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."
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?
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.