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Advice Column 2001


The Advice Column contains a tremendous amount of information. However, it doesn't come even close to the information contained in the "Complete Foaling Manual." I assure you that if you like the column, you will love the book. And one of the great advantages to the book is having all that information at your fingertips right outside the mare's stall. For easy ordering, just click on the "Order Manual" link at the left. Don't foget to contribute to the column by clicking on "Submit Question." I would love to hear from you!


Thanks much, Theresa


Submitted by Julie & Tim in Australia on February 5, 2001:


Please could you send information on ruptured pre pubic tendon. Please include description of the condition, treatment option and prognosis. Thank you.


Dear Julie and Tim,


Prepubic tendon rupture is a tearing apart of the large tendon that "slings" the mare's abdomen from front to back, supporting the weight of the abdominal contents. Any mare that is suspected to have a prepubic tendon rupture should be seen immediately by a veterinarian. A pregnant mare with this rupture will not be able to delivery her foal by herself because without the tendon, she does not have the ability to push effectively. Prognosis varies and can only be determined on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes, surgery can be done in which the tendon is replaced by a heavy net-like structure.


Hope this helps.



Submitted by Jackie in Ohio on February 9, 2001:


I have a retired track and groom nasty mannered mare. She has been off track for four years and is now seven years old. When she comes in heat she is a witch. We have tried everything to try and make her comfortable during her heat cycle. She squeals, strikes, bites, and kicks. Medically there has been nothing found to be wrong with her. We spent a lot of money when we bought her to see if something was wrong. Being from excellent bloodlines we decided to breed her. Now I'm afraid she will freak out when foaling. Then possibly kill her foal during her ninth day heat cycle. Right now she is turned out to pasture. I will bring her in shortly to brush her, and get her used to her stall. When she is stalled, it is difficult getting in. She becomes very, very defensive. My veterinarian hopes that motherhood will do the trick. I DOUBT IT! I see nothing but problems ahead. I want to be prepared for any problem. I know all the basics and have foaled at least 150 times and possibly more. But this one has me worried. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you for your time.


Dear Jackie,


Sounds like you know what you're facing, and you're probably already as prepared as anyone to deal with this mare. Hopefully, foaling will do a lot to change her attitude. But your biggest problem may come about an hour after foaling, when she decides that she doesn't want anyone in the stall with her baby. I've seen mares like this before and fortunately, all have taken to their babies. But they are terrible to deal with. I'd be sure she has a halter on all the time, have sedatives ready, your vet alerted, and maybe even have some frozen colostrum on hand. You may also have to leave a lead shank on the mare after she foals so that you have some advantage when you have to catch her. Other than that, there really isn't much you can do.


Hope this helps, and please let us know how she does.



Posted by Dana in Oregon on February 13, 2001:


I have a 4 y/o maiden mare that is not due till the 2nd week of March 2001. The vet was out at the end of January as the mare was off her feed and I wanted to be sure all was well. The vet said at the time that she would be surprised if my mare went another 4 weeks. She started bagging on the 29th of Jan (just a little) she still only has a small bag and not much loosening of her muscles. However, she is very unsteady in the hind end so I know there has been some loosening. The baby appears to have dropped in the last day or so as her belly is sunk near her pelvis. No milk present and she has been rolling a lot (which she never does) also she is getting very sweet (she has never had much use for people). My question after all that is do you think this mare is going to foal early? She is only 310 days along at the moment. We know this because she only let the stallion breed her once. This is to early, right?


Dear Dana,


Since the mare is a maiden, it could be that she's showing all these behavioral changes just because she doesn't understand the discomfort and pressure that she's feeling. I've seen maidens act this way for weeks. They seem to react to everything that an experienced mare understands and just ignores.


Take care, and let us know all about your new little one.


Follow up by Dana on February 13, 2001:


Thank you for your advice. It is a relief to find out that all the signs she is showing could just be her discomfort and not knowing what is happening. I will however keep a close eye on her till she does foal. I will let you know how things go. Thanks again.


Follow up by Dana on November 28, 2001:


On February 13 2001 I e-mailed a question to you. I have to thank you again for your advice at the time. I did however never let you know what happened. My vet was wrong, my maiden mare foaled late and the resulting foal was a healthy bay tobiano filly! Mare and foal did great with no assistance from me ( I was however present in case assistance was required). Also that same month 4 days later, one of my other mares delivered a sorrel overo filly. Last but not least two months later my last mare delivered a sorrel overo filly. Three colored girls! All healthy! What more could I ask! Thanks so much for posting all those questions and answers, they help a lot!


Dear Dana,


Thanks so much for the update! Congratulations on your three healthy fillies, with color no less!





Submitted on by Bron in Australia on February 14, 2001:


I have a pony mare who is meant to be four months in foal. I noticed the other day that her paddock mate was in season and that Karli was very interested. Later I noticed Karli ,the mare in foal, mount her paddock mate who is a mare also. Does this mean we have lost our precious bundle or does this happen sometimes? By the way Karli is a maiden and this is an excellent advice column. Thank you.


Dear Bron,


Thanks so much for your kind words about the column! It isn't at all unusual for pregnant mares to act "studdy." It comes from the hormonal influences of pregnancy. If you see anything else that strikes you as strange, it would be good to have the mare checked by a vet to see if she is still in foal. Otherwise, I wouldn't worry too much about her boyish behavior.


Good luck!



Submitted by Gael in North Carolina on February 16, 2001:


My friend's morgan mare foaled last night a lovely big colt. His back legs are windswept. What is the prognosis for this condition? She has been advised by the vet to keep him in for a week. They are in a large foaling stall. The vet seems to think he will be fine. Thanks for your comments.


Dear Gael,


Windswept foals generally straighten up just fine with no treatment. I wouldn't be worried about keeping the mare and foal inside unless the foal is having trouble getting around or if the weather is bad.


Thanks for writing.




Submitted by Jane in Kentucky on February 23, 2001:


Have just found your board. Learning a LOT! We also have your book. My question is: We are repeatedly told that the red bag problem is caused by mares eating fescue. We have fenced her off fescue. She eats grain and alfalfa mix hay. This mare did lose a foal to red bag before we got her. Is this likely to happen again or is keeping her off fescue sufficient? Thanks.


Dear Jane,


It's really a matter of whether or not the previous red bag was a result of ingesting infested fescue. Mares can absolutely red bag for reasons other than fescue, and in my experience, a mare that has red bagged once is more likely to do it again than a mare that has never done it. But it is many times a situation that can be dealt with if you are there for the delivery. Since you have my book, you know that there is a pretty extensive discussion about what to do. Just do your best to be there when she foals and chances are good that everything will be fine. And best case, maybe she won't red bag this time!


Please let us know how it goes.



Submitted by Shelly in Texas on March 1, 2001:


Today is March 1st and my mare delivered at 8:30pm the 27th. Was due on the 28th so that was normal. When she was having the baby, one foot popped out of the rectum. Thank goodness we were there. My husband pushed it back in and out where it was supposed to be. It took about 30 minutes and the baby was out. Everything looked normal. The baby tried to get up about an hour later but couldn't stand up very well (weak). We milked the moma and fed with a bottle. I spent all night with the baby making him get up and nurse. Finally yesterday after noon he started getting up on his own and nursing. He still seems a little weak. He will get up on his own, nurse, walk a few steps a then lay down and sleep. Sometimes he will start rolling, kicking his feet and lays in the weirdest positions then just sleeps. I called the vet and he said as long as he gets up on his own and nurses, there is nothing else that can be done. Is there something else I can do to help him get stronger? It's been over 24 hours and he still isn't standing for very long. When he stands and walks to nurse he looks OK.


Dear Shelly,


I think the vet should see this foal. He should be stronger by now and the behavior you described--rolling, kicking his feet, and lying in weird positions--is the hallmark of a foal in some kind of distress. Until the vet comes out, the best thing you can do is keep doing what you've been doing. Make sure he gets up to nurse at least once an hour and a couple of times an hour is even better. Is he having bowel movements? Have you seen him urinate? Is his temperature normal--100-101? These are the things I would look for specifically. If your vet isn't willing to make the trip to see the foal, I would call a different vet.


Please let us know how it goes


Follow up by Shelly on March 3, 2001:


I e-mailed you the other day about our baby being very weak. I wanted to let you know that we took him to another vet and him and the moma are still there. At four days old he is still very weak. He will get up and nurse on his own but he lays down alot. The vet took blood work and found that his liver was not functioning properly on top of maybe some other organs. His stomach was x-rayed and was full of gas which explained the rolling he was doing. The vet has him on fluids, pain medication, tagament and antibiodics. Is this problem called dysmature? If so, what are the chances of him making it? The vet keeps telling us to give him another 24 hours. I don't want him to suffer. Thank You for your advice.


Dear Shelly,


I'm very glad that you got in touch with another vet about the foal, and sorry that he isn't doing better. But it sounds like this vet is doing everything possible. That's all you can do. I can't tell from your description if the foal was dysmature or not. It could be. And lots of times with these foals, if you just give them some time, they will come out of it and be fine. As long as the foal's pain is controlled fairly well, I'd give him the time. Go with what the vet says--the vet won't let the foal suffer unduly.


I'll be thinking about all of you. Please keep us updated.


Follow up by Shelly on March 4, 2001:


Just wanted to let you know that our vet called about 4:00am to let us know the baby turned for the worse and we decided to put him down. Thanks for all your help.


Dear Shelly,


I'm so very sorry! But you can at least rest assured that you and the vet did everything possible. You will be in my thoughts.



Submitted by Donna in California on March 1, 2001:


We purchased a QH last November. It is our first horse and was purchased for our daughter to be part of a colt training program in college. (She's wanted a horse most of her life, finally we bought into it). We originally thought the horse was slightly out of shape, and overweight. She came from reputable breeders and a vet check showed everything okay. Two weeks ago after months of rigourous daily exercise, reducing her food intake, multiple wormings and discussions with other more knowledgeable people about her continual weight gain, we discovered that our horse is due to give birth at any moment. She was checked just last week by the vet again, who suggested that he believed she would be foaling any moment. The baby is alive and kicking and at that point in "perfect position" to deliver. We have had to move her to a new larger facility. She seems to have every symptom anyone has mentioned, she is really ready to go. However, last night all night she had a symptom that we have not heard of ....she started opening and shutting her very elongated vulva, over and over again for many hours. We thought that was the beginning of labor, but clearly another entire nights sleep lost and no baby. I have never heard mention of this symptom. Have you heard of this? We expect tonight to be the night (we've said that every night for a week, haha). Her bag is fuller, waxed over, she's very very soft in the hind quarters, and has dropped substantially. What was the symptom she was showing? P.S.- I wrote to you moments ago....I forgot to mention this. Sadly our mare just turned 2 a couple weeks ago. Babies having babies, of course we are very concerned. Do you have any thoughts on this?


Dear Donna,


The mare opening and closing her vulva isn't really a symptom, it's more a sign that she's uncomfortable. It's perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. Of course it's always concerning when a two year old foals. But since you're doing all that you can be being there to help her if she needs it, I'm sure all will be fine.


Please let us know when she foals.


Follow up by Donna on March 3, 2001:


I wrote you a few days ago. We have a maiden mare that is just 2 years old due to deliver at any moment. We moved her to a larger facility just days ago due to concerns about her location. She seems to have taken the change well. Vet inspection a week ago said she could go any minute. We have a few immediate concerns I was hopeful you might shed some light on. Suddenly when touching her belly, she responded with trying to bite my daughter. She is pawing a lot, in fact creating a huge nest in her straw, digging way down. Thirdly she is shedding huge amounts of hair. Might this be from moving her inside from a partially inside stall? Is it something due to the pregnancy, or something we should be worrying about? She also urinated a milky white fluid. We've been told that is okay, is it? Anxiously awaiting your response, thanks ever so much in advance.


Dear Donna,


All of the mare's behavior sounds normal to me. The touchiness about her belly is a result of her discomfort, as is the pawing. The shedding is not at all uncommon this time of year in a pregnant mare. I always get questions in late winter about pregnant mares shedding buckets when other horses aren't. Not to worry, it's normal and maybe due to hormone changes or the fact that pregnant mares have a much greater circulatory volume that non-pregnant horses. It is normal that her urine has turned milky white, and this is usually a good indication that the hormone changes that occur shortly before delivery have taken place. When I see that change in urine color, I keep an especially close watch on them.


Please! Keep us updated!


Follow up by Donna on March 4, 2001:


Gosh I don't know how we'd be surviving this without your help right now! As I wrote over the last few days our 2 year old maiden mare has all the signs of foaling as well as the vet�s visit last week telling us she's due anytime. It's been a long 2 weeks of waiting and watching, we are very nervous. My last emails said that she's pawing, shedding, has milky urine, stretched and softened vulva, rear collapsing, up and down with frequency and she's slightly off diet and very moody, uncomfortable and clearly not feeling well.


Last night and throughout today her bag has dropped further and filled up with milk. It's not leaking. It had waxed up earlier in the week and then dried up. Nothing like this though. My daughter went and washed her teats and applied Vaseline as they were chapped and raw. Our horse seemed delighted and clearly appreciated it. Do you think the bag filling up is the final sign? Do you think it could finally be tonight? or is it just another sign that means sometime soon in the next few days to weeks?


Dear Donna,


I wish I could tell you that her udder filling more is the final sign, but I know better than to make a guess like that (especially without being able to see the mare)! The one thing I can say with certainty is that she's definitely getting closer :-). And I don't think this will go on for weeks longer. I hope for all of your sakes that she gets it done soon.


One thing--it isn't a good idea to put Vaseline, or anything else, on the mare's udder. All that does is encourage dirt and bacteria to cling. I'd wash the Vaseline off. Truly, putting Vaseline on at this point does a lot more for the people than it does for the mare.


Let us know when that baby finally gets here!


Follow up by Donna on March 16, 2001:


Theresa thanks for all of your patience and advice with us. We've written before and are still waiting for the birth of our Two year old maiden mare's first foal. We unknowingly bought her pregnant and the previous owners are totally unable to give us any guesses as to when this initially happened. Our mare has most if not all the classic symptons and we had a vet check her almost 3 weeks ago when he said that she was definitely pregnant and "ready to go" any day now. Three weeks of 2 hours shifts are exhausting. The mares milk comes in, then dries up. We did move her to a new location about a week and 1/2 ago. Perhaps this changed the mares desire to foal???? This time though it seems very different. Perhaps the last times it was just a liquid filling into the udders. This time it is white with larger dried areas on her teats. This MUST finally be true waxing. Her udders are very full and dripping. All other signs are apparent as well. With this in mind, would the waxing which began yesterday be the countdown of 24 to 48 hours to birth? Please? What are your thoughts? Thanks again.


Hi Donna,


I wondered what happened to you. I can't believe that poor girl hasn't foaled yet! I doubt that the move disrupted anything.


Yes, that sounds like true waxing. And I wish I could give you a true countdown, but I can't. Usually, with emphasis on usually, they will foal within three days of waxing. But many mares have gone a whole lot longer than that after waxing. I hope for her sake, and yours, that she gets it done soon! 


Hang in there!


Follow up by Donna on March 25, 2001:


First I want to thank you for even reading this long letter. At this point I don't quite know what to think of all that has happened to us. I've written you before about our situation. We purchased our maiden mare in November from a reputable breeder. Somehow despite a vet check, no one realized she was pregnant. We had her on an extensive exercise program, tried multiple wormings, changed and then reduced her feedings with multiple persons offering advice. No one had a clue to suggest that she was pregnant. Three weeks ago we found out the real cause of her weight gain. Our mare had just turned 2. We moved her from the college campus to a better facility and my daughter has been doing the 1-3 hour checks round the clock for 3 weeks. I know that you can't really offer me vet advice for a horse that you've never seen but I am getting two conflicting pieces of advice and would really like to know which you would do in my position. The questions will be near the end of this email but I think it important you have the detailed event of the trauma our mare went through in delivery to understand how this might affect her future health. This following part of this letter is my 18 year old daughter�s recollection of what happened that night when she and her friend went to check on "Pistol".


Thursday her bag filled completely and she started to wax over, then Friday she started to drip milk. She seemed like she felt fine. At 7:30 I went to check her after my classes. She seemed fine, not like there was anything wrong at all, but I knew she would have it that night, so I kept her stall clean and her tail wrapped. I went home showered, ate, met Eric and came back at 10:30. When we got there she was standing up against the back wall soaking wet, she had knocked over her full water trough. So her stall was soaked too. She was holding her tail real high then she moved a little and I could see that the foal's head was completely out of Pistol's vulva but the foals legs were still inside Pistol. Before anything I ran out of the stall and called the vet. By the time I walked back to her stall she was laying down with her butt right against the wall. Eric and I tried to get her to stand up and walk around in hopes the foal would slip back down in Pistol and reposition but I knew that was a slim chance, since when we found her she was up but the head did not budge. Pistol moaned a lot, and turned on her back with her legs up on the wall as if she was using the wall to try and push the baby out. We kept trying to get her up, and she tried too but she was so weak. Every time she tried she would fall down and she slammed down hard! She kept slamming her head real hard, I tried to pad under her head with a lot of straw so that it wouldn't hurt her. She eventually gave up trying to get up and just lay there. We couldn't get her to move. She moaned a lot.


The vet got there and we put her halter on, tied up her legs and tried to flip her over, so maybe she would have a little more strength or room to get up from that side. I didn�t think we'd get her up. We all said that if we couldn't, we knew she'd die. The vet said that if we didn't get her up and get the baby out we would lose her. We were all very scared. Finally we got her up but she was really weak and fell. We tried again as hard as we could and got her up again, she fell several times halfway but we all tried and got her up again. Eric used his body kind of as a crutch to hold her up. The vet pushed the baby back to get to her legs. It took at least 10 minutes to get her first leg out, because they were bent back and her joints were tight. Pistol threw her head a few times, you could tell she was in a lot of pain. You could hear the gurgling and everything moving around inside of her while he tried to pull the legs out. Finally he got both legs out, but the baby wouldn't come out. I pulled her forward while the two men each holding one foal's leg each pulled with all their strength. When the foal came out, it had no pulse. We took the foal out so that Pistol would not be further traumatized. The vet gave Pistol Penicillin and examined her. He didn't feel that her uterus was ruptured and said we came really close to losing her.


The vet gave her a shot to make her uterus contract. Pistol's coloring came back, her pulse was again strong, and everything was good. At 3:30 she was standing up and a small part of the afterbirth had come out. The vet said to call him at 6am. I did, and he came back out to check her. He have her another shot to make her uterus contract as the rest of the afterbirth had not come out. Then he gave her sort of an enema through a tube. The afterbirth then came out. He gave Pistol a pain killer. She had horrible cramps and lay there moaning. Later that day Pistol was standing with her head very low. She ate a small amount. I washed her of all the blood and sweat and cleaned her stall thoroughly. She seems a little better now.


Theresa, this is what happened. And this is what is going on now which will lead to my questions for you. The breeder that we bought Pistol from called to ask how she was doing. After hearing our story he suggested that 2-3 days after the above event to have a uterine culture run on her to be certain that all infection is taken care of. Surprised that the vet hadn't suggested it he jumped in and said that if the vet wasn't willing to do it that I should right away take her to a specialty equine vet in Reno. Spare no time! (I didn't suggest that the vet wouldn't do it. I have a GREAT deal of respect for how wonderful this vet has been. He is a large animal vet and is respected in the community, has delivered and cared for many horses. But no, he's not an equine specialist. The closest one is in Reno, one and 1/2 hours away. We don't own a trailer.) The vet had checked the horse when we first bought her in Nov. and three times now during the last 3 weeks. He is very flexible with coming out, giving you his time and is out front in his opinion. We like him. And can you believe it for him many hours of time, dedication and patience his bill for all of this less than $300.00? I am astounded. He's clearly doing it for the love of animals.


I called the vet to schedule the culture. He says that we should culture her but wait until the mare is in heat for the second time (approx. one month from now). He said that testing prior to that is unnecessary for 2 reasons.


#1. Nothing in the death of the foal leads us to think that she had an infection. From what he saw he tends to believe that the foal had a knee deformity that kept her from bending her legs forward to properly align in the birth canal. I asked wouldn't it be difficult to determine it was a birth problem as the knees would be messed up from two men pulling on her legs.(I made it clear that I understood the foal was probably already dead, and if not was not salvageable at that point with the risk of losing both animals) Also might the foal have already died and rigor mortis have set into the legs. He said no to both things. He felt it was apparent before they had to pull the foal that she was not able to flex her joints forward. Otherwise he said the baby was a beautiful healthy baby despite us having underfed the Mom, not knowing of her pregnancy of course.


#2 He had already given her Penicillin which would help in her not getting an infection but would also possibly mask test results that we might take too soon.


I believe that both parties....the previous breeder and the vet have Pistol's best interest at heart but I am afraid of making the wrong move. Do you have an thoughts? Could you evaluate what this all says to you? Was this a delivery that "might" happen to 10% of the population or was in the one in a thousand variety? We are very sad for the loss of the foal but so thankful to have saved Pistol. She still isn't quite herself but she's eating and doing alright. Do you see any long-term issues here? Should we have done an autopsy to determine what happened? Or is it pretty clear to you that this was just poor prenatal care (unknowingly of course) that caused a birth defect and therefore a horrible birth?? Was it that Pistol was only 2 when she delivered? Would she most likely have normal future foals and deliveries or might this be a warning to us? And of course....would you culture now? Of course this means renting and moving a traumatized horse for an hour and 1/2. Would you watch her and check her a month from now?


For being first time horse owners, I think my daughter now has more experience than many have in years of horse ownership. I thank the lord that Pam's friend Eric (who has delivered several foals) and the vet came to her rescue. Clearly together they made miracles happen. I would just like to think that we would learn as much from this as possible. I'm not sure that Pam will ever get over what she witnessed to be able to breed Pistol after this. But perhaps her fears will one day soften with knowledge as to why this happened. Any thoughts and advice you can offer would be very appreciated. Thanks ever so much in advance.


Dear Donna,


I'm so very, very sorry to hear about the loss of the foal and the trauma to poor Pistol and your daughter.


First, let me assure you that this isn't a 10% kind of thing. The odds that this would happen are less than that. My feeling is that the vet is right--that the foal's legs wouldn't straighten in order for her to be delivered properly. I also think that this may well have been due to Pistol's age. Her uterus and body just weren't developed enough to give the foal the room it needed. It would not have happened because of your not knowing she was pregnant. Foals are like parasites--they take what they need whether the mare has it to give or not. So as long as Pistol was in good flesh during the pregnancy, the foal wasn't harmed.


Second, the vet gave Pistol penicillin and infused her uterus. That's proper procedure for what she went through. I would agree with the vet and wait until at least until the foal heat to culture her. Waiting until the 30-day heat would be fine. The exception would be if Pistol shows a thick, mucousy vaginal discharge. If that should occur, she may have an infection and the vet should be made aware of it. Other than that, time and loving care will be all she needs to heal. This vet sounds caring and concerned. I'd stick with him.


I don't think an autopsy was at all called for. It seems to me to be fairly well clear-cut that this is one of those unfortunate events that happen when babies have babies. If the vet says that everything checks out okay reproductively with Pistol, then I wouldn't expect there to be any problems if you should decide to breed her in a few years. I don't think this is an indication of what will happen when she is mature and ready to be a mother. I would expect everything to be fine.


Please don't beat yourself up about this. You didn't breed a yearling. All you did was try to cope with the situation. And thank goodness for you, your daughter, her friend, and the vet. I know how heartbreaking the whole thing has been, but you should take comfort in the fact that you did your best and Pistol came through. The people I would question are the ones who somehow allowed a yearling to be bred. That is at best poor management and at worst, totally negligent.


Please give Pistol a hug for me and you and your daughter take care.


Follow up by Donna on April 3, 2001:


I've written you before when we were awaiting the birth of our foal. We have the just turned 2 year old mare. We bought her in Nov. 2000 and didn't know she was pregnant until abut 3-4 weeks before delivering. No wonder we had her on a diet thinking she was fat. She gets a lot of basic exercise but nothing aggressive. She's in a colt training program at college andhas never been ridden. As we thought she was overweight we reduced her feed. She's not had any grain from us...only hay until the last month.


I wrote you telling about the horrific birth where we almost lost our mare. Now I am writing as the farrier came out to trim her feet and said that she has foundered in three feet and that it could be because she had a retained placenta. The vet had to give her drugs to start contractions twice. He also gave her Penicillin and an antibiotic uterine rinse. Could this really be a result of the birth? What could we or anyone have done to make it different? We have given her all her shots since owning her, careful to ask what she had had and not from the previous breeder.


We did not bargain for a pregnant horse. We almost lost her, and are heartbroken at all that has happened. Please help me understand any correlation this might have to the birth so that I may understand. We have an appointment to have the vet examine her and x-ray her. I previously sent you the account of the horrible birth a couple weeks ago. Thanks for any help, first time horse owners :(


Dear Donna,


Yes, it is absolutely possible for a mare to founder due to a retained placenta. The founder is caused by toxin release. It is the main reason why a mare with a retained placenta needs immediate treatment. But, your vet acted appropriately so she shouldn't have foundered from the retained placenta. Horses have also been known to founder from trauma. If she has foundered, just the whole ordeal could have caused it and there was nothing you or anyone else could have done about it. It's good that the vet is going to x-ray her feet. That will tell you what changes have occurred in her feet, if any, and how much of a problem it will be for her.


Rest assured that you have done everything possible to take care of this mare. You handled a very difficult situation in the best way it could have been handled. Thank goodness the filly had you! Please let us know what you find out.



Submitted by Dawn in Texas on March 3, 2001:


Thank you so much for all of your invaluable information! There are so many horse people who tend to not want to 'share' their 'secrets'! We have your book, and also enjoy your column!


We bought a TWH maiden mare in foal last summer. Our land is 12 miles from the house we live in (until next summer), so we decided to have her foaled at a ranch our vet recommended ($400 + $10/day mare care!) -This is our fist baby that we didn't 'buy'.


I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to give a foal the IgG test for antibodies received from the mare's milk/colostrum! Let me explain: She foaled last Sunday night/Monday morning around 3 am. Around 9 am, they gave the baby the IgG test, and it was low (below 400). The vet came out and tubed the baby with colostrum into his stomach. They tested him again the next morning, and there wasn't much improvement (just barely above 400). The vet ordered blood from where he does, overnighted from out-of-state. We had mother and baby transported to the vet clinic, and they gave him the transfusion when it arrived the next morning. He's going to be okay!


**Here's my point: He always looked healthy! He was energetic from the very beginning! Bright eyed, and bushy tailed! He ran around, kicked his heels up, nursed, wore himself out, lay down, got back up...you get the idea! If he hadn't gotten the IgG test, we would've never known, and probably would've lost him! I went to a Mare & Foal Management Workshop at Texas A&M this week. They explained that the baby's stomach lining is 'open' to absorb the colostrum for just 24 hours. In his case, he didn't absorb it when the vet tubed the colostrum into his stomach when he was 11 hours old. **If the test isn't given in the first 24 hours, and the count isn't up to 800+, the blood transfusion needs to be administered, which costs a lot more ($300+ in our case)...worth every penny, but at least we still have him!


Dear Dawn,


Thanks for sharing your story! And yes, it is important to have the foal's IgG level tested, since that's the only way to know for sure what's going on. I'm very happy that your baby is doing well. Enjoy!



Submitted by Sue in Arkansas on March 4, 2001:


I was so delighted to find your site tonight. I have three mares that are due to foal the last of this month (March). I have had one other experience with foaling and it turned out beautifully, my two year old gelding is a doll. At the time of his arrival I did not own other horses, but this time there is two other mares - mom-(15) and daughter(3)she is an extremely protective mom, the gelding and the three broodmares. My question is do I stall these broodmares or just separate them from the others, most vets in the area discourage birthing stalls. My stalls are 14x10, my concern is their size. I am getting so anxious, and want to make the best decisions for my mares. please help? I love your column, you are so patient....


Dear Sue,


As you said, the broodmares should be separated from the others. What you do after that is just a matter of opinion. Many people do either successfully. My preference is to have pregnant mares in stalls at night. The biggest reason is that if something goes wrong (heaven forbid!), you are in a place with lights that is easily accessible to the vet. Your stalls being 14x10 isn't that big a problem. The 10 side is a little small, but not that bad. And since I assume you'll be watching these mares to attend their deliveries, you can keep them from foaling against walls. That said, a lot of people let their mares foal outside with the herd and do so without problems. It depends on weather conditions, fencing, etc. So, I guess the bottom line is that you have to do what you feel comfortable with.


Hope this helps.


Follow up by Sue on March 22, 2001:


Hello again, I sent a message to you a few weeks ago. I was concerned about my 3 mares who were due to foal anytime and seperating them from their other pasture buddies. I have read every single question that is posted, and they have answered my questions. I can just imagine just how busy you are right now. I have one down and two to go, mare and colt are doing great! I used my gut instinct and separated each mare as she became ready to foal, and 2 days later she is very capable of taking care of her newborn. All of my mares are maiden and it amazes me that they are so wonderful with their babies, and know just what to do at all times. God knew what he was doing when he created these wonderful creatures that we get to enjoy! Thanks so much for all the wonderful advice and don't bother e-mailing me and think I already know exactly what you would advice after reading every single question you have posted. I am ordering your book and will recommend your web-site to many friends. I would love to have a career that centered around my passion "horses" God Bless, and keep up the good work!!!!


Dear Sue,


Thanks so much for your kind words! Does my old heart good! I'm so glad everything went well with the first mare and baby. And yes, mares are amazing creatures. They never cease to amaze me. I hope the other two go as well. Please let us know!



Submitted by Kim in Alberta, Canada on March 4, 2001:


Good morning Theresa, no questions at this time I just want to tell you how invaluable your column is to us worry wart Mare midwives. I am expecting my first foal in 20 years from a lovely mare that I have. She is over by a week now and we are watching her pretty closely. She is bagging up nicely for a maiden mare, and as I said we are keeping a very close eye on her. I thank you very much for your wonderful, easy to understand advice, and wish you lived close to us!! Best wishes.


Dear Kim,


What a wonderful letter! You made my day! I hope everything goes very smoothly with your mare's delivery. Please do let us know when she foals.


Thanks again for your kind words.


Follow up by Kim on March 18, 2001:


Hi Theresa, just an update. After being close to three weeks overdue, very heavy, bagged to the max, and myself being very worried, Lace finally blessed us with her first foal. Totally unassisted. She is a fabulous mother, who wouldn't attempt to stand until I moved her foal's leg out from underneath her back leg, and then talked to the babe constantly, while letting me work around her to remove the last of the afterbirth from the foal's hips, and tidy the stall a little so the little critter could have better grip to stand up. Hopefully all goes well from here. The filly has suckled and I am going out soon to ensure the meconium is passed, and that all is well, then I am going to try to sleep, which as we all know is a precious commodity this time of year!! The filly is a half Arab/half paint, mostly white with a bay head, chest, left flank and two smudge marks on either side of her tail, but her tail is white, I wish that I had a digital camera!! Or a scanner!! Or something. What a feeling, to hear mother and daughter talk to each other, and to watch Lace guide the babe to the grub!! Wow!! Worth all the wait and wondering. Thank you again for your column and to The Horse Forum for providing this vault of info!!! Best wishes.


Dear Kim,


Wonderful news! It's great to hear how well everything went! And the filly sounds absolutely darling. Get some sleep, then enjoy your new baby!



Submitted by Rebecca in Ontario, Canada on March 4, 2001:


I hope that you can give me some answers. On Thursday night my father-in-law's mare gave birth to her fourth foal but she still had approximately one and a half months to go in her pregnancy. When the foal was removed from the barn it had a strong odour to it as if maybe it had been dead inside the mare for a while. Nothing in the mare�s daily schedule had been changed nor had her feed. Can you give me any reasons as to why she may have lost her foal so far along in the pregnancy. The mare is also very stiff and sore and does not want to move around at all. She is torn a little. The mare has been given two shots of penicillin for infection and she is being bathed each day as well as being rubbed with horse liniment. Could you let me know what else we can possibly do for her. Thanking you in advance for any information.


Dear Rebecca,


I'm so very sorry about the loss of the foal! Late term abortions can occur for many reasons--twisted umbilical cord, some genetic defect with the foal, etc. Sometimes you just never know why. Since it appeared that the foal had been dead for a while, and especially considering your description of the mare's condition, it is of utmost importance to be sure the mare is treated properly. Her uterus should absolutely be checked by a vet and she should have at least one, and probably several uterine infusions. Also, you said she'd had two injections of penicillin. I hope that isn't all. Two injections isn't enough to help if the mare has a uterine infection from carrying foal that may have been decomposing. I can't stress enough how important proper veterinary care is for this mare.


Again, I'm very sorry about the foal.



Submitted by Darcy in Ohio on March 6, 2001:


I have an eleven year old quarter horse mare. I believe this is her first. She was ultrasounded at 18 days and her estimated due date is March 20. She has waxed up. Baby has dropped into position and the croup is soft and sagging. I am a little concerned that it is too early for these signs. How many days does a mare generally wax prior to delivery ?


Dear Darcy,


The average amount of time that a mare waxes before foaling is 2-3 days, but it can be as short as a few hours or as long as a month. However, if your mare is due March 20th, then there is nothing to be concerned about as far as the foal being too early. It is already within a safe range. So don't worry. Just keep a watch on the mare and look forward to seeing that new baby!


Let us know when she foals.



Submitted by Megan in Michigan on March 6, 2001:


Hi, I found your web.site and it is great. I can sit for hours and read all the advice but I have a question for you. I have a 14 yr. paint mare that I bought and was told that she might have been bred a few days before I bought her. She was in with a stallion in a pasture. Well after I had her about three mo. I had her ultrasounded, and the vet told me that was no baby. About 7 mo. later she was putting on weight so I called a different vet and he palpated her and said she was pregnant. All has gone well, and he said she was very healthy. The first vet felt something when her palpated her, so that is why he ultrasounded her, said that it was not an infection, guess she fooled him. But now my question. The closest we could figure to her due date was feb.23, but we still have no foal. She is bagging up and is relaxed in the rear end. The other day she laid down and didn't get up, was grunting and clear fluid was passed, not a lot but some, also she had a soft stool. I thought she was in labor but after a while she got up and nothing more. I bought a monitor so I can keep watch all the time, but I couldn't get any milk from her teats. I was told that she had a foal before, but not from the women I got her from, so I am not really sure and she could be a maiden. She had infections before and was treated and flushed by other owner's vet. She checked clear for any more infection and then I bought her. Can you express milk from all mares before they are ready, and should I worry about her false labor? How long should I wait for this foal before I get real nervous? I hope you can answer as soon as possible before I go crazy. Thanks a lot.


Dear Megan,


Not all mares produce milk before foaling and many start producing it only at the very last moment. I would not be worried about what you describe as "false labor", she was probably just uncomfortable. I would also not be concerned for a couple more weeks since it is not unusual for some mares to go as long as one year. It's really impossible for me to predict a foaling date for you. From your description, it sounds like it could be any day. The udder can change drastically in a few hours, especially since she's already made so many other changes. All you can do is keep doing what you've been doing--keep a close watch on her progress and stay with her when you think she's getting close.


Best of luck, and please let us know when she foals.


Follow up by Megan on March 17, 2001:


Hi Theresa, I e-mailed you about 1 week ago about my mare who laid down and pushed and some fluid came out and I thought that she was having her baby, but then she just got up and went on eating. You said that you thought that she was just uncomfortable, well that helped me to calm down and not worry so much, but you know how it is when you are wanting and she is overdue. Well just wanted to let you know that March 16, she foaled a little filly and all went real smooth. Water broke at 10:57 pm and the foal was born at 11:00 PM. By 11:36 PM my filly was up trotting around the stall, had eaten, and pooped. The mare was eating hay and seemed happy. The only thing that I was worried about was my mare didn't stay down and got up right away and the cord broke. It was a clean break and no bleeding occurred, so all was fine. Mare and Foal are healthy and doing well, we imprinted the foal today and now she comes right up to you and isn't afraid at all. Well, thanks a lot for the info. and your column, it sure helped a lot to let me know what to look for (p.s. she was at 362 days)


Dear Meg,


Great news! I'm so happy everything went smoothly after all that worrying! We all worry, but it's worth it, isn't it?! Thanks for letting us know about your new filly. I know you'll have a great time with her!



Submitted by Denise in Hawaii on March 8, 2001:


Aloha. I have an 18 year old American Saddlebred who is now at day 346. She has dropped, has swollen utters although the milk is still very clear. Her vulva seems to relax and then return to a normal state. Everything seems very normal and partuation getting nearer. My question is, in your experience have you noticed that more foals are born under a full moon. I know that it affects humans, both my children were born during a full moon. Tomorrow is a full moon and perhaps it is just my wishful and sleepless thinking. P.S. Because we live in a very rural area, we must rely upon ourselves more, I administer all my horses vaccinations. I have 2 10cc injections of oxytocin on hand should the mare retain the placenta. Because she is an older mare with one previous unsuccessful foaling (6 weeks premature, believed to have been caused by an infection passed by the stud, 3 of his babies all died in one season) could this drug also help her during the second stage of labor? I know not to give it to her until the water breaks and until I see proper positioning of the foal.


Dear Denise,


I really haven't noticed a correlation between full moons and mares foaling. Others say they have, but I haven't.


About the oxytocin. First, I have never known of a mare to need oxytocin during delivery and it should absolutely not be given in that circumstance except under the direct supervision of a vet. Also, NEVER, NEVER give 10cc of oxytocin in one injection. That is way too much at one time and could cause uterine prolapse. If the mare should retain the placenta for longer than three hours, giving 1-2cc per hour for a few hours is plenty.


I hope this helps.



Submitted by Kirsty in Atrim, Ireland on March 8, 2001:


My tb mare has approximately 5 weeks remaining of her first pregnancy...we are concerned due to her small size in comparison to other mares. we have seen the foal "kick" though. Are first time mares often small, and could it be that her highly active nature could be preventing her from putting on much weight? She has always walked in the box and walks continually when out on grass.


Dear Kirsty,


It is quite normal for maiden mares not to show as much as mares who have had foals before. They haven't been stretched out before, and especially an active mare with good muscle tone can pack a lot of foal in there and make it look small. So, I wouldn't be at all concerned about her belly size.


Hope this helps.



Submitted by Addie in Kansa on March 9, 2001:


I have a mare that is in foal and due March 29th with her first foal. She started showing signs about 2 weeks ago. Her bag started enlarging and her vulva started to look bigger. But now her bag has gone back down. Is this a sign of trouble or can this be normal? I have been told that with maiden mares they will show signs and then not show signs. Please help. Thanks,


Dear Addie,


It isn't at all unusual for a mare's udder to go up and down in size at this stage. Since she isn't due until the end of the month, I wouldn't be a bit worried. Good luck, and let us know how it goes.



Submitted by Leanne in Iowa on March 10, 2001:


I have a 21 year old Arabian mare due to foal anytime in the next two weeks. She has had three foals for us in the past. All has gone well, except that she does not lie down to foal! She always foals standing up! I keep the barn quiet..there's no horses bothering her in neighboring stalls...she's very used to my presence. It's like it just doesn't occur to her to lie down! She's not tall, just 14.2hh, but it's still a fairly decent "drop" for the foal! I try to sort of "catch" the foal and at least control the drop, but have you ever tried to catch 100+lbs of a slippery foal "cannonball"? Usually the foal and I end up in a heap, but I figure I at least cushioned the fall! Is this standing to foal, a common thing? We were present for the first two foals birthings, but missed the third, and when we found it, it had a gash in its forehead that required a couple stitches...probably it hit the stall wall when it "shot" out, I'm guessing. With this pregnancy I'm really concerned about the size of this foal..it looks really big..as the mare is bigger and hangs lower in the belly than any of her other pregnancies. Today she had clear, dried drops on her teats, and is beginning to soften in the rear. The stallion owner gave me March 23 for a due date, but I don't think she'll go that long. Any advice about the standing up thing, and birthing large foals would be appreciated! Thanks!


Dear Leanne,


First, it may be that this foal won't be much larger than the others. You said that the mare has had three foals before. It seems that at about the fourth foal, mares really show a lot more. I suppose that's because after that many foals, they are really stretched out. And with her age, she won't have the greatest muscle tone in the world. So, don't worry too much about the foal's size.


Second, it isn't all that uncommon for mares to foal standing. It's a pain, but as you've found out, it usually turns out fine. And yes, I've had to "catch" several slippery, 100 lb+ foals. Cute trick, huh?! Breaking the foal's fall is about all you can do unless you have a couple of people doing the catching. But surprisingly enough, they rarely get hurt when they fall out on their own (with the exception of something like what happened to your foal). So about all you can do is cooperate with the mare and be ready to catch!


Let us know how it goes. Maybe this time, she'll surprise you and decide to lie down!



Submitted by Deb in Arkansas on March 13, 2001:


I ordered your foaling manual a couple years ago. This is my third foaling season with the book!!! LOVE it!!! Thanks. So can you help me with a concern ? I have a mare that is 9 days overdue. She is bagged up, relaxed, etc. Her colostrum is thick and she looks ready. She never waxes, just goes into labor and delivers, just like that. There seems to be no problem. The concern I have is that I gave her Equidone about 4 weeks ago because I was concerned about her not bagging up and being close to delivery. When should I really concern myself with her being overdue? The baby is still alive. I have never had a mare go this long overdue. This mare usually only goes a couple of days over. We have cameras in the barn so I am not worried about the time spent watching her, just her condition and the condition of the baby.


Dear Deb,


I wouldn't be at all worried about a mare that is nine days overdue. Actually, at that point, she's still within a completely normal range, so there's no reason to be concerned, especially since you think everything looks okay. I've had several questions lately about overdue mares and it makes me wonder if that's going to be the trend for the year. Maybe because we've had such a long, tough winter. Sounds like your mare has done just about all she needs to do except have that baby, so I hope she'll get it done for you before long!


Let us know what she has.



Submitted by Lewella in Minnesota on March 13, 2001:


Thanks for such a great site! I have had a number of foals over the years but the one that is 5 days old has thrown me for a loop. Twice today I went out to check on her and she was laying there like she was drugged. Totally limp! Once I smacked her on the rump hard, she jumped up and started nursing. I called my Vet and he checked her over and everything is normal. He thinks she was in a really deep sleep (he breeds Paints and foals a number of his own mares every year). Have you ever experienced anything like this?


Hi Lewella,


Yes, I have taken care of a couple of foals that would sleep deeply like that. Scared the you-know-what out of me, too! They seem to outgrow it, but can really get your heart racing sometimes until they do. Since you've had the vet check the foal, as long as she's nursing frequently enough and normally active, I wouldn't worry about it.


Thanks for writing.



Submitted by Leanne in Iowa on March 14, 2001:


My 20 year old mare foaled a large stud colt early this morning...almost 10 days before his due date! He seems fine, except he's cold! Here in Iowa, Spring hasn't arrived yet, and he doesn't have a very thick haircoat. I don't have a foal blanket...and somewhere, sometime, I read about someone using an article of human clothing (was it sweatshirt, sweater?) as a makeshift blanket to keep baby warm, but how would I secure it around the middle so it didn't just twist horribly on him, and make it difficult for him to get up/down? Also, what do you think about rigging up a infrared heat lamp above a corner of the stall? Of course, there'd be no guarantee he'd pick that corner to lay in. Our local tack store doesn't have foal blankets, and catalog order would take 2-3 days. We're supposed to have a snowstorm tomorrow. Any advice would be appreciated!


Dear Leanne,


Congratulations on your foal!


Yes, people do use sweatshirts on foals. There really isn't any way to secure it around the middle without running additional risk of having something the foal will get caught up in, so most people just let the sweatshirt hang. The really handy ones have sewn Velcro on to secure them, but I'm afraid I'm not quite that handy! Heat lamps are great and surprisingly, most of the time the foals will find the warm area and sleep there. Just be sure to use proper precautions with the lamp since the lamp itself gets very hot and is a fire hazard if not used properly.


Good luck and congrats again on your baby!



Submitted by Shelly in New York on March 15, 2001:


I have an 8 year old mare that has had her first foal on 2/26/01. We battled with the mare for four hours to get her to accept her foal, and finally she did. But she is so possessive and worried about the foal that she won't allow him to go anywhere or do anything in the pasture. She has begun to punish him by kicking or biting him whenever he moves away from her hip. Anything I can do other than wean him at 16 days old?


Dear Shelly,


Unless there is a danger that the mare might really hurt the foal, I'd give her another week or so to get over her extreme possessiveness. I really don't know of anything you can do to stop this, so if you believe that she might hurt him, then it might be necessary to wean him.

I wish I could be more helpful. Please let us know how things go.


Submitted by Tammy in Alabama on March 16, 2001:


I have a mare that was bred via AI on both April 12 and 13 of 2000 and is due to foal soon. I am watching her closely and have purchased a foaling predictor test. This is her second foal and my first, so I am quite anxious. Right now she is showing relaxation along the croup (she is beginning to get indentations on the side of the croup and has just developed a small indentation that is shaped like a very shallow bowl on the top of her croup). It also seems that the bulk of her size has dropped some and moved back, and she seems fuller around the flanks. Her udder is filling. Right now it seems the udder is filling from outer edges inward. I can express milk from her but it is yellow with some white specks and watery in consistency. I have tested her three times with the foaling predictor kit and each time nothing has changed. So I am wondering if she is going to go over, although with the physical changes I am seeing it would lead me to believe she will be on time. I am also concerned being this close to her foaling date that her udder isn't fuller (the two outer sections are filling but the section between the teats still hasn't started filling and her teats are currently pointing at each other although they are beginning to point more downward). Her vulva also seems swollen as the lips are slightly parted and I can see some of the pink lining inside the lips. Any advice would be appreciated as I am not sure about what all I am seeing and how it relates to how close she is to foaling.


Hi Tammy,


Everything you described sounds perfectly normal to me, even the way her udder is developing. It's really impossible for me to predict a foaling date for you. From your description, it sounds like she could go a little overdue. But that udder can change drastically in a few hours, especially since she's already made so many other changes. All you can do is keep doing what you've been doing--keep a close watch on her progress and stay with her when you think she's getting close.


Best of luck, and please let us know when she foals.


Follow up by Tammy on April 23, 2001:


I e-mailed you five weeks ago inquiring about signs I should look for that would indicate foaling was near as well as inquiring about a discharge my overdue mare had. Well, I want to thank you for your response and also let you know that on March 30 between 3 and 4 in the morning at 349 days my mare foaled a beautiful healthy chestnut filly. Both mom and baby are doing wonderful. My vet commented that Angel (the filly's nickname) was the size of a two week old foal when she was born. I guess mom just wanted to make sure she gave her little girl some extra height and size. Thanks again for responding to my question.


Dear Tammy,


You're very welcome, and thank you for letting us know about your new baby! Congratulations! It's always so great to hear those success stories.





Submitted by Peggy in Pennsylvania on March 17, 2001:


Hello Theresa - I've read your column over and over and I must share my 2001 foaling experience with you and your readers. This is my mare's fourth foal and as with the other foals her water broke at 10:00 p.m. I called a close and experienced dear friend to come to the barn with me in case of complications which I hope we would not encounter. (by the way I've read and re-read Blessed Are The Broodmares) so I thought I was well versed and ready for anything. Her water broke and nothing was happening; 10:30 and still nothing was happening. My friend Cheryl realized something was wrong so she stuck her hand inside the mare and felt for feet - what she felt was terrifying. She felt the feet all right but they were upside down, I was devastated what were we going to do? I couldn't lose my mare or the baby. Every time my mare pushed, the foals feet were pushing into her rectum, we cupped our hands over the feet so they didn't tear my mare's rectum at that time. My friend, Cheryl, who has raised and foaled approximately 80 foals was at a loss at what to do. I ran into the house and called the veterinarian who was an hour away, he said to reach in and try to turn the foal, we did that but it wasn't working, so I called him back and said could he please come to the barn. He reluctantly agreed, but forewarned me that we probably could not save the foal at this point. I asked him what could we do in the meantime and he said to just keep trying to turn the foal. My mare was up and down, up and down and I had read somewhere, and I'm not sure where, that sometimes walking the mare repositions the foal to the point where she can deliver. So for about 15 minutes my mare walked willingly with me. When she started getting uncomfortable I took her back to her stall and she laid down and the foal was in the right position and we successfully delivered him. While I walked her the foal dropped back down into the uterus and repositioned itself. While we were pulling my friend was so afraid we'd be pulling a dead foal out, bystanders said when he first came out his tongue was blue, but in no time at all he started breathing and was up in 20 minutes nursing. The veterinarian got there after he was foaled, checked him over and the mare over and said they were both in excellent shape. I was never so happy in all my life. We put the mare on pencillin for 5 days to ward off any infection. My message to all your readers, is DO NOT GIVE UP and if your mare is having trouble, perhaps walking her will shift the foal back in the uterus where it can repositioned itself and be born. If I would not have been there I'm sure I would have lost both my prized mare and my dear little colt which we named LUCKY. What a joy he is today. It is hard for some to believe that he survived considering it was several hours since the water broke until the time he was born. That's my story and I hope no one else ever has to experience such a terrifying ordeal, but if you do, remember DO NOT GIVE UP and walk your mare if she can walk and try to be available to assist her when she foals it could save her life and the foal's life.


Congratulations, Peggy!


Great job! And an excellent example of why I always stress getting the mare up and walking her if there is a problem.


Enjoy that baby!



Submitted by Laurie in Michigan on March 20, 2001:


I too found your site quite by accident. By reading all the former letters I found myself getting nervous (almost beyond belief) and incredibly excited (way beyond belief)! I have a 5 year old breeding stock paint that is the gem of my heart. Her due date WAS March 13th and here it is the 20th. I know it's not uncommon for mares to be late, but she is a maiden mare and I guess because I am so emotionally involved with this horse, I find myself over-evaluating her condition. Last night when I did my second night check, I found her laying down and her vulva/anal area were bulging. After several more checks, nothing happened, she was even up and munching her hay like normal. Is there a hospital for recuperating mare owners??


Dear Laurie,


Everything sounds normal to me. The bulging you saw was just pressure from the foal and is normal. Also, it seems that our nasty winter has caused a lot of mares up here to go overdue. So I wouldn't be worried about that, either. I hope that by the time you get this, you have a healthy, bouncing baby! And if there were a hospital for mare owners, it would surely be filled to overflowing!


Take care.



Submitted by Lori in Louisiana on March 25, 2001:


Found this page by accident...LOVE IT!!!! My question is..my mare is due in 3 days and I have read about the waxing, but what is it supposed to look like? All I have noticed is what looks like dried milk on the tips, is that waxing or not? As you can tell this is our first "baby" and we dont know too much about foaling. please answer me as soon as you can, I am so excited for our new arrival I can't even sleep! Thank you very much!!!!


Dear Lori,


Yes, that's waxing. Shouldn't be long now! Can't wait to hear all about your new baby.


Let us know!


Follow up by Lori on April 14, 2001:


Hello Theresa, how are you? I'm the one that wrote in asking about waxing and if everything was ok and you said yes, well at 357 days we finally had a beautiful gray stud colt with a black line down his back and tail, white blaze and 4 stockings, beautiful!! Just wanted to let you know, and thank you for taking the time to write me back and let me know everything was fine. Thanks again!


Dear Lori,


Congratulations! It's great that everything went well! Mom must have just decided that baby needed to cook longer!


Thanks for letting us know, and enjoy!


Submitted by Joann in Virginia on March 26, 2001:


I was looking up info on a search & came across this page. Your forum is very informative! Here are my questions... First off we have a mare due to have a colt on April 1. We just got our horses last year so this is all new to us. We've had cats & goats but never horses. We haven't shut her in the barn yet but , I have heard from people that the mare shouldn't have the baby in the rain & it's calling for rain all next week so I think I will shut her up. I'm curious though as to what the rain has to do with it? I have had several people tell me this. Also I have a 13 year old mare who is breed & due to foal in December. She hasn't had a colt in 10 years the people I bought her from said. Is there a chance she could have more trouble? Thank you in advance for your help :-)


Dear Joann,


The problem with the mare foaling in the rain is that the foal may get chilled and get sick. Also, where there is rain, there is usually mud. That can create problems too. And not to be forgotten, if there is a problem with the delivery, it isn't much fun to try to work with the mare out in the rain. Of course, horses have foaled in the wild in the rain for many, many years. But then, those aren't our pampered animals in which we have invested so much time, money, and emotion. So basically, anything we can do to make the experience go well, we do. I don't see any reason why your 13 year old should be more prone to problems than any other mare. Thirteen isn't old to have a foal, so there's every reason to expect that all will be fine.


Let us know all about your new baby!



Submitted by Scott in Colorado on March 29, 2001:


I'd like to say this is a great site you've put together, I just spent the last few hours reading through all the advice! My question is this: I have a 13 year old maiden Quarter Horse mare around her 340th (or maybe 315th, I don't remember exactly when her last cycle was, I just made note that she was bred on around Apr. 16th) day of pregnancy, give or take. Her udder started swelling about a week and a half ago, everything seems normal and good. There is just one thing that I'm unsure about. Her udder is rather asymmetrical, one side is rather normal, but the other half extends back a few inches farther and has a little bag of collagen-like material (like the rest of her udder) that is just hanging between her legs. That half of her udder isn't any more hot to the touch, tighter, or sensitive than the "normal" half, so it doesn't really seem to be mastitis, but I'm going to have the vet out in a few days to have a look (mostly to remind him where I live in case I have a crisis, since I haven't required his services in nearly 2 years!). She doesn't seem to be the least bit uncomfortable when I poke, prod, and squeeze that odd sack, but I'm concerned it might interfere with her movement if it gets engorged with milk. I'm wondering if you've seen this before, if it will go away as her udder fills up even more and starts to hang down a bit more (her nipples are still tiny bumps, no fluid is seeping yet), or if there's anything I can or should do about this! Any input you'd be able to offer would be greatly appreciated!


Hi Scott,


Thanks for your kind words about the column. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Yes, I have seen what you described with your mare's udder. Most of the time it's just irregular filling. I've never seen it cause a problem and it usually evens out as the udder fills.


Please let us know when your new one arrives!



Submitted by Joy in Indiana on March 29, 2001:


Hi, I have no question or problem, but wanted to let you know that your book really educated me on helping deliver a foal. My mini maiden mare had a little colt on March 27th at 11 PM. She really followed the book with this pregnancy & birth. His head seemed a little big so I did help her by pulling on him with her contractions. Both are doing well. Thanks again.


Hi Joy,


Thanks so much! It makes me feel great to know that the book really does help!


Enjoy that baby!



Submitted by Raylene in Kansas on April 2, 2001:


I have a thirteen year old pregnant mare. She is due in mid June. I have observed her rolling around on the ground. Is this ok?


Dear Raylene,


Sure, it's fine for a pregnant mare to roll--as long as you think she isn't rolling because she's in pain. In addition to seeing pregnant mares roll with abandon, I've also seem them "rub" their itchy bellies on the ground while still down after rolling.


Hope this helps.



Submitted by Ginny in Texas on April 4, 2001:


I have been reading many of the questions asked, but didn't see any like this. I have a TB mare who foaled last year with twins. One born dead, the other died the next day at the vet's. The vet I was using did not ultrasound, at 5 months I told him I thought she was carring twins. He palpated her and said no, just a big baby and I was feeding her too much. I changed vets when the twins were born. She was rebred to the same stallion and ultrasounded at 28 days, about 40 days (due to being snake bit) and again at 5 months. This morning about 5:30 am she had twins again. She was having the second one when I arrived. The sac never broke on the first one. The second one was born dead and only about the size of a german shepard. What are the chances of this happening again? Would it be too risky to rebreed her again? I am extremly upset and afraid to breed her again. We also had a maiden 6 yr mare that was bred and ultrasounded at 5 months also. She aborted or reabsorbed sometime between then and 9 months. Thanks, any advice would be helpful.


Dear Ginny,


Yes, it is likely that your mare will conceive twins again. She is evidently prone to double ovulations. My advice would be to have her ultrasounded earlier after breeding--no later than 18-21 days--because that's when twins are most easily picked up, and have it a second time about a week later, and have it done by a vet who does a lot of reproductive work. I wouldn't be afraid to breed her again, but I would be sure that the vet knows what s/he is doing. As a rule, it's pretty useless to ultrasound at five months if you're looking for twins. It needs to be done much earlier and should always be done. With the second mare, there are many possibilities about what might have happened. It could very well have been a one-time problem. Chances are that if you breed her again, everything will be fine.


I'm sorry you've had such a rough time!



Submitted by Donna in Kentucky on April 9, 2001:


Hi, I feel very fortunate to have found this site. There is so much great advice and information. I wished I had known about it 3 years ago when we had our first foal! We have a 12 year old mare that was due to foal in 4 weeks. During feeding last night, she was fine. I got up this morning to find her foal completely encased in the placenta, everything intact. Is this placenta previa? We examined the sacks and everything looked good, no tears, pieces missing, discolorations. The foal was a beautiful chestnut filly, completely formed, no apparent malformations or disfigurations. What causes this? She has foaled successfully 4 times before. Is it possible fescue caused this? Their pasture is almost a dry lot but there could possibly be some fescue in the grass. They are eating quality orchard grass hay and grain. Thank you so much for your help. I am really worried about the other 3 mares that are due to foal soon.


Hi Donna,


I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of the foal! It's always so hard. No, this isn't placenta previa. I believe this was, unfortunately, simply an abortion. The reason for that will probably never be known. Fescue can cause this, but it doesn't sound like in your situation that that is a very high possibility. I wouldn't be too concerned that the same thing will happen with the other mares, but I certainly think you should talk with your vet.


Again, I'm so sorry.



Submitted by Beverly in Taichung, Taiwan on April 11, 2001:


I received your book a couple of months ago and have practically memorized it! But I have a few more questions if you don't mind. I am from the US but living in Taiwan. The barn where I am riding has a 15 year old maiden warm-blood mare. She is due anytime now (due date not exactly known however). She is showing some edema around the udder, but the area directly above the nipples is still not distended, so it looks as if her nipples are receding. I assume this is a normal beginning to bagging up. She is not horribly large in the abdomen, but again, as a maiden this does not surprise me. She is showing some muscle softening. The owners had not increased her feed, but she looks slightly fat in the neck and hindquarters so I haven't been aggressive about asking them to increase her feed. Her coat is shiny and she looks good. So here are my questions:


1) in the last two days, the stallion has been acting like the mare is in heat. He always notices her and 'likes' her, but is not normally studdy or aggressive, but yesterday he almost got away from me and was fully dropped and ready to go in response to her presence in the grooming area. Today, he called for her incessantly. She is showing no response to him. Could he be sensing some pre-foaling hormonal change in her?


2) I have been unable to locate any straw on the island of Taiwan. It looks like my only bedding choice is the normal coarse sawdust that they use here, or chopped grass hay. Her stall is large, maybe 15 X 30, and to bed in hay would be very expensive here. And the hay is very fine with short fibers, only about 2-3 inches. The wood product they use is clean but slightly dusty. I tried to find some 'normal' grass hay, but the only stuff I found was old and moldy and I'm afraid to use it. So . . if we have to stick to the wood product, how can I minimize the danger of infection? Preventative antibiotics? Could I cover the naval with gauze after using the iodine? And what about the mare? How about watering down the stall slightly to control dust? It is humid here, and about 65-70F.


Sorry this is so long-winded, but things are different here and it is difficult to know what to do. The owner's opinion of the vet is low, and they rarely contact him, so I can't really ask these questions of him. Thanks for any help you can give!


Dear Beverly,


Good to hear from you! The things you describe with the mare's udder, belly size, and feeding all sound fine. I don't know why the stallion would show interest in the mare at this point. Maybe they can detect changes. Or maybe he just likes her! ;-) Since it's so difficult to get straw and chopped hay is so expensive, I'd just go with the sawdust. Although that isn't ideal (as you know), many foals are born on sawdust and do just fine. The only precaution I would take with the foal is to be sure its umbilical stump is treated 3-4 times a day until the stump is completely dry. If the sawdust is really dusty, then watering it slightly might be a good idea. But if it isn't excessively dusty (like billowing with dust when you walk through it), I wouldn't worry about it.


Please do let us know when the mare foals.



Submitted by Judi in Oregon on April 11, 2001:


Last year I had two maiden mares due to foal a month apart. The first mare (poa,1/2 arab) foaled without any problems on schedule, but rejected her foal. So while I was feeding that foal every two hours, our second mare went into labor a month later, only to have a terrible breech foal that the vet was unable to pull. We lost both the mare and foal. During all this, I also had an open mare, and because I was spending so much time with the orphan, a friend took her for me to show for the summer. She is a 7 year old poa mare and after show season came back home to me. In Feb. I noticed she looked in foal. I took her to the vet the end of Feb and my suspicions were correct, she was in foal. My friend had bred her and didn't tell me. Now for my question, as far as I know she was bred on May 1 and it is now April 11. She has shown all the signs of labor for a week except for waxing. I am getting concerned the foal might be too big? The vet said not to worry that some maiden mares can go 12 months, but after my terrible experience last year, I am anxious. Can you help? Also, our little orphan foal turned out just fine, she is now a year old and a cutie. She bosses the mare around that rejected her!


Dear Judi,


I'm glad to hear that the rejected foal is doing so well. Good job! I wouldn't be too worried about the POA mare being overdue. As long as she's acting and eating okay, all is most likely fine. And, this seems to be a year for mares going overdue. I don't blame you for being concerned, especially after what you went through last year, but it sounds like she's making normal progress and won't hold out on you for much longer.


Please let us know all about the new baby when it arrives!


Follow up by Judi on April 23, 2001:


Well after 358 days we finally got our foal on April 21, the day before my husband�s birthday. She had a big palomino colt with a star and spots over the hips at 10:30p.m.She was so engorged she did not want to nurse, but with a lot of patience, and some Banamine, she is doing it all on her own now and I don't have to "play mom" again this year like I had to with our other mare last year! Thank you so much for your advice! Now it is time to get some much needed sleep!


Dear Judi,


Congratulations on your colt! I am sure you will enjoy him and am glad you will finally get some sleep.



Submitted by Shawn in California on April 12, 2001:


My mare gave birth at app. 3AM on April 10th. This was her due date. Mare had been checked at 2AM, no foal, checked at 5AM and was found with foal nursing, foal was dry. Blood test all good. Healthy, strong little paint colt, but his tongue hangs out the side of his mouth. Vet referred to this as a tongue wagger. I've also heard it called a roller tongue. My questions are, what is it, and will the colt gain control of his tongue?


Dear Shawn,


Congratulations on your colt! The deal with his tongue isn't all that uncommon. The best explanation I've heard for it is a partial paralysis probably due to being squeezed during delivery. The good news is that every one I've seen has resolved entirely all on its own, usually within a week or two.


Please let us know how the colt does.



Submitted by Shirley in Kansas on April 14, 2001:


Hi! I love your site.. Have gotten a lot of good info. I have a question. We have a maiden mare who waxed 3 days ago but still no colt. We have been watching her around the clock. We have noticed that she was rolling out in the pasture last night but still no foal today. All other signs are there. How long do they go after waxing?? Thanks.


Dear Shirley,


There is no hard and fast rule about how soon a mare will foal once she begins waxing. Most will go within three days, but it can actually range from 1/2 hour to a couple of weeks. Maidens are especially unpredictable. It's important to take in the whole picture--other physical changes plus behavioral changes. Just keep watching!


Please let us know all about your new foal when it arrives!


Follow up by Shirley on March 26, 2002:


Hi Theresa, It is now foaling season again and boy the worries start all over again with worrying about what could happen.. I wrote you last year about the Mare who leaked milk for going on 2 weeks prior to her delivery. Well she started leaking 2 days ago and we actually didn't worry as that was the only sign and didn't figure she would foal soon.. Boy was the joke on us. Went out early this morning about 7:30 and she had a beautiful red dun colt on the ground and doing great. Nursing and getting around good. So guess it just goes to show they are never the same. Thanks again for a great site. I check it out quite often.


Dear Shirley,


Congrats on the baby and you're absolutely right--mares surely can do entirely different things from one year to the next.


Enjoy your foal!



Submitted by Kati in Texas on April 16, 2001:


Hi, again! I wanted to tell you how much I appreciated your quick return e-mail to answer my concerns. You obviously knew exactly what I was referring to and put me at ease. As one of my friends pointed out, most vets spend five days on reproduction before they're graduated and out. Your specialization is worth the world to all of us who can't get answers from our vets on specifics. As one of my doctors says, you don't get your knee replaced by the doctor who's done 20 of those surgeries, you go to the specialist who's done hundreds. I can hardly wait for your book to be delivered, and I've given this site address to several of my expectant 'grandmares'. And I'd like to encourage everyone who has one of these problem pregnancy mares to write you back and let you know how it went. You obviously care so much. (Those of us who read the questions appreciate it, too.) Thank you so much!


Dear Kati,


Thank you so much for your kind words! I really needed them today!


Thanks for your encouragement!


Follow up by Kati on May 7, 2001:


Thanks again for your right-on information. My mare has now bagged up, and since she was bred the last 10 days of June it looks like we're on schedule. One question: do all mares get that 'point'? My other mare had a visible 'V' for exactly 7 days. This mare is having her 5th foal, and I am hoping for something definitive since she could have conceived any breeding of those last 10. Also, she had one side of her udder which was always larger than the other. The vet didn't think it was anything, but I wonder if her milk will come out as easily. What to do if it does not? Thanks again for your wonderful column. I don't know what I'd do without it.


Hi Kati,


Most mares will get a "v" shaped belly, so that is definitely something to look for. However, it is greatly variable among mares as to how long they will drop, or "v", before they deliver. Sometimes it is only for a matter of hours. As soon as they drop, I start watching them very closely. Your mare's lopsided udder shouldn't cause any problems with milk production. If it does, we can cross that bridge then.


Please let us know what happens with your mare!


Follow up by Katie on May 24, 2001:


I had asked you about mares bellies dropping and having the 'V' . Danged if this mare didn't give me a clue! She had not dropped at all this morning and when I got home from work I saw her rising and wet with HUGE udders. It was easy to figure her water had broken. I did have to reach in and get the second leg pulled forward, which seemed obvious and natural to do. As soon as that leg came forward, the rest of him slid out.. Why couldn't I have had my babies that fast?! I did call the vet out when her placenta had not come out after 2 1/2 hrs., and he gave her a shot of oxytocin and quickly removed a perfect placenta. He'll be out tomorrow to lavage her, especially because I hadn't washed my hands when I manuevered the colts' leg forward inside her. No time to even tell anyone what was happening! When all is right, it goes quick!! We were a few days early, and I just wanted to tell you thank you. The variables between mares is tremendous. My last mare had an obvious 'V' for 7 days when she foaled; this one did not even look as though she'd dropped at all. Also, all my friends mares have had their foals at night. Me- two mares in foal, and both foaled during the day. One foal practically kicked his way out and looked like he was two months old the day he was born at 340 days, and this second foal who scared me silly because he was so quiet and was born looking like a regular foal. I had predicted a filly because he was so still in utero. This is definitely a tricky business. Again, thank you so much for this site.


Dear Kati,


Good job! So glad you were there to help and everything turned out well. You bet--these mares were, I swear, put on earth to drive us crazy! But you and the mare got the job done, so that's what matters.


Thanks for letting us know!



Submitted by Sheila in Arkansas on April 23, 2001:


Hello. Let me start by saying I love your column. I am a long time horse owner, but am new to the birthing process and your column has given me lots of information. I have an 8 year old maiden mare that is due to foal in late May. I've been reading everything I can find on the foaling process and hopefully will be prepared. My question concerns feed for the mare after foaling. I have read that at least one week before the due date you should start feeding your mare a bulky ration of one pound of oats and two pounds of bran. My question is do you stop the grain and change to this bulky ration all at once? I've always been told to change a horses feed gradually, so I'm not sure how to make this transition in one week. It was also stated that feeding this ration a week before birth will help keep the mare from getting constipation and mastitis. Can you shed some light on this for me?


Dear Sheila,


I don't know how feeding bran would stop mastitis, but it surely can help keep the mare from getting a stool impaction. The reason for this is that the mare's gut slows down during delivery and for a while after. If things don't get moving again, impaction results. Bran works as a mild laxative to get the bowels going and help keep them going. You are correct--drastic feed changes should be made gradually. I don't generally give bran until after the mare foals. I give the mare a warm bran mash with a little grain in it a few hours after delivery (when everything has settled down), then continue the mashes every day for about a week. That isn't a drastic enough change that you have to plan for it or make a gradual change, and it does a lot to keep the mare's bowels moving.


Thanks for the kind words about the column and I hope this helps. Please let us know when your mare foals.


Follow up by Sheila on May 19, 2001:


I wrote to you in April asking about feeding bran to my mare a week before foaling. I thank you again for the advice. I just wanted to write to you and let you know that Issis had a healthy, beautiful foal yesterday (May 18th). And if I had not read your column, I would have been a lot more fearful of the events that occurred. Unfortunately, I didn't get to witness the birth....Issis was a maiden mare and she was bound and determined to have this baby on her own! I was testing her milk for indications of foaling, and for three days the test said "anytime now". After losing sleep for three nights and missing work for two days, I finally decided to go into the office and guess what? That's when she had him! She was so sneaky! I was lucky enough to have a neighbor who kept a watch on her and called me the minute he noticed the foal. I got to meet him within hours of his birth. I am very thankful that God answered my prayers and allowed her to have a healthy baby on her own without complications. And I'm also thankful for all of the advice I read in your column. When the baby was down on his hocks, I knew that he would straighten out, because I had read your column. And since the mare leaked milk for two weeks, I knew to call the vet and have the baby tested for IGG, because I had read your column. Thanks so much for the advice you give to those of us who have never had this experience. You truly helped me in understanding what to expect for my first baby. God Bless You! :)


Dear Sheila,


Congratulations! I'm so glad everything went so well and I truly appreciate you letting us know. Thank you so much for your kind words about the column. It's great to know that it truly does help. And, thanks for taking the time to actually read it!!


Enjoy your baby!



Submitted by Melynda in South Dakota on April 24, 2001:


It's me again!!I wrote you a week or so ago thinking that my mare had lost her plug. However I found some strange discharge on her butt today. It is white like elmer's glue and it wasn't on her vulva it was a line that ran vertical across her butt. It apears to have been deposited on her tail and then she swished her tail and spread it that way. Yesterday I noticed that her bag was warm(not hot just a little warmer than her body. Today her belly dropped. There is a large drop behind the breastbone (is this the dip you are talking about in the other postings) she is pretty relaxed in the vulva and is somewhat hollowed out in front of the hips (kind of like when a horse hasn't drank in awhile) She has a very funny stride and when she is just standing there her back legs are spread apart. Her bag is hard but doesn't look full. Her teets are inverted yet. She was like that last year. She isn't leaking anything(I haven't tried to get anything out because last year she lost all of her colostrum before foaling, and i didn't try to milk her last year either)She is still eating fine and feeling good. She however doesn't seem to lay down anymore. My question is this: What could the white stuff on the but be? How warm should the bag get before foaling? How large should the bag get(she still has a fold between the teats)? Any advice would be great.


Hi Melynda,


Sounds like the mare is progressing nicely. The white stuff that made a vertical stripe across her rear could be one of two things--either more of the mucous plug or sometimes when they lie down, urine leaks out and runs down the side of their rear, making a vertical mark. Either way, it's normal and nothing to worry about. Usually a mare's udder gets very warm and hard to the touch when she's close to foaling. The udder feels almost hot, noticeably warmer than the rest of the mare. When the udder us full to the point that the nipples are full and distended, that's full. Different mares have different anatomy, so it may be that the crease between won't go away completely, but it should get a lot less noticeable.


Sounds like she shouldn't be too much longer. Please let us know when she gets it done!



Submitted by Ann in Michigan on April 27, 2001:


Last night our mare died after foaling. She lived just long enough for the foal to nurse her dry and get a belly full. We have another mare that will let her nurse if we hold the mare, but she has a 30 day old colt by her side and it was jealous and tried to savage the new colt. I would like some advice on getting the colt to nurse from a goat. I can get a nanny tomorrow that is used to being hand milked and has been nursing twin kids. Today we are using the Mare and Foal-Lac.


Dear Ann,


I'm very sorry about the loss of your mare. It really would be better for the foal to be given a formula specifically made for foals (like Foal-Lac) rather than nursing from a goat. Goat's milk isn't the same as mare's milk and won't provide the foal with optimum nutrition. There are several mare's milk replacement formulas on the market that are excellent (Mare's Match by Land 'O Lakes is one). The foal can quickly be taught to drink from a bucket, so you can just hang the formula in the stall for it. This really is better than goat's milk, although a goat would be a good companion for the foal. Did you have the foal's IgG level tested to be sure it got enough colostrum? That is a very important thing to do.


Good luck.



Submitted by Andrea in Connecticut on April 30, 2001:


First, thank you for your fabulous website! Your advice on foaling issues helped keep me sane through last year's foaling (the first for both me and my mare). Now, a question. I have an 8-year-old Arab mare who is due to foal in 6 weeks. She is in good flesh, up to date on shots & worming, and generally seems to be progressing well in her pregnancy. The problem is, she has colicked 3 times during this pregnancy (at 5 months, 8 1/2 months and 9 1/2 months). She never colicked before this. The vet does not know what is causing it (her bloodwork came back normal, the rectal was uninformative given the big foal inside, and the vet is checking a fecal sample right now). The first 2 colics were mild and resolved themselves before the vet arrived, but the last one was more difficult. The mare would pace her field endlessly, pant, sweat, and want to go down. I was wondering, do you think that the pregnancy itself might be causing the mare to colic? (i.e., the foal kicking/shifting, exacerbating gas pockets, etc.?) The vet did say it was a very active foal inside. I would appreciate hearing any thoughts you may have. I care about this mare a great deal and want to do whatever I can to protect her and her foal! Thanks so much.


Dear Andrea,


Although I don't know if that's what's going on with your mare, I do believe that it is possible for pregnancy itself to cause mares to be colicky. It seems that sometimes foals get into positions that are uncomfortable for that mare and at times, actually block off the bowels, causing severe pain. There isn't much you can do about it except keep doing what you have been--keep a close watch on the mare and deal with each episode as it comes up. Hopefully, as the foal grows it will change position and not cause the mare any more problems.


Please let us know how she does.



Submitted by Kim in Tennessee on May 2, 2001:


Hi, First I would like to say what a great thing you have here. It's been wonderful advice. My question is, I have a 5 year old ssh that is about 332 days. This is her 2nd foal although the first one didn't survive .The previous owner said he had her on a fescue pasture and the sac did not rupture. She started bagging up a week ago, her teats got real hard. She had been o.k with me touching them up intil that, then she tried to kick me that day. Her teats stayed firm for 2 days than they shriveled up to normal again. Now a week later she's bagging up again, even bigger this time . Is it normal for them to do this? Also she has had specks of blood on the outside of her teats . We have noticed some bees and horse flies that keep biting her on her teats. The vet told me to spray a little fly spray on them . However, when I did her skin started to peel off within the next few days kinda like a sunburn. Then she was very tender. She seems to be back to normal now . Do you have any suggestions? They seem to be eating her up, the blood is even dripping a little. This is my first baby so I am a little scared. Thanks so much


Dear Kim,


What you described with your mare's udder going up and down in size is perfectly normal. I have also seen the problem with insects biting to the point that the mare's udder bleeds. Unfortunately, I haven't found anything that works well to keep the bugs off that doesn't cause even more irritation for the mare. There are some products for dairy cows that might help. Usually, anything that is safe for dairy cows is safe for use on pregnant mares. Check with your local feed store to see if they have anything to recommend.


Please let us know when your new foal arrives!


Follow up by Kim on May 11, 2001:


I wrote you recently about my mare and I have another question. She is due tomorrow on the 12th. She has had a baby before but the previous owner said it was born in the sack (due to fescue) and did not survive. So in a lot of ways she's a maiden. She is a young mare of 5 years . My question is, She has a hard udder that is pretty full, not overwelming and it has stayed like that for about 5 days. she is not dripping or waxing. She is relaxed around the tailhead and seems to have dropped. Yesterday evening when I went to check on her again she had her tail lifted most of the time. Also we could see the baby kicking right at the end of the rump, I mean lots of movement! We could even see her rectum buldge out with some of the kicks .It was like I could have just reached in and pulled it out . So I thought for sure it would be last night . However, after an all night vigil..No baby. Is this the normal thing that happens? This is our first baby too, so we are all very excited. Please let me know asap. I'm starting to feel a bit horse crazy since mine, my husband and my children's life revolves around this. Thanks so much


Hi Kim,


The foal kicking so far back in the mare's hips is perfectly normal. Usually (and I stress usually, as always with pregnant mares), they will deliver within 48 hours of the time you see kicking that far back.


Have fun, and let us know all about your new baby!


Follow up by Kim on May 16, 2001:


I wrote you last week concerning my mare .We could see the baby kicking right at her rump? You said most deliver within 48 hours? Well it's been a week tomorrow. My question is , Is it possible that the baby could move back down. and is this safe for baby? Thanks


Dear Kim,


"Most" is a very important word when talking about what mares will or will not do. Most mares will foal within 48 hours of the time that you see the foal's feet pushing on the muscles in the mare's rear end. But not all. The foal isn't really moving up and down, it's just that you can see the movement because the mare's muscles are so relaxed. The foal should be fine...especially if you are still seeing it move. And as long as the mare is acting, eating, and drinking okay for a heavily pregnant mare, she is most likely fine, too. I know the wait is hard and nerve-wracking, but hang in there. It will all be worth it!


Please let us know when she finally gets it done.


Follow up by Kim on May 23, 2001:


I'm once again writing. I am now past the point of pulling my hair out . My mare which was due 10 days ago has showed all the signs of foaling for the past two weeks except waxing . She has been relaxed in the tail area, dropped 2 weeks ago, been rubbing her tail on the barn, the baby was seen moving in the rump area , her udders are very ,very tight almost painful it would seem. Yesterday, my husband went to check on her during the day and she had two drops on the end of her teats . When I went to look at her later nothing and still nothing this morning. I expressed some fluid and on one side it was milky looking ,the other side it was clear. Will both sides be milky before she foals? Do you think what I'm describing sounds like we're close ? The sleepless nights are getting to me. I have to drive out to the barn every night and there is no place to sleep except the car.


Dear Kim,


Both sides will probably turn milky before the mare foals, but there is no guarantee that will happen. Yes, it sounds to me like she is getting very close. Don't worry, soon all those sleepless nights in the car will be a thing of the past and it will all have been worthwhile!


Please let us know when she finally gets it done!


Follow up by Kim on June 3, 2001:

Just wanted to let you know my mare started waxing and I finally had my baby . A large black and white colt. I missed the birth by minutes . Thankfully everything went well. He and mom are doing great. Thanks so much for your patience and kind words. You were quite a reassurance for me in times when I was at my wits' end!


Congratulations, Kim!


I'm so glad she finally got it done and all was well! Thanks for letting me know.






Submitted by Joyce in Tennessee on May 3, 2001:


We have two maiden mares, Cassie and Ruby, both five years of age. This is our first experience in breeding mares. I had gathered lots of good information on the net and that's how I happened on your site. We thought Cassie was due around April 13th. She and Ruby had began to make a bag about the same time and Cassie felt like she was a little ahead of Ruby. Anyway, Ruby passed Cassie up in developing her bag. So, we begin to think Ruby would foal before Cassie. Cassie had her colt on April 26th. We didn't notice any signs and she didn't appear to be ready. About 7:30 a.m., my husband noticed something hanging from Cassie's rear and she was walking. The colt had came head first and was already dead. My husband had to pull it. It was solid white like her mother. My question, we were told you could breed them back in nine days. Do you think Cassie would be ok to breed back this soon after foaling? We're not sure what happened. We wonder if it was already dead or if she came early or if we might have saved it had we been there. Ruby had her colt April 29th. She showed some of the signs and her bag was full and firm but no waxing. We set the clock to get up at 4:00 a.m. and checked on her. She was fine. When we got up at 8:00 a.m. she had already had her colt and it was standing beside her and Ruby had already shed her afterbirth.


Dear Joyce,


I'm so sorry about Cassie's baby, but so glad that everything was okay with Ruby and her foal. It sounds like Cassie's baby may have been malpositioned and she just couldn't deliver it fast enough by herself. It may have made a difference if you had been there, but then again, it might not have. It's hard to be with them if they don't show enough signs to let you know that they are ready. Don't blame yourselves. Any time a mare has a traumatic delivery, it's better to wait to breed her until the 30-day cycle. That gives the reproductive tract time to heal, usually making it easier for the mare to get back in foal.


Hope this helps.



Submitted by Karen in Indiana on May 4, 2001:


I have just lost two foals, within three days of each other. One mare was just starting her 8th month, the other mare was just starting her 10th month. My third mare just delivered a healthy foal on April 25th. We vaccinated with Eastern/ Western, Flu, Rhino, Potomic Horse, Rabies, Strangles, 5-7-9 month Phonabort, wormed every two months. The mare that just had her foal is making milk but it seems that the baby is always sucking and never looks like a very full bag. We have a mare last year that didn't produce much milk and we had to give her a shot. Our vet looked at the fetuses and said everything looked fine for both. The only thing he did notice was some little white spots on the umbilical cord. He did not suggest for us to do anything different. We want to know if this sounds like fescue toxicity? If it is, is there a test that we can do to prove it horse or grass. What things we can do for healthy foals next year? Is there a vaccine for this fescue toxicity?


Dear Karen,


This very well could be fescue toxicity. You can have your pastures tested for infested fescue. In Ohio, arrangements can be made for testing through the county extension offices. I would assume that Indiana has a similar setup. There isn't a vaccination for fescue toxicity, but there is a drug (domperidone) that will help will lack of milk production caused by infested fescue. Ask your vet about that.


I'm so very sorry about the two foals you lost!



Submitted by Wendy in Missouri on May 5, 2001:


Our POA mare just foaled May 2, one day overdue, and gave us a beautiful appaloosa mule colt. He is active, and appears healthy. However, he has just developed diarrhea. What should we do?


Dear Wendy,


Call the vet immediately! A three-day-old foal should not have diarrhea.


Please let us know what you find out.




Submitted by Sherri in Ohio on May 6, 2001:


My mare foaled a gorgeous buckskin filly early on Friday morning. I noticed on Saturday evening that the mare had a small amount of what appeared to be a discharge. No odor, just looked like o ldblood. Is this normal? Her appetite is fine, she acts okay, normal temperature. She is 15 yrs old and this is her sixth foal, so I wondered if her body might be losing uterine tone and if she is having a problem with pooling?


Dear Sherri,


As long as the discharge is small in volume and looks like old blood, that sounds normal. You need to be concerned is if the amount increases a lot (like in the mare's tail and down her hind legs, and is thick and mucousy. But it doesn't sound like you have a problem now.


Hope this helps.




Submitted by Shea in Iowa on May 8, 2001:


Hello, my AQHA mare gave birth on May 3rd to twins. One boy and one girl. Both are healthy and doing great. They are smaller then normal foals but pretty good sized considering they are twins. Both are going to br blue roans. Our vet was surprised to see how well they were. I know the odds of having them or the mare giving birth to two healthy foals are very high. Plus they are about the same size - something even more rare. I was wondering if you could give some numbers on how many times this happens. Like 12 out of 110,000. That�s how many the AQHA register a year. And any advice on caring for them would be great! Thanks so much


Dear Shea,


Congratulations on your healthy twins! The fact that they are close to the same size generally indicates that each had a fairly equal share of the uterus. That's about the only way twin pregnancies in mares turn out well. I don't have any statistics on live twins, but I'd sure think the ones AQHA has would be as good as any. Pretty unusual, for sure!


Have fun!



Submitted by Cindy in Arizona on May 9, 2001:


I lost a newborn at approx. 48 hours. I need an explanation in layman�s terms about the Rh factor in horses. This baby bled out it appears. I took him to my farm vet to autopsy him. I spoke to various breeders and the Rh factor keeps coming up.


Dear Cindy,


If what you are referring to is an incompatibility between the mare and foal's blood types, what happens is that the mare forms antibodies against the foal's red blood cells. Then, when the foal is born and ingests its mother�s colostrum, the antibodies in the colostrum attack and destroy the foal's red blood cells. The foals don't actually bleed, they become severely anemic and their organs and tissues don't receive enough oxygen.


I'm very sorry to hear about the loss of your foal, and I hope this helps explain the problem.



Submitted by Vicki in Saskatchewan, Canada on May 14, 2001:


First off I like to say I really appreciate this site and all the information it has to offer. However this question is from a friend of mine that I was hoping you could help me with. Her mare foaled today (a healthy filly) but when she went over to the afterbirth to clean it up she noticed a twin in the sac just a few months along. This twin was a colt. What people have been telling her is that in this circumstance the filly will now be sterile because the dead twin was a colt. Is there any truth to this? Should she be worried about it? Anything to help her get this straightened out would be wonderful. Thank You !!!!


Dear Vicki,


This is absolutely not true. It is true in cattle (I think it's called a freemartin or something like that), and so some people believe it is the same in horses. It is not.


Good news! Right?!



Submitted by Deanna in Arizona on May 17, 2001:


Okay, I keep reading and reading about bagging up. I think I confused edema or swelling in front of the teats with bagging up. I noticed it in February and since then have done some research and learned that my mare should not be due to foal until mid-June (earliest) to mid-August. Can you just give me a brief description of bagging up in contrast to edema or swelling in front of the teats? I tried to find a description in the column but couldn't. I have no experience with foaling so I just want to know the difference. (saves from panic later)


Dear Deanna,


Swelling in front of the udder is just that--swelling on the mare's belly, usually kind of in two sections, right in front of the udder. Bagging up is when the mare's udder itself begins to develop--the part from which the nipples emerge. Mares can have edema in front of the udder for quite awhile before actual udder development begins.


Hope this helps.



Submitted by Durdica in Croatia on July 5, 2001:


An introduction of myself: I am a veterinarian specialized in librarianship and I am working for all my life in veterinary faculty library. My friend has an orphaned filly three (3) months old, suckling only 2.5 days after birth, because her mother finished life then. The filly has an umbilical hernia, which slightly grow with her development. I would like to know if there is a need for surgery and best time for doing that procedure. We have some veterinary propositions to surgery now or lately in autumn. If you have some additional texts with pictures of the procedure I shall be very interested in it. Thank you very much in advance. Post scriptum: Your running text below has very positive reaction in my brain and produce a wish to communicate with you and have a serious touch! Yours sincerely


Dear Durdica,



Wow! How wonderful to hear from someone in Croatia!


As I'm sure you know, the hernia is only truly a problem if it is large enough for bowel to slip through and become entrapped. I'm assuming that this is the case with the filly you wrote about. I don't know of any texts with pictures of the procedure (I'm sure they exist, I just don't know in which books), but the procedure is fairly straightforward hernia repair. Most foals tolerate the procedure very well. When to do it depends on a couple of things. If the hernia is large enough that bowel entrapment is an immediate danger, then it should be done soon. If the hernia isn't that large and can be watched closely, then it may be better to wait until fall when the heat and flies are gone.


Thanks for writing and please let us know how the surgery goes for the filly.



Submitted by Maria in Pennsylvania on July 10, 2001:


You answered someone a while ago about bute in foals. I had a foal that was 10 days old, got a massive cut on his cannon, only skin and tissue (no bone, ligament or tendons). We tried to stitch it but couldn't so we cleaned and wrapped it. The vet put him on 200 lbs of oral paste tribressin once a day, and 1/2 gram oral paste bute twice a day for 7 days and then down to 1/2 gram once a day for 7 days. On day 12 he was fine in the morning, at 7 that night he was lethargic and fell over, respiration 56 and temp 102. He had a clear watery diarrhea. There were no traces of diarrhea on his hindquarters like it had slowly been runny, then watery. That morning his poop was solid. We called the vet, by 10 that night (no vet yet) he couldn't breathe and his gums were white. He lay in the stall, every 5 minutes he would thrash trying to rise. The vet didn't show up on time, for 45 minutes I held his head out of the sawdust to give him maximum breathing as he started to turn blue and cold. My boyfriend tried to hold him down because he was thrashing and hitting his head off the walls. He died at 10:49 PM. What could have killed him so fast? Could he have bled within? He didn't have any signs of diarrhea, and even at 7 with elevated resp he still could breathe fine. Any suggestions?


Dear Maria,


I'm so very sorry about your foal. What a terrible thing to go through! I really hesitate to make an "internet" guess on what might have happened with the foal. Your description of the changes in his gum color would go along with a bleed of some kind, and it is possible that the bute played a role. I'm not saying that it did, only that it is possible The only way to know for sure what happened would have been to have a post mortem exam done on the foal. Did your vet have any ideas about what happened?


Again, I'm so very sorry.



Submitted by Lyn in New Hampshire on July 16, 2001:


I have a mare who is 86 days in foal and has become VERY nasty. She bit me really bad the other day when my back was to her. She will not let me groom her, or pat her. The vet says all is well with her foal. Could this be hormone related? Is there anything I can do? Please help.


Dear Lyn,


This problem could very well be hormone related and unfortunately, there isn't a thing you can do about it except try to understand it and let the mare know that she can't get away with that kind of behavior. Otherwise, unfortunately, all you can do is try to put up with it.


Sorry I can't be more helpful!



Submitted by Sheila in Michigan on July 21, 2001:


How do I catch a foal that is a month old and very flighty?


Dear Sheila,


If you can't get your hands on the foal any other way, you'll have to get it into an enclosed area, trap it, grab it, and hold on. You'll probably need more than one person to get it done. Then, you need to keep handling the foal routinely.


Hope this helps.



Submitted by Karen in Washington on July 25, 2001:


We've been breeding for the past 10 years. Nearly all of our foals get what we call "snotty nose" at around 3 months of age. All of our mares are vaccinated at 5-7 & 9 months. The mares are fed a feed thru wormer during their pregnancy and up until they go on pasture with their babies at a month old. I have never been able to figure it out. sometimes they get antibiotics and other times they just get over it. Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks


Dear Karen,


Many of the larger breeding farms I've been associated with have had the same thing happen with foals at about that age. I'm not sure what it is either. Most people think it is probably some kind of rhino, even though the mares have been vaccinated. As you said, most of them get over "the snots" without a problem although a few will need antibiotics. I wish I could be more helpful, but I'm afraid I'm as much in the dark as you are!


Thanks for writing.



Submitted by Regina in Colorado on July 31, 2001:


Our 17 year old AQHA mare was bred successfully in June, when we took her in for ultrasound, she was absorbing the fetus. Could you explain "absortion" in general, and what procedures to take for a successful breeding to full term. She has not been bred in 11 years. Thank you so much


Dear Regina,


Simply put, when an embryo is resorbed, it comes apart and is absorbed by the mare's body rather than being expelled (or aborted). This happens only very early in gestation. The best thing you can do to ensure a successful breeding and pregnancy is to work closely with your vet--having a complete breeding soundness exam done--and keep up with vaccinations and deworming along with a good diet. With a mare the age of yours, it would be good to have her progesterone level checked when she is confirmed in foal.


Hope this helps.



Submitted by Anne in Illinois on August 14, 2001:


I'm not a horse owner, just someone who reads about horses avidly (including your book and all your columns) but I hope you can take a minute to answer a question that's been puzzling me: not regarding foaling but conception. I was reading the ``Ask a Vet'' column in one of the horse magazines and someone wrote in about a balky mare who had all the signs of heat but refused to let the stallion anywhere near her. The questioner wrote that he had palpated the mare and ``she ovulated in my hand,'' which sounds bizarre: it gave me a mental picture of a golf-ball sized egg rolling out into the examiner's hand. Surely that doesn't happen. I have 5 children myself and thought I knew all there was to know on the general subject of ovulation and conception :) but this has me stumped. Do mares conceive in a different manner from other mammals? Or am I taking this phrase too literally? Thanks for your help, and best wishes...


Hi Anne,


I think you are taking the phrase too literally. :-) What the vet probably meant is that s/he felt the follicle collapse. As with women, in mares the follicle ruptures and the egg is released to make its journey down the fallopian tube. Same thing--just a little too descriptive!


Hope this clears it up for you!



Submitted by Terri in Indiana on August 15, 2001:


I have been told that a foundered mare will not be able to foal. Is this true? My mare was foundered before she was given to me last year. I cannot tell when she comes in season, because she is not around other horses. Last year I took her to be bred, but her feet got sore, so she didn't come in heat. She has never been bred, so I don't know if she ever had a normal cycle. This summer she went to be bred and has been in a lot next to the stallion for 4 weeks. She has not come into heat. The people who own the stallion said that none of their mares were cycling in July either. She was given an injection of Cloprostmol 5 days ago. What is the next step if she doesn't come in within the next 5 days? Should I give up? Thanks in advance for your advice.


Dear Terri,


Many, many mares that have been foundered have foals. So unless your mare is very sore all the time, that shouldn't keep her from coming in heat and conceiving. You said the mare was given a shot to bring her in heat, but you didn't say if a vet has checked her. That's the first step I would take--have her evaluated by a good equine reproduction vet. Some mares just don't show heat and that may be the case with yours. With those mares, you have to have a vet palpate them to be able to tell when they are cycling.


Good luck!



Submitted by Nancy in Florida on September 18, 2001:


I have a 9 year old arab maiden mare due in March of 2002. She is green broke, one trainer described her as "juvenile" - she is herd bound to my stallion - gets unbelievably agitated if he is out of sight. We are in the middle of a major horse barn/fence/paddock renovation and will be able to separate them no later than January 1 - where she can still see him but not have the free access that she enjoys at present. This mare was severely abused before I got her - she has come a long ways in the last 9 months - she's not mean - not a biter or kicker - but will spook when frightened. Any suggestions as to how we can alleviate any potential problems during foaling? Some people tell me to sell her - that there's no hope for her - but I like her - I think she has potential and will get her some professional training once she foals. Thanks so much for your web page - I learned an unbelievable amount there.


Dear Nancy,


Thanks for your kind words about the column. My experience has been that most mares are very cooperative during the delivery--once second stage labor hits them, they generally don't much care what you do. Your problems may come shortly after the mare foals. The best thing to do is stay in the stall with the mare and foal and keep reassuring her. If you have gained her trust at all, there is a very good chance that she will be just fine with you around the foal.


Please be sure and let us know how she does.


Follow up by Nancy on March 8, 2002:


I had emailed you regarding advice about an Arabian maiden mare and my worries about her being inexperienced and flighty and abandoning her foal - well - Thursday morning at 3:00 a.m. - we became the proud "parents" of a gorgeous filly - and she bonded immediately and is a great momma - I'm sure that others have had difficulties with their mares and I can certainly understand the frustration and fear that can accompany what should be a happier situation - we found a video helpful regarding imprint training - and it suggested that imprinting the foal actually can lessen the chance of foal rejection - because the mare accepts that you and the foal are "okay" - and it specifically mentioned arab mares - Just wanted to get back to you - appreciate your web page - have learned more than I can tell you. Thanks again!


Dear Nancy,


Congratulations! I'm so happy that everything went so smoothly. That's the way it usually is with maiden mares--thank goodness!


Thanks for letting us know and enjoy your new baby.



Submitted by Gaylene in Michigan on September 23, 2001:


I am hoping you can help in my search as to why our 4 wk. old filly is losing her hair. Where the hair has fallen out, her skin is pink but not irritated as like a skin rash. Now where the hair has already fallen out, has been replaced with new. Our neighbor who has raised horses for over 30 years has never seen anything like this. Any information that you have would be quite appreciated, for this is our first colt and we would feel just awful if anything bad happened to her. Thank-you


Dear Gaylene,


This is probably just normal shedding of the foal coat. As long as new hair comes in and the skin doesn't look irritated, I wouldn't worry about it.



Submitted by Liezel in Gauteng, South Africa on October 8, 2001:


Howdy from South Africa! Came across your column while looking for advice on foaling on the net - wonderful! I read the whole thing from start to finish over the last couple of days. I hope to order your book through one of our local agencies :) Like most of the worried 'moms', I have a 16 year old maiden mare at day 338 and me not getting a lot of sleep! She has been bagging up, very big the past week, but nothing leaking as yet. Dropped, hollow in front of hips, relaxed tail head. I haven't noticed any changes in her vulva yet? About 5 nights ago, she dropped her temperature by more than a degree, and I thought 'here we go' but madam is being stubborn and holding out... she's probably going to be sneaky and foal during the day when I'm at work! Showing all the other signs, rubbing, lying down, won't let me touch her anymore (used to be a cuddle-bum) so I suppose I'll just have a stiff drink or 3 to calm my nerves! :) She is a crossbreed, very interesting color, haven't found a description for her yet - she looks like a smutty palomino, very dark, almost liver chestnut culour with dapples, 3 white stockings, and grey mane and tail (white and black hairs mixed) with some roaning over her body... can't wait to see the foal! (stallion is a bay by a sorrel stallion out of a grey mare....) Thanks again for the wonderful advice, I feel soooo much more prepared (nerves are still jangling though...) Hopefully I'll have some good news within the week!


Dear Liezel,


I loved your post! Sounds like you have things well in hand (especially with that drink or three nearby)! I hope she gets it done for you soon. Please do let us know when she does. And thanks so much for your kind words about the column.


Hang in there.



Submitted by Tracey in Florida on October 30, 2001:


My foal is doing really well, My question is, when I get down on my knees bending down, my foal has become so bold as to try to stand on me. At first I thought that was not happening, but, by day 3 she now does it every time I bend down, she does try to rub on me and tries to get behind me, she puts her head over my shoulder as if she were or wants to jump on me. Why is she starting this behavior? How do I positively put a stop to it. She seems to be progressing quickly, she is already chewing hay, drinking water, and eating out of mom's feed trough, she is only 4 days old, her molars are already coming in,I thought most foals took longer to develop than this. I have imprinted her, what do I do, How do I stay ahead of this foal? Thanks for your recommendations,


Hi Tracey,


Glad to hear that the foal is doing so well! Most foals are born with molars already in, and some are even born with incisors through, too. So that's normal. The behavior your foal is showing is absolutely normal as well. She's just trying to play with you. But you're right, she can't keep doing it. Try pushing her away, firmly, using a no-nonsense voice to tell her "No!" That usually does the trick. If she won't give up, you may have to give her a smack across the chest. Don't worry if you have to do that. She'll run away, but foals are very forgiving and she'll come back. If you think a little smack across the chest is bad, watch what an experienced mare does to discipline her foal. It's a whole lot worse! A little smack is appropriate if done immediately to correct behavior--so that the foal knows exactly what the smack was for.


Hope this helps and have fun! She sounds like an enjoyable baby!



Submitted by Yvonne in Florida on October 23, 2001:


Please help! I have a 21 year old Arabian mare with ringbone that I try to control with supportive bandages, corrective trimming AND Bute. She is very lame, though otherwise appears to either be staunch or tolerate of this condition. She has the best of care and love. My question is this - is it possible to breed her with this ringbone condition and expect that she will be able to carry foal to full term? What about the Bute while pregnant? Is there a safer drug to control the pain? Tried several of the joint therapy additives with no apparent change in lameness. Is it fair to breed this mare or would it be an abusive thing for me to do. I love this mare and would like to have one foal from her before she is completely retired to live out her days. Thanks


Dear Yvonne,


I don't think this is what you want to hear but if this were my mare, I would not breed her. I don't think it's fair to ask a mare in that much pain already to bear the extra weight of a foal. Could she carry successfully? Probably. And I've known mares to be on bute throughout their pregnancies with no problems caused to either them or their foals. But I wouldn't put a mare through that, especially one that is 21 years old.


Sorry I couldn't be more helpful.



Submitted by Martina in Ontario, Canada on October 25, 2001:


I am pleased to have found this website,and thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. I lost my first foal this August. The mare was very tight and the foal was trying to come out ears first and he had one leg under him. I found my mare too late, and by the time the vet arrived, we were only able to save the mare, the colt was too far gone. I have two questions 1) Is there any way to make the mare less "tight" for her next foal ? I plan to rebreed her next Spring.2) She is 13 yrs old and she has yet to really tuck back up (barrel wise) since she had the foal, is there any way for me to help this process ? And I am worried about rebreeding even thought the vet says my mare was fine with the pregnancy till the end. And I don't want to have to use chains to get the foal out. Thank you, I look forward to your response


Dear Martina,


I'm very sorry to hear about the loss of your foal, but so glad the mare could be saved. There isn't any way that I know of to make a mare "less tight." However, since your mare has now delivered a foal, she will be naturally less tight the next time. Exercise is the best cure for getting those abdominal muscles back in shape. In the hands of an experienced person, using chains to deliver a foal is very safe. So don't worry about that. Probably most of the problem with your mare's delivery was that the foal was malpositioned. Chances are that if it had presented normally, the delivery would have been fine even though it would have been a tight squeeze. I wouldn't be too concerned about breeding the mare again, although I would be certain to watch her very closely when she gets close to delivery and do everything possible to be with her.


Hope this helps and, again, I'm very sorry about the loss of the foal.



Submitted by Sonja in West Vlaanderen, Belgium on October 29, 2001:


Hi, I live in Belgium, and am looking for advice concerning my 12.8 hands pony mare. I bought her in May (23rd) to save her from slaughter. She was neglected and abused in the past and has clubfoot because she never saw a farrier till I got her. The previous owner had her running with mini's and shetland ponies (mares, foals, and stallions). According to the vet who vaccinated her she was in June 2.5 y/o. Now she is getting veins from her udder area to her belly - she is peeing very much small amounts, pressing her rear end to the wall, and I think I saw movement at her hip-area that can not be "breathing movement". She is beeing "squarish" - and she is "bigger" then when we got her, but she didn't get much because this owner didn't care of course. The vet is scared to palpate her. She is agressive to males and to anyone she doesn't know because of her past (we're working on that - but she hates the vet and the farrier alike!). Is it possible at her age to be in foal? When do most mares in nature get covered? Do the signs I discribe say "foal"? At what gestation time can one see the foal move? Will the foal be small because the daddy was a mini/shetland pony (worry is that foal would be too small to reach the nipples)? I just wish there was a site in Dutch like this in Belgium! I've been searching for answers a long time already. I had the idea she is expecting from August already.


Dear Sonja,


It certainly sounds like your mare could be in foal. It is entirely possible for her to be in foal at this age. Many fillies come into heat for the first time as early yearlings. It is extremely variable as to when foal movement can be seen in a pregnant mare. As an average, I would say that you can sometimes see movement around eight months. But that is really not a hard and fast rule. With some mares there may be movement visible earlier, and with some you may see no movement until the last month or so. The best time to check for foal movement is as the mare eats or drinks. That seems to stir the foals up. I think it is probably unlikely that the foal will be so small that it will have trouble nursing. That's because even if the father is a mini, the foal should be bigger than that since it is half pony-sized. It's possible, but probably unlikely, that there will be a problem with that. The physical signs you described sound like she could be fairly close to foaling. Watch for udder development, and possible wax or dripping milk. I wish I could answer you in Dutch! But I'm very excited about getting a question from Belgium and your English is very good, so I'm sure we can converse without any problems.


Please keep me updated on how your mare does!


Follow up by Sonja on March 23, 2002:


HidiHo!!!!!! Happy as a newborn mom ... I can announce that my Pony-mare has had her foal last Saturday! I was in touch with you quite some time ago, telling that I could see movement. It turns out I saw the foal move for SIX MONTHS!!!!!!!! Isn't that amazing??? Even my vet said it was rubbish, that she wasn't pregnant. Good I went with my gut feeling, and kept feeding her good. We have a terribly cute filly, it's black with a white star and a tiny drop of white in it's tail. I want to thank you for the advice. It took a long time to wait, especially since we were told she wasn't expecting ... But it is worth it!!!!!! We missed the birth by minutes, but she did fine. Greetings ; from a proud mom ... (ok, owner). PS My mare's name is "Little Filly" (for your records, could be easier for you to find her back), and the baby we named "Little Surprise Zo�


Dear Sonja,


What great news! Thanks so much for letting us all know. I'm so glad everything went well.


Enjoy that baby!


Follow up by Sonja on April 6, 2002:


I caught my little foal eating the fresh dung of her mom, is that normal, or does that mean she is not getting enough milk, or that there is a shortage of minerals? I might sound overpotective, but I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I lost this little cutie now! She seems healthy, runs and plays, and I see her urinate now and then - she didn't have the foal stool that they get when mom is in heat (mom is only 3 years old now, 3.5 tops.) - And while I'm in touch with you, does it happen more often that a foal of only two weeks need to see the farrier because the hoofs are way too long? He cut off more then a cm!!! Thank you so much for sharing all your knowledge!!!!


Dear Sonja,


It is perfectly normal for a foal to eat some of its mother's manure. This is one way that foals introduce normal digestive bacteria into their GI tracts. No need to worry. I have never heard of a two-week old foal having to have a cm worth of foot taken off. Did it look like the foal's feet were that long?


Enjoy that baby!



Submitted by Patricia in NSW, Australia on November 10, 2001:


Hi Theresa, we breed miniature horses and have done so now for 9 years. We have had our first foal death and are very upset. It was my fault, the foal was 3 months old and I was halter training her. I had left the little halter on so I could catch her easily while training. We found her caught between the gate and the fence. I am very upset but more so for the mare. As we have not had a death before we were unsure of how to treat the mare. By the time you answer this question your advice may be too late, but will be needed in case this ever happens again. (Mind you I will never leave halters on again so a death won't occur this way.) My question is: should I have let the mare spend time with the baby before I took her away? I am keeping the baby in the stable (the mare is in the field) until she is buried, but the mare did smell her before I put the foal in the stable. I am torn to know if the mare should have spent more time with her baby or did I do the right thing and keep them apart? The mare is calling out quite a lot, but I have been told that 'she will get over it', this seems quite heartless to me, but perhaps right. Can you please advise me? Thank you for making this column available.


Dear Patricia,


I'm so very sorry to hear about your foal! Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try, sometimes things just happen. You did fine with the mare. I always give them the chance to smell their foals and understand. Some will try to "wake" them up, then when the foal doesn't respond, they walk away and that's it. Others mourn for longer. If a mare is really upset when we try to remove the foal (frantically upset), sometimes I'll leave the foal with her for a little longer. Some mares even need to be sedated for a while, but most accept their loss pretty gracefully. As long as the mare is just calling and not wildly upset, you've done the right thing. It's really much like a weaning process. I'm sure she'll be fine soon.


Again, I'm so very sorry about what happened.



Submitted by Patricia in Florida on November 14, 2001:


We have had our mare for two years and she has been a great part of our family. She was impregnated by a rogue stallion and we chose to let her have the baby and have loved and cared for this mare so she could have a healthy foal. She gave birth yesterday the 12th of November and will not let anyone near her baby and is showing VERY aggressive tendencies toward me and the rest of my family. She actually tried to attack me when I was just standing by the fence. We are beside ourselves with worry and filled with a great sadness. I have cried all day knowing that my mare does not trust us or thinks we will harm her. She could not get checked out by the vet but all appears fine health-wise. Everyone keeps giving us advice and I am worried she will always be a danger to me and my family. We are concerned that she will hurt us and she seems completely wild, nothing like the loving horse we once had. This is her third child and the first with us. What is your advice or knowledge on this subject?? Any help would be so greatly appreciated. Looking forward to your reply.


Dear Patricia,


Please don't be upset! This is not at all unusual behavior. It doesn't mean that she doesn't trust you or like you, it just means that she her maternal instincts are in overdrive. Most of the time, this behavior will subside in a few days to a couple of weeks. My advice is to just play it by ear. Try often to coax her into letting you get close to the foal, but don't take any unnecessary chances. Pay more attention to her than to the foal. If her behavior hasn't changed by the time the foal is a couple of weeks old, then you may need to seek veterinary help in working through it. But chances are good that she will settle down and understand that she doesn't need to be so protective.


Hope this helps, and please let us know how things go.


Follow up by Patricia on November 20, 2001:


Thank you so much for answering our email, posted 11/14/01, concerning my overprotective mare. She is slowly adjusting and will allow me to touch and feed her, no one, as of one week after birth, has touched her baby. She has taught the colt to stay away from us. I so appreciated your answer and cried with relief when I read it. People told me that I did not develop a good bond with my horse or others said that we should separate the mare from its baby before she ruins it. We have decided not to attempt any outward contact toward the baby until two weeks after its birth. I felt that this would give mom time to adjust. As long as mom has mellowed in her aggressive tendencies and allows me to halter and brush her, I thought that mom should not worry so about our intentions toward her colt. We have built a corral that I can someday work them in and spend time with the mare everyday. I hope that it will be possible to someday touch that colt without a spontaneous rodeo occurring. We decided we would name the baby after one of us gets to put a finger on it! On the recommendation of my vet, I talked to a local trainer and he told me also that this behavior is perfectly normal and that I shouldn't begrudge my mare for being such a terrific mother and for loving her baby more that me. He promised me he would work with us if we needed his help, so I do feel relieved that we have someone here to turn to if problems continue to exist. I will send you one more email with the baby's name so you know that all is well. Bless you and thank you!!


Dear Patricia,


Thanks so much for letting me know how you are all doing. I'm relieved that you truly do understand that the mare is just trying to be a good mother. The trainer sounds understanding and may well be a good person to turn to if you need help with the foal. But foals are naturally curious and once Mom settles down enough to let the foal "explore" you, I'd bet everything will come around just fine.


Please do stay in touch and keep us updated.



Submitted by Audrey in North Carolina on November 27, 2001:


Hello, I have just finished reading your book and I have to say it is one of the best I have every read. Very informative but, still written in layman terms. If you have the time could you answer the following questions. My mare is a 5yr old TB, maiden, breeding date Feb 8, 2001 by AI, she will be at 340 days Jan 14, 2002. All shots current, Rhino at 3,5,7,9 mths, foaling shots to be given Dec 15, 2001, Daily wormer. She has started to develop a bag at day 292. She will start staying inside at night Dec 15, 2001. Have you found maidens to carry long or short? I am using day 340 as a "due" date to work with. Is this ok? What is the grainy deposits you see on a mare's bag? Not the wax but what looks like salt granules. Do you like to have a halter on the mare when she foals? Seems like this would be an advantage especially with a maiden. Do you agree that worming with ivemectrin with in 12hrs post foaling helps lessen scours? Should all foals be IGG tested? Sorry for so many questions but you seem like the right one ask! Thanks so much for the column I have read and reread, it is a great benefit for the newbies like myself and others.


Hi Audrey,


Thanks for the very kind words about the column and the book. I really appreciate it.


I have found that maidens have a slight tendency to carry long. But...we're talking about mares here! Using 340 days as a rule of thumb "due" date is what I do with all the mares I work with. I don't know what the grainy deposits sometimes found on mares' udders are. I have asked several veterinarians and always get that "why do you even care?" look. Haven't found an answer yet. I absolutely have a halter on every mare that I think is ready to foal. I have never personally used the 12-hour Ivermectin deworming. What I will say is that there have been studies done on foals that have been taken away from their mothers immediately upon delivery and not allowed to nurse. Those foals still develop "foal heat" scours. So, I don't know that you will hurt anything by deworming the mare within 12 hours with Ivermectin, but I'm not convinced that it will help, either. Yes, I think it is safest to have every foal tested for IgG levels. Even if you are sure that the mare's colostrum is good, you can't be sure that the foal has properly absorbed the antibodies in the colostrum. Having a blood test done is the only way to know for sure. I don't think you're being neglectful if you don't have the test done, but it is the safest thing to do.


Hope this helps and good luck! Please let us know about your new foal.



Submitted by Char in Cairo, Egypt on November 28, 2001:


Hi Theresa, I read thoroughly all of the questions and your answers on this website, but none of them experienced ours: One week ago our Arab mix mare gave birth (unwitnessed) to a big healthy filly. She did not wax up, her udder only filled a little before birth and although she showed the softening around the base of the tail, the vulva did not swell. The problem is this. The mare is totally uninterested in the foal, even after our attempts at bonding the two by rubbing the foal with afterbirth and the mare�s nose. Finally, we resorted to twitching and hobbling the mare in order to allow the baby to nurse the important colostrum. The first day we had to do this procedure for 7-8 times so that the baby could nurse. By the second day the mare would stand without twitching and allow the baby to suckle only when her udder was full. Her milk supply is very low and the baby was beginning to suffer and was hungry constantly. Our local vet advised half cream cow's milk, which we have been supplementing the foal after she suckles her mother, several times a day. Do you have any advice as to what formula we can use? I am concerned that the half cream cow�s milk might not be suitable. The baby is active, but doesn't have that plump look she should have at one week. There is no mares supplement powder available in Egypt. How soon can we try creep feed and what mixture do you advise? Again, we do not have oats in Egypt, but barley, cracked corn and soy meal. We very much appreciate any advice.


Dear Char,


It's too bad that the mare isn't producing much milk. It's always difficult when that happens, but especially so when you don't have access to mare's milk formulas. For many years, people here used goat's milk to feed orphaned foals or foals whose mothers weren't producing well. You might try that, if you can gain access to a goat. You can begin creep feeding the foal any time. Most foals are born with molars so that they can actually chew whenever they want to. I would just feed barley and soy meal for now--softer things that the foal can more easily chew and digest. She may not be interested, but it's okay to keep food available to her. I don't know what you feed as far as hay is concerned, but it would be good if the filly has access to hay also.


Please let us know how the filly does.



Submitted by Suzanne in Virginia on December 17, 2001:


I am leasing this mare who has had three foals in the past, all without any significant signs of waxing. Here is my concern, this mare was ultrasounded at 15 and 30 days to confirm that this was not a twin pregnancy and she has had all her EHV shots on time. I am planning on giving her the booster vaccines at the beginning of January as she is 330 days on January 26 and I figure a foaling date around the 1st or 2nd week of February. This mare is already producing a good bag during the night which I assume should dissipate during the day when she is active outside, but...she keeps about half of what she collects overnight. Should she be bagging this full, this early and should I plan to up the date I have her vaccinated? Thanks for your help.


Dear Suzanne,


It could be that this is a normal pattern for this particular mare and may not mean that she is going to foal early. Or....it could mean that she will be early. That helps, doesn't it?! It wouldn't hurt anything to move her vaccinations up by a couple of weeks, just to be safe.


Happy Holidays.


Follow up by Suzanne on January 15, 2002:


I e-mailed you in the latter part of December concerning a mare we have due the 28th of January with a question concerning the warm weather and early foaling. We are still waiting. Our vet came and examined her on the 8th and guessed that she would not make it to the 28th of January or 330 days much less the 8th of February. He gave us an "educated guess" of 10 days. Well...we are at 7 days and waiting. She has developed edema along the underside of her belly which I associate with a mare being overdue. This swelling has actually gone as far as between her front legs. Should we be concerned about this swelling so early in on? Her milk is still yellow and no wax, and she isn't "slab-sided" yet but her sides aren't as pronounced as they were two days ago. I have heard about using a hard water test kit to test her milk. Is that reliable and if so what kind of change in the litmus paper am I looking for? Thanks for all your help.


Dear Suzanne,


I wouldn't be worried about the edema unless it causes the mare distress. The timing is okay. Many mares develop significant edema quite a while ahead of delivery. It isn't necessarily associated with one being overdue. I have never personally used anything to test mare's milk before foaling, so I'm afraid I don't know what kind of change the litmus paper should make. I always had to stay with the mares anyway, so it seemed kind of pointless to test their milk! :-)


Please let us know all about your new foal when it arrives.


Follow up by Suzanne on January 24, 2002:


We still have no foal..but we did buy the predict a foal kit which has saved some sleepless nights. We are currently at 90% for foaling in the next 12 hours. Here is my question, once the mares milk turns white (almost like Vitamin D milk) usually how long until she foals and would you be comfortable leaving her alone during the day? We do not live at the facility where she is located so we are spending the nights in the office but nobody is there during the day to check on her. I feel a bit uncomfortable leaving her at this stage but don't want to be overreacting. Thanks for all your help and quick response. Keep your fingers crossed for tonight.


Dear Suzanne,


Some mares will go quite awhile with white milk, but most don't. I never feel comfortable leaving a mare with white milk alone at all. I would surely stay with her during the daytime, too.


Hope she foals soon!


Follow up by Suzanne on February 26, 2002:


Theresa, I e-mailed you last month in reference to a mare that looked like she was going to foal early. She foaled at 329 days with twins. We lost one filly and one survived thankfully. Thanks for all your help.


Dear Suzanne,


Sorry to hear about the mare having twins, but I'm very glad one made it.


Thanks for letting me know!



Submitted by Kati in Texas on December 12, 2001:


This isn't actually a question for your column. I know you read this often, but I wanted to emphasize how important your column is, and how appreciated your work is to all of us out there dealing with such an important thing as our mama horses and their new babies. No equine vet (that I have dealt with) has anywhere near the knowledge you have regarding OB/GYN in equines (as my vet says, by the time he arrives, it's usually a tragic story) . So, from One of the Many frequent readers who have a heart for our horses, Thank You. You are a savior, and I hope you go into this Christmas season thinking of all the fat, round mares you have benefited. Who can ask more of service in life? Whatever else gives you grief, know that your work has had more impact than you can imagine. You should feel wonderful. Love!


Dear Kati,


My goodness...I don't know what to say! Thank you doesn't seem like enough. I'm very happy to be able to help people with their animals. It's one reason why all that time spent in cold barns was more than worthwhile. :-) Thank you again and I hope you and everyone who reads the column has a wonderful Holiday Season and an even better 2002 foaling season.


Follow up by Kati on May 9, 2002:


Here's my latest question. My 17 yr. QH formerly foundered mare foaled a gorgeous colt 12 days ago. Even though she's had lots of babies she tore pretty badly, not recto-vaginal, but darn close. She was in a lot of pain after foaling which was apparent because she must have laid back down 15 times in the hour post-foaling, and that interfered with her showing the baby where the kitchen was. She was careful to make sure she didn't lay down on the foal. This is my concern. She aspirated a lot of air with the membranes and placenta still hanging out each time she would go down. She did pass the placenta in about 45 minutes. I had the vet out the next morning to make sure the tear wasn't rectal, but I did not ask him to infuse her. I didn't have her infused the first time until 65 hours post-foaling (after hours, naturally) when I got real nervous that she was favoring one front foot. Well, she foundered again. Not too bad, but I really wanted to avoid that. Here's my plan regarding her next foaling. (I am rebreeding her AI at 30 days): Infuse her no matter what 24 hours post-foaling, Banamine immediately after delivery, (I waited almost 2 hours this time), serious reduction of feed for the first 48 hours (hate to do that) .How does that sound to you? Maybe add some Ace in there for good measure? Her founder did not become evident (heat in the hooves) for 3-4 days. This was her first foal for me, and I'd want to do better by her next time. Thanks!


Dear Kati,


First, congratulations on your new foal. Your plan for the next one sounds good. I don't think I would give her any Ace. I think needing an infusion probably affected her feet more than anything, so the infusion would be the major priority for me.


Congrats again on the foal and I'm glad the founder wasn't too bad.



Submitted by Kim in Montana on December 26, 2001:


Are there any dewormers that should not be given to pregnant mares?


Dear Kim,


Dewormers containing organophosphates should not be given to pregnant mares. But none of the "common" wormers (Ivermectin, Strongid, Anthelcide, etc.) contain them, so don't worry about those. Any of the wormers named above are safe and should do a good job.


Take care.