C H A R L O T T E, Iowa, Jan. 28, 2004 -- If she didn't have a Web cam on as she helped her horse give birth, Bev Holzrichter might not be alive.
The Charlotte, Iowa, horse breeder was helping her mare Sierra give birth at KB Hilltop Stables, the stable she owns with her husband. Holzrichter was the only person in the stable, and her husband wasn't due back for three days. But she had plenty of company.
The birth was being recorded by Holzrichter's Web cam, and hundreds of people from across the world were anxiously awaiting the foal's birth, which was to be broadcast live on her Web site. But after the delivery, Sierra, perhaps nervous about her new baby, kicked Holzrichter three times, knocking her to the floor of the barn.
"Without the Internet I don't know where I would have been," Holzrichter said. "I just don't know."
A Call of Congratulations
Initially, the birth was proceeding as planned.
The mare had just foaled and had not yet passed the placenta, so Holzrichter went into the stall to give the mare a painkiller. Just then Holzrichter received a cell phone call from Wendy Wiener from California, a woman whom she met through her Web site. Weiner was calling to congratulate Holzrichter on the birth of the long-awaited foal.
But after the two women ended their call, another horse tried to get to the newborn.
"Well Nifty lives right in the next stable and she was trying to break the bars down to get to the baby because she is an open mare and she wanted this baby for herself," Holzrichter said. "The baby was between me and the other mare and Sierra turned and kicked me three times down the wall."
Holzrichter was thrown to the floor of the barn, and Wiener heard a bloodcurdling scream.
"She [Sierra] got my right elbow and she got my right knee," Holzrichter said. "All the tendons are pulled in it."
Wiener saw what happened over the Web cam and quickly called back Holzrichter, who was nearly in shock. "I called her back immediately, thank God she had the phone in her hand, and I just kept her on the phone and just kept talking to her," Wiener said.
Soon after, many of those watching via Web cam went from being passive observers to assistant rescuers.
Wiener, who didn't want to get off the phone with Holzrichter, sent out a message on the Internet for someone to call 911.
Calls were made to local emergency officials from as far away as Berlin, Germany. As Holzrichter lay in pain, help was soon on the way.
"This is my guardian angel," Holzrichter said of Wiener, after the two women met on Good Morning America.
Holzrichter didn't break any bones, but she did suffer a pinched nerve in her elbow and damage to a tendon in her knee and she may have to have surgery on her femur.
Holzrichter said that because her husband was away, without the Web cam she could have lain in the barn for days before anyone would have found her.
To see more of Holzrichter's Web cam video of horse births, go to http://www.golfdate.ca/replays.html.
For more on KB Hilltop Stables, go to http://www.b2g4.com/boards/board.cgi?&user=kbhilltop.