Posted 15 August 2008 - 12:41 PM
"Heaven" The heartbreaking story of a beautiful pure white filly, not meant for this world...
I wanted an overo mare very much. I didn't care if she was in foal or not, I just loved the beautiful patterns of the overo. I was looking for a quiet mare, preferably one that was broken in, so I could ride around the paddocks a bit.
I found 'Min' in Horse Deals. She seemed ideal. She was only six years old, and she was a very pretty dark bay mare with an interesting pattern. She was very quiet. Min's owner told me that she was in foal, and that she had previously had two foals to the same stallion she was in foal to now - both of them were all white foals, but they were 'maximum sabino' and were healthy, and definitely weren't lethal white foals.
I was aware of overo lethal white syndrome - and alarm bells would've rung for me, except that the stallion that Min was in foal to was presented to me as a sabino, not an overo. I thought there was no chance that Min could have a lethal white foal.
Min was about four months pregnant when I bought her, and had a normal pregnancy. I never suspected a thing. I was lulled by the belief that the stallion was a sabino and did not carry the overo gene - after all, the last two foals had been all white and healthy.
The foal was born at around nine in the morning. I wish it hadn't. I wish I wasn't there, but I was. The first thing she saw was me, and as Mum was exhausted, the foal followed me everywhere. She was so beautiful and so angelic - it was like she wasn't meant for this world. I called her 'Heaven'.
I was a little worried - but I thought that she was probably a maximum sabino, and that she'd be ok. Heaven was totally normal, she had a drink, ran around and played, and let me hold her. About lunchtime she looked a bit uncomfortable, and I didn't think she had been to the toilet, but the paint horse people always tell you 'give a white foal a chance' - so I did, still thinking that there was a possibility she was an all white sabino. By nightfall, she was rolling a bit, but still, I wasn't sure.
The next morning she looked very upset. She wasn't drinking at all, but just standing and looking miserable - and then she began rolling in earnest. I put her and Min in a yard - it was then I knew she was lethal. I went up to the house to call the vet - but I didn't do it. I went back to the yard for one last look, just in case I was wrong.
When I got there she was lying on the ground, her beautiful ice blue eyes wide open. She was dead. It was difficult, but I carried her away from her mother and up to the backyard. I phoned a machinery operator to dig a grave and I buried her, crying the whole time. Min was terribly upset for a few days, but she calmed down eventually. Heaven is buried in my backyard - I can see her from my bedroom window.
I was angry with Min's previous owner for not telling me that the stallion carried the overo gene. I waited a week before I called them to tell them what had happened. They were quite abrupt, and said 'Well, the mare's alive, isn't she?' I hung up on them, and cried some more. I got over this because of the support I received from my friends on a forum. There was even a special thread.
My friend Amy even painted a little white foal model for me and I have it on my desk. Min is still here, out in the paddock. I will not breed a foal from her again, and I have sold her to my partner. The whole ordeal was just too upsetting for me.
I believe that if breeders want to take a chance of a lethal foal, that they should NOT sell the mare in foal, for the innocent buyer to suffer what I did. They should wait until after the mare foals to sell her. Apparently in the 'hunt for color' many breeders choose to breed overo to overo and are happy to take the 25% risk of a lethal. I think that is an awful thing to do, because if a foal does turn out to be a lethal white, then everyone suffers - the mare, the owner, and most of all, the poor foal.
Heaven ~ Rest In Peace.
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