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Summer Of Miracles
By: Emily Lineberger Bridges

Auja Maria presented us with a beautiful dark bay filly on June 22, 1999, after a pregnancy filled with anxiety. Maria is a multiple ovulating mare, one that releases two follicles each cycle. The first attempt at breeding resulted in an ultrasound reading at sixteen days of twins. While I was concerned, having read a lot about the perils of equine twinning, the vet advised that we should not take action until the second ultrasound at 30 days. The test at that time showed no babies. We were back to square one.

The next cycle Maria was bred again with the same initial results. We held our collective breaths and waited until the 30th day. She still carried both embryos, so the vet pinched one. I joked about making darn sure the vet kept the filly alive, but we would have been happy with either. After checking hormone levels, the vet said that Maria stood as good a chance as any other mare of carrying to full term. Since this would be her first pregnancy, we had no foaling history with which to compare this one. Through the winter and spring months, we waited, growing more excited each day.

We were overjoyed with the birth of the little filly that we had waited for with such anticipation. We named her Maria's Summer Miracle, because she was a miracle in so many ways. This filly was everything we had hoped for. She was the image of her mother, and the breeder even remarked that although the sire had a star, blaze and strip, Summer was the only foal that he had not marked. She not only inherited her mother's good looks, she also was blessed with her disposition. Summer was imprinted with her mother standing by, without any restraint. That is typical of Maria - always trusting that her people will do the right thin

When Summer was two months old, I decided to let her experience life with the other horses in the big pasture. Up until that time, she had grazed beside her mother and two other horses in a smaller pasture. For several weeks, the days were without incident, and I felt especially content as I drove away one sunny morning for a trip to the grocery store and post office.

I returned about one and one-half hours later and did not go immediately to check on Summer on her first day in the big pasture. I could see all the horses from my kitchen door and they were quietly grazing. It was about an hour before I grabbed carrots for the grownups and headed up the hill.

As I approached, I noticed blood on Summer's leg. I began to move faster toward her and was sickened at what I saw - most of the skin on her forehead hung loosely down between her eyes and blood was oozing. Trying to remain calm, I headed back to the barn as fast as I could. Maria, being the obedient horse that she is, followed along behind me with Summer by her side.

I immediately called the vet, who as luck would have it, was just finishing a farm call a few miles away. He said that he would be right out and to try to keep the little filly quiet until he arrived. Easier said than done! Somehow I managed to get her to nibble some hay, but her mother stepped in and offered milk. That was the best calmative! I think Maria knew her baby needed help.

When the vet arrived, he examined and sedated Summer. Maria stood quietly in her stall where she could look into the hall where we had taken Summer. The vet said that the damage was severe, but that he would do the best that he could. He took painstaking steps to cleanse and stitch the jagged cut. I was afraid to ask him if it would leave a scar. Here we had waited for this beautiful miracle foal and now she was probably going to be scarred for life. I finally had the nerve to ask him and he said that we would hope for the best. Somehow that did not comfort me, but I knew that he had done the best that he could.

After the vet gave his parting instructions for care of the filly, I put her back into the stall with Maria. She immediately went to nurse and have a nuzzle from her mother. I was determined to find what had caused this terrible accident.

We had taken great precaution with fencing and over the years had installed mesh fencing down both sides of our pasture. In fact, some of the cross-fencing was mesh fencing, so I knew that didn't cause this accident. Still I walked every foot of the fence to look for a break; there was none. Perplexed, I started to look at the cross-fencing. That was when I saw the top high-tensile wire of our upper pasture lying on the ground. I couldn't believe it! Somehow Summer was the one who either got caught in the wire and snapped it from its cable, or another horse had snapped it. Either way she must have had a tremendous blow when it snapped.

The vet had asked me if the electricity was on the wire that day. When I replied that it was turned off while I went to do my errands, he said that a hot wire would probably have been a deterrent to her. I disagree because if this little filly had been caught in the wire, she would have been jolted over and over again. I don't want to think about what might have happened to Summer if that were the case. We went to work that same night to install mesh fencing on the remaining fence lines and feel much safer now.

As the weeks wore on, the stitches came out and a scar remained. We tried not to look because "a watched pot never boils", so to speak. As Summer grew, she was blessed with a beautiful long forelock that would probably cover any scar. Still, I thought about that scar a lot.

And then one day when Summer was almost seven months old, I was brushing her mane and decided that I felt courageous enough to look at the scar. It had been months since I had last looked and the scar was still very noticeable at that time. Slowly, I lifted that glorious forelock, and behold, there was no scar! Absolutely no sign of the trauma remained on Summer's beautiful face.

So, when I say that Summer is our miracle baby, believe it! In more ways than I can count, luck has been with us in her childhood. We are always hearing about the safety of high-tensile wire fencing, but in my experience, and a costly one at that - mesh fencing is the way to go. Thankfully, we no longer have the scars to show for it.


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