Skip to Primary Content

Pine Ridge Equine Hospital

Foaling Season

Family of Horses

To ensure that all the time and effort was not wasted there are a few things you can do as horse owners to assist in having a healthy foal and preparing the mare to rebreed.

Healthy mares raise healthy foals.  Prior to foaling, the mare should be in good body condition which can be evidenced by enough fat cover so the ribs are not visible but are still easily palpable.  Mares should be on a normal deworming and vaccination schedule, including eastern and western encephalitis, tetanus toxoid, west nile virus, rabies, equine influenza, and rhinopneumonitis.  Furthermore, your mare should receive pneumobort-K vaccinations at 5, 7, and 9 months of gestation.  Approximately 4-6 weeks prior to foaling, the mare should receive her pre-foaling boosters to ensure that maternal antibodies are produced in the colostrum.  I also recommend deworming your mare shortly before or right after foaling.  You may visit with one of the veterinarians at Sapulpa Equine Hospital to discuss a vaccination and deworming program that fits your program.

During the pregnancy, close observation of the mare is critical.  If a vaginal discharge is present, the mare should be examined by a veterinarian, as this may indicate a uterine infection that may be a risk to the pregnancy or to the foal when it is born.  If caught early enough, systemic antibiotics may be utilized to maintain the pregnancy.  Typically, mammary development begins approximately one month prior to foaling.  If this occurs earlier in the pregnancy, or if it appears painful and is hot, the mare should be examined as these may be signs of mastitis.  Additionally premature lactation may also be a sign of twins or a uterine infection.

When the foal is born, it should have a suckle reflex and achieve sternal recumbency (laying upright) within minutes of birth.  Attempts to rise should begin within 30 minutes, and most foals should be standing within 1 hour.  The foal should discover the mare's udder and begin suckling before 2 hours.  Most foals will only suckle for 1-5 minutes at a time and then sleep for a short period.  It is important to watch to see that the foal is swallowing.  Foals that spend long periods of time at the udder may not be receiving adequate intake of milk.  Foals should ingest approximately 1 liter of good quality of colostrum within the first 8-12 hours of life.  A simple blood test can be performed between 12 and 18 hours of age to ensure that adequate amounts of good quality colostrum were ingested.  Foals that do not receive adequate colostrum are more susceptible to infectious organisms, and may become very ill.  The mare should pass the placenta or after-birth within 2 hours of foaling, and the placenta should be closely examined.  If the placenta does not pass completely, medical attention is critical as retained placentas may result in severe illness, laminitis, and even death.

Sapulpa Equine Hospital is happy to assist you in any way that we can whether it be getting your mare ready to foal or foaling her out at the hospital under closed circuit video monitoring and Foal Alert remote monitoring, or examining your foal when it arrives.  Remember, we offer 24 hour emergency care for your peace of mind. (918) 224-6867