'Miracle' at Machmer Hall


The following heartwarming story was sent to me by Carrie Brogden at Machmer Hall Farm in Kentucky. I am relaying just as she wrote it because it’s a must for all horse lovers:

I want to share a heart touching story with all of you.  One that makes my eyes well up with tears over just the thought of me typing it.  

As all the partners know, Beal Street Blues' septic colt died on Sunday.  She was put out into the field with the maiden/barren mares as she no longer had a foal.  On early Tuesday morning, a new colt was born to a 3-year-old mare named Tibetan.  The colt was born without problems other than the fact that the mare was not keen on him (we had to hold her for him to nurse much to her chagrin) and she had a very, very small bag of milk. He was bouncing around the stall and I delivered the happy news to the owners that they had a healthy colt. We put the mare on milk producing products and monitored the foal.  

On Tuesday evening, the healthy colt started to show neurologic signs of distress. He suddenly could not move his hind end and became stiff legged.  We had the vet out to treat him. Put a tube in his nose for milk, fluids, etc.  By Wednesday morning he continued to go downhill severely. Even with all the intensive care, by 2 p.m. he was non-responsive with swelling on his forehead, mild seizures and laying limp under blankets. I made the follow-up call to all the owners telling them that their sick foal had just taken a much much turn for the worse.  I had just received the bloodwork for the colt and it was an unreal 1,100 white count.  We (the owners and myself) decided after speaking to euthanize him humanely. Craig went up to meet the vet after her next two stops.  

About an hour later, Craig called me to tell me that there might be a glimmer of improvement in this foal.  He had stood him up and instead of being a limp rag he was trying to garner the strength to stand on his own. Well, a good friend and vet of mine once told me, ‘you can always kill them, but you can't bring them back,’ so Craig and I called an audible and waved off the vet for the meantime.  We decided to give supportive care to see where he went. At this point, I had not notified the owners that their colt was in actuality alive and showing small steps of improvement; I did not want to give them false hope. The afternoon wore on and slowly and this strong willed baby improved.  I finally made the call to the much surprised owners that their boy was not only alive but improving. The next morning came around and the colt continued on his way up the ladder of health. The only problem was that he had a mother that had no milk and no interest in being a mother.  She would still fuss if he tried to drink and was not keen on this mother thing at ALL!  She was a very young 3-year-old so she probably had the maturity to reflect that. Her milk was not coming in and she was still showing no interest in this brave little guy. So Craig and I were brainstorming over what to do and I said.. what about Beal Street?  She had the milk of a dairy cow and was a great mother. Craig told me that I was brilliant!! I asked him why it took him so long to realize this fact :) LOL.

I took Samuel down to get Beal Street Blues out of her new field.  I know that they say that humans sometimes attribute their own emotions on horses but this is about as close to depression as I have seen.  Beal Street was standing at the far end of the field, away from the other bitchy young mares that were busy swirling around these two visitors that came into their field.  We walked down to Beal Street and she looked at me with big long tear stained eyes (literally tear stained all the way down her face). Samuel snapped a shank on her and we slowly walked through the field with me having to fend her off from the young maiden mares trying to assert their rank order upon this grand old G1 placed race girl. Samuel walked her from the field on the other side of the farm to the main barn. I drove up in front of him. I got to the barn ahead of the sad older mare and we took the young disinterested mare out of the foal's stall.  We put her on the other side of the barn just in case Beal Street would not take this foal.... keep in mind that Beal Street's foal had died FOUR days prior... The young mare taken out of the stall did not even whinny for her boy once.  She went into her new stall and began eating some leftover grain that was in it.  This proved to me that this mare had the materal instinct of Joan Crawford.

So, Sam gets there with Beal Street.  We get the foal up and decide to give the mare a little tranquilizer just in case she reacted badly. We put a little Vicks in her nostrils, so when she smelled the foal she would not realize that the scent was different.  We walked her into the stall with this little guy and she threw her head up and started whinnying happily at him.  Even through her tranq, she was thrilled to see him and when I say immediately accepted him …it was as immediate as I have ever seen.  We let him take some good slurps and then let her go in the stall.  She went over and happily started eating her fresh dinner without a care in the world.  The tranq was starting to wear off and I was watching carefully.  She turned around to sniff him a couple of times and make sure that he was there. Within 20 minutes she was making piss pot faces at me trying to come in the stall to look at HER boy!!   The colt seemed very responsive to a mother that wanted him.  

At that point, Craig and I decided to take the former mother down to the field to turn her back out with the other mares. When we got back, I wish I had my camera ... Beal Street and HER boy were lying side by side in the stall resting. She had just had a nice dinner and we had found her baby for her so all was well. So, this story of incredible heartbreak on the death of one life that could not be saved despite all of our intensive care efforts has become a story of strength and a mother's love...that of joy and happiness.  As I write this, tears are streaming down my face for the appreciation of the beauty of the horse and the ultimate maternal instinct and drive to love that makes this world a better place.  

The owners are going to race this “miracle baby” and I of course have already fantasized about all the great interviews I could give when he wins the Kentucky Derby. I hope that they come up with a witty name for this colt; something to remind us to never give up; that life is precious and dear and that a mother's love is wide and deep with lots of room to grow.

Kindest regards,
Carrie Brogden
Machmer Hall

Miracle Boy 

The "Miracle Boy"
Photo: Courtesy Carrie Brogden

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