Tamara Rose the Preemie Foal and Her Fight for Survival

Posted by Allie Layos
Preemie horse laying down
All images via The Inquirer.

This preemie foal fought for her life after being born six weeks early. 

Named Tamara Rose, the preemie foal was born October 17 -- six weeks earlier than she should have been. She weighed only 29 pounds, about one-third the normal birth weight for a newborn Paso Fino, and the cartilage in her legs had not yet converted to bone. Yet, somehow Tamara Rose defied the odds and lived.

Tamara Rose's owner, Beaverlea Roye-Manderbach, of Laota Spring Farm in Sinking Springs,  Pennsylvania noticed some concerning signs with the foal's dam, Chaperona, a 13-year-old broodmare. She took Chaperona to Penn Vet's New Bolton Center in Chester County, Pennsylvania, for tests and treatment.

After a few more episodes, the mare seemed to recover. But then early on the morning of Oct. 17, Roye-Manderbach, got a call from one of her employees urging her to get to the barn.

"There is a little baby laying there; mom is standing over her," Roye-Manderbach said in an interview with The Philidelphia Inquirer.

preemie horse with vet

The foal wasn't moving. Luckily Roye-Manderbach happened to be a retired medical doctor, and pulled from her medical knowledge to treat the little horse.

"She had only been there for maybe an hour before we found her," Roye-Manderbach said. "Between her being a preemie and the cold morning, her odds didn't look extremely good."

After taking the foal's vitals and making sure its airway was open, the foal was loaded up and taken to New Bolton to be treated by Michelle Linton, a veterinary specialist in internal medicine and neonatology.

"By the time we got there, the baby was moving," Roye-Manderbach said.

It wasn't much, but it was a positive sign. Still, the typical gestation for a horse is 330 to 360 days, and being born around 302 to 310 days, Tamara Rose was still in concerning condition -- her legs were ice cold, her temperature and blood glucose not registering.

"She was septic when she came in," Linton said.

In the preemie stable she was placed on IVs and underwent x-rays, which showed the still-present cartilage in her legs. She suffered from a number of other problems as well -- seizures, skin ulcers, and worries about kidney function and gastrointestinal problems.

But besides her medical treatment, a lot of what Tamara Rose needed was time to sleep and grow, so she was kept in a confined and dark area to do just that. Eventually her seizures ceased, and with medical-grade honey-infused patches helping to heal her wounds, she began to improve.

preemie horse standing

"I made the decision right then to try and save her," Roye-Manderbach said. "If they would have said her heart was not formed right, or her brain, or there was a serious physical problem with the baby, that would have been another decision."

Now weighing in at just over 30 pounds, Tamara Rose has been taught to stand, and wobble around, and she even recognizes the beep of the microwave that is used to warm her milk.

No one is more pleased or excited than Roye-Manderbach, who believes the foal inherited the best traits of her sire and dam.

"I believe she is going to be awesome when she grows up," she said.

What do you think of Tamara Rose? Tell us in the comments below. 

All images via The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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Tamara Rose the Preemie Foal and Her Fight for Survival