CorleyOak Stud
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Fight for Hope!
Fight for Hope!
  (See bottom of page for a picture of Hope at 3 months of age! - very different now!)

Touching Wood in the Fight for Hope !  
“CorleyOak Touch Wood”


Shortly before 7.00 a.m. on Thursday 17th April, Quakers Comfrey, our little bay roan mare, gave birth to a gorgeous chestnut filly.  Sadly, it very quickly became apparent that all was not well with the little one.  She made no attempt to get to her feet and remained as cold as ice, despite every attempt to warm her with towels, etc.  We rang our vet and Sam from the 608 Group, Solihull, came out to examine her.

Our worst fears were confirmed when Sam discovered that the filly’s heart rate was only 60 beats per minute (as opposed to the 140 it should have been), that her circulation was shutting down, her body was going into shock and that she appeared to be suffering from some sort of infection.


The decision was quickly made to load the mare and foal into our trailer and take them to the veterinary surgery in Solihull, some distance from our home and down the motorway!  Unfortunately, the surgery does not have facilities for horses, so the foal was carried and the mare led through the main reception and down several corridors to a dog kennel, into which the mare could just fit across the back and the foal was laid down on a soft mat at the front.  At one point there was the mare, myself, the foal, four vets and two veterinary nurses all crammed into this very small space.


The vets at the 608 practice were amazing – very professional, caring and completely committed to saving the foal’s life.  It was all hands on deck as the foal was sedated, given oxygen, fluids and intravenous antibiotics.  Everyone in the practice came to help when they could and she was surrounded by hot water bottles and various warming devices!  I was asked her name.  Of course, she didn’t have one at that time, but I just said “Hope” as that seemed all we could do at that time and therefore entirely appropriate!

The foal’s temperature was so low it couldn’t be recorded and it was several long hours before her condition stabilised and her temperature started to rise.  During that time, Hope’s Mum, Comfrey, stood like a statue in the dog kennel, watching the attempts to save her foal and not moving a muscle.  What an ordeal for the mare, so soon after giving birth.  She missed out on all the fuss and attention she would normally have had in the frantic dash to save Hope. 

Fortunately, I had milked Comfrey early that morning, so that we had colostrum waiting for the foal when she came out of her sedation.  The first thing she did when she woke up was try to suckle from the veterinary nurse!  A bottle was produced and she drank the contents straight down, which was wonderful to see.  Shortly after that, to our amazement, she struggled to her feet, albeit with a bit of help from her friends!

You can see from the redness in her eye in the photo below how fiercely the infection had her in its grip......... and this only approximately 8 hours after her birth.


The dedicated staff at 608 kept an eye on the foal until the early evening, not leaving her for a moment. After six hours or so in the dog kennel, we decanted outside to our trailer, which was parked in the surgery car park, so that we had a little more room to move as Hope woke up and tried to stand.  It also gave her Mum chance to stretch her legs and tuck into a hay net - just out of picture.   She was also able to have a long drink of water.  Then we were able to take Hope and her Mum home.   What a long day!


In an effort to keep Hope warm, she had been covered in blankets that were first put in the tumble drier and surrounded by warming devices.  To ensure she stayed warm in her stable she was fitted with two dog coats!  We also banked straw up all around the edges to prevent drafts.  We had to milk the mare and feed Hope with a bottle every hour all through that long first night, but eventually she made attempts to suckle for herself and very quickly gained some strength.  By the end of the following day, she was so much better, even trotting around the stable.  We were so relieved we allowed ourselves a brief break in the pub (!) but then we received a phone call and the devastating news from the vets that her blood test results were not good and the prognosis remained poor.


In spite of that worrying blood test result, to date by the following Tuesday (22nd April) Hope appeared to be going from strength to strength.  All we could do was “touch wood” (hence the decision to make her official, registered name – CorleyOak Touch Wood) and pray that she would recover. 

We did’t know yet what the infection was.  The placenta had been sent away for analysis.

 Whatever the eventual outcome we are seriously indebted to our vets for their professionalism, commitment and dogged determination to help Hope and to fight for her life!


For the next two days, Hope had a transfusion of plasma, which should give her the antibodies she needs to protect her from infection.  She did have her dam's colostrum, but her antibodies were still low, so this was something of "extra insurance" for her.  She is getting stronger and quite feisty and now very much resents me for injecting her with antibiotics.  I don't think she's ever going to forgive me.  Her poor little bottom must feel like a pin cushion!  The blood on her neck in the picture below is where the catheter was inserted for the infusions.

Below is Hope's ever-watchful mum, Comfrey, who has been a superstar throughout, bless her.


The above picture of Comfrey was taken on Wednesday 23rd April as she watched the vets give her precious baby a plasma infusion.  Comfrey remained in that position until the procedure was completed, whereupon, having determined that her little one had come round safely from the sedationshe went over to her feed and starting eating.


Below is Hope in her favourite position.  It's such a relief that she can feed herself now!


Friday, 25th April - This morning Hope was galloping around her stable, skidding to a halt and jumping in the air, fly-bucking.  Obviously she feels good.  We are just awaiting the results of the test to see if she now has sufficient antibodies to protect her from further infection.  All test results have proved negative for Equine Herpes Virus and inconclusive for anything specific.

Latest news is that Hope's fibrinogen level is normal, her white blood cell count is normal (great) but that she is slightly anaemic and her albumin is a bit low.  Advice is to continue on antibiotics (more jabs!) until the NGG test (for antibodies) confirms that she's "good to go".  Her poor Mum must be fed up with being in a stable full time, but if she is, she's not showing it, bless her.  She has the patience of a saint. 

Monday, 28th April - just had the best news ever.  Hope's "NGG" test shows that she has sufficient antibodies now to resist infection and should do fine from now on - though I'm sure she'll be four years old before we relax completely!

Above and below are Hope and her Mum out in the garden for the first time.....

Hope playing with her new best friend....  Chav - our Jack Russell

Touching Wood for a Happy Ending...... fingers crossed!

and here's our happy ending.  Hope out in the field with the herd....

Here's hope at 3 months of age - looking very different now and turning strawberry roan (we hope!!)

On 10th August 2008, Hope went to her first show (Fillongley Agricultural Show), having been halter-broken only the day before!  She took everything in her little stride, waited patiently for her class and even managed a small individual performance for the judge - coming away with a beautiful SPSBS rosette for "Best Foal".  Given her terrible start in life, we were so proud of her!  Our thanks to the 608 Veterinary Group, Solihull, whose team saved Hope's life.......

Last updated 12.08.08