NERWYN GWYRTHIOL 1991
"A SECOND CHANCE"
It was on the weekend of the 13th April, 1991, when we took our usual pilgrimage to the 1000 Voices Concert at the Albert Hall. Nerwyn Leah, our five year-old chestnut mare, was due to have her first foal about the same time, but when we left Dolwen on the Friday morning, there was no indication that anything was likely to happen in the immediate future. After the concert on the Saturday night, we telephoned home to be given the news that Leah had, that afternoon, given birth to a filly foal and both were doing well! On the return journey on Sunday, our thoughts were about the new arrival, and when we arrived home at 9.00pm we called at the stable to see mother and daughter. However, on looking over the stable door, we soon realised that all was not well. The foal was a very weakly looking thing, and Leah, who was being over-protective towards her, wouldn't let her suckle. Despite much perseverance, we were unable to get the foal to drink, so we continued home to fetch a baby bottle and teat to try to milk the mare and get the foal to drink from the bottle, but to no avail. There was no other option but to pour a little milk down the foal's throat slowly to keep her going overnight. We left the stable at about 1.00am.
Later that morning, we returned to the stable to find the foal getting weaker, and after repeating the previous night's performance, we took the foal's temperature which was at 105 and she felt very cold to the touch, so we called our vet.
He came immediately and having examined the foal, said that due to lack of colostrum - essential during the first hours of life - a bad infection had set in and the heat loss from her extremities needed preventing by coverings such as old woollen jumpers, etc. He injected her with various antibiotics and suggested stomach-tubing some of Leah's milk into her. Unfortunately he didn't have the correct sized tube with him, so he went home, leaving us to cover her with various jumpers. When he returned, he asked if we would be willing for him to do his utmost to save her and when we agreed, he suggested we take both mare and foal to his home where he could extract milk from Leah at regular intervals. Later that afternoon, we set off on the journey to Waen, the foal being carried on Nerys's knee in the box alongside Leah.
The vet said he would draw blood from Leah to transfuse blood plasma into the foal to give her the essential antibodies which she had not received in the first colostrum. Having collected the plasma, the next problem arose with trying to insert a catheter into the vein of the foal, as her veins had collapsed. The vet used a thicker catheter, and eventually succeeded and the transfusion began. But at this stage, the foal's heart found the strain of pumping all the new blood too much, and it stopped. All the colour disappeared from her gums, her breathing stopped, and her eyes glazed over - she had died! Fortunately the vet kept his cool while we panicked, began giving her heart massage, and after what seemed like an age of pumping her rib cage he found a breath, the heart began beating again and the colour returned to her gums - there was life!
That evening we returned home, having left a pathetic little heap in the corner of the stable, wearing her three polo-neck jumpers and an old coat over her.
The next day, having heard no news from the vet, we telephoned to be told that the foal was still alive, but just as poorly as the previous evening. After work, we all went over to see the patient, whom we found very much as the previous evening - lying in the corner of the stable, unable to move more than a few inches. Wednesday saw her a little brighter, but still not able to stand alone. The vet's main concern was that Leah's milk supply may diminish, so to help with this problem, we supplied sack-fulls of fresh grass each evening. Thursday evening found the foal much brighter, and with a little help she could stand and move slowly around the stable, but still she had no incentive to suckle of her own accord.
Friday night the foal could get up on her own and slowly waddle about in the straw with the occasional fall! Still, we could not entice her to suckle. most of Saturday was spent at the Waen, and by evening, Nerys had managed to get the foal to suckle on one side by supporting underneath her head as she was still too weak to grasp the teat for long. We went home that evening a little more hopeful than any time previously.
Sunday was also spent in the same stable, and after great perseverance, by late afternoon she was able to suckle from both sides. The vet said he thought she may have been helping herself and would therefore leave her overnight without giving her a stomach tube, and if all was well we may be able to take her home with us the next day. This proved to be correct, and the following afternoon, mother and baby left the Waen for the journey home.
From that day she came on in leaps and bounds, and within weeks attended the Shropshire & West Midlands Show with Leah, and then other shows throughout the season.
She is now a mother herself. She would normally have been given a name beginning with the letter "L" after her mother; but as she came through so much, we decided an appropriate and fitting name for her would be "Gwyrthiol". (Miraculous)