Part 1: Toss Of A Coin
by Gayle Farmer

The study was dimly lit as the two old friends sat talking after dinner. Oil paintings of famous race horses covered the walls. Treasured memorabilia, gathered over a lifetime of successfully breeding Thoroughbred race horses, covered the tables and the large wall unit behind the mahogany desk.

They were about to decide who would get the next foal by Bold Ruler, out of Somethingroyal. The stud's owner fished around in his pocket, extracting a quarter. He flipped it in the air, snatching it on the descent.

"Make the call," said Phipps, the coin covered by his huge hand.

"Heads," replied Chenery, the mare's owner.

He uncovered the coin. "Tails."

And so, the decision was made. The next colt out of Somethingroyal would go to Mr. Phipps; the following year's colt would go to Mr.Chenery.
....

The Meadow Stud, Doswell, VA March 30, 1970

The staff of the foaling barn stood quietly outside the stall of Somethingroyal, waiting for her to get down to business. She was restless; a light sheen of sweat covered her neck and flanks. It was almost time.

She'd been up and down several times over the last hour, pawing the straw into little hills and valleys, making her nest. Every once in a while, she'd look at her bulging mid-section. She walked aimlessly around the stall again, nosing the heavy canvas pads that covered the walls. Then, with a long sigh, she went down in the deep straw. She stretched out, stiffened her front legs and moaned lightly.

She raised her elegant head from the straw, looking again at her flanks. Another strong contraction came, another slight groan, and two tiny hooves presented themselves, one slightly behind the other. The next contraction produced the miniscule muzzle, covered with a mat of fine, tiny whiskers. Another strong contraction, and the shoulders were free. The final push expelled the colt out onto the waiting bed of straw.

 

They lay there quietly together. The mare reaches for her baby, licking him vigorously, encouraging him to take those first, life-giving breaths. The colt chuckles lightly in his throat, making little chewing motions with his mouth as he sees his mother for the first time.

Before long, the mare stands, breaking the umbilical cord in the natural way. She swings her muzzle around to the colt, pushing gently on his flanks, prodding him, encouraging him to stand up.

The colt stiffens his forelegs and makes a lunge forward, falling on his nose. He settles back into the straw, unsure, unsteady.

The mare pushes him again, and nickers lightly. He tries again, lurching forward, right onto his knees. But wait! Here go the hind legs, another lurch, and he's standing. He takes two tentative steps towards his dam, and pitches forward again for another roll in the hay.

His movements cause his great heart to pump blood throughout his body. The lungs fill with oxygen from his exertion. With another, easier effort, he stands again, unsteady legs growing stronger by the moment.

Slowly, the mare moves to him, her head reaches down to lick him again. She moves forward again until his nose is just inches from her full udder. She nudges his haunches with her nose, helping him get into position.

Test two! A warm little nose seeks and finds the life-giving nourishment; he locks onto the udder. Breakfast is served! He instinctively butts the warm bag, stimulating the production of milk and the colostrum he needs to survive. He drinks his fill, and sinks softly into the straw, ready for a nap.

The groom enters the stall quietly, a small bottle of iodine in his hand. He calls to the mare softly, soothingly. He doesn't want to startle the new mama or her baby. Making his way slowly over to the foal, he kneels down in the straw, opens the iodine bottle, and saturates the small umbilical stump.

The baby just looks at him with wide brown eyes. He is unafraid. His mother stands behind him, continuing her grooming, while the man goes gently over her foal's body.

"It's a colt, Joe, an' he's perfect. Looka' the legs on this'n. Gonna be a big'en." He gently runs his hands down the colt's legs. "Hey, Buddy. Looks like ya' lost yer' front sock! What a good lookin' colt, Joe, three stockin's sho' is flashy! Cute little star on his forehead. An' look'y here. Gonna have a little stripe too! Hey, hand me the bucket, would'ya?"

He gathers the placenta together, careful not to damage the sack. The vet would be here any minute, and he would inspect the placenta for tears or other abnormalities in structure that could indicate a portion had been retained within the mare.

He caps the iodine bottle and slips it back into his pocket. He strokes the mare's face, which is only inches from his.

"Good job, lil lady. Y'all's the bes' mama in town! Dis'here sho' be one lucky fella. Yeah, good girl."

He strokes her again, then, standing quietly, he leaves the stall. It's time for mama and baby to rest.
...


Part 1: Toss of a Coin

Part 2: The Triple Crown
Part 3: The Final Chapter

------------
Gayle's novels, e-books and short stories can be found at www.4SHOWTIME.com

 

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