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Tessa's Story

Published: May 19, 2020 9:29 am ET

Last Comment: May 19, 2020 2:55 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Contessa 'Tessa' Del Monte has had three foals in five years and nothing has ever gone as planned.

After Tessa's recent experience, her owners, Shelley and Benoit Dupuis, who comprise Shelley Racing Stables of Omemee, Ont., will surely expect anything in the future.

Tessa's first foal, Tinas Majesty ($120,193), who was born three weeks early, was rushed to the Ontario Veterinary College (the OVC, at the University of Guelph) when she was just five days old. While there, Tinas Majesty underwent successful treatment for a septic hock.

Tessa's second foal, All The Kings Gold, was born one week early during a power outage in the middle of the night.

For Tessa's third foal, this past April 7, Tessa developed ventral ruptures that evolved into a lot of swelling and edema under her abdomen. She had trouble walking and was in a great deal of pain. Veterinarian Dr. Kelli Gilson, of Fraserville's Gilson Equine Veterinary Services, examined Tessa that day and determined that the mare's Archangel foal was still alive, but was not due until May 3.

Tessa was transferred to Dr. Gilson's veterinary hospital for emergency care on April 8, where she became even more swollen and uncomfortable. She would lie down and would need help to get back up. Dr. Gilson reached out to the OVC for help, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic they were not staffed to monitor the mare. It was explained that their treatment solution would be a terminal C-section and that Tessa, unfortunately, would have to be euthanized.

Dr. Gilson's response was, "We can at least try to save both of them."

Challenge accepted.

The first step was to wrap Tessa's huge abdomen in bandages, which provided some support for the weight of the foal and the accumulating fluid. Tessa became more and more uncomfortable, but the foal continued to survive. "We visited her twice daily, feeding her peppermints, carrots and fresh cut grass provided by my mother in law, Andree Dupuis."

Dr. Gilson decided a slow induction was necessary, as Tessa could not continue to suffer much longer. On April 15, the Archangel filly, Bella Monte, was born.

Bella Monte

'Bella' had trouble breathing, initially, and Tessa became very shocky. Given the circumstances, Dr. Gilson was not sure either one would survive the night. Nevertheless, thanks to the amazing and tireless care of Dr. Gilson and her assistant, Meg, both the mare and foal survived. Bella received excellent colostrum from Shelley's friend, Lori Ferguson, and the foal was bottled every hour for four days and nights.

Bella Monte

Tessa was aware that she had a foal, but she was too sick to look after it or provide milk. On Saturday, April 18, Tessa did not look well and her chances of survival were not certain. A decision was made between Dr. Gilson, Shelley and her husband, Ben, to try and procure a nurse mare for Bella.

The cry for help was posted on "everything Standardbred" -- including the Standardbred Canada website -- on the Saturday evening. The next morning (Sunday, April 19), a nurse mare had been found. Mary Christopher offered her mare, Keystone Eliza, who had tragically lost her foal earlier in the week due to a breech birth.

Bella Monte

Shelley and her father in law, Andre Dupuis, drove to Acton that Sunday, picked up 'Eliza' and took her to Dr. Gilson's clinic, where she was placed in the stall next to Tessa.

"Kelli (Dr. Gilson) told us that when she took the foal from Tessa, Tessa seemed to know that she was helping the foal. Tessa softly called to the foal and then watched through a crack in the board as Eliza accepted the foal and started nursing her."

Keystone Eliza and Bella Monte.

Fast Forward one month later and Bella and Eliza are thriving. Additionally, Eliza is treating Bella as her own. Tessa is slowly improving, but she is still carrying extra fluid under her abdomen. Although she is not yet 100 per cent, Tessa is not requiring any pain medication. She has been going outside in her own round pen on grass three times a day with her goat friend, Thor. Given everything, Tessa is surely happy to be home.

Shelley has told Trot Insider that her friend, Tom Riley, was instrumental in helping get Eliza and Bella home, as his large trailer surely made for a successful voyage.

The experience and outcome has surely resonated with Shelley, who stated, "We will always be thankful for Dr. Gilson and Meg, who never gave up on our Tessa and gave us Bella."

(L to R) Shelley Dupuis, Ben Dupuis, Contessa 'Tessa' Del Monte.

(With files from Shelley Dupuis)

May 19, 2020 - 2:55 pmThis family has to prove time

This family has to prove time after time how "wonderful" human beings they really are. If I have any wish that I would like to come true it is to have bad things go away and good things happen to them all from now on! "All the Best Always" to the Dupuis family and all their animals!

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