What a SHOCK dear reader. We enjoyed a wonderful Christmas lunch with Kiwi friends and returned home to find…..a friggin’ bloody foal!!! Karma had dropped her bundle whilst we were enjoying festive ham and Christmas pudding. All that preparation and reading was for nothing because I missed The Event.

For days – DAYS – I had been checking for signs she was about to have her foal. I was looking for tail slightly raised; restlessness; a lengthening of her lady bits; a more relaxed posterior. I was even touching her all over the body because I read that before foals are born, the mare often drops in body temperature or becomes hot to the touch. No signs. Nothing. Nada.

So off we went and came back about three hours later. And there was the foal, looking like a miniature version of Muff, the father. The placenta had been expelled and all looked good. Karma seemed fine. Everybody was excited that we had a Christmas Day foal. My Kiwi friend rushed over to check out the newborn.

But things didn’t quite go according to plan. Karma is three years old and hasn’t been around older, experienced mares. So she is a bit clueless about this mothering business. It seemed to me that she wasn’t feeding the foal. It’s important that foals get colostrum from the mother within 12 hours of birth. This provides them with antibodies to fight off infection and so on.

Because it seemed like Karma was clueless about feeding her foal, we carted them both off to Canterbury Equine Clinic, where the wonderful Emma and Hamish took no chances. They gave the foal plasma, just in case she had not received colostrum and gave mum and bub one heck of a going over.

They then announced that both could go home and be in familiar surroundings. Secretly, dear reader, I was hoping they’d stay at the clinic for a couple of days so Karma could get the hang of the feeding business. I didn’t relish the thought of shoving bub up to mum’s teats and getting kicked for my troubles. Nor did I really want to express Karma’s milk.

But by the time we all arrived home, it looked like bub had managed to get a drink in the float. I put them both in the round yard and gave them a cosy, warm stable. The more confined space I hoped would encourage Karma to do her motherly duties. Back home, she immediately settled into allowing bub to drink. Phew.

Then we had to watch out for the black poop. This is the first poop a foal passes and is called meconium. Actually, Hamish and Emma gave bub an enema, so I really had to watch for the soft orangey poop that follows the meconium. Well, of course, bub didn’t pass any orangey stuff so the vet came hurrying out, ready to give poor bub another enema. But a quick examination showed that all seemed to be okay, albeit a little slow. The vet advised not to intervene and let nature take its course. The next morning, an explosion of orange poop could be seen!

I must say poor old Karma looks a bit stunned. Bub is quite demanding with the feeds and sometimes Karma whinnies, presumably because things are a bit tender in the teat department.

What I’m REALLY pleased about is that Karma is very chilled out with me around bub, even hugging bub. She had a dream pregnancy and birth, so I was a bit worried that she’d turn into a horse monster, ready to protect her foal from anything and everything. But Karma and I have always had a close bond and I think this has really paid off. I can pat and play with the foal whilst she’s eating and she is relaxed. She’s turning out to be a very good mother.

Now to the name. Our property is called Aroona, which is an Aboriginal word for flowing waters. I called the property Aroona when I saw the stream that runs through our property overflows when it’s raining (and water flows everywhere let me tell you). So the foal’s name is Aroona Saffron Dream. Saffron because of her colour (yes, I realise she’s not yellow but the dun colour reminds me of saffron) and Dream because Karma had a dream pregnancy and delivery and was a dream in-foal mare. But we call her Saffy for short. Both Karma and the father, my stallion Muff, are the last of their lines, so I think this makes Saffy a new line of Welsh pony.

I’m wondering though if I shouldn’t have named her Sassy because this foal has major ‘tude. Karma is a sweet mare but, when she was two years old, she was Miss Bossy Boots. Whilst in-foal, she turned into the most placid mare and as a mother (so far anyway), she is wonderful. But if Saffy doesn’t like something, well she just doesn’t like it. The ears go back and she turns away. She is quite the determined young lady and I suspect I’m going to have my hands full with this foal.

I cannot speak highly enough of Canterbury Equine Clinic. Karma and Saffy had to go there on Boxing Day and one of the vets, Hamish, came in with his young son to supervise the transfusion. The next day, Emma texted me for a foal update and gave advice. Fantastic, caring service. I jokingly asked them if they could sedate me. I was barely over the shock of the foal suddenly appearing and then we had a bit of stress over feeding – so I think I was the one who needed sedating.

Turn away now!! This is the placenta.

Karma and Saffy, who is about four hours old here.

The first steps of mum with bub.

Poor little Saffy receiving her plasma transfusion at Canterbury Equine Clinic.

Karma watches the action. She was very well-behaved but obviously concerned.

Mum and bub back home. Saffy is now getting the hang of this teat business and Karma just stands there, with an occasional look of WTF? on her face!

Karma and Saffy take a well-deserved nap after a tiring day.

Muff, the proud father (with Rosie).