1: Toss Of A Coin
by Gayle Farmer
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.
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 call," said Phipps, the coin covered by his huge hand.
replied Chenery, the mare's owner.
the coin. "Tails."
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.
Stud, Doswell, VA March 30, 1970
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
stiffens his forelegs and makes a lunge forward, falling on his
nose. He settles back into the straw, unsure, unsteady.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?"
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.
the iodine bottle and slips it back into his pocket. He strokes
the mare's face, which is only inches from his.
job, lil lady. Y'all's the bes' mama in town! Dis'here sho' be
one lucky fella. Yeah, good girl."
her again, then, standing quietly, he leaves the stall. It's time
for mama and baby to rest.
Part 1: Toss of a Coin
2: The Triple Crown
Part 3: The Final Chapter
Gayle's novels, e-books and short stories can be found at www.4SHOWTIME.com