The Gentling of a Mustang
A Bouncing Baby Girl
John and I awoke the next morning with the early morning dawn. We were both
very bleary eyed, but too excited to sleep any longer. We got up, dressed
and went out side to see the new baby girl.
Celis White and the filly were both up. Celis was busy scrounging the area
for any morsels of food while the foal ambled around the edges of the
corral, tasting the bottom rail.
We looked at the filly from the side of the corral. She was
very alert and walked more confidently than she had the night before.
When she saw us, she came over and started sniffing our hands and feet. To
our amazement she was completely unafraid of us. Celis was a different
The little white mare now seemed to have regressed into her more wild days.
She moved to the other side of her corral, looking very suspiciously at us.
I approached the stall where the new mother was, but she snorted and quickly
backed away from me. I then started the morning feeding, giving the other
horses their portions. Afterword, I went and retrieved Celis'.
"You know John," I said, "I think we better get Celis' halter on in case we
need to handle her. With the way she is acting, we might have an extremely
difficult time trying to catch her if an emergency arises."
John brought the halter from the tackroom. I took it and some hay and
entered the corral. Celis was eagerly awaiting her breakfast. I slowly
approached the mare with the hay and allowed her to eat from my hand while
petting her. I stroked her underneath her chin and slowly brought the halter
over her nose and the strap over her poll and quietly buckled the halter on.
I didn't like the idea of leaving a halter on the mustang, but felt like I
needed to in case we had to restrain her.
I placed the rest of the hay in the feeder and left the corral. John went
into the house and brought back a pot of coffee, two cups and the morning
newspaper. We went to the chairs near the corral and read the paper while
watching the mare and filly.
After an hour or so, I went in and called my work to tell them that I
wouldn't make it in today. After that call, John and I started looking
through the yellow pages for a fencing company; we decided it was high time
to have the arena fenced so we could turn out Celis and the foal.
We found a company that was having a sale and I went to inspect the fencing.
John stayed behind to watch the filly.
While I was gone, John notified our friends and family of the new arrival.
When I returned, John and our friend Tom were sitting at the corrals.
"Hi Tom," I said, "How do you like our newest member of the family?"
"She is wonderful," Tom replied. "What are you going to name her?"
"John and I haven't had time to think about it."
"Was the fencing ok?" John asked.
"Yes, it looks like it will work out just fine. It's portable so we can take
it down or move it around if we want. They said they could deliver it in a
few days. I went ahead and made the arrangements for the delivery."
I joined John and Tom with the horses. Other friends and family came and
went to see the filly. We tossed around ideas for names. My mother suggested
"April". Tom suggested "Blaze" for her facial markings or "Corona" in
keeping with the beer theme. We thought of Nevada since that is the area
where Celis was captured. John suggested "Austin" since that is where Celis
White is brewed. We weren't quite sure, so we decided to wait a day to see
if we thought of other names.
What amazed everyone, including myself, was the little filly's warm nature.
She walked up to the rail where everyone was sitting and allow people to
scratch her neck. She especially enjoyed having her chest scratched and
would wiggle her upper lip when the area was rubbed. The black foal was
extremely fluffy and her little hooves seemed to belong to a fawn.
Everyone enjoyed watching her nurse and then try to lie down. She still was
inexperienced at folding her legs and she would plop onto the ground.
Celis White was a good mother. She allowed the filly to nurse, she stayed
close to her while the black foal slept, and she was careful not to step on
the prostrate form.
Towards sunset, we started anticipating Dr. Palmer's arrival. He called and
said he would be late due to an emergency. More of our friends arrived after
their work day. So when the veterinarian finally arrived, we had quite an
Dr. Palmer drove up and jumped out of the truck. He went to the rear of the
vehicle and started to get his instruments ready.
"How's the foal? Do you know if it is a colt or a filly?" he asked.
"It's a filly, and she is doing very well. She seems really vigorous."
"That's good. And the mare? I assume you found the placenta."
"Yes, we found it. Celis is doing fine. She is eating well and seems to have
recovered fairly well. I'll go and get a lead on her." I went off and got a
lead while the vet finished preparing for the exam.
I entered the corral. The mustang mare walked a few feet away from me and
came to a halt. I quitely approached and clasped the lead to the halter. Dr.
Palmer came to the corral and peered inside.
"Is the mare very protective?" he asked.
"She allows us to approach and handle the foal, but her personality has
changed. She doesn't like us approaching as much as she did before the foal
was born," I replied.
"That doesn't sound unusual. Let's give them a look." With that Dr. Palmer
entered the corral. Celis pricked her ears and started blowing hard through
her nose. "Lets deal with the filly first. If the mare gets upset, the filly
is likely to get upset. About what time did Celis foal?"
"We think it was about 10:00 p.m."
"And she started to stand right away?"
"I think so. We didn't see the birth, but I had been out here about two
hours earlier and Celis hadn't gone into labor. She had finished her
dinner when we discovered the filly, so I am pretty sure we
missed the birth by about 30 minutes."
"Has the foal passed any stools?" Dr. Palmer asked.
"Yes, actually she did. The first was firm and dark colored. Then she passed
a more orange or yellow colored matter."
"That's good. That means her intestinal tract is functioning normally. The
first brownish matter is called meconium. Were you able to dip her navel in
iodine?" he asked as the little filly ambled up to him.
"Yes, we were."
"And has she been nursing?"
"Yes, she started looking for the udder practically from the time she stood
Dr. Palmer already had his stethoscope around his neck. He then
put his arm around the black form and then listened. He paused for a
moment and then moved the end of the stethoscope. "Her heart and lungs
sound good." Next he put his fingers in the filly's mouth. "She has a strong
sucking reflex. That's good." Finally he took the syringes from his vest
pocket and removed the caps with his teeth, maintaining a hold around the
filly's chest. In two quick movements, he gave the foal her shot. The filly
bucked in his arms and tried to lung forward. Celis nickered.
"Well, she is one vigorous little filly!" he said. "She does have
slight tendon contraction on her front legs."
"What causes that?" asked John.
"There are a couple of theories. One is that the static position of the foal
in the uterus causes the tendons to contract slightly. Another theory says
that it is caused by a vitamin deficiency. Has the foal had difficulty
standing, or has her legs buckled over at the fetlock?"
"No, she seems to be really sturdy on her feet," I replied.
"As long as she can get up and down ok and she doesn't buckle over, the
tendons should start stretching as she moves around and exercises. But if
she doesn't, you should give me a call. Also you should arm yourself with
some Kaopectate. The filly will go through foal heat and have diarrhea for
about five to ten days. You can give her about 2-4 ounces twice a day.
If the diarrhea starts to dry up, you can stop one dose and then the
second. But if it comes back, put her on the two doses a day. Just
play it by ear. We weren't able to vaccinate the mare when I was here last,
"No, we weren't, but I think we might be able to this time." I replied. Dr.
Palmer left the corral and came back with the shots. Upon re-entering the
corral, the white mustang snorted and backed up quickly.
"Whoa girl, whoa," the vet crooned. Celis was up against the rail. The
vet walked up to her with his arm outstretched while I held the lead. Celis
raised her head high and her eyes were wide. As Dr. Palmer approached her
muzzle with his hand, Celis' started breathing faster. She allowed him to
touch her on the nose which he rubbed for a few moments, slowly reaching
toward her forehead. With his other hand he started rubbing her under her
"What if I started to feel your teeth, huh girl?" The vet placed his finger
in her mouth, first on the left then slowly on the right. "She doesn't have
any protrusions, and her teeth line up nicely." Next Dr. Palmer started
rubbing her neck, working his hand toward her back. He started rubbing Celis
at her girth. He then took the stethoscope from around his neck and placed it
in his ears and then took the end to place on Celis' girth. The mustang side
stepped to the right, so the vet started over again. This time the white
mare allowed him to place the end of the stethoscope on her side. He
listened for few moments, then moved the end an inch or two away from that
"Other than a slightly high heart rate, her heart and lungs sound good.
Let's see if we can get a couple of shots in her." Dr. Palmer stood up
strait and started rubbing Celis on the neck, slowly increasing the
pressure. Next he took the needle and took off the lid and in mid thump with
his hand, he stuck the needle in the neck. Celis didn't flinch. She stood
rigid with her head high. The vet then took the syringe and placed on the
needle. After pulling outward on the plunger, he injected the vaccine.
"Wow, she has come a long way from the last time I saw her!" Dr. Palmer
said. "Do you have the placenta?" John went into the house and retrieved the
bag with the afterbirth.
In the aisle way of the corrals, the vet took the placenta from the bag. "I
am looking for any tears or rips in the afterbirth. If there is, it means
that a piece of it could still be in the mare and would have to be flushed
out. This one looks good. As the foal emerges from the mare, the placenta
gets turned inside out." With examination gloves the vet rearranged the
afterbirth. "As you can see, it is shaped like a pair of pants." Our friends
murmured amongst themselves.
Dr. Palmer pushed the afterbirth back into the bag. John tied it up and
carried back to the house. "Can you position her rear end toward the light?"
asked the vet.
I moved Celis around and tried to get her as close to the railing as
"I'd like to see if she has any tears on her vulva. If you can, lift her
tail." Dr. Palmer stood in the middle of the aisle way, far enough back so
as not to frighten the mare, but close enough to get a good look at the
mare. I lifted Celis' tail up while hanging on to her lead. The mustang
stood for a few seconds before she stepped aside.
"That's good enough. I didn't see any tears, but she has a melanoma on her
vulva. That's not unusual for gray horses. We can remove it surgically later
on. Your mare and filly seem to be in good health. The foal will need
booster shots in two months." Dr. Palmer went back to his truck and started
to prepare for the other horses.
After the vet visit, our friends said good night and left. John and I were
both exhausted from our long night and day. We chatted again about names for
the filly, but decided delay the decision until morning.