Excessive Worry

by Piquo Pie

First published

It can takes the average newborn foal a day to walk. Sometimes it takes longer. Sometimes something is wrong.

It can takes the average newborn foal a day to walk. Sometimes it takes longer. Sometimes something is wrong. Sometimes a foal bounces back.

Featured by the Seattle's Angels in review #60.
From Corejo:

As a disclaimer, the prose gets a little cluttered toward the middle of the story, when he’s working on his diagnosis. All it takes is a little care in parsing the information, and you’re rewarded with a brilliant origin story that will leaving you smiling and saying, “why didn’t I think of something like that?”

It’s short. It’s sweet. It’s worth your time. And who doesn’t love little snippets of why something is the way it is in the show? I definitely do. Go check it out.

Newborn Feelings

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“I’ve… never seen a condition like this, Ma’am. Some complications may be expected with an early birth, but this is just… something is… I’m worried about her. Now, I don’t mean to worry you, she has more than enough spirit, but I don’t know what this is or how to help her.”

Mrs. Delivery, along with the parents, looked on in silence. Fearful tears fell from her eyes as the day-old foal carefully picked up her right front hoof and placed it underneath herself, before pausing and breathing heavily. After a moment she continued, bringing another hoof forward shakily. Just before setting her leg beneath her she spasmed violently and fell forward. Her legs splayed in all four directions and her straight red hair fell over her face as if to protect her.

With a cry of mixed frustration and terror, the foal hurriedly picked up her left forehoof, placed it under her, then did the same with her rear hooves. As she brought her right front hoof the filly paused again, hyperventilating. This time she closed her eyes and recklessly jammed her leg underneath her, only to fall sideways before huddling into a ball.

It took a day to travel to Mane. During that time the foal only got worse. The filly would scream and flail when carried. When set down, she would frantically try and stand, only to fall with tears in her eyes.

Doctor Foalsgood observed the crying, struggling foal by the light of a late night fire. His living room was not designed for visiting patients and it was late, but he understood how important this time was for a newborn. After a heart rending description from the parents he furrowed his brow and looked toward the foal. As soon as she was put down she stopped struggling. The filly looked around a moment before taking a shaky breath and attempting to stand.

The filly repeated her previous actions, with minor variations. She would struggle to stand before jerking and falling when she placed her fourth hoof. Sometimes she would fall forward and sometimes forward and to the side. When the parents tried to help hold her up she would stand but instead of walking she would lurch forward and fall if nopony was there to catch her. Tears of fear and frustration would stream down her face. She would often pause just before trying some new way to place her last hoof, or before spasming forward. She began hyperventilating. Eventually she stopped trying, laying on her side she seemed only capable of quiet whimpering.

“I… I’ve never seen anything like this,” stated doctor Foalsgood with concern. “Your little filly can balance on three hooves just fine, but four...” The doctor looked away, not wanting to state the myriad of diagnosis that would all be just a bit off. He shook his head before dourly stating, “I think there is something we are missing here.”

“What do you mean ‘we’re’ missing? Of course we are missing something, our daughter is sick!” said the father in a loud tone both angry and fearful. “I can’t help her! My wife can’t help her! The local midwife recommended you because she had never heard of such a thing!” He paused to sigh before continuing. “We need you to help our daughter, for our little pink hope.”

Doctor Foalsgood sighed, pursing his lips. He had met stallions like this before. Stallions who could, and probably had, moved mountains for their loved ones. Unfortunately medicine was not a mountain.

“Please,” pleaded the mother, a hoof on her husband’s chest. “Take another look.”

Nodding, Doctor Foalsgood turned to see the filly spasm and fall just before placing her fourth hoof on the ground. Lost in thought and conversation he hadn't seen her get her other three hoofs up beneath her.

Doctor Foalsgood suddenly stopped his train of thought and forced himself back. The filly fell as she placed her fourth hoof. He had been looking for something wrong in the filly’s balance or instinct, but perhaps that wasn’t the problem at all.

The doctor hunched forward, focusing with renewed hope on the filly, his chin resting on his hoof. The next time the filly brought her fourth leg down, he finally saw it.

The doctor got up off his sofa. He waited until the filly had brought three hooves under her. He stepped over to her and held down the front hoof she had already placed. The filly looked up curiously, but without fear. Standing on her back legs and right front legs the filly brought up her left front leg. Just before setting it down she attempted to pick up her right front leg which was held down by the doctor. The little filly overbalanced and began to fall forward but stopped as her shoulder rested against the doctors leg.

Wobbling for a moment on her front legs, the filly smiled as she finished putting down her previously overbalanced rear. The doctor let go of her hoof and placed his own in the middle of her back, pressing down. The filly’s pupils dilated as she shakily took a step. A wide smile broke across her face.

“She didn't fall over! Honey, our baby… she, she’s...” exclaimed the pearl colored mother as she trailed off.

“Mhmmm.” Was all the response her beaming husband gave.

The filly shook as she jumped forward with her rear hooves but smiled as she looked at all the adults before picking her other hoof up and placing it down a few inches forward. Moving forward the pink filly fell a bit sideways but was caught by Doctor Foalsgood, allowing her to continue her forward progress to her parents.

With each step the doctor allowed her some forward movement that was accompanied by a spasm. Diane took a fifth step, then a sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth. The filly was practically vibrating against the doctor’s hoof. Finally reaching her parents, Diane sat with a very wide smile on her face. She was out of breath, but had made the trek under her own power.

“Why, why was she shaking like that doctor? Is our little Pie okay?” asked the mother.

Doctor Foalsgood paused for a moment in thought. “Let me check something real fast,” replied Foalsgood. He stepped over and pulled a large book off a bookshelf. After a moment he managed to find the page he was looking for. A moment later he smiled. “I think she will be fine with a bit of physical therapy. She seems to be suffering from a minor case of nutriochuris synchromotusphasia. It’s a rare condition, apparently more common with goats, where the rear legs move synchronously.” He looked up. “Like a kangaroo who can only hop. I’ve only ever heard of a few cases. In extreme cases it makes it impossible to walk and can actually lock up the joints preventing the knee from bending. Even in moderate cases it makes it near impossible to walk. In this case she is having a harder time than normal because as she tries to move either of her rear hooves it moves the other. This causes her to overbalance and fall. It also does not help that she seems a very energetic foal who is suffering from a lot of anxiety. As soon as she places her hoof down she tries to walk. Combined with the nutriochuris synchromotusphasia it compounds the issue, making it look a lot worse.”

He paused whispering to himself as he read. “Ah, that would make sense.” He looked over at the filly. “When she moves wither back hoof it moves it’s partner. To a foal this might feel like the floor is falling out from under her. That’s probably why the reaction can be so serious.”

The mother whimpered as she put a hoof up to her mouth, her husband followed up by putting his leg around her comfortingly.

“However,” smiled Doctor Foalsgood. “If you look closely she does not move them quite at the same time which is why she sometimes falls to the sides. This also tells me that it is probably a mild case. She should be able to develop independent movement given practice. She was born a full month and a half early, so it might be a result of delayed development. My recommendation is to practice moving her legs independently through play. Make a game out of it so it’s fun. Also allow her to practice walking, but hold down her rear so it doesn’t cause her to fall. It’s just as important that she practice walking as it is that she practice moving her legs independently."

“Well, we could use a bit more fun on the rock farm,” stated Mrs. Pie as she leaned in to hug her husband. “I think we can do that just fine. About how long should we practice?”

“As much as you can. Don’t push her too hard though, she needs sleep and normal development. But whenever you can practice, do. I’m betting she will be able to walk normally in about two months if not sooner. But it will likely take a few years before walking becomes truly natural. Don’t be surprised if she occasionally has difficulty walking long distances or when she is tired. Contact me if she does not significantly improve in the next few months or if it gets worse." He paused to double check the book in front of him. “Oh and she might also be prone to bouncing in childhood as she might find it easier than walking until she gets more used to her condition in her teenage years.”

“Oh, thank you doctor!” said Mrs. Pie. “You have no idea... thank you so much,” she cried as she gave the doctor a quick hug. Turning back, she saw her daughter looking at her. Mrs. Pie bent down to give her a very enthusiastic hug.

Diane snuggled into the hug, babbling incessantly. As her mother pulled away, Diane somehow managed to jump up and into her mother’s hooves, before falling over and giggling. Her smile lessened as she helped the foal up, but brightened in surprise as her daughter did a half hop into her mother’s embrace.

Unfortunately the filly’s mother wasn’t ready and stumbled backwards, leaving the foal to bounce up and down happily as she babbled. The adults stared slack jawed as the happy baby turned into a bobbing stiff-legged twirl that ended with an awkward, though successful, bounce and a proud grin.

“What did you say her full name was?”

“Pinkamena Diane Pie.” Came the response in unison from the parents..

“Pinkamena, I’ll remember that. Well, Mr. and Mrs. Pie, I can proudly say you will have your hooves full on that rock farm of yours.”

“Thank you, doctor,” said a teary-eyed Mrs. Pie as she picked up her very happy foal. “Let’s go, Pinkie, you have a lot of bouncing ahead of you,”

The good doctor watched as the relieved parents helped the bouncing filly leave his home. As he went to close his front door the pink filly stopped, turned to him, winked, giggled and bounced away.

Doctor Foalsgood chuckled to himself as he headed back to bed. “Pinkamena Diane Pie, huh.”