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The Story of Hewey!

The story of Hewey is going to take some time to write so we'll do it in installments with links added to the bottom of a page as new ones are added. This all has to happen as stud duties allows!

Many of our close associates, relatives and friends know Hewey but for those who don't, the story of Hewey began at Dressage with the Stars in 2003 when, with a friend, we purchased a Jive Magic service.

We elected to use the frozen option but after some attempts without success, we tried the frozen semen from Regardez Moi.

This resulted in pregnancies in two mares with conception 2 days apart in March 2004. Hence we were expecting babies to arrive on the 16th February and 18th February 2005. Interestingly Regardez Moi is now only available through live cover.

One of the lucky mares was Tidal Wave my retired 3* eventer who had previously delivered a chestnut colt (now Aurum Invader) by Brilliant Invader.

On the 2nd of December 2004 it was apparent that she was not waiting until February to foal as she had waxed up. At 262 days of gestation she was a long way short of the normal 340 days. We had put a lot of time and money into achieving this pregnancy so were not about to let it slip without a fight. All the literature tells you that if you can get to 300 days you have a viable foal so we only had to get her to hang on for at least 40 days, or so we thought! So the twice daily regime of treatment commenced. It was complicated a little by the fact that Gloria was in a paddock of some 15 acres down the road at Mum's and the further indisputable fact that she hated any medication and needles were a definite two man job! We of course did not want to do anything that might precipitate an ‘event’ (such as take her away from her paddock mate) so we had to work with this.

Gloria continued to drip milk and on the 7th of January we brought her home as we were almost at the point where we had a chance of a live foal. We passed the 300 days and rejoiced but on the 11th she looked like she was beginning to change shape and the next day I was pretty sure we did not have long to go. The straw stable was ready, colostrum organized and we thought that we were pretty well prepared for the impending arrival.

At 11:35 pm on the 12th of January the waters broke and at 11:50 pm one tiny beautifully marked chestnut colt arrived at 303 days gestation. The advice given by the on-call vet was ‘go to bed, it will be dead in the morning’. This was perhaps in hindsight not bad advice, however…

I carried him (easily) into the stable; he only weighed 22 kilos and looked like a skeleton covered in tissue paper. It is hard to imagine just how fragile this foal was but even the deep straw bed ‘shaved’ skin off him.

He could not stand or therefore feed himself or keep himself warm but otherwise was bright as a button. Mum was very good for the first few hours but then all of a sudden wanted to help and sadly had to be removed to the yard adjoining the stable and sedated. It was now the middle of the night and the second vet we rang, who had helped us get this far, said to go with the original plan of the straw box, keep him warm, get a litre of colostrum into him and he’d see him in the morning. hewey premature foal

We had organized some pretty high class thoroughbred colostrum and by 1:30am we had managed to get him to drink about 40ml. We were thrilled when by 9 o’clock in the morning we had managed to get him to drink a total of 400 ml. He could only manage a maximum of 40 ml at a time so it was a lot of feeding but this seemed to satisfy him. I can never understand the notion of feeding a newborn foal once every hour or two hours. My experience of foals is that they feed little and often. This was certainly the case with Hewey. He probably had 15 feeds in the next 7 1/2 hours.

hewey premature foalThat's a normal straw bale each side of him.

Keeping him warm was another challenge because at his early stage of development his temperature regulation system was not very effective and he essentially didn't have any hair. We did of course have foal rugs but most foals are 50 kg not 22. Even our dog Kryten's rug drowned him. The only way was cuddling under blankets to share the body heat. The polar fleece hood worked as well and was plenty big enough for little Hewey! hewey premature foal

And that's a polar fleece hood over little Hewey!

As far as his normal bodily functions went there was no worries about meconium ('first poo') retention because this was being passed as he was being born. This is of course a bad thing as it's an indication of foetal stress.
As he couldn't stand up we held him up so he could have a normal wee (yes, every time). He would usually get 'the look' on his face when these urges took him, mostly (but not always!) giving us time to grab the potty and toilet paper (look for the yellow Winergy dipper in the pics!). hewey premature foal
These last two photos are actually from a few days on and do require further explanation. That will come in the next installment!

hewey premature foalThe Look!

A fair bit to get a handle on really, and that was just the first few hours...

Click to reach page 2!