The anticipation is building! When will Lady Lonza’s foal arrive? Will the foaling process be easy or difficult? Will it be a colt or a filly? What color will it be? We have so many questions, yet all we can do is wait, and the waiting becomes less and less bearable as Lonza’s time approaches. It should happen near the end of April, so we’re only six to seven weeks away from the big event.
While the gestation period in mares can vary significantly, most mares foal after an eleven-month gestation period. Lady Lonza’s two previous foals were born within a week of her eleventh month, or about 341 days from her having been bred. There is no reason to believe that this time will be any different. The date of Lonza’s breeding was May 16, 2016, so her due date is April 22, 2017. Both of Lonza’s previous births were quick and easy, which is the norm in the world of horses. As prey animals, mares cannot be incapacitated for long periods of time while giving birth, and newborns must be able to get right up and move with their herd. Birthing complications are rare and mares generally do not need human assistance of any kind. However, when they do have problems, they are often very serious and can result in the death of either the mare or the foal, or both. We have our fingers crossed that this pregnancy and birth will follow Lonza’s previous experiences of easy, uneventful, and joyful occasions.
During the next four weeks, you will witness us remodeling our stalls and barn to create a birthing stall for Lonza that is private and protected. We will do this by sacrificing Chinook’s stall, adding the covered space to Lonza’s usual stall, and constructing a solid wall between Lonza and Chinook so Lonza is not concerned about Chinook’s close proximity. This means Chinook will be without shelter for part of the spring, which is not a problem for him as spring is by far the easiest time of year with weather that is neither too hot nor too cold. We will, of course, move our mobile web camera into Lonza’s birthing stall so we can capture the event online for all to enjoy.
As March turns to April, we will keep a close eye on Lonza for signs that her time is near—a swollen or distended udder, the swelling of her vulva, and the waxing of her teats. We will line her stall with fresh and clean straw for a birthing bed. Mares are famous for waiting until they are alone to go into labor, and that has certainly been the norm at Dunrovin. The mare will lie down to push her foal out, who will struggle to immediately get to its feet and begin to suckle. It is our job to retrieve the afterbirth to let the vet examine it for any abnormalities and to ensure that none was left in the mare. Thus far, knock on wood, all Dunrovin births have been relaxed and without any drama of any kind.
Dunrovin chose a handsome and very kind stallion to breed with Lonza. Gentleman Lux is owned by our friends from the Lazy Sousa Ranch in the Ninemile Valley of Montana. He is a registered Palomino Tennessee Walking Horse, while Lady Lonza is a registered Amber Champagne Tennessee Walking Horse. The Sousas worked out a chart for the color probabilities for this cross based on the genetics of both Lux and Lonza. As you can see, there is a good chance the foal will be an overo paint, which is characterized by jagged spots of white over the base frame color. So, an Amber Champagne Frame Overo would be Lady Lonza’s base color with white spots. I searched the internet to find photos of horses with the colors listed in the Sousas’ chart. As you can see, some of the possibilities are extraordinary. It is getting very exciting around here just thinking about what is to come. Our hopes are, of course, for a healthy outcome for both mare and foal, regardless of its color or gender.