Do you ever take time out to appreciate those moments where, “Wow, I just looked at the right time in the right place and heard/saw/felt something I may not have a split second before or after?” I love those times. I had one a couple of weeks ago, driving up the coast.
My intrepid adventure buddy and I were planning on doing some photography in a beautiful patch of poppies up by the lighthouse. We’d loaded up warm clothes and my camera and were just north of the entrance to Hearst Castle when we noticed a car stopped by the side of the road.
“Oh, look, those tourists must never see horses so they’re stopped to …” SKREEETCH! “Whoa! That’s a brand-new horse!” As we turned around in the highway, we kept an eye on the action. We parked and ran across the road. “She just stood up!” the gentleman informed us. Fresh, indeed. The little fella still had the embryonic sac over a good portion of his body.
“He just came along seconds ago.” We were all very calm and in awe. Two or three more cars stopped, in typical fashion, because when cars are parked on a highway and more than one person is out of the car, obviously not peeing, then there must be something interesting.
So, at approximately 9:45 a.m. on Wednesday, April 16, the Hearst Ranch experienced a new life arriving on their ranch. We saw the umbilical cord was still dangling as the colt immediately started trying to make his way to his feet and to his mom. We were not more than 20 feet away from the miracle of it all.
Now, I’ve given birth to two boys, at home. However, putting it delicately, I was on the “giving” end. I’ve never actually seen a large animal give birth. I just missed this one emerging, by seconds, but what unfolded immediately afterwards was just as amazing. As my buddy said, “Prey animals MUST get up and move or risk being, well, prey.”
The only threat this morning was a bunch of curious human onlookers and two other mares, looking like they may also drop any moment. One of those mares ventured a foot or two too close and this new mom let her know, with ears flat and a slight rush toward her, that it was NOT OK to come any nearer. Then, it was time to birth the placenta.
Lying down, the afterbirth was pushed out within about five minutes. Meanwhile, while she was so close to that lovely green grass, she nibbled. Actually, she nibbled all the while she was standing around immediately following birthing junior.
“Hey, for those of you who haven’t experienced giving birth, it’s a lot of hard work!” I offered.
Seemingly all legs, the little guy was hard put to get up on his pins. “Oh, don’t slip in the ….” Too late. Placental matter took him down a couple of times. “He’s up! No, no, almost ….” We all offered our quiet encouragement. Like he needed it. And then …
An “ahhhhhh …” was emitted by the gathered souls as he took to all fours and staggered toward his mother. She’d previously been licking off that embryonic sac but now she simply nuzzled him, admiring her handiwork, I think. Nothing like it. Motherly love.
What’s the Carl Sandburg quote, “A child is God’s will that the world should go on.”
I think that goes for the four-legged ones, too. What a blessed day. And our camera batteries died partway through the event so obviously we weren’t meant to shoot wildflowers. And so it was.