t have Covid. Either way, she needs to rest more. I think she’s going to cut back at work.

      I bet you do have some stories! These horses live in a magical, mystical world of their own. Every time I think I understand that world, I discover something new.

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  2. A bit of drama was to be expected, but Epona seems to be handling all this very well. Things will soon settle into a routine.
    Love the video where she is doing the submissive baby mouth and Tweed is behaving like a gentleman.
    I hope your daughter can relax now and that bed rest will help.
    Being in tune with horses is definitely a spiritual experience- I think that's true with all creatures but horses seem to have such a connection with humans.

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    1. Yes, it is a spiritual experience. They’re always surprising us, and there’s so much we can’t understand going on under the scenes. Just when you think you got them figured out, boom—surprise! Yes, Epona seems resigned to her fate, and has a strange acceptance of being parted from her mama. They talk to each other, and whenever Epona whinnies loudly from the doorway, Cowgirl comes running to the nearest viewpoint. She is so small and vulnerable still. When I cried the other night, it wasn’t from sadness, it was from relief and happiness that the two of them were trusting this process, but still supporting each other.

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  3. What a whirlwind of emotions you have been experiencing. Your herd's world has been altered as they each try to find their place, and return to calm. Cowgirl's reaction to Epona's homecoming was sweet, even the frantic part. Glad no one got hurt, I always worry about that when they run crazed.

    When Cierra was away, I would offer my hands with her scent to our herd at home too. They would inhale it, deeply. Especially Nemo. I would tell them she is okay, and coming home soon. In reverse, I would tell Cierra they miss her. The latter always made me feel bad. I disliked having her away and believe our horses want to be together. They don't know Padame, so that is different. However, they do know her scent.

    I find baby mouthing so sweet, as if to say "I am a harmless baby, please don't hurt me". I wonder if Cowboys reaction to her was in part due to your connection with Epona, if he is a jealous kinda horse. Watching Tweeds interaction with her was interesting.

    Reading about how you cared for Epona, melted my heart. Thanks for sharing your personal journey with me/us.

    No doubt Shiloh is relieved Epona is in the best of loving (full!!) hands. I hope the rest of her last trimester & delivery goes smoothly.

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    1. Exactly. It was the kind of break neck running where horses do get hurt. Bedlam. Tweed was locked up, but running and kicking the barn in his turnout. I was very worried for him. My husband ran to the gate, to keep Cowgirl from pushing through. I ran to Tweed to settle him down. Shiloh stayed with Epona.

      How interesting that you did the same thing with their smells! I had done it from vet to home, and Cowgirl didn’t seem to take comfort. Maybe the smell was off, or maybe it confused her. I started to think she wasn’t tuned into smell. But then, she just buried her muzzle in my hands, over and over, and I could see she was very much in tune to smell, especially when reinforced by the physical presence of her foal. As I said to Shirley, that moment where they communicated did make me cry, but it was a good cry. It was one of those, I can’t believe how beautiful this moment is, cries.

      So, I repeated the scene last night, kneeling down and petting sleeping Epona, and she decided to jump up and eat again. 😂 So, the movie version of events has ended, and now we’re back to normal horse behavior! Which I am very happy to see! I look forward to the day that she’s so strong and horsey, she flinches again, and says, hey, those are my legs, lady! Hands off!

      Shiloh is resting well, and she has camera access to the barn. I think she’s enjoying a little emotional space right now. After my hard lesson last week, I feel like I have the same. An odd combination of loving something deeply, but resigned to an outcome out of my control. Good or bad, I can’t take credit.

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