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— * * *

10:37 p.m.: Foxy stops and stands in silhouette against the fluorescent. A shadowy ridge of evaporating sweat curls up from the length of her back. Delivery is underway. 10:45: she goes down, :48: she gets up, :54: down again, :55: up, :59: down and her water breaks, a pinkish-brownish burst shooting about a foot and a half. She struggles up and keeps walking, squirting water as she goes. She settles back down to push. The baby should be born in 20 to 40 minutes; any longer can mean trouble. "If they take their first breath while they're still in the bag, they can inhale fluids, and that can kill them," warns Laura.

Foxy is snorting and heaving, full of loud exhalations. But as the front foot appears, still encased in a glistening, yellow-white clear sack half-filled with fluid, she does not scream. She does not whinny or whimper. This is effort, but it doesn't seem to be agony. The mass between her legs pushes one leg into the air, and she waves it back and forth as her body twitches. The second foot appears, and things slow down.

Laura wants to break the sack, but Lydia counsels against it. "If something were stuck, and you had to put the foal back in, you'd want that sack on there. I usually wait until the ears are out." Foxy resumes work, grunting every five seconds or so.

"There's the nose," cries Laura. "Oh, my God, my heart is racing. Is she doing okay?"

"She's doing great, coming out fast," answers Lydia. "There's an eye." The head is long and slender, as if it were done growing in length and wanted only filling out. The head is jet black. An ominous tongue lolls out the side of the mouth, and there is no movement, but Lydia says, "Sometimes it takes a pretty good push to get them moving."

What seems like a long time passes, though it is not yet 11:10. Still, there is no motion, and Foxy has taken another break. "I really expected to see breathing by this point," worries Lydia. "I'm going to let her give one more big shove..."

But Foxy is not shoving, she is getting up. The foal's head, exposed to about the ears, and the forelegs hang out, motionless. Foxy looks back, then begins pacing. Laura fears she'll try to rub her backside on the bars, but instead, she bucks toward the ceiling, hard. The metal roof crashes and rings at the impact, and Laura lets fly an expletive. The foal's head bobs up and down with eerie slackness, the tongue and bag bouncing a second behind. Because the bucking is rare, Lydia runs to call Sandy Arledge, FarWest's owner. Foxy bucks again.

Laura steps into the stall and starts talking Foxy down. In her softest voice, she assures Foxy, "It's going to be okay, it's going to be okay. I know this is hard...." while moving her away from the sides of the stall. Foxy responds, bows her head, and lies back down. Three pushes and a little help from Laura, the foal is out with a gush, breathing at last. The time is 11:15.

Mother and child lie still for about five minutes. Then the foal starts pushing at the bag. Laura helps it out. Its long spidery legs make it look like the horse from Dalí's Temptation of St. Anthony, except the horse in the painting could stand up. Foxy stands up after 15 minutes, breaking the umbilical cord. It may be several hours before she delivers the placenta. When I leave, the foal is still struggling to stand, still struggling for its first taste of mother's milk.

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