Friendships between horses express themselves in different ways. Hekla Hattenberger Hermundsdóttir had the opportunity to observe an incredible moment between two mares and told us about it.
The most extraordinary experience I remember was with a horse that I didn’t even own myself. I was still living in Iceland at the time.
The mare was called Lukka frá Víðihlíð, a great, beautiful dark bay pinto mare! The owners daughter came to visit her only two or three times a year, otherwise I took care of her and kept her busy.
When Lukka was two years old, she had a friend in the herd, Stjörnudís frá Ægissíðu, who was almost 5 years old and pregnant. The owner of Stjörnudís and I were eagerly awaiting the birth which we wanted to witness in any case.
Therefore, we got the herd used to us a few weeks before and spent many sleepless nights with the mares in the pasture until they got used to us being near them.
It was indeed the night after Eurovision 2011 with the Icelandic contribution Vinir Sjonna, when the time finally came.
Stjörnudís became very restless and we moved to our observation post where we were close enough to see everything exactly without disturbing the mare. – A birth is always an extraordinary experience, but what we were to witness here exceeded everything we could imagine.
When the birth process began, Lukka did not leave Stjörnudís’ side. But not only that, she also made sure that her friend had peace and quiet. To make sure no other horse from the herd came near “her Dísa” she bit all the other mares away.
When Stjörnudís finally lay down in labour pains, Lukka stayed with her ears laid back and watched over her. She kept sniffing at her and walking around her as if she wanted to check if everything was okay.
At first, the birth progressed quite quickly, but when the foal reached the most difficult part, the shoulder area, it stalled. Lukka also seemed to feel this critical moment.
After waiting for a while she suddenly stood behind Stjörnudís’ back, lifted her left leg and tapped carefully on her friend’s stomach. We held our breath and were ready to intervene quickly, but we decided to observe the event a little longer.
For what seemed to be an endless moment nothing happened, the foal seemed to be stuck in the birth canal – a fatal situation! – And Lukka reacted again! Again, she lifted her leg, laid it flat on Stjörnudís’ trunk and pulled it carefully back and forth.
It looked as if she was massaging the mother’s stomach. Then, she put her weight on her hind legs and pressed her hoof against Stjörnudís’ stomach. She repeated this several times – and suddenly, Sjonni slipped out of his mother’s belly. By a miracle – or by Lukka’s birth assistance, everything had come to a good end.
At first, we were petrified by the incredible experience we had just witnessed and which I might not believe if I had not been there myself.
Then, I got scared that Lukka might try to “steal” Stjörnudís foal, but none of this happened. We waited for Sjonni to get up, drink and stomp around on his shaky legs.
Meanwhile, Lukka stayed next to them and made sure that no horse from the herd came too close to the new family member.
After this event, Lukka was no different to Sjonni than to the other members of the herd. Also, I could not see that she was grieving when Stjörnudís was sold and they had to separate. She is obviously a born midwife!
Lukka is a very special horse. I had many special moments with this horse, but the birth experience was the most exciting thing I have experienced with her.
I was very attached to the mare and it hurt me that I could not buy her when I moved abroad. Unfortunately, I have not been able to visit her here in Austria yet, but at least she is not so far away from me.
I wonder if she would recognise me or if she is perhaps angry with me because I simply disappeared from her life? In any case, I can’t get her out of my mind!
Hekla Hattenberger Hermundsdóttir
IS2008255335 Lukka frá Víðihlíð
Born: 6 June 2008
Father: Lykill frá Varmalandi
Ff.: Tígull frá Gýgjarhóli
Fm.: Síða frá Halldórsstöðum
Mother: Drottning frá Uxahrygg
Mm.: Díla frá Uxahrygg