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Rough birth for foal, mother in Canyon Country

Upside-down baby born with help from veterinarian.

Posted: April 22, 2008 6:03 p.m.
Updated: June 23, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Animal advocate Joan Waldman pets two-week-old Faith in Sand Canyon.

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Dave Spencer still recalls the miraculous birth of Faith, the newest foal at his Sand Canyon property.
Weeks before the birth, Faith's mother, Hope, had trouble standing up in the stable as she entered her last trimester.

Hope was among dozens of animals rescued from neglect and abuse at a Lancaster "ranch" in January.
As the signs of birth became imminent, Spencer dedicated his time to monitoring the 18-year-old mare.
Newly adopted by City Councilwoman Laurene Weste, Hope had struggled through her 11-month pregnancy.

Then within the first few days of April, Hope's water broke.

Spencer said the baby's feet and nose should have been visible within 15 minutes, but as the evening turned into night, there was still little progress. Given Hope's rough pregnancy and injured hips, it became apparent that this birth was going to be a lot more difficult.

With help from Dr. Carolyn Conn, a veterinarian, Spencer, his wife Peggy, and friend Patti Martin combined their efforts to help deliver the baby.

Spencer remembers Conn reaching into Hope and realizing the baby was upside down.

"This can be very serious," Spencer said.

With the mare standing, the Spencers began pulling as hard as they could to pull the baby out while rotating it as the other two helped.

Their efforts were rewarded. The shoulders appeared, then the hips.

Spencer was left holding baby Faith, which was around 150 pounds, as the mare lay down from exhaustion.
The miracle had happened, and Faith was born on April 4 at close to 2 a.m.

Minutes later, the baby got up and began walking around the stable on the third try, Spencer said.

Hope's peaceful life in Sand Canyon is a complete change from her situation months ago. The mare was found pregnant and in need at a Lancaster ranch in January by animal rescuers.

After efforts initiated by animal advocates at A Wish for Animals, Animal Acres and the Gentle Barn, Hope was able to find a new home with Weste, who took her in after learning about the alleged abuse in Lancaster.

"She didn't look good," Weste said, as the mother and child peacefully ate carrots in their stable.

Unable to keep the mare on her property, Weste found a home for Hope with the Spencers.

Her first feeding was recorded on Feb. 8 by the Spencers.

Since being taken in by them, the horse's condition has improved, as she receives a nutritional diet and treatment from veterinarians, Weste said.

The Spencers, Weste and animal advocate Joan Waldman maintain that the rescue is what has kept the mother and baby alive.

"She wouldn't have made it," Spencer said.

The team of friends credit their hard work for not only the rescue, but the successful birth.

"It was a miracle what everyone did," Weste said, while the group took turns petting and feeding the two horses.

Although the mare was able to be rescued, Weste and Waldman said more work remains as close to 100 dogs continue to remain without a home.

"A lot of people made a difference," Weste said. "And more people can still make a difference."

To find out how to adopt one of the rescued dogs, e-mail Joan Waldman at


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