Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cool Beans

I love that phrase—Cool Beans—and I get the giggles every time I hear that. It’s not that it is such a funny phrase on its own; nope, it is that I have a horse named Beans, and he is cool.
Beans does have an actual registered name, but he has been Beans (yes, I used those two words in a row on purpose) nearly since birth. He was scarcely 12 hours old when that name became his. But he was lucky to have any name at all as he nearly died at birth.
It was 1988 and we were waiting for the foals to arrive. The mare who was second due had foaled. The mare who was first to foal was showing no signs of impending birth. This dark brown mare was out of Dave’s favorite mare. She was bred to our handsome bay stallion. Dave was expecting a bay filly. Finally, nearly 6 weeks overdue, she laid down and gave birth to a chestnut colt. Dave had only a short time to be disappointed as it was quickly apparent that this little guy was in trouble. He was breathing but that was all he was doing. Well, that and a heart rate so elevated that I could not count the beats. I rushed up to the house to call our vet while Dave remained in the stall. When I got back about 15 minutes later to report the vet was on his way, I was surprised to see Dave up on his feet, holding the colt & walking/dragging him around the stall. Dave said that the colt had given up so Dave started moving him and the colt started to try to live again.
By the time the vet arrived, the colt was at least into sternal recumbrancy instead of flat on his side. He did have a nursing reflex, so we picked him up and held him in position at the mare’s udder so he could nurse. We also milked her out into a bottle to supplement him. The vet did his thing and left. Dave went off to bed and I spent the night picking up the colt every hour to nurse and then laying him back down.
In the morning the colt could stand on his own and nurse with only some light support holding him in place. I was still laying him down as nature told him to stay on his feet since he could not get up. I fed the other horses and had my own breakfast. Dave, upon awakening, asked “How is Beanyard this morning?” Later, I get back to the barn to find Dave sitting in the stall, holding Beanyard in his lap; guess he got over his disappointment at a chestnut colt. So Beans he became.
By evening, he was getting up and nursing on his own and lying back down on his own also. He was still obviously dysmature (carried to term, but essentially premature) with his general weakness and lack of normal foal behaviors. This was the one the vet said that his being so late was “nature’s effort to get him fully baked.” Hmmm—baked beans.
For the first five days of life, he had no face expression or personality. He just ate and slept. But on day 6, wowsa!—a fully baked colt had finally arrived. I knew this when he reared on me when I went into the pen. And he had evil on his face too. While I did have to explain to him that rearing on humans was unacceptable, I was laughing with joy to see him acting like a normal colt. As he grew he certainly developed lots of personality, but those are future stories.
I get the giggles when ever any sort of beans are mentioned—green beans, string beans, kidney beans, white beans, soy beans, chili beans, Mr. Beans, The Bean. I am, no doubt, quite hopeless.

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