36. Best laid plans

Blog 36 – “Best laid plans”

My future was mapped, I had stopped training with P.K and could focus on my horses and to do what they and I wanted to do in a more “self-directed” way.  (Meaning that I would take responsibility and accountability for my own learning rather than being directed by others.)

Lola was rising 7, needed time and love and I was happy to give her both. 

Filly was 17, healthy and happy but had been in a lot of intensive work and I wanted to give her something new to do and think about.  She had always seasoned regularly and having gotten the all-clear from the vet I decided to try putting her in foal.  17 is quite late to try to put a maiden mare (a mare not covered before) in foal, but as she was fit and well, I weighed up the risks and decided to give it a go.

I found a stud with a gentlemanly Lusitano stallion with whom she could live in a huge paddock so covering would take place when Filly was happy and ready to accept the stallion.  

She was there for three months and in spite of the stallion, to quote the owner, “Doing his best to woo Filly” she refused his attention and had apparently not seasoned once while she was there.  

Slightly disappointed I collected her from the stud, brought her home, turned her out with Lola and it was immediately it was apparent that she was rank in season.  

Clearly she did not fancy my carefully selected stallion as much as she fancied Lola – but however wonderful Lola is she was not going to be able to help Filly have a foal! 

The next day I took her to my vets who confirmed she had a ripe follicle and was due to ovulate in the next day or two…  

I knew of a lovely Spanish Stallion and organised for a next day delivery of chilled semen to the vets and Filly was artificially inseminated the day after. 

The first scan showed all was well and some weeks later Noni and I took Filly back for a further scan and we both shed a tear of joy at seeing the fetus sack and a rapid healthy heartbeat.


I had a lovely young horse to focus on while Filly grew a baby.  

After weening Filly could come back in to work and Lola would be in her prime when it was time to start with Filly’s baby - a 20 – 30+ year plan was in place for my horsey future…
Filly in her dam's paddock.
All seemed well, Filly was so serene, bagging up and mooching around in a huge foal-proof paddock at my in-laws, only 200 yards from Ashen E.C. with Toby (super-star miniature Shetland) in an adjacent pen.  

Her due-date came and passed, my in-laws enjoyed observing Filly and Toby from their kitchen window and we visited her three times a day and a couple of times each night – no sign of a foal.  

A week or so later I called the vet who came to see her, put on a small glove and examined her internally saying that by now the foal should be so large it should be “biting his hand off.”  No sign of a foal, so he put on a larger glove and gave her a more thorough examination and confirmed that there was no foal.  

All of his other tests showed that Filly was otherwise well and our best guess is that there was some problem with the foal or pregnancy affecting viability and that it had been reabsorbed after her second scan. 

I was (mainly) relieved.  Because she was so over-due I was concerned that there might be a problem with the foal and was worried about it, but mostly I was worried about Filly.  

Of course this was tinged with a touch of disappointment but I decided that the outcome could have been a whole lot worse. 

That night we drank the bottle of champagne, well cava, that we had bought to wet the foals head and used it to celebrate Filly’s good health.

The next morning I went to walk her and Toby home.  

While we, and apparently Filly, had thought that she was in foal she’d hear us coming and wander slowly to the gate to have a chat, but that day she threw her head up, called loudly to us and galloped to the gate as if to say, “Right, I’m ready to go home!”  

Her “baby belly” had all but gone and her udder and teats had returned to normal.  I can only guess that her body still thought that she was in-foal until the vet’s internal examinations had “shocked” everything back to “normal”.
Filly puts up with a hug from me
Filly pranced joyously all the way home with Toby trotting merrily alongside her.  

Lola heard us coming and came to meet us at the gate.  

“Hey Lola” I said, “The Purple Princess is back.”

Next time, "Meanwhile" published 11th June.

For those searching online for more “instructional” resources than offered in these blogs please make use of my video downloads www.ashenec.co.uk

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