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Raising an orphan filly

MKB Southern Tempo

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Though we have been involved with the breeding and raising of Appaloosa horses for more than 27 years, we really never imagined that we would one day be faced with the misfortune of losing a mare and ending up raising an orphan foal. But, what we didn't expect came to be.

MKB Southern Tempo

What follows is a diary, of sort, recounting not only the trials & tribulations, but also the triumphs of accomplishments which we have encountered while hand raising our orphan filly MKB Southern Tempo. Along with a few photos, we will continue to add to this diary as she matures. To begin at the beginning, her conception.

June 7, 1997 - Echo came in season on the first of June. We hand covered her first to take the edge off of the first meeting between mare and stallion. We then turned her out to pasture with our stallion, Deep Thought. He proceeded to cover her various times throughout the following five days. Today there is no sign of heat. If she caught we'll be looking for a mid May baby.

June 20, 1997 - Echo came back in season on the 17th. We observed the stallion covering her on the 17th, the 19th and 20th. Now reckon we should expect a late May baby.

August 21, 1997 - With no sign of heat throughout July we were disappointed to note that Echo must have slipped her fetus as we observed the stallion covering her on the 19th and 20th. Shoot, now she'll have a late July foal. Oh well, it's the only month of the year that Montana hasn't had snow (at our elevation anyway), so guess that's good.

September 4, 1997 - What's with this crazy mare? Yesterday she appeared to be back in season and the stallion again made a good cover. Sure hope she can hold on to this one. Either she has been experiencing false heats throughout the summer or she keeps aborting the fetus. If she holds on to this one she'll have a early to mid August baby. Otherwise it looks as though she'll be barren next season.

April 20, 1998 - Echo is definitely in foal. She never came back in season following the early September cover and now her mid section is growing wider and wider with each passing week. We just aren't quite sure when to expect the foal, but am sure we'll figure it all out soon enough. We'll just watch for signs of impending birth. As she had three other foals we have a pretty good foaling record on her. She carried the first two foals 341 days and the third foal 347 days.

May 26, 1998 - As we are beginning the new breeding season, today we moved Echo out of the stallion's pasture. She is being a pain, pacing the fence line wanting to return to the north pasture to be with the stallion. We really wanted Echo to be in the pump house pasture where she would have access to a two stall log barn along with more acreage, but she worked up such a lather over that move that we opted for the smaller west pasture which shares a fence line with the stallion's pasture. At this point we want to keep her comfortable. Wouldn't want to cause her so much stress that it will effect her foal in any way.

June 22, 1998 - Echo continued to be uneasy by herself in the west pasture so we put Trio, our old retired show mare in the west pasture with Echo. At first Echo seemed to blame Trio for all her problems. We ended up having to removed Trio from the pasture. Echo was just too ornery, going out of her way to pick on Trio. But as soon as we led Trio away from the pasture Echo's attitude changed dramatically. She began calling for Trio to come back. We held out a couple days and didn't return Trio to the west pasture until this morning. Boy, was Echo happy to have Trio back again! She is being nothing but nice to Trio now.

July 25, 1998 - Well, Echo has skipped by the original expected foaling dates, if she had actually taken on the first couple of coverings, so we are looking toward an expected foaling date of early to mid August. Echo's tail head has been jell-o for the past few weeks though her mammary glands are still not fully enlarged.

August 15, 1998 - Echo had wax on both teats this evening about 7:00 p.m. so we knew the long wait was soon to come to a climax. By 9:30 Echo became quite restless. Pacing back and forth and looking longingly out toward the south pasture where she seemed to want to be, rather than where she was, experiencing preliminary contractions. Finally at 10:10 p.m. she lay down and the foaling process was underway. For the most part we tried to stay out of the way, preferring not to interfere, but the foal seemed to give Echo a bit of concern so we opted to help by gently pulling on the foal's front legs at each contraction. As soon as the head and shoulders were free of the mare's pelvis we stopped pulling to allow the mare to finish the job on her own. By 10:20 p.m. the foaling process was over and we melted into the shadows to allow mare and foal to rest. Once Echo recovered and had her second wind she stood up to check out her new baby. A chestnut filly with a blaze face, white on both hind legs, and spots splashing over her hips. At this point we stepped back in to treat the filly's navel stump with iodine and provided a quick rubdown with a towel. Shortly the filly began to struggle in an attempt to gain her feet, which she eventually did accomplish, but not without performing a myriad of animated tumbles, flips, and splits that would put a gymnast to shame. By midnight she had a fairly good handle on walking, everything was working as it should and she had nursed, so we headed for the house with thoughts of a warm shower, a soft pillow, and images of a beautiful, healthy filly.

Welcome to the world Tempo

August 25, 1998 - Since Tempo was foaled, we have worked/played with her two or three times each day. By that we mean we run our hands all over her body, scratching and massaging, to acquaint her with the human hand and to desensitize the ticklish spots. As yet, we have not introduced her to a halter, however, even with out the use of a halter, we are able to handle all four of her feet. If you are interested, please take time to visit our training page where we define our method and philosophy on training. By the way, Tempo seems to admire Trio and spends much of her time with Trio rather than next to her own dam. Trio is a great role model for the filly. She has always been gentle with the babies (her own as well as others) and she gets along with anyone she is out to pasture with.

MKB Roamin' Echo with her filly MKB Southern Tempo

September 8, 1998 - When we went out to take care of our feeding chores this morning we found Echo in great distress. She was standing along side the fence almost leaning in to it. Her breathing was short and labored and she was damp with sweat. Very concerned, we called the vet and caught him still at home. He was just headed in to the clinic and would call us back when he got there. In the mean time we haltered her, took her temperature (101 degrees) and attempted to check her other vitals. We couldn't distinguish a heart rate/pulse, and could here only very muffled intestinal sounds. Most disturbing was that her tongue was turning blue. Moments later she began to sway. Knowing she was going down we did what we could to guide her to an safe open area to fall and also worked at keeping the filly out of harms way. Once she went down it was only a minute or two and she was gone leaving a bewildered 21 day old filly in our care. The phone rang. It was the vet. It was determined that Echo suffered an aortic rupture (a massive heart attack)

While her dam lay prostrate, the filly managed to nurse from her dam one last time. We then attempted to collect what ever milk remained, not recovering but a dribble. While dad went to work with the back hoe to bury Echo, we rushed in to town (a 24 mile drive) to purchase several gallons of 2% milk and a jar of honey. Though we told the vet to order a 25 pound bucket of foal-lac we needed to provide the filly with some form of liquid nourishment in the mean time. A mixture of a sweetener and 2% cows milk (the regular homogenized cows milk contains too high of a fat content for foals) filled the bill....or in her case, her stomach. For the sweetener, we chose to go with honey, though could as easily used molasses or a commercial solution of dextrose. The recipe which we are using is as follows: 1 table spoon of sweetener per cup of milk at 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

The first feedings were less than desirable. We began a ritual of feeding, or more accurately, attempting to feed the filly every two hours. Tempo totally refused to nurse from a rubber nipple placed on an old beer bottle so, with slightly a little more success, we ended up squirting milk into her mouth via a 20cc syringe. Once she accepted the new taste (it wasn't nearly as good as her mama's milk) she began to take the nourishment with a little more gusto....polishing off a half pint every 2 hours, around the clock.

September 10, 1998 - Tempo is now devouring her meals with gusto. She anxiously awaits feeding time, yet part way through feeding her today, she turned away from us and began to suckle on Trio's teats. We expected her to find nothing and turn back to us for the rest of her meal, but she continued suckling longer than we anticipated. Curious, we walked around to pull at Trio's left teat and out shoots milk! Unfortunately Trio is producing a very minuscule amount of milk....not near enough to provide the nourishment that Tempo requires, but at least Tempo can obtain some in-between meal snacks and the act of suckling probably provides her an important  psychological boost. 

September 11, 1998 - As we are slowly introducing Tempo to foal-lac pellets with a mix of rolled oats and barely we have weaned her back to feeding every three hours around the clock. At this time she takes in 1 pints per feeding. She's not too crazy about the creep feed but is beginning to nibble at it with more interest.

September 20, 1998 - We are feeding Tempo every four hours - still around the clock. The other day she seemed to go off feed a bit due to the fact that we had begun to switch her over from the honey and 2% cows milk to the foal-lac powder, but she is back to eating eagerly... 3 pints per feeding.

September 21,1998 - Hooray! Tempo finally drank from a bucket. Over the past couple of days we had tried to offer her the milk in a bucket but she insisted that she suckle on the syringe. She didn't seem to like to get her whiskers in the milk! This morning we got tough, just placed the bucket in her stall and walked away. An hour later we returned, ready to feed her by syringe if need be, but there was no need....she had consumed the whole 3 pints of milk from the bucket. Skeptically we offered her another 3 pints in the bucket and right before our eyes she vacuumed it dry! This will make feeding time so much faster and easier on her and us.

Kim feeding Tempo

September 25, 1998 - We continue to slowly wean her from the liquid milk. We now feed her four times during the day and one feeding at 2:00 a.m. during the night. Still she will polish off 3 pints each feeding and is showing more and more interest in the creep feed.

October 3, 1998 - For the past few days we've cut back Tempo to a feeding every six hours - still around the clock. She is eating her creep feed quite well now. Today after the 2:00 p.m. feeding we turned her and Trio out in the east pasture with the yearlings. It was nice to see Trio take on the protective attitude she would exhibit if Tempo was her own filly. With flat back ears and a thrust of her nose she warned the three yearlings not to crowd in too close to her foster baby. And as she ambled out to graze she nickered softly for Tempo to follow her.

October 9, 1998 - Tempo has been really going strong at her creep feed during the night so last night we decided to cut out the walk out to the barn in the moon light....so we are now down to just three feedings during the day at 3 prints per feeding. As it would happen, just because, for the first time, we didn't traipse out in the dead of night to feed her - this morning we found she was sporting a few minor cuts and abrasions on her right forearm, neck, and face. Reckon she tangled with one of the stall gate panels...must have laid down too close and partially rolled under. Poor filly. She fidgets a little when we medicate her injuries (the one on her forearm is a tad bit tender).

October 11, 1998 - This afternoon we paste dewormed all the horses, including Tempo. She sure is nice to handle. Can walk right up to her in the pasture, stick the paste wormer in to her mouth - all without a halter or any other form of restraint.

October 22, 1998 - Today we cut out the mid-day feeding of milk supplement. Now each feeding consists of only 3 pints of milk replacer. She continues to devour her creep feed while in the corral/stall at night and has access to a protein block while out in the east pasture during the day and is growing like a weed...now stands at 11.1 hands and weighs close to 300 pounds. Not bad for a 2 month old orphan!

November 6, 1998 - We are cutting back slightly on the amount of milk replacer (giving her only 2 pints at each the morning and evening feedings.) We hope to have her completely weaned from it by the time we finish this last container of Foal-Lac. Haven't been able to turn her out with the yearlings lately since her foster dam, Trio, is having some hoof problems and we don't want her to lose her padded booties in the creek. Instead we just turn them loose to go where they want around the house or barnyard. Tempo loves to make social calls to all the horses in the east and south pastures. But, she especially loves to visit her sire, Deep Thought, in the north pasture. Think he enjoyes her visits as much as she seems to...he has always been great with his babies!

November 15, 1998 - Tempo is 3 months old today. She is 11.3 hands and 1/2 inch now...so its seems she is growing at a normal pace. Tomarrow morning will be her last morning meal of milk replacer. For the past few days we have cut her morning feeding down to only one cup of milk replacer while the evening feeding is cut down to two cups of milk replacer. She continues to eat her grain and protein supplement very well, along with some alfalfa and grass hay.

December 24, 1998 - The past five days have dipped into the sub-zero temperatures. Tempo is handling the cold very well, but Trio shivered after she took a long drink of icy water (have had a heck of a time keeping some of the stock tanks free of ice). Since Trio can't move around so freely due to her tender feet we did end up puting a blanket on her until today when the temperature soared back above zero, a toasty 10 degrees. A strong snow flurry moved in along with the warming temperatures - Tempo is having a grand time romping in the snow.

January 9, 1999 - Well, Tempo is fully weaned from her Foal-Lac milk supplement...although, she continues to nurse Trio we believe the nursing is more of a psychological need rather than a physical need. Trio is definitely not producing much milk, though does still seem to milk a little. Tempo spends most of her time during the day visiting the horses in all the different pastures. Today she even wandered out the lane a ways so we'll have to watch her. If she gets to wandering too much we'll have to shut the gate to the lane to make sure she doesn't wander too far from the ranch. Think that she'd really like a chance to play with the yearlings so may eventually turn her and Trio out with the yearlings, in the east pasture, during the day.

January 16, 1999 - Went out to measure Tempo today...she turned 5 months old as of yesterday. Tempo was over visiting the horses in the south herd so we measured her in the snow flurry. Its a little hard to get a real accurate measurement in the snow but think we got a fairly careful measurement at 12.2 hands. This sounds about right as her dam was 12.2 hands and a 1/2 inch at the same age. We've had a small herd of 11 elk slyly wander into the east pasture during the twilight hours the past few weeks, looking for hay scraps that the yearlings don't clean up. The elk haven't come all the way up into the barnyard where Tempo and Trio stay, but they can see the elk in the pasture....we wonder what Tempo might think about those strange looking "cattle".

February 2, 1999 - Trio is 22 years old today! For a little Birthday wish we gave her a small batch of carrots...she loved them. Tempo seemed to think that she should get something too so we offered her a baby sized carrot...she said yuck! and spit it out. Guess she'll have to learn about eating her veggies. Tempo is growing so fast. We had to raise the creep feed rail so that she can enter her stall without banging her withers and hips when she wants to go in to eat her grain.

February 12, 1999 - This afternoon while doing our daily mucking chores we found evidence that Tempo was in need of deworming again, for Ascaraids. We checked back on our calendar and realized that we have let four months lapse since we last dewormed her (how did those months slip by so fast?). So luckily we had a dewormer on hand and we able to give her a double dose of Panacure paste wormer. She resented the flavor but she allowed us to handle her nose and mouth following the deworming so guess she isn't holding the awful taste in her mouth against us. The past few weeks we have been working with her a little bit at halter. She has already learned to trust us and follows us around with out a halter but we felt it was time she learned to respond to cues from us via a halter. Tempo is proving to be very light and responsive. On a couple of occassions she did start to pull back from pressure, but we are carefull to give enough line and space so that it actually never ends up in a tug of war between us (she's definitly bigger and stronger than we are so would surely win)...instead we let her settle and then ask her again to move in the direction we want, which she then quietly complies.

February 15, 1999 - Tempo is 6 months old today! She now stands 12.3 hands and a 1/2 inch....which is a 1/2 inch bigger than Echo was at the same age. We figure that she'll most likely mature out to be 15.2 to 15.3 hands. Will have to take the measurement from her coronary band to the middle of her knee to see how close it will come to our prediction. Earlier today we were watching her through the kitchen window...she was out playing in the snow near the south herd, making figure 8's...maybe she wants to be a reining horse. Or, may be she wants to be a barrel racer as she spends a lot of time running patterns around all of the fruit and nut trees we planted in the back yard.

March 2, 1999 - Today while we worked at cutting and splitting more firewood for the house, Tempo wandered over to ramrod the project. At first she was a little hesitant to move in too close when we were using the chainsaw but her need for attention won over her apprehension so we had to stop working every few minutes to give her a good scratch over the withers. Finally we had to give her a pad of alfalfa hay to get her out of the way so that we could finish our chore.

March 19, 1999 - Yesterday we turned Tempo and Trio out in the east pasture for a little while. We want Tempo to get used to being in the pasture with the three 2-year-olds before we wean her away from her foster dam, Trio. She sure had a blast while turned out to pasture...raced all over the place, prancing and and kicking up her heels. Being in a new place is so exciting, its like getting loose! Well, spending the winter with Trio has proved to be somewhat of a drawback in one way...Tempo is picking up Trio's bad habit of cribbing. Its really kind of strange in that Trio has raised 6 of her own foals to date and none have ever picked up the habitof cribbing, yet she mothers one orphan foal and the filly picks it up. It definitly wasn't due to bordom from being kept up in a stall since most of the time she was free to wander around the place and visit over the fence with all of the other horses in various pastures. Oh well, reckon we can live with another cribber...Trio has always been our favorite horse even though she's been a cribber for over 20 years.

April 20, 1999 - Tempo turned 8 months old as of the 15th of this month and now stands 13.1 hands 1/2 inch. She has been staying out with the east herd night and day now and gets along great with her big brothers and sister. Today we will bring Trio in off of the pasture grass. This will help wean Tempo from her foster dam at the same time keep Trio from grazing on the spring grass that's beginning to really sprout up out of the ground now. Of course Trio doesn't need to dry up, but she too has become attached to her foster daughter and could use a psychological weaning. Trio now has a set of special Equine Digital Support System shoes on her front feet sporting a pad and a narrow frog wedge. She's still a bit gimpy but is moving around fairly well...but think maybe she'd improve more with a thicker frog wedge. Anyway, back to Tempo...last week we gave all of the horses their annual spring vaccinations and Tempo received her very first shot ever. She did notice the needle invading her hip muscle, but took it all really quite well. In about three to four weeks we'll have to give her a second shot...hope it goes as well.

May 13, 1999 - Spring chores have kept us so busy we haven't had the time to keep up Tempo's diary as we should. On the fourth of this month we trimmed her hooves and today we gave her a second vaccination booster for Encephalitis and tetanus.

June 9, 1999 - Still we are overwhelmed with spring chores.....breeding and foaling out mares and such. When We can find the time we've been playing with Tempo.....have started introducing her to the horse trailer and also are fine tuning her responses to cues...at halter and turns on the forehand and rear quarters plus move over cues. She'll be 10 months old next week. We measured her the other day and she now stands just shy of 13.3 hands. During the day she goes out to pasture with a couple mares and their new foals while at night she shares the pasture with her 2-year old brother and sister. Trio gets a few hours in the pasture in the morning...she and Tempo are still very much attached and will call to each other when they are separated. Slowly Tempo is learning that she doesn't need a mama any more though Trio really hates to give up her foster daughter.

August 18, 1999 - This diary is well past due an up date of how Tempo is doing....we were so busy during July cutting and baling hay. Once that chore was done we began cutting firewood so we haven't kept up with the diary to well. Tempo turned one 1-year old on the 15th of this month. We measured her to see how she was growing and found that she had only grown a half inch since early June. We then measured the distance between the middle of her knee to the coronary band (15 and one half inches) which suggests that she should mature to 15.2 hands. Her dam, Echo, had a mature height of 15.2 hands and our old records show that she was 14.0 hands at 1-year old....so we figure that Tempo is still holding pretty close to the growth rate that she should. Though we have been too busy to work with the horses much this summer we did manage to work with Tempo a few times on loading into the horse trailer but haven't had a chance to actually give her a ride in the trailer as yet. Also we have fitted her with a cribbing strap which has prevented her from cribbing the past two months. At first she tried to crib with the collar on but soon realized that she couldn't...we haven't seen her even attempt to crib since. Would be nice if we could remove the collar eventually and find that she won't go back to cribbing but we may be hoping for too much on that score....we just have to wait and see. We do have one concern though...she has a lump about the size of a walnut on the under side of her jaw, right side. We are putting Icthamol on the lump once a day in hopes that if it is an infection that it will come to a head, burst and drain. Other wise we hope it will slowly shrink away.

Please visit Tempo's 2nd year to see how she is doing now.

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