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Advice Column  1/00 - 6/00


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 Kim in the USA on January 6, 2000:


I have a 20yr old Saddlebred mare due between now and the end of February. She lost her filly Feb 11, 1999 and was rebred March 24, 1999. This is my first broodmare experience other than the filly that died. Postmortum exam showed severe selenium deficiency, which of course she has been on since before being rebred. My mare is 10 miles from my home and I have read the book Blessed are the Broodmares and am nervous beyond belief. We made it past her 8 1/2 mth gestation and now the book. The previous baby died 1-2 weeks before delivery. Spring is now at almost 9 1/2 mths and has had all her Rhino shots. I'm getting ready to give her the rest of her vaccinations in the next two weeks and worm her the week after that. She started to finally bag a little tonight, but what else should I look for in the way of signs so I know better if I should stay the night with her or not. I have a stall set up with heat lamps for her which will be turned on in probably 3-4 weeks if she hasn't yet delivered. No one will be attending her probably other than myself and I have children at home and I want to be there for her. She means the world to me and I don't want to have her suffer another loss because she didn't get the care she needed.


Dear Kim,


I'm so sorry you and your mare lost the foal last year, but it sounds like you've done everything possible to bring a healthy foal into the world this time.


Things to look for as delivery nears are: Physical changes--full, warm udder; possibly wax; possibly dripping milk; dropping belly (dip behind breastbone, hollow in front of hip bones, fullness in front of stifles); muscle relaxation over hips and around the base of the tail; relaxation and elongation of the vulva. Behavioral changes--restlessness, more or less friendly, may go off feed, biting and kicking at sides, sweating, yawning, etc. Even a couple of these changes should get your attention and would warrant staying with the mare.


Hope this helps, and I wish you the best of luck. Please let us know how it goes!



Submitted by Pamela in the USA on January 9, 2000:


After sometime researching the internet I came across your web page. It is a very informative page. I have also researched some information on the degenerative disease "Navicular disease". I have a beautiful 6 year old paint mare that was just diagnosed with "Navicular disease". Radiographs, x-rays were taken of her two front hooves and the "Navicular bone" was observed to have small chips in it. The mare's left front heel is underslung which may have been a cause of the disease along with improper corrective shoeing. I would like to breed my 6 year old paint mare but am concerned that the "Navicular disease" will be genetically transferred to the foal? What is your opinion on this matter? Could you give me any advice on the matter? It would be greatly appreciated.


Dear Pamela,


Since it appears that navicular disease occurs most frequently in horses that are conformationally predisposed to it, then yes, your concern that it is hereditary is legitimate. If you want to breed the mare, try to choose a stallion with really good feet and legs. Hopefully, he will override any problems that may have led to your mare's condition. The other thing to consider is your mare's comfort. If she has considerable soreness from the navicular syndrome, then it may not be wise to breed her. The weight of the foal near the end of the pregnancy could cause her significant distress.


Hope this helps.



Submitted by Pamela in the USA on January 11, 2000:


My AQHA halter mare is due to have her first foal the middle of January. She started to form a milk bag on schedule around 3 weeks ago. After the bag got to be about the size of a hard ball, it dried up and now she has no milk bag. I've been told that since this is her first foal that she may not have a bag until the foal is born . The bag dried up about 2 weeks ago and the mare eats and acts in great health. She is still big in foal and is real fat and healthy. Can a mare go from dry to full of milk in just a couple of days? They tell me that if the foal had died 2 weeks ago, the mare would be sick or aborted. I have foaled out many mares and have never seen this. As long as the mare is OK should I leave things alone?


Dear Pamela,


Yes, it is entirely possible for a mare to go from no udder to a full one in a couple of days, sometimes even in a few hours. My advice would be to just let things ride as long as the mare is looking, eating, and acting okay, until she's at least two weeks past her due date. If nothing has changed by then, it would probably be best to have the vet take a look at her.


Good luck, and please let us know how she does,



Submitted by Anna in Australia on January 15, 2000:


I have a standardbred mare which is just turned 14. Is she too old to have a first foal ? She is healthy and has great bloodlines. We are sure she would produce a beautiful foal but we don't want to run anymore risks than we have to. We understand that not all foals turn out and I was wandering if it would be safe for her to have a first foal at the age of 14. We would be grateful for any advice you could give us.


Dear Anna,


Fourteen is absolutely not too old to breed a mare, providing, as you said, that she is in good health. The best thing to do for her is have a vet check her both overall and reproductively. If she gets a clean bill of health, then there shouldn't be much of a risk for her to have a foal.


Good luck!



Submitted by Stephanie in Tennessee on January 19, 2000:


First of all, hello ... you have a wonderful column. I have a question concerning my 11 year old Quarter Horse mare. She will be entering her11 month of pregnancy on Jan. 21st. This will be her third pregnancy, I know that much, but I purchased her (Penny) after those births. Since she is my first horse and means the world to me I am concerned about her udder development... I checked her and there is a difference in appearance but she is very touchy about her udder. Before pregnancy I could wash and touch her udder easily but not anymore. What should this "udder development" look like. I am seeing relaxation at the tail head, and she is moody. About a week ago I went to the pasture to check her and she was lying on her side, all four hoofs came off the ground. I sat down beside her and talked soothingly to her and after a few moments she got up and was fine, but her stool was soft for that day, next day her stool was back to normal. I called the vet and he said it sounded like false labor pains and said to watch her. I am watching now and nothing has happened... I need some advice this is driving me crazy ! Any help would be appreciated !


Hi Stephanie,


As a mare's udder gets full, it will become very tight looking and quite warm to the touch. Don't worry about the mare getting touchy about it. That's normal and she'll be okay when she foals. As she gets closer to foaling, her udder will probably take on a "shiny" look. Also, watch for wax (leakage of colostrum from the nipples). Not all mares wax but if she does, it's a good sign that she's close to delivery. The episode with her lying in the pasture could have been nothing more than the foal causing her discomfort by pushing on her bowels. Since she got up and was okay, I wouldn't worry about it.


Hang in there and let us know all about your new baby!


Follow up by Stephanie on February 8, 2000:


Hello Once Again Theresa! I wrote a few weeks back about my mare who had laid down in the pasture and looked to be in labor, but after speaking with you and the vet the foal was indeed in an uncomfortable position for Penny to bear. My question is this: Penny as of Feb. 08, 2000 is at 352 days, the date she was bred on was Feb 21, 1999. Penny was palpated at 4 months and was definitely pregnant. She is displaying some of the signs You have discussed: dropped behind chest and stifles, definite relaxation in tail head area, but her bag is not full, filling up but not full, and this is her 3rd birth, just my first with her. Definite movement of the foal when eating is seen. Yesterday she was lifting her lip up alot-what is that about? Anyway Theresa, Penny is in great health eats wonderfully and is on good pasture...When is this horse gonna foal??? Any guesses weeks, days, hours. Also there is some type of substance on her vulva, its kind of brownish red no smell really. Any advice would be wonderful !!!!


Dear Stephanie,


The mare raising her lip is a sign of discomfort, and the brownish-red discharge is most likely part of expelling her mucous plug. I can't predict when she will foal, but it sure sounds like she's getting close! Probably within a few days. (That isn't a prediction--just a guess from your description! :-))


Hang in there! And let us know all about your new baby !


Follow up by Stephanie on February 15, 2000:


Hello Once Again Theresa! This is about the quarter horse mare in holding pattern (Penny). Well last night during feeding time I was checking Penny's udder I noticed little white yellowish beads on her nipples. I checked her off and on during the night. Nothing happened, got up this morning and fed her breakfast, my gosh Theresa you would not believe the bag this mare had !! I mean she was gradually changing but in the space of a few hours during the night this mare dropped milk like crazy, which I am very relieved about. Anyway, I checked her vulva-long and relaxed I think would describe it, it was puffy and I could see the pink of the inside cause she was so puffy. Please, please tell me she's close, we're holding at 359 days. She looks soooo miserable. What do you think? Is that baby on the way ?


Hi Stephanie,


Sounds good to me! I wouldn't leave her for longer than it takes to run to the bathroom!


Can't wait to hear about your new baby!


Follow up by Stephanie on February 18, 2000:


How are you doing? Well I hope. I hope you remember who I am, the crazy woman who owns Penny the mare whose udder has dropped dramatically and will have carried a year by Feb. 21st if she doesn't have this foal soon. Theresa she's eating great, her tail and rump feel like jello for nothing better to describe it, and she is very moody and seems tired. I looked at her udder this morning seems hard is that normal, of course she is not very cooperative where her udder is concerned! Her vulva looks puffy, but then again this is my first horse and I don't know if I would know any different. Theresa should I call a vet to look at her, there is movement when she eats but not as much as a week or two ago. This horse is my heart, any advice.


Hi Stephanie,


I never thought you were a crazy woman! At least no more crazy than the rest of us who work with foaling mares! :-)


Sounds to me like she's very close to foaling. The hard udder is normal and is generally a sign that they're getting very close. As long as she's eating and acting okay (other than normal big-pregnant miserable), I think I'd give her another few days before calling the vet.


Hang in there !


Follow up by Stephanie February 20, 2000:


Hello! This is from Steph in TN, Penny finally had that foal. It is a beautiful brown and white paint colt named MoJo! I am soooo glad it is finally over I did not think Penny was ever going to have that foal. She was text book, waxed then leaked a little, next thing I know whamo a foal!!! Thank you so much for all of your understanding and support. We have already imprinted the foal and it was such a gratifying experience, Penny was really tolerant and understanding of us touching her baby all over. Again, thank you for offering an invaluable service.


Dear Steph,


Hooray! I'm so glad everything went so easily. Now you can just enjoy! Thanks for letting us know!



Submitted by Jeni in Australia on January 22, 2000:


I have a 3 month old foal(small horse) who has always had foal scours. He is very healthy, well-covered and active, is 8H. He is still with his dam who has heaps of milk. They are stabled overnight and in a clean paddock during the day. He is on hard feed morning and night - lucerne and oaten chaffs, steam-rolled barley, salt, dolomite and hay. I have just started to administer acidophilus morning and night but the scours persist. They don't seem to intensify when the mare is in heat. He also has a lot of flatulence and frequently eats the mares droppings. Any suggestions would be appreciated. He is a superb little colt and has a bright future as long as we can stop the scours.


Hi Jeni,


If you haven't had a vet take a look at the colt, that would be a good thing to do. Also, we've had good luck with giving foals like this Probios. It introduces good things into the gut to help aid with digestion.


Best of luck!



Submitted by Judy in the USA on January 23, 2000:


Hi! Any help would be appreciated. We had a mare palpated about two months ago (bred at beginning of August) and the vet thought she was pregnant - enlarged uterus sinking down which made palpation somewhat difficult, good tone, tightly closed cervix, no sign of heat. However, two labs stated that her blood tests did not indicate that she was pregnant. Soooo... we didn't give her rhino, etc. - Then Friday when she came in from the pasture, she had blood splattered all over her legs, etc. (I was out of town.) My husband said she appeared to be urinating blood. So the vet was immediately called and reexamined her. He said her uterus was extremely large, firm, her cervix was tight as a drum and firm, and he still believes she is pregnant. She was not bleeding from the cervix, but he thinks she broke a blood vessel in her vagina. He does not believe it is in the bladder or kidney. He flushed the vagina and got some blood clots, but nothing foul smelling or indicating infection. He had us stall her and feed her only hay and water. He gave her shots of something, including antibiotics, my husband said. She never appeared ill or lethargic and is eating every bite of hay and drinking well. The bleeding stopped quickly. The vet thinks a gelding we have might have... err... "raped" her in the pasture. He has never shown any interest in mares - even during heat -, other than to be their herd boss, so that would be out of character. Have any of you experienced this? Is it possible to have very low levels of hormones and still maintain a normal pregnancy? What do you think? Regards, Judy P.S. When is your book on vet stories coming out ??? I ordered it, but it hasn't come yet. - Oh and the EPA is currently reviewing the use of feed thru fly control in pregnant mares and equines in general. Perhaps they will issue a warning. If you know of any instances of problems while taking or just after getting off the product, the EPA would be interested. Apparently, little, if any, long-term testing was done in equines.


Hi Judy,


Good to hear from you!


Yes, I have heard of ruptured vaginal blood vessels in pregnant mares. I have not dealt with it personally, but know a vet who has. According to him, a rupture like this can occur spontaneously, so I doubt that your gentlemanly gelding had anything to do with it. I truly don't know what to make of the hormone tests. You didn't say which hormones were looked at, but if the progesterone was very low, then I'd wonder if the mare should possibly be on Regumate. Also, has the vet tried to do an ultrasound? I realize that it might be difficult to visualize the fetus at this stage, but perhaps he could rule out other problems that might mimic pregnancy. It's good to know that the EPA is looking into feed-through fly control. That's something that should have been done long ago.


Please let us know what you find out with your mare.



Submitted by Amanda in Australia on February 2, 2000:


My friend's Mare has a pink mucus like discharge coming from the vulva. The date the foal is due is unknown but we believe it is very soon. She is also dripping milk. Is this discharge normal and what is your estimate of how long until the foal is born ?


Dear Amanda,


Yes, this discharge sounds normal, especially if she's dripping milk, too. She's probably expelling the mucous plug from her cervix, which means that she should be close to delivery--usually within four days, although some will go longer.


Good luck, and enjoy the new foal !



Submitted by Liza in Australia on February 3, 2000:


My Mare has been dripping milk(late evenings) for the last 2 weeks. She also has some kind of discharge that covers from her anus to the end of her vulva that drips onto her legs, colour varies from a pale pink to a bright red and sometimes brown. She has had this discharge for 4 to 5 days. The foal is presently sitting in her flanks. She has also dropped away in her hind quarters. Can you please tell me is this normal and what signs should I look for, for a mare that is overdue.


Dear Liza,


It sounds like she should foal soon, but in any case, I think I'd have the vet out to take a look at her if at all possible. A discharge of the type you described for four straight days seems like an awful lot. Also, since she has dripped milk for two weeks, her colostrum has likely been depleted. You need to have saved colostrum or a colostrum replacement on hand for the foal. The only signs left that she could show you are behavioral ones--restlessness, biting and kicking at sides, rubbing rear end, yawning, etc.--to tell you that she is going into labor.


I hope everything goes well. Please let us know.



Submitted by Joanne in the USA on February 9, 2000:


Hi! I have two "situations" at the moment that I would appreciate your opinion on. First, I have a mare that was bred April 11 and 13, 1999. She became large very quickly, and on several occasions, I had commented that it looked as if she was carrying twins. On January 23, I noticed that she was developing an udder. I called my vet and he was not alarmed. On January 24, she had a large bag and was dripping milk. The last time this happened to me, the mare aborted twins, so of course I became very concerned. I called the vet and he referred me to a vet in New Jersey that is a specialist in this field. I had the option of transporting my mare to her clinic, but considering the clinic was 150 miles away, we opted to attempt a "telephone intervention"! It sounded like two possibilities, placentitis or twins. The doctor told me to check the mares cervix and if it wasn't dilated, we could treat her. My vet came, and her cervix was tight. It was remotely possible that this was normal for this mare, but we were not willing to take the chance. ( Did you ever see a mare leak milk 8 weeks before her due date and have a normal foaling?) The mare was put on Regumate to control the labor, SMZ's to protect her from or treat any existing infection and 4 days of banamine to relax her. Although every few days she leaks milk, she is still hanging in there!!! We are trying to hold her off til at least day 320, today is day 306. Do you agree with taking her off the Regumate at day 320? WHAT DO YOU THINK OF ALL THIS??? Situation number two: I have another mare that was bred on March 31 and April 2, 1999. She had a small umbilical hernia that my veterinarian was not concerned about. She is about 3 weeks from foaling, she is starting to bag and I notice the hernia has grown from a walnut to a baseball. I have a friend that has a mare that had a hernia and she went out one morning and found the mares intestines hanging out of her abdomen. Should I be freaking out ?!?! This is a valuable mare and also a member of the family. I called my vet tonight, told him what was going on, and he is coming out tomorrow. I have moved Barbie (hernia) to the monitor stall now, as Dutch (Regumate mare) has now become the lesser of the two evils. I hate to leave the monitor because I am so nervous. I sit and look at the screen like I'm watching a horror movie waiting for the gory scene... I just lost my nine year old paint stallion that was born and raised here to colic. This doesn't look like my month! Whatever information or advice you have would be very much appreciated. Thank You. P.S. This is my first visit to your site and it is a wonderful service.


Hi Joanne,


You really have been going through it, haven't you?!


About situation #1--No, I, personally, have not seen a mare drip milk eight weeks before her due date and have everything be normal. There was always something--placentitis or twins usually. I would keep her on the Regumate until day 320 and would continue the SMZs (if your vet agrees) as long as the mare is showing milk. We've had mares on SMZs for as long as four months.


Situation #2--I'm with you. This sounds scary to me. It will probably be fine, but should definitely get your attention. I've never dealt with a problem like this, but would think that I would want to restrict this mare's movement for the rest of her pregnancy at the very least. I don't know if things like supportive "belly bands" are ever done for pregnant mares, but maybe that would be a consideration.


I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your paint stallion and surely hope these two turn out okay. I'll be thinking about you, and please, keep us updated.


Follow up by Joanne on March 13, 2000:


Hi Theresa, I'm here with a foal season update!!! Barbie, my paint mare with the hernia had a filly on March 6 without incident. However, Dutch, the palomino pony mare that started bagging and leaking milk on January 21, has not foaled yet. She was bred on April 11, so she is due now. We had her on Regumate and SMZ's, as the vet suspected placentitis or twins. I took her off the medication on February 25, and expected an early delivery because of the drop in her progesterone levels. Guess I was wrong because it's been almost 3 weeks, and nothing. I have to wonder if this mare really had a problem or if her milk leaking was normal for her. Last night she was streaming milk again. I'll keep you posted. Also, one of the girls that bred her quarter mare to my Black and White paint stud for her first foal is very nervous. But...she called last night and informed me that she has been spending a large amount of time in the bathroom, as she bought this great book called The Complete Foaling Manual!!!! I told her she made a wise choice!!! Have a great day, and I'll talk to you soon.


Hi Joanne,


Thanks for the update! I'm so glad Barbie foaled without problems. I hope Dutch does the same! That's too funny about your friend! I hope the book gives her confidence and makes the experience more enjoyable for her.


Thanks again for the update, and please do let us know about Dutch.



Submitted by Michele in the USA on February 10, 2000:


Hi! I am hoping you can help me with a question I can't seem to find an answer to. My mare is 10 years old and in her 48th week of pregnancy with her 4th foal. All has been very normal and uneventful for all pregnancies and deliveries. Yesterday, I went to express some milk to see if I could (last year I couldn't...making the Predict-a-foal kit useless) so I could test her milk for calcium levels. What came out was blood. It was not bright bright red, it was darker but not like real old blood either. I expressed some more onto a white paper towel and it changed to a serum looking fluid and then to a drop of sticky yellow colostrum. Her temp is normal, going between 99.5 and 99.9 and her appetite is good. She is not listless. Her udder is not hot to the touch. All seems normal. Is this blood/serum something I have just never seen before, but something that is normal ? I have searched my books and the net and can't find an answer. I plan on calling the vet tomorrow if I check her and find blood again. Thanks for any help you can be. This is a GREAT site for ALL !


Hi Michele,


Okay, I don't usually do this, but I have to tease you a little bit. You said in your post that you had searched all of your books and the internet for the answer to your question, but had been unsuccessful. So, my question is...do you have my book? Because the answer to your question is there. :-)  And, it is good news. Sometimes, there will be a small amount of blood before the first show of milk. The correlation I have drawn is that the canals leading from the mammary glands to the outside are stretching and that causes a little bleeding. I have actually seen the first "wax" be bloody. The bleeding isn't much and doesn't last longer than the initial waxing. If it does, it's definitely worth looking at more carefully. From your description, though, it sounds like you have witnessed that first "stretching."


Best of luck, and I hope all continues to go well!



Submitted by Karla in Germany on February 13, 2000:


I have a 13yo, 16.1h Warmblood mare that is in the 8th month (due end of May). Should I be feeding her anything special?? She gets crushed barley (2qts. 2xday) and a handfull of vitamins carrots and lots of hay. My vet said that for pre-term shots...it is now too late to give anything...and she should only get a de-worming 2wks before the foaling date. Would you recommend anything different? He said that it is very important to call within 12hrs after the birth to give the foal an anti-foal laming shot...I am not sure if that translates correctly or not...do you know about that?? Are there other shots that I should recommend to my vet? I feel like if I don't recommend that my horse/foal should have something..then it won't be recommended or given. I am sure you know how wonderful and informative your web page help forum is...but I will remind you of it once again ! Keep it up.


Dear Karla,


Thank you for your kind words about the column. I'm glad you've enjoyed it.


Your mare's diet sounds fine. And perhaps things are done differently in Germany, but here it is routine to give the mare her final vaccinations at about 4-6 weeks before her due date. That way, the antibodies she produces will be passed along to the foal in her colostrum, providing it with immunity to the diseases she was vaccinated for. I would definitely recommend doing this. I would prefer to see the mare dewormed about a month before her due date. I don't know what the vet meant by an anti-foal laming shot. Maybe there is a problem with the translation! The only thing I can think of is maybe tetanus antitoxin, or maybe selenium. At any rate, it is good to have the vet out at about 12 hours to check the foal's blood for IgG levels to see if it has properly absorbed the mare's colostrum and will be adequately protected from the bacteria that are normal in its environment. Without this protection, a foal cannot survive. Other than that and the tetanus antitoxin (which isn't absolutely necessary if the mare has been vaccinated at 4-6 weeks) there isn't anything that the vet needs to do for the foal. The rest is just making sure the foal is nursing well and urinating and passing stool normally. The foal can be dewormed at one month and started on its "big horse" vaccinations when it is 3-5 months old.


Best of luck, and be sure to let us know all about your new foal!



Submitted by Alison in the USA on February 18, 2000:


What are the symptoms of a prepubic tendon rip and is there anything that can be done to safely deliver the foal and save the mare? Thanks!


Dear Alison,


With a prepubic tendon rupture, a mare may show colic signs, have a painful, soft swelling under her belly, prefer to lie down, and be reluctant to move. With a complete rupture, the belly will drop and the udder will seem to "disappear" into the abdomen, no longer being a distinct structure. When a prepubic tendon rupture occurs, the mare will need help during the delivery because she won't be able to push to deliver the foal on her own. Veterinary help is absolutely necessary. There is surgery that can be done, but the prognosis for each mare is very individual.


Hope this helps,



Submitted by Shelli in the USA on February 19, 2000:


I have a paint mare that is due to foal around May 27. We are moving from Idaho to Texas in April or early May, and want to take her with us. How close to her foaling is it safe to move her that far ? We have places to stop along the way and let her out of the trailer overnight. If she foals early, how old does the foal need to be to make the trip safely ? I may try to take her to my parents ranch in N.M. in March if she shouldn't travel after that, and leave her for a while. Of course, I'd rather have her with me so I can imprint the baby, but her and the baby's safety is my main concern. What do you recommend ?


Dear Shelli,


I've seen many mares make long trips safely when they were only a month from their due dates. So, if you can move her a month ahead, and take the proper precautions on the trip, everything should be fine. For a trip that long, it would probably be best to wait until a foal is a month old to transport it.


Good luck !


Follow up by Shelli on July 12, 2000:


I wrote you a few months ago and asked about moving my pregnant mare from Idaho to Texas. My mare made the trip without any problems, though we had to leave her at my uncle's in New Mexico because our house in Texas had not closed yet. She had a stud colt on June 10th, he's a beautiful overo paint. I wasn't present for the birth, but my uncle had called me to tell me she was about to foal, so I drove to NM and got there when he was about 2 hours old. My question is, what is the safest way to transport a foal this young for an 8 hour drive? How long should we wait to make the trip? Should we tie him to the trailer like we do the other horses, or put him in the stud stall untied with straw to lay down in? We are anxious to get him home and start working with him, but don't want to risk his safety. We can't seem to find anyone who has moved a young foal that far.


Dear Shelli,


I'm very glad that the first part of the move and the foaling went okay. Great news!


Since the foal is more than a month old, I think it would be okay to move him any time. The best way to haul him is to have the trailer open, bedded with straw, and leave him loose. Don't tie him! Since it's summer and hot, it would also be best if you could make the majority of the trip at night.


Good luck, and let us know how it goes,



Submitted by Lori in the USA on February 19, 2000:


Hi Theresa, so glad I found this site. I wish I had your book. I am going to order it this week ! Anyway, I have a maiden mare that is due anytime. This will be my third delivery. I haven't yet experienced any problems, but for some reason I'm concerned about this time. Just call it a woman's intuition. I would like to know more about repositioning a foal. I have heard that you can cause serious complications by putting your hands in, if you don't know what you're doing. My vet doesn't like to answer his phone at night, so I would probably be on my own. I would also like to know what to do if a mare doesn't lie down. I have owned this mare since she was a yearling, and have only seen her laying down 2 times !!! I'm sure she probably will, but would just like to know. Thanks in advance.


Hi Lori,


I never doubt woman's intuition. I always pay attention when I get those feelings! They aren't always right, but are enough that I've learned not to brush them aside. I'll keep my fingers crossed that yours are wrong this time !


If the mare wants to foal while standing, that's okay. Just help deliver the foal because it'll be difficult for the mare since she'll be pushing against gravity. And try to break the foal's fall to the ground. If you have to deal with a malpositioned foal and your vet is unavailable (I can't imagine an equine vet not answering his phone at night!!), don't worry about causing damage. If you think about what you're doing, use no more force than is absolutely necessary, and always be mindful of where your hands are going and don't force them through anything you can't see, you'll be okay. The biggest thing is to try to visualize what you feel and act accordingly. There are some illustrations in my book of the most common malpresentations, so they should help you "see" what's going on.


Best of luck, and I'm sure it'll all go smoothly. Let us know !



Submitted by Toma in the USA on February 26, 2000:


Is ventral edema in a mare at 330 days an significant health risk for the mare or foal? The mare has minimal swelling in the hind legs and none in the front legs. She seems fine otherwise.


Dear Toma,


This is very common in late-term mares and shouldn't be a health risk at all. Some exercise may help with the edema, but it may not. As long as the mare seems okay otherwise, I wouldn't worry about it. Most of the time, the edema disappears within a day after foaling (sometimes within hours).


Enjoy the "big event!"



Submitted by Ann in the USA on February 28, 2000:


I have a 13 yr. old Arab mare. This is not her first foal, or mine, so normally I wouldn't even be bothering you with these questions. But, she is exhibiting signs I have never seen in her before. Her first foal was classic text book. Right on her due date. Second foal she didn't wax, but was again on her due date. This foal was due Feb. 26, 2000. No big deal yet. She started bagging exactly 4 weeks before and has been fully bagged for the last week, maybe a little more. Still clear secretion. Her vulva is totally open and stretched, and her croup is so relaxed she wobbles. She has showed signs of labor off and on, the latest being yesterday. I had the vet out last week, who also said she is sooo ready to foal. All she has to do is dilate. I called him out because she developed this nasty "growth" between her front legs. Looked like a second bag. He said it was just edema, fluid stocking up from her large size. Nothing to be concerned over except it usually doesn't extend between the front legs. Have you seen this? She also has had trace amounts of blood on the lips of and inside her vulva. Not a lot, just enough to know it's there. I attributed it to her losing her plug, but it's been going on for 2 weeks now. What do you think of that? Should I call my vet again? She has never before showed all the signs of being in labor (pawing, yawning, trying to lie down, kicking at her belly, circling, pawing some more) without actually being in labor. Now the blood and swelling are concerning me. You provide a great service to us impatient breeders!


Dear Ann,


Yes, I have seen edema so bad between the front legs that you're right, it did look like another udder. Actually, I've seen this on several mares, and the good news is that all were fine and the edema went down shortly after the mares foaled. The small amount of blood at the vulva is also likely okay. I have seen blood occur like this and had everything turn out okay. I've never talked to a vet about this, and don't know if it's ever been researched, but I've wondered if this couldn't be a result of the placenta pulling away ever so slightly at the cervix in very late term mares. The mare showing signs of labor and not going through with it could be that she's just more uncomfortable this time, and not necessarily a sign that there's a problem. Has the mare been eating okay and acting okay other than the "false starts?" Have you seen foal movement before and are you still seeing it? If these things seem okay, then I would think there isn't a problem. All that said, I want to stress that you are the one who knows this mare and you are the one watching her. If you think a vet should see her, then by all means, have the vet out. My feeling is that everything is okay, but you are there and I'm not. Go with your gut.


Please keep me updated!


Follow up by Ann on March 1, 2000:


Hi again. Just wanted to let you know that later last night after I wrote to you I checked my mare and her bag secretion was cloudy. Knew we were finally getting somewhere. This morning (Feb 29) she foaled a big golden dun/possible palomino filly. Both mare and foal vet checked in clean health, though my mare is still showing signs of discomfort by pawing. The edema between her front legs is already going down. I want to thank you for responding so quickly and for being so helpful!


Dear Ann,


Great news! Thanks so much for letting us know!


Enjoy your new foal!



Submitted by J.D. in the USA on March 3, 2000:


My question - How old should a horse be before breeding her ? I've gotten mixed answers, some say two, others three. Oh by the way these are miniature horses.


Hi J.D.,


I would NEVER breed a two year old. They are just babies themselves. Some mares are okay to breed at three, depending on their physical and mental maturity. With some mares, it's better to wait until they are four. The minis would be just like the bigger mares--evaluate them on their physical and mental readiness.


Hope this helps!



Submitted by Shelley in the USA on March 3, 2000:


What happens to the umbilical cord. Does the mare disconnect the cord like a dog? I am a newby to this.


Dear Shelley,


Mares do very little that dogs do--some of them don't even get up until after the foal is up. The foal's umbilical cord usually breaks one of two ways, either when the foal kicks away from the mare or when the mare stands up. If possible, it's best to keep the cord from breaking for a little while after delivery. That gives any blood remaining in the placenta the chance to drain into the foal, and also allows the cord to collapse before it breaks.


Thanks for writing.



Submitted by Kim in the USA on March 4, 2000:


I bred my 7 year old mare last summer- the stud's owner suggested we bring her in every 2 weeks to make sure she took. Now I figure she is due sometime in May, but she is already so big! Could there be a chance she has twins- we live in a rural town and the closest vet is about 40 miles away, is this too early for her to be getting large, or is it normal. Also, is it safe to dose mares with ivermectin during all stages of pregnancy ?


Dear Kim,


Unfortunately, it's impossible for me to give you an idea of whether or not your mare is carrying twins because they all carry so differently. Has the mare had foals before? If so, she may just be bigger than you would expect because she's already been stretched out. Yes, Ivermectin is safe to use in pregnant mares.


Good luck, and I'll keep my fingers crossed that you have one healthy, happy foal!


Follow up by Kim on March 14, 2000:


Thank you so much for the information on my question earlier. I can't seem to find any information on the signs and preventions (if any) of abortions. How common are they in mares about 10 mos. along? Thanks so much for this column, it's helped so much. Also, I noticed my mare holding her tail up for a few minutes at a time as she grazes, I have a hard time believing it's gas because she holds it up for a few minutes at a time, does this have anything to do with the pregnancy or am I just paranoid. Thanks again!


Dear Kim,


Abortions after ten months aren't all that common. I don't have any numbers to give you, but usually if they make it to ten months, they'll make it the rest of the way. Sometimes mares show absolutely no sign of impending abortions. Others may show some udder development. Many times, it depends on why the abortion happens. With twins and placentitis, there is usually udder development ahead of time. With other things, such as something wrong with the fetus (like a twisted umbilical cord), there may be no warning at all. Abortions due to twins and other fetal abnormalities can't be stopped. Potential abortions due to placentitis can often be stopped. Other potential abortion-causing problems--rhino, infested fescue, etc.--can be prevented. Your mare is probably holding her tail up in response to pressure from the foal. Not to worry, that's normal.


I hope this helps.



Submitted by Nancy in the USA on March 4, 2000:


My mare is about 9-10 months pregnant and getting very large. When I was grooming her the other day I wondered if there was any way to feel or hear the foal at this stage - like humans. Just a quick question, thanks!


Hi Nancy,


Generally, you can feel the foal move best under the mare's belly or in front of her stifle. While she's eating is a good time to look for movement. However, some foals aren't as active as others, and if the mare hasn't had a foal before, it may be difficult to feel. So don't get worried if you don't feel movement. And no, you can't hear a foal's heartbeat from the outside. There is too much muscle, bowel, etc., between the outside and the foal to allow that.


Let us know when you feel that baby kick!


Follow up by Nancy on March 18, 2000:

I wrote you a week or so ago asking about if you can feel/hear the foal, I just wanted to thank you for your information on the subject, and for this great column! felt the foal move the other day after I had fed my mare. What an experience, I knew she was pregnant but I didn't really get the full effect until I felt the little one. Thanks again!!


Dear Nancy,


Thank you so much! I'm glad I could help. It is just the greatest thing when you feel that foal move, isn't it?!


Let us know when you get to see it, too,


Follow up by Nancy on April 29, 2000:


I wrote you a few weeks ago about feeling the baby move. Well, Wednesday morning I woke up at 3 to check on her and her water had broken. Wow, what an experience! Now we have a perfectly healthy mother and daughter pair running about in our pasture. Thanks so much for all your help. I do have one more question. I tried to imprint train her at birth, but she's been independent from the start. Now she won't really let me touch her all that much, and I'm afraid I will scare her. How can I earn her trust??


Hi Nancy,


Congratulations on your new baby! So you got an independent one, huh? They can be challenging. Don't be worried about scaring her. Just grab her and scratch and pet her. Even a frightened foal will usually respond to scratching and gentle handling. Sometimes you have to make them stand still to get the idea across that you aren't going to hurt them. But if your filly is truly an independent type, you can't give her a choice. Take control.


Have fun!



Submitted by Lisa in the USA on March 7, 2000:


What a great site! I have a question relating to a foal that was born this weekend. (3 days old now) The foal was born with knock knees. (front legs w/left leg out of align the most) I am concerned, naturally, and have read every book in my library (with the exception of yours, which, will be on its way to my house soon :-) )and on the internet. Everything I have read states that angular deformities that are congenital will correct themselves over time. Is this really the case? If so, when can I expect to see changes? I am on a huge guilt trip because everything that I have read says that this condition is caused by nutritional problems. I have fed this mare the same feed/hay as my other mares and they have never had this problem with their foals. (14% Nutrena feed with Mare Plus added and free choice high quality bermuda grass hay) It's hard for me to believe that I have caused this problem with feeding, but, if I have...I need to know. Could it be that the sire of the foal is over 16 hands and the mare is around 14.3 h? She is my smallest broodmare, but, has a stout hip and chest. Could it be the foal was just constricted in the uterous? This mare is 16 and in excellent health. She had NO problems foaling and we are planning on rebreeding on the foal heat. She was bred w/shipped semen and foaled on day 335. This is the mare's 5th foal; however, I didn't own her when she delivered the other 4; therefore, don't know if this is genetic or not. This mare has the straightest legs around and the sire is a world champion halter horse with VERY straight legs. Any advice on feeding the mare now and foal would be appreciated and any other advice relating to this subject would be helpful. My vet didn't say much when I asked him about this problem. He did agree that the foal would outgrow the problem, but, didn't think the legs would be perfect! HELP!! I have a large sum of money and emotion involved in this foal. Thanks.


Hi Lisa,


The good news is that most of the time, knock knees will straighten out on their own. I know it seems hard to believe when you look at them, but they really do get a whole lot better. And if they don't, there is a fairly simple surgical procedure that can be done. It helps a lot. But give the foal at least a couple of weeks. I'm sure you'll be amazed at the difference.


Yes, sometimes diet can cause problems with foals' legs. However, in your case, it doesn't sound like diet is the culprit. I believe that these problems can be genetic, and can also be caused by how the foal was laying in the uterus. It's important to do as you have done--look at the overall picture. If none of your other foals have had leg problems, then I doubt that diet caused this. As far as advice about feeding the mare and foal--Just keep the protein level from getting too high and make sure the calcium and phosphorus are balanced. Also, I don't like to see young foals eat much grain. Some people like to creep feed them, but that can also cause leg problems.


Unless the foal is extremely knock kneed, to the point that it has trouble getting around, exercise usually helps the problem correct itself faster.


Let us know how the foal does.


Follow up by Lisa on March 19, 2000:


Hi, I wrote to you back on March 7th regarding a foal that was born with knock knees. Don't know if you remember me or not....but, first I wanted to thank you for responding so quickly to my question. Your answer helped me relax and not worry so much about those knees. AND guess what? The filly is now a little over 2 weeks old and her knees are now almost perfectly straight. I expect them to continue to straighten the rest of the way as she grows. She is gorgeous and out of my best disposition broodmare....so, she is a keeper! Thanks for the informative site and the quick responses.


Dear Lisa,


Thanks so much for the update on your filly. It is truly amazing how they can straighten up, isn't it? Enjoy your straight-legged filly!



Submitted by Monica in the USA on March 8, 2000:


A big thanks for all the information I have already received from your column...I found you on accident, and I'm very grateful !!!! My question is ... I have a 5 year old maiden mare that has been showing foaling for 4 weeks ... Fun huh!!?? Anyway, this morning she had white milk dripping and is textbook examples of everything else... But still no "Baby"... I am worried that she is losing colostrum and I am about to go gray headed watching her. I am keeping my distance and doing everything to help her along... She has been doing a lot of rolling and rubbing ...Maybe the colt is not in proper position??? Thanks for your help and your constant advice...


Dear Monica,


Thanks so much for your kind words about the column. I'm glad it has helped you.


Sure sounds like your mare should get this done any minute. And it sounds like it would be good to alert your vet and have a colostrum replacement on hand. I'm glad you realize how very important it is to make sure that baby gets colostrum or a replacement. I wouldn't be too worried about your mare's behavior. Maidens can many times be very dramatic because they don't understand the pressure and discomfort they are feeling. However, you are the one watching her and if you're concerned that something is wrong then, by all means, have the vet out to take a look at her.


Try to hang in there, and please let us know all about your new foal!


Follow up by Monica on March 9, 2000:


Update to previous posting... Princess finally delivered a healthy paint filly... At 5:00 AM on her 347th day... My only problem is Princess hasn't passed her placenta yet.. I called my vet... It has been 3 hours.... I tied a water bag to her sack, but even after another hour ...Nothing yet.... She did act like she was having some contractions though.... My vet suggested Acitosin??? I can't spell yet... I am going to start that and then see what happens... I have heard different opinions on length of time to wait to do anything else... Your opinion would be great... Thanks again..


Dear Monica,


Congratulations on the new foal!


Three hours is the cut off time for allowing the placenta to be expelled. You did the right thing calling the vet. Oxytocin is a hormone that is routinely used to help with the expulsion of the placenta. It causes the uterus to contract. If that doesn't work, the vet should come and infuse the mare's uterus and give her some antibiotics. Don't worry though, with proper veterinary treatment, everything should be fine. I've seen mares hold on to the placenta for as long as three days and come out of it with no damage--because they received proper treatment. One thing, though. I would caution anyone against tying anything to the hanging membranes. The danger is that the extra weight can cause damage to the mare's uterus by pulling the placenta away before it it ready to detach.


I'd be willing to bet that by the time you read this, all will be said and done and Mom and baby will be happy and healthy. Let us know!



Submitted by Rich in the USA on March 9, 2000:


Our 9 yr old maiden mare just delivered a beautiful stud colt on March 7, 2000. She always had kind of an attitude but nothing that couldn't be handled. Since her maternal instincts have kicked in she has become extremely aggressive and she is not bluffing. Attempting to bite, kick or strike us as we attempt go into the stall for cleaning and feeding. I literally have had to lasso her to catch her. We left a halter on her with a short lead rope to catch her. That has helped in containing her but not the capture. She is obviously passing this behavior on to the foal as it is now the third night and we can't even get near him as he runs from us and kicks us as well. We were able to handle him the first day or so, now she barely tolerates us handling him and since he fights us that only incites her and gets very aggressive. We have read a lot of material in preparation of this event, but nowhere did I find anything about extremely aggressive mares. The Vet said she may calm down in a month, but what if she doesn't and what else can we do in the meantime. What started out as a beautiful experience is quickly turning very ugly. The last thing the Vet said was don't get hurt!


Dear Rich,


Your vet is absolutely right�the MOST important thing is not to get hurt.


This is an uncommon occurrence, but certainly does happen. You've done all the right things to try to deal with it. Leaving a rope on the mare is good. My experience has been that mares who act like this won't do it for as long as a month. Usually a couple of weeks at most. Also, the foal will get over it. What she's teaching the foal is to be afraid--that's why he's reacting the way he is. But truly, once you can get your hands on the foal on a regular basis, most of them get over it pretty quickly. If he doesn't, I'd seriously consider the wisdom of breeding this mare again. Since wrestling with the foal incites the mare to anger, I don't think it's worth pressing the issue right now. Give her a couple of weeks to settle down. If she hasn't settled down by then, you might have to resort to more drastic measures, but I'd wait for now.


I'll stress the point again--this is absolutely not worth getting hurt over. I have yet to see a situation like this not resolve itself if given some time. Please be careful!



Submitted by Phillip in the USA on March 10, 2000:


I have two mares due any day now. The one was bred April 8-14 of 1999, so she should be due the 8-14 of March. She dropped about two weeks ago. Her hips are sagging her sack is hard, no wax or milk dripping yet. Is she due then any day? The second mare hasn't really dropped yet both mares started sacking up about a month ago. Se isn't sagging as much and her sack is hard too. Not sure when she got bred, she was in the same time as the other mare. Is either of them very close to foaling and what else can I look for.


Hi Phil,


The mare that was last bred on April 14 would be 320 days on March 20. So, although she could foal safely any time, she truly isn't quite due yet. I agree with you that it sounds like she will foal before the other one. With both, look for progression of physical changes and key in on behavioral changes--standoffish, maybe off feed some, biting and kicking at sides and belly, rubbing and pushing rear end against objects, etc.


Good luck, and let us know what they have!


Follow up by Phillip on March 20, 2000:


I talked to you last week about the two mares. Saturday around 10:45 pm the first mare delivered a red dun stud colt. She started waxing at around 3:00 in the afternoon, then around 9;\:00 pm she started pawing, biting and kicking her stomach. Then around 10:00 she started dripping milk. She was very restless. The second one hasn't even started yet.


Dear Phil,


Congrats on the first one foaling! Sounds like she held up a sign that said, "Okay, folks, I'm ready now!" I love ones that do that!


Thanks for letting us know, and please keep us updated on the second one.



Submitted by Janice in the USA on March 10, 2000:


I recently found this web site and it's fantastic. I have a15 yr old Palamino QH who is due April ll. I had so many questions, I didn't think I would ever find them in one place, well I was wrong. Thanks for all the great information and fun stories.


Dear Janice,


Thank you so very much! I'm so happy the column helped you. And if you do come up with any specific questions that weren't answered here, please let me know and I'll do my best to answer them.


Let us know all about your new foal when it arrives!



Submitted by Michelle in the USA on March 11, 2000:


In the fall of 99, I acquired a 27 year old Appaloosa mare (my first horse). Well, recently we found out that she is going to have a foal. At first my reaction was anger towards the person I acquired her from. Now my concern is for my mare. I have no history as to if she's foaled before (I hope she has). Because of her age I am concerned for her well being. Do you have any suggestions or recommendations as to what I should be really concerned about. She's on a good well-balanced diet. She's turned into a big dog. I love her dearly and now she's become another one of our pampered pets. She has been examined by veterinarians and I am a vet tech. I've mostly worked with small animals so this is pretty much new to me. I've been reading everything I can get my hands on regarding foaling but I was hoping some first hand experience recommendations would be helpful. Thanks in advance for your HELP!!!!!!


Dear Michelle,


I agree that 27 is pretty old for a mare to be having a foal, but the good news is that mare of that age can foal successfully. The biggest thing you should do for her (and I'm sure you are doing this) is to be sure she holds her weight. Keeping weight on her during the last couple of months of pregnancy and while the foal is nursing might be tricky. It would probably be good to add alfalfa to her diet if she isn't already getting it. I assume you've had her teeth checked to be certain she's getting everything she can from what she's eating. It will also be important to be with her during the delivery. Even if the delivery isn't complicated, she may tire quickly and may need more help than a younger mare would. Other than these things, there really isn't anything extra you can do for her. Just keep loving her and taking good care of her.


Please let us know when she foals!



Submitted by Laurie in the USA on March 13, 2000:


I have a mare who was bred May 4, ultrasounded in foal and ultrasounded open at 45 days and palpated open at 100 days. She is very fit now and I have been riding her a lot; in the past few weeks I have noticed that she looks, according to my books, like a mare heavily in foal. She is a QH type and I have seen her fat before, this is not the same. She is fit from the middle of her back forward and has a pendulous bulge from the middle backwards. When I put my arms under her belly, in front of her udder, it feels hard and I feel some thing moving sometimes. Could you give examples of fetal movement? I feel a jab sometimes, sometimes it is a like a gentle wave. I am having her re-checked (by the same vet) and vaccinated this week. Are there similar coditions, llike a tumor, that could mimic these sympoms? ps I have stopped riding her until I know! Thanks!


Dear Laurie,


Fetal movement is hard to describe. It can be jabs, bounces, jumps, etc. I think it's unlikely that your mare could have a tumor large enough to give her a "pendulous bulge" and be acting normally, so I wouldn't worry about that. You are doing the best thing you can do--having the vet check her.


Good luck!


Follow up by Laurie on March 16, 2000:


Thank you for your quick response to my question about my mare, who I suspected, despite two negative diagnoses, to be in foal. My vet checked her yesterday... she is in foal! She was very surprised, and said that was the first time in 12 years she has missed one. Now, I have three weeks to read your column and get prepared! Thanks again,


Dear Laurie,


Thanks for the update! Now you can join the ranks of all us other Nervous Nellies out here.


Have fun!



Submitted by Janice in the USA on March 13, 2000:


This is more of a curiosity question than a problem. I have a Quarter horse mare nearing foaling and she waxed up last Friday. I got very excited and got all the last minute preparations ready. This is her second foaling, I bedded with straw, washed her udder and anxiously stared at her from the house with the security monitor we have in the stall. She has all the signs that foaling is near, but Saturday morning the wax was gone? Last time she only got needle head wax, but Friday she had quite a bit on one teat and the normal needle amount on the other. Could I have washed it off, and no more appear? I know that they can foal with no wax at all, she is currently 318 days by the ultrasound date of conception and last year she foaled at 322 days. Do you think she is playing a joke on me? My husband said she just wants to make sure I am ready for next weekend. All the people I have talked to say they have never seen that before. Just curious about what you think. How much of a pattern do most mares follow. Should I be comparing it to last year at all? Your web site is great! Let me know what you think.


Hi Janice,


Sometimes it's possible for mares to "squeeze" some colostrum out by lying down or kicking at their bellies or anything else that puts pressure on their udders. When this "wax" falls off (or is washed off), it doesn't come back. "True" wax (which happens when the udder is so full that colostrum leaks out) will come back pretty quickly if it falls off. So, I'd say your more might not have been truly waxing yet. This is absolutely normal and nothing at all to worry about. Some mares follow the same pattern very closely year after year. Some don't. And even those who do can have an off year and throw a real ringer at you. Bottom line--look for patterns, but don't absolutely count on them!


Let us know if she waxes again, and all about your new baby!



Submitted by Sara in Scotland on March 13, 2000:


Thank you for a wonderful site, I have learnt such a lot. My question is, I have a maiden mare of 4 yrs, she is a shetland/welsh pony who I purchased last summer after she accidentally got in foal! Everything has been fine and she has kept well and her udder has developed steadily over the last 4-5 wks. We have no idea when she is due to foal, but 5 days ago she began acting strangely in her box, not quite finishing feed, rubbing belly on wall, swishing tail and a little restless. Although her udder seems quite full, only an amber coloured liquid can be expelled. During the day in the field she is grazing quite happily but her breathing is faster than usual. Is it possible that she could foal at any time, even if no milk can be expelled from the udder and she hasn't waxed up? It is my first time, so any advice would be gratefully received. I have been checking her at 2 hourly intervals through the night and although she seems uncomfortable, by morning she goes out to graze quite happily. Thank you in advance.


Hi Sara,


I'm very glad the site has helped you, and I think I have good news for you. Based on the mare's behavior, it sounds like it shouldn't be long until she foals. And yes, she can definitely foal without wax. The liquid you expressed is actually a milk precursor, just all the components aren't there quite yet. This can change very, very quickly--in a matter of a couple of hours or less. From what you described, I think she'll be ready to produce for her new baby.


Hope she doesn't keep you up for too many more nights! Please do let us know when she foals.



Submitted by Steve in the USA on March 17, 2000:


There was a foal born at our house 2 weeks ago and we had the vet out and he said it was a dummy foal. What should we do with the foal?


Dear Steve,


If the foal is truly a victim of neonatal maladjustment syndrome (dummy foal) and survives, it could very well turn out to be perfectly normal. Give it some time.


I hope it does well.



Submitted by Charley in Kentucky on March 17, 2000:


Hello. First let me say that the site is wonderful. It must help thousands daily as it has helped me. My questions concern endophyte infested fescue. I am familiar with the complications, but am curious about a few other things. Are there any clinical signs before birth, how much fescue is too much, is it dangerous at all stages or just the last trimester, what other grasses are being infested per your KY vet friend, and what is the name of the drug that promotes milk production? I am so curious because I have a 12 yo Paso Fino mare that is carrying the only foal that my 4 yo Paso Fino stud produced before his tragic death last year. Our country is full of fescue and she has been dry lotted, but you know how they can find everything they're not supposed to. She is now in a stall, all vaccinations up to date,etc., but not much of a milk bag. She is due March 20th. Any info would be very much appreciated. Thanks again for such a great column.


Hi Charley,


Thanks for your kind words about the column. I hope it helps thousands a day!!


The only clinical sign you usually see with endophyte infested fescue is no milk production. Theoretically, the endophyte is only a problem if the mare eats it in the last trimester, but based on what I've seen in the field, there's also the chance that it can cause abortion earlier on. I think that because a farm that the vet I worked for took care of had an endophyte problem. Once he convinced the owner to turn the pastures over and replant, the incidence of abortion on that farm dropped dramatically, and the mares also became easier to get in foal to begin with. I know that isn't very scientific information, but I can't discount it, either. If I remember correctly, my vet friend in Kentucky said the endophyte has also been identified on blue-grass and possibly some clovers. I'm sure he said blue-grass, but I'm not certain about the clover. The drug that can be given to help with milk production for mares that have been on infested fescue is domperidone. It can really work wonders.


Is your mare a maiden? If so, her udder won't get as big as you might expect for a mare that has had foals before. If not, then maybe she's just going to go past her due date or wait until the last minute to really bag up. If she has some udder development, that's a good sign. And since she's been on a dry lot, I'd think you're okay. However, if you think she's really close to foaling (by other signs), alert your vet that you may need the domperidone.


I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your stallion. I'll keep my fingers crossed that your mare produces a beautiful, healthy baby!


Follow up by Charley on March 27, 2000:


Hello again. Thank you for your quick reply. Two questions. First, the mare that is carrying the only foal of my stallion that died has me worried. She seems stuck. She is not maiden, she is not as huge as the rest, except when she lies down with all four legs stretched out. Her normal position. No further milk production. Rubbing her tail. Slacking off food. No discharge from vagina. What are the signs of a stillborn? I can't feel any movement, but it was always few and far between to feel any with her. She seems to be in good spirits. Three days overdue at this time. Is it just me or should I be concerned? Second question, another mare was ultrasounded at 30 days and was negative. Now 10 months later, she is gaining weight, eating more , rubbing her tail, making a bag, and has milk. Called the vet and his reply was that every mare he had seen with milk was either in foal or trying to abort. He said really no reason to examine her, just to wait and see and treat her as in foal, since I am playing the waiting game with 3 others. Do mares have milk with false pregnancies? Bless you woman, you are a God send to all of us that need advice and are getting frantic over all of the beloved unborn foals of the world.


Dear Charley,


I really don't see any reason to be concerned about the mare that is carrying your stallion's foal. It isn't uncommon for mares to go into what I think of as a "holding pattern." Three days overdue isn't much, certainly not cause for worry. Take your cues from her--as long as she's acting and eating okay, it's unlikely that there is cause for concern. Usually, and I stress usually, if a foal dies in utero, the mare will abort it pretty quickly. But I truly don't think that's what's going on. I, personally, have never seen a mare go through a false pregnancy. I have heard that they will produce milk, but have not seen it myself. I would certainly guess that the "empty" mare is actually in foal, and would treat her as such at least until she reaches her due date. If she doesn't make further changes or if anything else happens that concerns you, I'd insist that the vet check her. Yes, as your vet suggested, you can "wait and see." But sometimes that's just too nerve wracking--at least it is for me.


Please keep us updated, and thanks so much for your kind words!



Submitted by Karla in German in March 17, 2000:


I was re-reading your column (my favorite pastime) and was wondering how one is supposed to collect the colostrum if it starts to prematurely leak. Should one milk the mare like a cow?? Can't you damage the udder if you are not experienced with that?? I haven't found any information on this yet in the column, and I am sure that others would be interested too. Thanks Karla. Ps. Don�t you get tired of people asking the same questions over and over! If someone out there wants to know the signs that they should expect their mare to show for foaling...they should read your column.. it is very well described over and over again (I meant this comment kindly Theresa, you are a saint)!


Hi Karla,


Yes, if the mare is losing a lot of colostrum, you can collect it to give to her foal. And yes, you can milk her...just like a cow. It won't damage her udder, but watch out, because she may try to damage you. If a mare isn't used to having her udder touched, she may react violently, so just be ready.


As to your PS. :-) Yes, I do get a little tired of answering the same questions over and over. I try to remember that people are just nervous and excited and may not have the patience to read the column to find the answers they're looking for, but sometimes when I've been up all night and have a whole day's working facing me, I don't feel too patient myself. Thanks for asking the question! It was a REALLY good one!


Thanks for the laugh.



Submitted by Gabriele in the USA on March 19, 2000:


What a wonderful site you have here Theresa. I've been reading it now for the last couple of days as I anxiously await my first foal to be born (day 344). The question i have concerns my other QH mare. She is 18 years old this May and I tried to breed her last year. She was once bred by the previous owner but must have absorbed the fetus. She was checked before I bred her was "dirty" and cleaned before I took her to the stud. She came up empty on the first ultrasound and was "dirty" again. I went through this 3 times until the vet and I decided not to breed her at all. Now this year I'm thinking maybe she healed enough (she was flushed the last time after being empty) that I could try again. The vet adviced against it, considering her age. What is your take on this?


Dear Gabriele,

Thank you so much for your kind words about the column. I'm very happy that you have enjoyed it and want to thank you, also, for taking the time to read it. I would be a little leery of trying to breed your older mare again. I don't think it would hurt her to try, but it sounds like she doesn't have a very good "clean-up" mechanism in her uterus any longer and it will probably be very difficult to get her in foal. Ultimately, that won't bother her (as long as she's checked and treated if she becomes infected again), but could cost you a lot more money and disappointment. Bottom line, it depends on how much you're willing to put into the venture, emotionally and financially.


Hope this helps.



Submitted by Shannon in Canada on March 20, 2000:


I wanted to ask you a question regarding my mare who recently "recovered" from a case of placental detachment (about 1"). The detachment is now about the size of "a small bubble". Our vet was down on March 6 to check it and was happy with what he saw. He will be back on April 3, for one last check. She is due May 8/00. My question is this: Because of this detachment, is she at a higher risk of placentia previa/red bag or is there no correlation? In the case of a red bag delivery, would the foal be in the "normal" delivery position, or does it's position change because it is a red bag? Finally, what needs to be done if it is discovered to be a red bag delivery? Thanks for your help!


Dear Shannon,


Thanks for the great news that your mare is doing well. Just what we like to hear! In my experience, a small area of detachment doesn't make the mare more likely to red bag. However, that's a good question and certainly something you should be on the look out for. With a red bag delivery, the foal may or may not be positioned correctly. I've been very lucky because in all the red bags I've dealt with, the foal has been positioned correctly. The problem is, obviously, must worse if the foal is malpositioned. If you discover a red bag, the only thing you can do is break through the placenta and delivery the foal as quickly as safety will allow. Don't worry about red bag too much, though. It's good to be prepared, but I don't think the chances of it happening with your mare are greatly increased.


Please let us know when she foals.



Submitted by Varlin in the USA on March 20, 2000:


I would like to know where to get as much information as possible on foaling from A to Z. Who would you recommend as the best sources of information? Are there any free sources as well? Thank you for your time.


Dear Varlin,


Well, I guess your question gives me the opportunity to plug my book. It's the "Complete Foaling Manual," and it's about as A to Z as you can get. I wrote it to help people who haven't been through a foaling experience before, or have limited experience. So far, I haven't had many questions that weren't answered in the book. Also, this column is full of information--and it is free.


Thanks for asking.



Submitted by Alyson in the USA on March 21, 2000:


A friend told me the other day that instead of giving the foal his tetanus shot or as I've been doing for years a 4 way including tetanus on the day it's born, you should just make sure the mare has her shot prior to parturition. Can you tell me how far before foaling the mare should receive her shot? Also, do you recommend not giving the foal any shots. According to my friend they are now finding that foals given shots at birth are developing some immuno deficiencies. I've never had a problem but now that I've said this it'll probably happen. Please advise.


Dear Alyson,


The mare should receive her final set of vaccinations about 4-8 weeks before foaling. If she receives a tetanus toxoid vaccination at the time, it isn't necessary to give the foal tetanus antitoxin. And a newborn foal should never get the 4-way. That can cause immune problems. If the foal gets anything, it should be tetanus antitoxin, not tetanus toxoid. There is a big difference.


Hope this helps.



Submitted by Kathleen in the USA on March 21, 2000:


Theresa, hello, I like everyone else love this site. One quick question, my 15 year old mare was bred April 18-26, she is showing many signs of foaling soon, (very full bag, waxing yellowish-white, swelling vulva, ect.) Are her dates ok, are they long enough for the foal to survive? I have foaled out mares before but it has been soooo long and I just don't remember. Thanks


Hi Kathleen,


According to my calculations, your mare would be 340 days on April 1. If she foals now, everything should be great. No worries there.


Hope she gets it done for you soon!


Follow up by Kathleen on March 27, 2000:


Hello Theresa, yes she did! A beautiful dun/roan colt. My problem now is that she didn't clean out and I am worried that I will have problems getting her back in foal. My vet has flushed her out and has her on antibiotics. What do you think my chances are that she will be able to be bred again?


Dear Kathleen,


As long as the vet got the mare cleaned up, there shouldn't be a problem with getting her back in foal. With a mare that retained her placenta, though, it would probably be best to wait until the 30-day cycle to breed her again rather than trying on the foal heat.


Congratulations on your new baby!



Submitted by Kelly in the USA on March 22, 2000:


Thank you so much for what you do, you really are the light in the darkness for some of us inexperienced people. I have a mare that I just love, in fact I bought her as soon as I knew she was sound and loaded her on the trailer. She's a beautiful dapple grey mare named Irish Cream, and as I said before I love her. When I bought her last August, I was told she was bred by a quarter horse. I had her checked after I got her home and the vet confirmed the pergnancy only for her to miscarry the next week. She was pastured with my stud when she lost the foal and he bred her immediately and as they say it only takes once and I knew that she was bred. We were in the process of moving and I worried that the strain of the move would cause her to lose this foal also so I didn't have her checked, but I was pretty sure. We moved and soon after I called my new vet, whom is busy, busy, busy. She wasn't able to come out for a couple of weeks and the weeks turned into months, there were emergencies, inclimate weather, and scheduling problems, not to mention the one time she finally made it by I had tried to catch my mare to no avail and she just worked up my other horses. Anyway she finally got over here last week and now I am frightened. She did the palpation and confirmed a seven month plus pregnancy as I suspected but also thought at one point that she had felt two heads. Then when she tried again she could only find one. Is it easy to mistake a second head for something else? Would there be any point to having her out again to do another palpation? I have been told by others that an ultrasound is out of the question at this point, is that true? Is there any way to be sure? This is bothering me greatly as I don't want anything to happen to my mare. Thanks for everything.


Dear Kelly,


Yes, it would be possible for the vet to feel other things (like knees) and think she might be feeling another head. I don't think I'd be too worried about twins. One reason is that if your mare was bred on the foal heat, that seems to be the cycle that they are least likely to produce two follicles. It isn't impossible for them to, but the percentage is very low. Even if she has twins, there really isn't any way to find out (other than take her to a large facility with the proper equipment) and nothing you can do about it. Just be ready for anything (as with any delivery), but I really doubt that you're looking at twins.


Please let us know how she does.


Follow up by Kelly on June 3, 2000:


I have written you once before reguarding the possibility of twins that my vet believed that she detected in the seventh month. Since she was bred on a foal heat you thought she may be mistaken and for the sake of my mare and the foal I hope you are right. Now on day 303 I have a second question (I hope you don't mind). My mare is a maiden mare whom is four years old. She has dropped to a triangular position and has formed a small but hard bag. This last night I saw what I thought was wax, but it fell off before I had a good chance to look at it. This morning she had a drop of slightly whitish milk on that same teat and this afternoon it was again wax. We know that we are looking at a large foal if not twins, but this seems kind of early to me. Should we be afraid of placentitis? Or is this probably just another maiden thing? Thanks for the peace of mind you bring us all! PS I have read every page of the forum now, I love it, but I am just unsure in this situation, this close and with the 2 baby possibility or a large foal (which I have heard are early sometimes)!


Hi Kelly,


I would be concerned about a mare with milky wax at 303 days. As you mentioned, either placentitis or twins could be a possibility. And with what your vet thought during the seventh month, I'd lean toward twins. I sure hope not, but you are wise to question it. It's a whole lot better to be informed and prepared than to bury your head in the sand and hope for the best. If you haven't already, I'd surely be in touch with the vet about this development. She can at least be alerted that the mare looks like she wants to foal and be ready to help you quickly. Based on what she saw before, she may or may not want to start the mare on antibiotics. Doing so certainly shouldn't hurt anything.


Please keep us updated.


Follow up by Kelly on July 6, 2000:


I just wanted to let you know that at 6:30am this morning we had a filly. I had written you twice about my vet thinking possible twins and when I was worried that she was aborting. We aren't sure at this time what color she will be but she is a dark chestnut right now with silvery black legs, a bright chestnut mane, and a chestnut tail that is bright white at the bottom. Odd looking I know but she's a cutie (maybe she'll even turn to a dapple grey like the Dam). The only problems were a retained placenta that the vet took care of. We also missed the actual birth, she laid down the same time in the morning she always does (we have her on closed circuit TV) and I just decided something was different got up there a couple of minutes later and she was standing up with the filly on the ground (her back half was still in the sack). So we didn't miss it by much! Oh well, I guess you can't catch them all but at least we were there in time that hopefully we could have helped if there were problems. Thank you so much for all of the advice you gave. I'm so happy now I want to tell the whole world!


Dear Kelly,


Congratulations! I'm so very happy you had such a great outcome to your long ordeal! Sounds like the filly may well turn out to be grey. But I know you'll enjoy her no matter what color she decides to be!

Congrats again, and thanks for letting us know about your baby,



Submitted by Carol Lee on March 22, 2000:


I have a 15 year old Paint mare that was bred between April 29 and May 2, 1999. She is showing an extremely high amount of ventral edema and I'm very concerned. She is very alert and active and shows no discomfort with her condition. The vet checked her last night and expressed concern of twins or a giant foal. He also said the prepubic tendon could be at risk and if she doesn't progress, we may have to choose between the mare or the foal. I'm not giving up though. Last night I made a support sling to transfer some of the pressure from her belly to her back. My vet told me that he didn't think that I should do that yet, although I don't know why. We removed the sling today and the swelling is significantly decreased. What else am I able to do to help her? What shouldn't I do? I'm a first aid instructor, but this is shall we say a "horse of a different color" for me. Please help!!


Dear Carol Lee,


Without being able to see your mare, it's impossible for me to dispute what your vet says. However, I've seen mares with huge ventral edema and stocking up--so bad that they could hardly walk--and had everything turn out fine, every time. So if the edema is the only thing your vet is basing his opinion on, then I certainly wouldn't want to jump the gun about "choosing between the mare and foal." And I don't think ventral edema will cause a problem with the prepubic tendon since it is on the outside of the tendon (below it, actually). The edema will cause extra weight, but I wouldn't think it would be enough to affect the tendon. Take your cues from the mare--if she's bright, alert, active, and doesn't seem to be in any discomfort, then I wouldn't be overly concerned. My feeling is that the sling probably isn't necessary, but go with your gut feeling and do what feels right. If it seems to help the mare, then by all means, do it.

Hang in there, and please let us know how she does,



Submitted by J in the USA on March 23, 2000:


What vaccinations should be given to mare the month before foaling? Immediately after foaling? When and what injections should foal receive? The mare was wormed 60 days before foaling date. Should she be wormed again before foaling?


Dear J,


The mare should get influenza, tetanus, Eastern and Western encephalitis, rhino approved for pregnant mares, and whatever else your vet recommends for your area. She doesn't need any vaccinations immediately after foaling. The foal doesn't need anything, either, as long as the mare received her vaccinations in a timely manner. The only thing your vet may want to give is tetanus antitoxin. Some give it and some don't. As long as you know the mare's vaccination history, and know she's had tetanus toxoid, then it isn't a necessity. The foal's permanent vaccinations can be started at about 3-6 months of age. I strongly advise you to check with your vet before giving a pregnant mare or young foal vaccinations of any kind.


I would wait until after the mare foals to worm her again. There is a current theory that worming the mare within 12 hours after foaling with Ivermectin will help prevent foal heat diarrhea in the foal. It's fine to do that.


Hope this helps.



Submitted by Jeanmarie in the USA on March 26, 2000:


My 13yr.old maiden mare is starting to show signs of getting ready to drop her foal. As she was pasture bred I am not totally sure about her due date but am reasonably sure it should be the last two weeks of March/first week of April. Within the last couple weeks she has bagged-up tight with milky fluid squirting out in the last couple days. Today I noticed brown/bloody discharge from her vulva. Now for my problem and concern. She has always been out on good pasture and an easy keeper. About a week ago when the grass was really coming on in our part of the country I noticed her starting to founder. I called the vet and she recommended bute and pull her off the pasture/put in barn with grass hay. After a couple of days and showing signs of improvement and walking-out much better I put her out for a couple of hours on grass then back in barn. I also discontinued the bute. It was a mistake! She is lame again. I have started bute again-a gram-twice a day. How long can I safely give this? Can I give it through delivery and after? I am hosing front feet and legs also. I really hate to keep this mare in the barn to foal but there is just too much feed in our pastures right now (We live on a coastal cattle ranch) and it seems the safest place. I am going to start foal watch tonight. She seems very uncomfortable-laying down all the time, not wanting to get up, but I can't tell if this is from the impending birth or the founder. There is quite a bit of foal movement which seems to make her very uncomfortable. I plan to call the vet tomorrow morning but sure hate to come across as the worried mother, so I really appreciate your advice column to see what you think. Thank-you so much for the peace of mind.


Dear Jeanmarie,


I've know quite a few pregnant mares that have been on bute throughout their entire pregnancies, for delivery, and after. They live on the stuff. So far, I haven't seen a problem that could be attributed to the bute. And some of them are so sore without it that they won't get in foal or stay in foal without it. The best thing you can do is what you're doing--bute, hosing, and keep her off the grass.


Please let us know all about your new foal!


Follow up by Jeanmarie on April 4, 2000:


First I would like to thank you for such a great website! I sent for your book and what a stress reliever for us worried and concerned mare mothers. I wrote earlier concerning bute in pregnant mares through delivery as I had thought my maiden 12yr. mare had foundered. She had abscesses in both front feet! I would like to know how long a mare should or could go before she foals after she loses her mucus plug? A little background-This mare was pasture bred, with a stallion from April 21st-July 4th. Even if she conceived the first week she wouldn't be due until April 12th. 3/26 while she was still recovering from lameness from abcess and laying down alot because of sore feet she seems to have lost her mucus plug. That was 10 days ago. It was a gooey reddish/brownish discharge from her vulva. She was also showing lots of discharge from her 1/2 full udder of yellowish/clear fluid on inside of both hind legs. I put her back on good clean pasture two days after this and although her udder has filled up and waxing, with softening around tail head, and she is still laying down and getting up three-five times a day there is no more signs of discharge on her legs. She seems to be very uncomfortable sometimes with mild colic symtoms. Although I work weekdays I have been staying with her every night and afternoon. My husband watches her while working here on the ranch during the day. (Not as close as I would like but the best he can.) Bute and antibiotics were stopped on 3/31 although she is still a little lame on right front. Otherwise she is eating well and getting around much, much, better. Sorry this is so long.


Dear Jeanmarie,


Usually, a mare will foal within a couple of days of losing her mucous plug. However, I've know one that went for ten days and have heard of a few that have gone almost a month. The circumstances under which your mare lost hers was a little unusual (with her lying down so much), so I don't know that you can go by the regular rules with her. If she's waxing now though, hopefully she won't be much longer. If she got in foal soon after being put with the stallion, she should be in a safe range for foaling now.


Thanks for your kind words about the column, and I hope the book helps even more. Please keep us updated on how your mare does.


Follow up by Jeanmarie on April 16, 2000:


Hooray! After sleeping out with mare for two weeks and she was still in holding pattern, I decided to enjoy my own bed for a couple of days. Then on April 13th I checked her after I got home from work and discovered milky liquid dripping from her udder onto her back hooves and legs. She was acting a little restless and I had a feeling this was the night. Sure enough, about 3:15 AM I woke up to a soft nickering! She had slipped it out without me even knowing! What a stinker. The smallish bay colt was already trying to stand as I was busy tying up knots in the afterbirth. He stood, nursed well on his own (even though this was her first, nature took over as you predicted, and the mare was like a rock, making things as easy as possible for new baby.) She passed her placenta intact 1 hour later. Foal passed meconium, urinated within an hour of birth. Everything has been fairly textbook. Until this afternoon just about 48 hrs later. I had noticed early on that it looked as if the foals penis was retained. I thought I had read in your book or advice column to just wait a day or three to see if it would correct itself. But I have noticed that he is trying to urinate a lot. Most of the time a small amount dribbles out, sometimes a stream. But sometimes just a drip or two. Then as he takes a step more comes out. But he is squatting a lot, and he isn't always urinating. He is still eating well and the mare has plenty of milk, but this dribbling urine has me concerned. I have called my vet and she will be here tomorrow morning. He is having bowl movements so it's not impaction, and I have watched closely and don't think any urine is coming out of the navel cord. I have iodined it a couple different times just in case. What is your opinon on this? I am a little worried.


Hi Jeanmarie,


Congrats on the new baby! Glad the delivery went so easily. It sometimes seems a little harder for a colt whose penis is retracted to be able to urinate, and sometimes they act like they have to "work" up to it. It's good to have the vet take a look, and until she gets there, I would just keep a watch on the colt and as long as he's acting okay, I wouldn't be too worried.


Please let us know what you find out.



Submitted by Jamie in the USA on March 27, 2000:


I just purchased a BLM mustang mare in foal for a May 1 baby. I have raised babies before on a bottle and have assisted cows, goats and dogs with the birthing process but never a horse. The mare was adopted several years ago by some really nice people. They raised one mustang baby from her and gentled her and had her to the point where they were about ready to saddle her. They sold her to a lady in a neighboring town who consequently turned her out to pasture with a stud and did not touch her for 3 years not even for vet or farrier work. She raised one healthy foal but the next two foals she had were found full term still in the sacks in the pasture. I was told this was due to her only getting fescue hay and no supplements of any kind. This lady developed cancer and sold her horses to a slaughter house. The original owners found out and rescued her but had since decided to raise Appys so they did not want to keep her so I decided to take her. To say the least she has regressed in her training. She hasn't tried to bite or kick at us but she does try to avoid us. Currently we have her in a very large box stall and are working with her daily so that she will get to know us before the big day. She doesn't like contact past her front shoulder and I don't particually want to be standing behind her. She also won't let us touch her udder. My question is what advise to you give to us now. She has been on alfalfa hay her entire pregancy and I have put her on John Lyons Mare and Foal feed. I don't want to lose her baby but I'm afraid if she has trouble she will not let us assist her and if we try we will make it worse. I'm also scared the baby will be stuck in the sack. Is there anything special I should have in my foaling kit for my mare's special situation. Thanks for your time. Sorry it was so long.


Dear Jamie,


What an ordeal this poor mare has been through! I'm so glad you have her now and will give her the care she deserves. I expect that you will have to be pretty subtle about watching this mare in order to catch her foaling. If she's that standoffish, she'll probably try to be sneaky. Hopefully, with the couple of months you have left to work with her, she'll be more accepting of your presence. If you do catch her foaling, wait until the foal is delivered almost to its hips to enter the stall. At that point, she shouldn't care too much what you do and you can break the sac and remove it from the foal's head. Contaminated fescue can cause this problem, but it could be just a trait of hers. At least it's a simple problem to fix. The membrane shouldn't be difficult for you to tear (have a pair of blunt-ended scissors on hand just in case) and even if the mare stands up when you enter the stall, that alone may break the membrane.


I wouldn't worry about trying to touch the mare's udder. Lots of mares don't like that and there is no reason to push it. If she's already raised a foal, she'll do what's right when it comes time for the foal to nurse.


Please let us know when she foals and thank you, from all of us who worry about abused and neglected animals, for taking care of this mare.


Follow up by Jamie on April 3, 2000:


I wrote you a couple of weeks ago about my new mustang mare that is in foal for a May 1st baby. This is my first foaling and I have purchased your book and it has been very helpful. I do have a question. According to this mare's previous owners she has had no shots during her pregnancy and that I should give both the mare and the foal a shot of Tetanus Antitoxin with in 6 to 12 hours of the birth. Your book has a vaccination schedule in it but it does not tell me how to vaccinate in cases such as this one. Will she and the baby be fine or do I need to start her on vaccinations now. I have a closed barn with no outside horses ever there. She is actually in a portion of the barn that hasn't had horses in it for about 50 years. Also the mare is tad bit on the wild side if you remember my first letter and giving shots might be a little tricky so if she does need some could you advise if they can be combo shots in order to not stick her as much. Also what shots would you advise for the foal besides the tetanus. Thank you in advance for your help and for writing such an excellent book.


Dear Jamie,


Thanks for your kind words about the book. I'm glad it has helped. I would vaccinate the mare right away. Most important would be tetanus toxoid (tetanus is always in their environment)--just one stick. At most, the vet may opt for enough vaccinations that she would need two injections. When the foal is born, if may be wise to give tetanus antitoxin, but I wouldn't give it anything else as far as vaccinations are concerned.


Please let us know how it goes.



Submitted by Martha in the USA on March 27, 2000:


We have a 3 1/2 yo maiden Fjord mare that just hit 340 days today. This will be our first foal and she is our only horse. She has no udder development yet. To the best of my knowledge, fescue is not an issue and we are completely sure about the breeding date. Will she ever bag up, if not before delivery, immediately after? I'm concerned about the lack of colostrum for the foal. I've observed fetal movement and at the last vet check (10 months) was told her muscles were starting to relax. It's difficult to see how prominent her tail head and backbone are, as she is a little overweight. She did have a grain overload with whole kernel corn (steer feed) at 9 1/2 months but the vets were not concerned about the effects on the foal. The mare pulled through it suprisingly well. My other concern is that we only recently switched her to a pregnant mare ration feed (Purina Omalene 300). Could the lack of the extra nutrients prior to the switch result in her lack of mammary development? Thank you for this site and for your excellent book! When I'm not reading the manual it's sitting by the door ready to be taken to the barn as my step-by-step guide.


Dear Martha,


I'm so glad you've liked the book and happy it has helped.


Your mare may well bag up quickly at the last minute, or come on after she foals. It may also be that she's just going to go overdue. It would be wise, though, to alert your vet to the possibility that you may need a colostrum substitute or saved colostrum. I really don't think feed would have made a difference with her mammary development. I've seen starved mares make plenty of milk and my experience with Fjord horses has been that they stay fat on not much more than air. As long as a mare is in good flesh and hasn't been on infested fescue, she'll usually produce milk no matter what she's been eating.


Please keep us updated on how she does.


Follow up by Martha on April 26, 2000:


Hello, I just wanted to update you on the birth of our Norwegian Fjord filly, Heldig. She was born on April 13 about an hour before we went out to the barn for morning chores. Hedda, the mare, did not wax although I had seen some subtle signs of the impending birth. Anyway, all went well with the delivery but the filly was very weak and wouldn't nurse. Our vet came out and tube fed her with Hedda's milk and IgG and gave her glucose. Still no response. We took mom and baby to the Univ of WI Vet School for further treatment. Baby was diagnosed with sepsis and given a 30% chance of survival. We decided to pursue treatment as her lungs and stomach appeared fine. The vet cleared up that infection after a couple of days of intensive care. He called us and delivered a "good news/bad news" scenario. The filly also had White Muscle Disease and pneumonia. Luckily, he felt these conditions were very treatable. I hope others can learn from our situation. While we might not have been able to prevent everything that happenened, the White Muscle Disease is a result of Vit E/Selenium deficiency. We were not advised by our regular vet to give any supplements to Hedda during her pregnancy. Now that we've been there, done that, I'm finding that many people put their mares on a supplement like Mares Plus especially during the last part of the pregnancy. Do you have any recommendations on this subject? Happily, our sad story has turned our just fine. We named the baby Heldig because this is the Norwegian word for Lucky. We think we're pretty lucky, too. She's the cutest little thing!


Dear Martha,


I think you're pretty lucky, too! Thank goodness everything turned out well.


Yes, white muscle disease is a problem in areas that are selenium deficient. Everyone should check with their veterinarians or local feed suppliers to see if they live in an area that is deficient. Correcting the deficiency is easily done if one is aware of the problem.


Enjoy Heldig!


Follow up by Martha on April 26, 2000:


Hi again! I forgot to add something to my update post. Because our filly is gaining strength yet, she only nurses for a little bit. (although this is improving by leaps and bounds) Anyway, when the UW vet sent us home, he told us to let the filly nurse as much as she wanted and then milk out the mare. He suggested using a breast pump. Well, I went home and unpacked mine and guess what? It works like a charm. Maybe some of the other readers who are saving colostrum can benefit from this multi-purpose tool! 


Dear Martha,


Thanks for the hint! I, too, have used a human breast pump on mares, and also a 60cc syringe with the end cut off then turned around upside down on the plunger makes a great "milker."


Thanks again.



Submitted by Mackenzie in the USA on March 28, 2000:


Hi, I recently bought a 13 year old QH mare who is due in a month. This will be her ninth foal. She has had a foal every year since she was four. I was planning on breeding her back in her foal heat, but now I am wondering if I shouldn't give her a year off from having babies. I bought her to be used as a brood mare, but I want to do what's fair and healthy for her. (she can't be ridden) What is your opinion on this?


Dear Mackenzie,


If you bought the mare to be a brood mare, then by all means, breed her back. The thing I think about is that if they were in the wild, they would breed every year. When their bodies need a rest, it seems that no matter what you do, they just won't get in foal. Mother Nature seems to take care of giving them a break when they need it. And I also believe that mares who get in foal so easily and are good Moms are happiest when they are having babies.


Hope this helps.



Submitted by Marla in the USA on March 28, 2000:


I wrote you last week on my mare that had blood coming from her teats. She now is a week over due and she still has not bagged up. She dropped a little but has no milk. The tits are not infected or sore, but the vet looked at her and said I better hope she doesn't foal for 3 more weeks because she has no milk. Is it possible for her not to get milk till after the baby is born? Her rear end is not very relaxed although she is also very fat. The baby is very active. She also has has a raspberry discharge for about a week. I am really worried that she will have her baby and I will have nothing to feed it with. The vet didn't seem real familiar with a supplement for colostrum. Do you know where I could get some just in case? This is also her first foal. I had seen a site that sold colostrum, but I can't find it again. I know you are very busy this time of year but I am at my wits end. Help!


Dear Marla,


It's good to note that the mare doesn't have much udder and be prepared, but mares can bag up very quickly, either right before or right after they foal. I'd be willing to bet that your mare's milk will come in just fine. Just in case it doesn't, there are several commercial preparations of colostrum replacement that your vet can get. It would take very little research on his/her part to find out what they are and where to get them. Also, if worse comes to worse and your mare doesn't have milk, the foal can be given a blood or plasma transfusion. That works just as well as a colostrum replacement. It's more difficult to do, but will certainly take care of the foal's antibody requirements. Once the colostrum problem is taken care of, there are several mare's milk replacement formulas available to feed the foal on a regular basis. You can usually get them at the feed store. I hope knowing all that makes you feel better, but again, most mares will get milk, even if it's at the last minute.


Keep us updated!


Follow up by Marla on April 14, 2000:.


It's me again! I had written you about my maiden mare. She is now 3 weeks over due, and still has no milk, only a little bag with nothing in it. I squeezed it and some wax came out, but nothing else. She shows all the signs... mushy, but rubbing her tail. How long is it safe for her to go over? I do have her due date right, she was only bred 2x's. Is a year considered from the day they were bred or their due date? she was bred april 17 and the 21st. I am just worried she is taking so long. She has had some swelling in one teat, not hot though, and swelling under her belly? What do you think? She isn't that uncomfortable as you would think though. Thanks again


Hi Marla,


I would consider her to be at a year on April 21st, a year from her last breeding date. Sometimes, for reasons not understood, gestation in the fetus is delayed early on, making the mare go "overdue." Sometimes, they just go overdue. It isn't all that uncommon for a mare to go for a full year or even a little longer. As long as she's eating well, drinking, and acting okay, I wouldn't be too worried. However, if anything changes that concerns you, don't hesitate to have the vet out to check the mare over.


Let us know how it goes!


Follow up by Marla on April 23, 2000:

It's me again with the mare a year pregnant and no milk. I had a vet look at her today, said the baby was in place but she has no bag. He said to get goat's milk and not to worry about colostrum. I thought it was the most important thing? He said he can give antbiotics and it does the same. Please let me know as soon as possible, it has me scared to death. Is there a supplement on the market I can get? He didn't seem to want to talk about it anymore. I can't use a colostrum bank. The deposit is too high and I can't afford it. What about a dairy? I didn't know if it is the same or not. Thanks again


Dear Marla,


NO! NO! NO! Goat's milk and antibiotics WILL NOT do the same thing as colostrum. And cow's colostrum won't work properly for a foal. You have to get a colostrum replacement (saved colostrum from another mare or one of the commercial preparations--you can only get the commercial preparation through a vet) or the foal will have to have a blood or plasma transfusion. If your vet won't go along with this, then please, please, get another vet.


Please let us know!



Submitted by Sharon in the USA on March 30, 2000:


We have a mare that aborted twins about the 8-9 month of pregnancy 1 1/2 days ago and has retained her placenta. The area veterinary service came right away, gave her some oxytocin and tried to manually help the placenta expel. Fearing that she would tear and hemorrhage the veterinary left some more oxytocin and planned to come back the next morning. By morning she did not expel the placenta. Upon examining her, the cervix was almost totally closed. It was manually enlarged and a piece of decaying placenta removed. More oxytocin was left (4 doses, 2 hrs apart) with the possibility that the cervix would contract again thus trapping the placenta material remaining.The mare was infused both days with penicillin and saline solution. Realizing the complications we are now facing is there anything we can do to save this mare's life and keep here ridable?


Dear Sharon,


It sounds like your vets are doing all the right things. The uterine infusions with antibiotics are particularly important. The vets also might decide to start systemic antibiotics and Banamine, too. If they do, that would be good. Take heart, though. I've seen mares retain placentas for as long as four days and come out of it just fine. Proper treatment is they key and your mare is getting that, so I'd expect her to be okay.


Please keep us updated on how she does.



Submitted by Jodie in the USA on April 2, 2000:


My 4 yr. old paint mare is now 20 days over due and she has "waxed-up" three times and her bag has been full for almost 2 weeks (completely full, started filling in Feb.) she is showing all the signs of getting ready to have this foal, but she just isn't doing it. She fell down in the field 2 weeks ago and since then I haven't seen the foal move, but I had the vet out and she said the foal was alive, but very large as far as she could tell. I'm wondering if inducing mares hurts them or the foal because the vet said something about inducing her before the foal gets much bigger. Do you feel this is safe? Should I just let her go and have it in her own time? I don't want to risk losing the mare or the foal and I want to do all I can for Echo because she's my baby. Please any advice you could give me would be appreciated. Thank you.


Dear Jodie,


My advice is almost always to allow the mare to foal naturally. Inducing labor and delivery brings its own risks--increased chance of red bag and malpresentation. I would give the mare another week and if she hasn't foaled by then, have the vet back out and discuss your options. I'm sorry I couldn't be more helpful, but this is a very difficult issue to decide, especially from such a distance.


Please let us know what happens.


Follow up by Jodie on April 5, 2000:


Thank you for all your advice, my mare foaled on April 5, 2000 at 12:00 a.m. She had a beautiful red dun overo stud colt. Thank you again.


Congratulations, Jodie!


Thanks so much for letting us know, and enjoy your new baby!



Submitted by Karen in New Mexico on April 2, 2000:


I have a 6 year old AQHA mare who foaled for the first time a week ago. She was in excellent health and had been getting the best of care. She was up to date on vaccinations and vet checks were normal. On day 333, she acted antsy, not eating well, urinating frequently, waxing in 1 hour. The vet rectally palpated her 4 hours later and didn't think she was in labor or physically ready so he gave her Banamine. She quieted down. I checked on her in 2 hours and she was fine. I again checked her in 2 hours and amnion was broke but she was not pushing. The vet was called out emergently. When he arrived 1 hour later, there was no presentation yet and no pushing, so he pulled the colt while the mare stood.(normal presentation) The colt was alive and seemed strong as he got up on his chest and whinnied. The colt progressively weakened and never stood so at 2 1/2 hours he was tube fed 200cc milk from the mare. He became hypothermic and lethargic and was transported to the clinic ICU. He was being treated for septicemia and hypoxia with IV fluids, K-pen, gentamycin(1 dose) and O2 given along with 200 cc milk feeding per NG every hour. The mare retained the placenta for 6 hours and passed it after getting IM and IV oxytocin. She did well after this. The colt showed some improvement and finally stood 18 hours postpartum. He was quite unsteady and needed help to nurse the first few hours. On day 2 he then weakened again and had difficulty urinating. US showed normal bladder. FPT test showed no clot for antibodies so 1 liter of plasma was given over 6 hours. After 12 hours of no urination, a catheter was passed with return of dark bloody viscous fluid. Diagnosis was renal failure. Colt was treated with IV fluids, lasix, and made to get up every 30 minutes to nurse. Nazcel was given instead of gentamycin. There was minimal urine output from the catheter throughout the night. On day 3 FPT in AM showed no antibodies so second liter of plasma was given. That night foal was wheezing so IV fluid boluses were stopped. On day 4, US showed normal bladder and kidney size. No urachal tear, no fluid in abdomen. Colt was in labored breathing even though he could stand on own but desire to nurse had dropped. Colt was euthanized that evening when no improvement noted. Necropsy showed normal lungs and bladder. Tissues of rear legs were edematous and kidneys looked like they may have had cyst formation. Kidneys were sent off for futher workup. The necropsy report on the kidneys came back with a diagnosis of multiple renal infarcts due to hypoxia. What should I have done to prevent this whole scenario from happening?

My question is what caused mare to have uterine inertia? Have you ever heard of polycystic kidney disease in equines? If so, is it hereditary as I would like to breed my mare again. Can I breed my mare on the 2nd heat or should I wait a year? Could we have done anything else to save the colt? What is the mare's chance of having inertia again? Thank you for your help in this complex case.

Dear Karen,


I'm so very sorry for all that you and your animals went through!


I'm sure the veterinarians at the clinic have a much better grasp of this situation than I do, but it sounds to me like a case of neonatal maladjustment syndrome (caused by lack of oxygen during the delivery) complicated by failure of passive transfer. Many times, people think the neonatal maladjustment syndrome (NMS or dummy foal) just affects the foal's brain. That isn't true. All body systems are affected and the kidneys can be especially sensitive to lack of oxygen, which was confirmed by the necropsy report on the kidneys showing infarcts due to hypoxia.


I don't know what would have caused the mare to have uterine inertia, but suspect that the hormones required for delivery just didn't kick in properly. That seems to be more common in maiden mares, old mares, and debilitated ones.


I hate to keep saying "I don't know," but I also don't know anything about polycystic kidney disease in horses. I don't know if it is hereditary or not. But since that isn't what your foal had, it shouldn't be an issue for you in deciding whether or not to breed your mare again. If you decide to breed her, you can breed her on the second heat, providing she has cultured clean and her uterus is ready.


I don't think anyone can tell you what the chances are that your mare will do this again, but if you do breed her, I think you should watch her very carefully and have a vet in attendance when you think she is ready to foal. You obviously tried to do that this time. You did everything humanly possible. I don't know if the vet might have been on another emergency call when you called about your mare's labor not progressing, but the hour delay in the vet's arrival certainly didn't help your foal's chances. I'm not trying to slam your vet. Perhaps there was no way for him to get there faster than that. But I don't want you blaming yourself for something you couldn't help. And once the foal was born, I don't think there was anything else that could have been done to save him. You did everything.


I hope this helps, and again, I'm so very sorry for your loss and all you went through,


Follow up by Karen on May 15, 2000:


I wrote you in early April about my mare having uterine dystocia after Banamine and we lost the foal at 4 days due to renal failure. We rebred Gracie to the paint stallion she was bred to last year. On Mother's Day, I received a call from the breeder who told me that Gracie was ultrasounded and found to be 20 days pregnant. What a wonderful mother's day present, huh? We are ecstatic but scared at the same time because of the last experience. I will keep you posted on Gracie's progress. Thanks again for listening to me when all this was happening. I'm already reading your foaling manual for next year and will not be afraid to help out if necessary. Keep up the good work.


Hi Karen,


Congratulations! And you got the good news on Mother's Day! That's great. I'm sure you'll have a better experience next year. I'll be looking forward to hearing from you when Gracie's time draws near!


Take care.


Follow up by Karen on January 29, 2001:


I am writing to update you on my mare. She had her first foal Mar 00 but we lost him at age 4 days secondary to kidney failure. (see advice column Apr 4, 00: Karen, USA) Gracie is at 280 days and doing fine. The baby is moving a lot also. My regular vet has been seeing her every month and she is up to date on worming and vaccines. We are moving her to the foaling stall this weekend so she has time to get adjusted to being away from her friends. I am already deep into reading and research and checking the foaling and imprinting kits. We even got a camera to put in the stall to watch her from the camper outside without bothering her. I believe I am ready for the big day. I really appreciate the personal support you have given me in the past and will keep you posted on Gracie and the baby.


Hi Karen,


It's so good to hear from you. Thanks for the update! Sounds like you're all ready, and everyone who reads this column will be waiting with you in spirit. Can't wait to hear all about Gracie's new baby!


Keep us informed!



Submitted by Sara in the USA on April 4, 2000:


I feel a little silly - but my 14 yr. old daughter is starting to make me neurotic! We have 2 mares that are due to foal - 4/15 and 4/23. The 1st had a foal 3 years ago and looks great. At her first foaling, a friend was there and insisted that the foal needed to be helped (pulled) because the mare wasn't passing the baby. I felt we should have given the mare more time and she ended up with sutures. When do I decide that it is taking too long? The other mare, a maiden, is starting to have a dry discharge on her nipples that can be removed by touching it and it comes back within 6 -8 hours. Her bag is VERY full and my daughter is ready to stay in the barn all night with her. There is some elongation, but not extreme. Any hints?


Dear Sara,


Your mare probably tore due to the size of the foal, not because the delivery was assisted. A good rule of thumb to use in deciding if the mare needs help is this: A normal delivery, from the time the mare's water breaks until the foal is delivered, takes an average of 20 minutes. Most take less time. Up to 40 minutes is considered to be in the normal range but very few take that long. So, my advice is that if you're nearing the 20-minute mark, it's time to help.


About your maiden mare--I'd be in the barn with your daughter! :-)


Let us know all about your new foals!



Submitted by Holly in the USA on April 4, 2000:


Hi what a wonderful world of information your site has! You are so patient and kind. I am much more informed this time after reading through all your answers than I was 3 years ago. It was Dolly's as well as my first foaling. Dolly is now at day 320 and is showing the usual signs. She is in great shape at 16 and has been on pasture and oats and hay. I feel she should be put in our smaller foaling area but the pasture is so good for her. Still, she shares it with her gelding son and a sweet mule. I guess from all the reading I've done I should put her in the foaling area. It has a lot of clover in it and I'm afraid she might get sick. There is clover everywhere on our 30 acres but there are also many other grasses for her to choose from. Will it hurt her? I'm a worry wort like everyone else. Last time I set my alarm for 3am and just missed the big event. We did get to imprint which was wonderful. Rusty is a sweet gelding that just loves my husband and will leave the horses to come to him. She is due the 24th of April. Her bag is still small and last time she did not wax until after Rusty was born. I guess I know she should be put up but I just wanted some info on the clover. We grow our own coastal and could give her lots of that instead of grass. I'll let you know what she has.


Dear Holly,


As long as the mare gets along well with her companions, there really shouldn't be a problem having her with them. And you're right to be concerned about too much clover. One kind of clover (I can't recall the name of it now) can cause problems with the mechanism that makes blood clot. You sure don't want that with a foaling mare. And there is a fungus that sometimes grows on clover that can be toxic to horses. I'm so glad you've like the column and have learned from it. That's always great to hear.


Please do let us know all about your new foal!



Submitted by Lynn in Ontario, Canada on April 4, 2000:


First I`d like to say that I enjoy the many entries and the foaling advise you give. This is my first at experiencing a new foal. Fawna is now 9 days overdue and although I am not worried, I am becoming impatient and experiencing the sleepless nights. She has foaled several times without a problem and is 9 years old. I do not know her history other than that. I think she`s waxing but I`m not sure. It kinda looks like big amber coloured beading on the ends of her teats. Sometimes I think I see a whitish colour too. It falls off easily and it is wet on the end of her teats. She looks pretty low in the belly now but no other changes with her vulva etc. Is what I described waxing? How soon do you think it will be before the blessed event. Hope I hear from you real soon, your advice will be appreciated by all. Thanks


Hi Lynn,


Yes, what you are seeing is definitely wax. Most of the time, mares foal within 72 hours of waxing, but in reality, they can go anytime from almost immediately to a couple of weeks. I wish I could help you with when she will foal. If I could see her whole body, I probably could. But somehow, I just haven't been able to figure out how to look through space to see them. :-) Since she's waxing, though, it should be any time. I'd especially watch for the wax to turn white, or at least more white than it is now. Also, since she's had so many foals, she's an old hand and may not give you much warning when she decides to get down to business. So although you're already tired and frustrated, watch her carefully!


Let us know about your new baby!


Follow up by Lynn on April 6, 2000:


Just an update. Fawna foaled April 5/00 at approx. 9:55 pm. We just caught the tail end of the delivery. (Baby was still partially in the sac) Baby found his legs within minutes and was up and suckling within a half an hour. Fawna was very good about allowing me in the stall and letting me handle the colt. The colt has four white socks, white blaze and sandy coloured legs darking slightly to chestnut colour over back and face. The tail has a fair amount of flaxen and chestnut colouring. This arab colt`s sire is Belesemo Echo and grandsire Belesemo Trad from US. Fawna is a dark Chestnut. Do you think he will keep his lighter features? Thanks for your prompt reply as Fawna foaled just hours after I heard from you. Oh, both passed the vet check with flying colours and our new addition is named BIKR. Thanks a million!


Dear Lynn,


Congratulations! I'm so glad everything went so well! Your colt's ultimate color is anyone's guess, but I would expect that he will probably darken.


Again, congrats and enjoy your new baby!



Submitted by Jennifer in the USA on April 4, 2000:


I have a 17 yr. old mare that foaled once when she was 10. She has been in foal 3 times since but has slipped them. I bred her last May 5,6. The vet ultrasounded her and said she was empty, I gave her a shot of prostan and bred her again on May 25 thru 29.The vet sewed her up and she's carried it just fine this time. She is now bagged up and her hips are sunken in, she is relaxed in the rear. How close do you think she could be and could she have gotten pregnant off her first time? Her due date on the first time is around April 11. Her foal date for the second breeding would be around May 12. Would the prostan have aborted the foal if she would have gotten pregnant the first time? She doesn't look like she could go another 5 wks.


Hi Jennifer,


There seem to be two possibilities here: she got pregnant on the first cycle, or she may have an infection going on that could cause her to foal early. Since you gave her Prostin after the first cycle, it's unlikely (but not impossible) that she got pregnant on that cycle. That leaves a chance of infection. I think you would be wise to talk to your vet and see about putting her on antibiotics. If she has an infection, the antibiotics should help. If she doesn't have an infection, the antibiotics won't hurt anything.


Please let us know what you find out.


Follow up by Jennifer on April 5, 2000:


I just received your e-mail and Thanks for the information. I will contact my vet and let him come and check her. When she was bred the first time he infused her and then she was bred and he infused her again and sewed her up. I gave her regumate for 12 days and he came and checked her on the 13th day. She was straining the whole time he was in her and he had to try 5 times. He said he did not see anything and he removed the sutures. I gave her a shot of prostan the next day and took her back to the stud. She bred 5 days straight and the vet came back and infused her and sewed her back up. He just removed the sutures two weeks ago. Could she have gotten an infection that quick? That's why we left her sutured up until it was time so she would be safe from infection. I never gave her regumate after she came back the second time matter of fact I never had her palpated. I've lost three foals previous and just turned her out after second breeding. She started showing at 3 months along, which could have been 4 months if she took the first time. Tonight she didn't want to eat and did not want me to touch her, but she's not waxed up or leaking milk yet. I'm worried that she got pregnant from her first time and I won't be ready. With her first foal that was born 5 years ago I noticed wax at 2 in the afternoon and she had my stud colt at 12:00 midnight. I hate to keep bothering her but she is 17 yrs old and I want to be there in case problems arise. She didn't have problems with her first foal but she has aborted the last 3 in a matter of 35 days. I got lucky this time after spending a lot of money and worrying myself sick. I love my mare very much and want this foal to carry on for her when she is gone someday. I still have my stud colt out of her. I've been working for the past 3 yrs to get her pregnant. Getting pregnant was not a problem just slipping them was. If you have any more info could you please let me know. I'll keep you up to date on what's going on.


Dear Jennifer,


Sewing her up is a good way to prevent infection, but it doesn't mean that she absolutely won't develop an infection. Based on the way she's acting, I really do think a check by the vet is warranted.


Please let us know what you find out.


Follow up by Jennifer on May 11, 2000:


My mare foaled May 5. I had talked to you before about my mare. Early on you told me she might have an infection. She did and I told my vet to check her but he insisted that it was doubtful. Of course when my little stud colt came that was when I knew it was an infection. She dripped a white gel from her rear for a long time and sometimes it was a red gel that was really thick. She lost her mucus plug almost 4 weeks before delivery and she waxed up a month before. She also dripped milk for 2 weeks. I was there for the delivery and when she delivered the big guy her afterbirth came out when he did. There was nothing hanging from her or anything, it was all connected to him and his umbilical cord was huge. We tied it off and I called the vet and paged him 7 times before he even showed up. We gave the foal IGg and a shot of antibodies. I wanted him to check the mare but he said she looked fine. He wouldn't even look at the afterbirth for me. May 6 I noticed he was not feeling well so I called another vet to come out and he said that he had a hernia that was ruptured and his intestines were down in his scrotum. The foal was very weak so I rushed him to an equine hospital an hour away. The surgeon looked at him and said the rupture could heal itself but there was more going on in his system than just that. The vet on call there said that she thought he could be septic and they also said he was dysmature. He came on time but they think she had an infected placenta that starved the foal from normal growth. He was a big baby but weak and his back legs are wobbly still. We had to help him up for several days but then he decided he would get up for himself. He has always nursed good but his fetlocks are down on the ground. They think he will come out of it. I sure do hope so. I brought him home from the hospital May 9 with some medicine to give him. If I have a problem I'm to take him back. He tries to run and play and sometimes he does trip but he's getting stronger every day. I just wish my vet had taken the advice that I gave him and maybe this could have been prevented. I know the intestines in the scrotum might have happened anyway but my baby would have been strong and ready to tackle the world if only he had treated her for an infection. Thanks for giving me advice and caring I really appreciated it through this. Keep up your good work there are people out there that need you.


Dear Jennifer,


Thank you for letting us know what you've been going through. I'm so sorry the vet didn't heed your concerns and act accordingly, sparing all of you most of this. You're right, the hernia probably would have been there anyway, but as you said, the baby would have been healthier and more able to deal with it. I'm very glad to hear that he's getting stronger every day! That's great news! I hope the vets at the hospital treated your mare as well, and got her uterus cleaned up. Also, I hope you now have a different vet.


Enjoy that baby and give him a hug for me!



Submitted by Sandra in the USA on April 5, 2000:


This is the greatest web page I have found, even told my vet about it. Well back to my question- My maiden anglo-arab is 292 days and she is big!! Even the vet said she's bigger than most mares at this time. Should I be aware of anything? Does this mean it's a big foal or she will deliver early or too much fluid in her? Does being bigger than most mares mean she will have problems?


Dear Sandra,


Your mare being big for this stage of gestation could mean any of the things you mentioned, or it could just be normal for her. The only thing you can do is keep a watch on her and be ready for anything (as with all pregnant mares). But as long as she's acting okay and eating okay (for a miserably pregnant mare), I wouldn't be too terribly concerned.


Hope this helps, and please let us know how it goes.


Follow up by Sandra on May 10, 2000:


Hi Theresa. Back again with the 8 yr.anglo-arab that had swollen legs and udder when she was 6 months pregnant. Your advice was right on target! More exercise! Well she is 327 days and we are playing the waiting game. My questions is, do you know from your experience if the full moon does anything to the mares to maybe make them deliver about that time?


Hi Sandra,


I know many people think a full moon influences mares to foal. I really haven't paid much attention to that, other than to say, "Yeah, sure!" when someone tells me a mare I'm watching will foal because the moon is full that night. If the mare isn't really ready, that moon isn't going to make a bit of difference. Maybe it exerts some influence sometimes, but only if the mare is ready anyway. If she isn't ready, she isn't ready.


So glad to hear that your mare is in a safe range to foal and can't wait to hear what she has! Please let us know.


Follow up by Sandra on May 23, 2000:


Hi Theresa. Just an update on my anglo-arab mare bred to Andalusian Stallion Luceno IV. Well she delivered a healthy Bay colt on May 22 at 10:00 pm. At 2:00 pm she had dry drops of fluid on her teats. At 7:00 pm she had slow drip of milk, at 9:00 pm she started labor and as you know she was very dramatic since she was maiden. At 9:45 pm she started to deliver, that's when her water broke. I then had to whip her to get up because she pushed herself up against the wall of the stall only 5 inches from the wall, no place for baby to arrive. When she got up she tried to rub the rear on the wall, not a good thing since the baby's legs were 10 inches out. Good thing to have a short whip handy (Hate to whip my horses but needed to here) She then laid down again in center of stall and delivered within 10 more minutes.Theresa your advice has been greatly appreciated, if I hadn't read this column I could have been in big trouble. Thank You and Classico thanks you too.


Dear Sandra,


Congratulations! It's certainly a good thing you were there to keep the mare off the walls. Good for you!


Now, enjoy that baby!



Submitted by Janet in the USA on April 6, 2000:


I have a newborn filly who developed swollen lower hind legs within 20 hours after birth. Her front legs have also begun to swell. As of now, she has a good suckling reflex, no urination problems and has had bowel movements. I am afraid she may have joint ill or some type of heart problem. I have had a vet. check her and am doctoring her according to his directions. I am very much interested in your assessment of her condition.


Dear Janet,


Any time a young foal shows swelling of any kind, it is cause for concern. You were absolutely right to call the vet. You didn't say what the vet thought the problem was, or what the treatment is, so I can't give an opinion about that. Once in awhile, foals will swell up for reasons that aren't pathologic--too much turnout, not enough turnout, standing on hard ground, things like that. Usually, with joint ill, foals will be very lame. They can also swell around their joints with epiphysitis if the mare's milk is too rich for them. Keep a close watch on the foal, continue with the vet's treatment, and let him/her know if the swelling doesn't go away or if the foal develops anything else.


Let us know how the baby does.



Submitted by Celine in Canada on April 8, 2000:


Your column is in my bookmarks from now on ! Sorry if my English is not the best, but what I have to tell you today is breaking my heart and I think it is somethingthat all horseowner's should be aware of. We have a paint mare who gave us three healty foals. The last one is where the story got so sad. Our mare suffers with a respiratory problem. In the past years, she had foaled outside .. we had a very nice foaling pen. But we moved to a new property and had to bring her in the barn at night with her foaling date getting closer. Every morning when I went to feed the horses, my mare looked so uncomfortable. She had a very hard time breathing, just wanted to go outside. After talking to our vet we both agreed that she would be more confortable outside again. We had a nice pen with good shelter so we decided to put her there and she was very happy. On the night of April first she give us a beautiful colt, both her and him were very healthy. But something stupid that I hate myself for happened. When I went to see them in early morning I found our beautifull little foal lying down by our electric fence with his little head lying on the bottom wire, dead. I am still hating myself and will for a long time to never have thought of the danger of these fences in a foaling pen. So this is a warning to all, change your fences to wood fence in the corral of the mare until the foal is old enough to be solid on his legs. So my question to you is : we want to breed our mare again (I think) but is there anything we could give her to help her breathing problem so we could have her inside the next time. We will still change our fence, just can't stand the sound of the electric tic tic in the barn anymore.


Dear Celine,


There aren't words to express my sorrow over the loss of your colt. What an awful, tragic thing to have happen. And especially since you were working so hard to do the right thing for your mare. I know how difficult it was for you to tell your story, but I thank you. It is a lesson for all of us and you may have saved the lives of many foals. The breathing problem your mare has sounds like heaves. If that's the case, some of the drugs that are used to control it can't be used in pregnant mares. So, letting her be outside is the best thing you can do for her. I truly don't see any problem with doing as you've done in the past and letting her foal outside again, providing, of course, that the fencing is safe for the foal.


Again, I am so very, very sorry, and thank you for warning others.



Submitted by Beth in the USA on April 15, 2000:


I recently found your site and have immensely enjoyed it! I do have a curiosity question for you though. I've read quite a bit about fescue toxicity, and I was wondering. If a mare does ingest this toxin in the last few months of pregnancy, will it cause there to be no mammary gland enlargement at all? Enlargement with no milk? Or can it go to either extreme? In the last few years, I've been careful to keep my mares off of my pasture during this time. But most folks around here think I'm nuts :-) I appreciate your time in answering everyone's questions. Now back to the barn to check on my mare who's due any day now!!


Dear Beth,


Thanks for your kind words about the column. I'm glad you've enjoyed it. Generally, mares who have been on fescue (at least the ones I've seen) don't get any mammary development at all, or very little. I suppose it would be possible for them to get more development and just not have any milk, but don't know that for sure. You asked a very good question!





Submitted by Michelle in the USA on April 16, 2000:


Hi! I have a foal that is 3 days old and is swollen from the fetlocks up to the hocks. She was swelled up around the fetlocks not long after birth. I was just wondering if we should be worried!


Hi Michelle,


It's always worth paying attention any time a foal has swelled legs. It could be from being on a hard surface, too much or too little exercise, or that its mother's milk is too rich. Or, it could be something more serious, like joint ill. If the foal is showing ANY sign of lameness or has any heat, or the problem doesn't seem like it could be caused from one of the above, then it would be good to have the vet out.


Let us know.



Submitted by Jennifer in the USA on April 17, 2000:


I went down to the barn last Monday morning April 10th and my mare had a white glob of something on her rear. I checked her again 2 hours later and the white glob was still there but it had pink in it and was matted in her tail. 2 hours later it was gone and had dried on her tail and legs. I called the vet and he said it was a lubricant. He also said he has seen mares go up to a week but no longer before they foal. My mare has been swollen in the rear end off and on for the past week, but she is fine and doesn't seem like she is in any pain. Have you ever heard of this or seen this mass of stuff before? She is 322 days along now. She has been waxing up now for a week and a half. I've been checking on her regularly. Sometimes she eats real well, other times it takes her a while to clean up her feed. If you have any advice on this situation could you please let me know. I really love your column it is nice to know that there is someone who cares and wants to help. Thank You.


Hi Jennifer,


What you saw was most likely the mare's mucous plug. That's perfectly normal--it is expelled as the mare's cervix relaxes in preparation for labor and delivery. Your vet is right, most mares will foal within a week of expelling the mucous plug, but a few will go longer. However, with all the other changes your mare has already made, it sounds like you'll have a new baby before the end of a week.


Good luck, and let us know all about your new foal.


Follow up by Jennifer on April 24, 2000:


Just wanted to let you know Bunny foaled at 12:40 Easter Sunday. Also the filly was born on her brothers 1st birthday and grandmas 70th birthday! WOW what a day! The filly is a sorrel Tovero 90% white and so far healthy the vet will come and check her!


Congratulations, Jennifer!


That's great news, especially that the baby was born on Easter Sunday and all went well. Thanks for letting us know.


Enjoy your new foal!



Submitted by Glenn in Canada on April 18, 2000:


I am a newbie to all of this so I trust you will understand if I ask silly questions. My wife and I recently bought a farm and are now boarding two foaling mares. It is now Tuesday night, and last Friday one went into labour (we believe) but yet there is still no foal. She was lying down, ears pinned back, neck stretched out and obviously not comfortable. She did that several times. The weird part is that between labour pains she would start eating while she was still lying down. It wouldn't take long for her to go back to the labour pains. That lasted for 20 mins to 1/2 hour and then she got up and started eating again. Now she urinates, and then immediately drinks her urine. Very weird. She is showing signs of being in heat but is that possible when she is due any day? I am sorry if these are dumb questions but as I said I am a newbie to the horse life. Thanks!!!


Dear Glenn,


It's very likely that the mare wasn't in labor at all. Many times, the foal lays on their bowels and makes them very uncomfortable. Sometimes that looks like the beginning of labor. It's all very normal.


I don't know why she would drink her urine. That's a new one for me. The only thing I can think of is that if she's had foals before, she knows she's close to delivery and is checking to see if it's allantoic fluid she's expelled. Many mares, after their water breaks, will sniff and lick the fluid because they know a foal is coming. I've even seen some nicker to the fluid. If by "showing signs of heat" you mean she winks after she urinates, that's normal.


Hope this helps.



Submitted by Sandy in the USA on April 19, 2000:


Thank you for having such a great forum. I've learned a lot! You've talked about collecting the colostrum if a mare is dripping excessively or streaming. How do you go about doing that? How do you store it? Many thanks.


Hi Sandy,


To collect colostrum, you can just milk the mare. Take 16 ounces to give to the foal. How to store it is a little touchy since you don't know for sure when the mare will foal. I assume you wouldn't be worried about her dripping unless you thought it was going to be a while until she foals. Therefore, it's probably best to freeze the colostrum in freezer bags. I don't like to keep it just refrigerated for more than about 12 hours.


Hope this helps.



Submitted by Joanie in the USA on April 23, 2000:


Please help! I have had foal colts before, and the penis has always hung out..this new colt (TB/QH) born at 4AM 4/22, who is healthy, nursing ect. has his penis still up in the sheath. I have seen him pass stool, but not urinate. I assume the penis will drop soon, but meantime, will he be urinating inside himself...I am very concerned about this. Your help will be appreciated. Thanks. PS....needless to say, I have treated his naval stump as usual (I apply Nolvasan several times)


Dear Joanie,


This is a relatively common problem in newborn colts. You are right, the penis should drop on its own, usually within a week. Until then, the colt can usually urinate normally, except that the urine sprays all over his belly. So, it's very important that you continue treating the umbilical stump. If his penis hasn't dropped by about a week, or if you see anything else that indicates a problem, let your vet know.


Enjoy your colt!



Submitted by Tracy in the USA on April 25, 2000:


My mare is 16 y/o quarter mare with a great record as a brood mare. However, at this writing she is 17 days beyond her due date with severe ventricular edema. She is showing no signs of tenderness in the girth but I am very concerned about this condition. She has been up for 60 days on timothy hay and 10 lbs of dry feed per day. I muck and feed twice daily and spend about 2 hours per day with her, yet I have never seen this foal move in utero. I am concerned about delivering a dead foal. What is your advice ?


Dear Tracy,


I would be concerned if you'd seen the foal move, then movement stopped. Some foals are just less active than others and it's more difficult to catch them moving. Also, the ventral edema is ugly to look at and can be uncomfortable for the mare, but only very rarely causes problems. I would suggest some exercise for the mare if that's possible. Just a walk of 20 minutes a couple of times a day will sometimes help.


Please let us know how things go.


Follow up by Tracy on May 9, 2000:


I wrote 2 weeks ago regarding my over due mare. She went on day 361. Thank you so much for your timely reply. It gave me much confidence the last fews days of the pregnancy. I am glad to report I am the proud dad of a big chestnut tobiano colt! Thanks again.


Dear Tracy,


Congratulations! That's just the kind of news we like to hear.


Enjoy your new baby!



Submitted by Sharon in the USA on April 27, 2000:


I have a mare that is 8 years old with her first foal. At 8 months along she had a twisted uterus and we took her to Lansing, MI (MSU) They did surgery on her and untwisted her utures. They said the foal was still alive. We took her home 5 days later. And the foal was still alive then. But now she is overdue. She was due April 8. Her bag is not filling up with milk. She seems fine. She eats and drinks and acts natural. But I am worried about her. Should we induce labor if she goes much longer? I heard that it is harder on them when you do this. Her vulva is swelling up. Is that a concern? She is a little flabby in the rear. It looks like her spin is sticking up on both sides of her rump. But this has been that way for a week. My vet was out last week and said just hang in there! Kind of hard to do after all the problems we have had with her. I am very worried about her. If you could help in any way it really would be helpful and give me peace of mind. Thank you


Dear Sharon,


I know how frightening and frustrating this is, but really, your vet's advice to hang in there was absolutely correct. When a mare undergoes a trauma during her pregnancy, as yours did, it can sometimes delay the development of the foal. So although your mare is overdue by her breeding dates, she may not be overdue for the development of the foal. It is hard on a mare when she is induced, and in this case, I'd be really afraid of inducing her only to find that she hadn't yet delivered on her own because the foal wasn't ready to be born.

So, grit your teeth and, as your vet said, hang in there. You're doing the right thing!


Follow up by Sharon on May 2, 2000:


Hi, I told you a couple a days ago about a horse that was over due and she had a twisted uterus. Well she delivered a healthy stud colt Sunday morning at 12:35. As you can see we are very proud of her after all the trouble she had. Thanks for telling me to hang in there. Thank again


Dear Sharon,


Thanks so much for the update, and congratulations on your colt. What wonderful news! Now you can enjoy!


Have fun,



Submitted by Kim in the USA on April 29, 2000:


I was wondering about diarrhea on 2 day old foals. Is this common ? Do you have any advice on how to control it? Thank you


Dear Kim,


It is never normal for a two-day-old foal to have diarrhea. You need to get the vet out right away. This is something that needs attention immediately.


Please let us know how the baby does.



Submitted by Heidi in Canada on April 29, 2000:


Can you tell me what the reasons for scowers may be shortly after birth, causing death ?


Dear Heidi,


There can be many causes of diarrhea in newborn foals. One of the most common is failure of the foal to get adequate colostrum.


I'm terribly sorry if you lost a foal.



Submitted by Jessie in the USA on May 3, 2000:


First I wanted to let you know that we have your book and have found it to be a wonderful reference. A friend of mine has bred horses for several years and never has had any problems with delivering over 25 foals. But this year is turning out to be quite different. The first mare to foal was a 5 year old maiden mare who went into labor at 342 days. The mare had a red bag delivery and my friend did not know what to do and they lost the baby. Needless to say, when the second mare got ready to foal there were several people standing by. The second mare is 8 years old and delivered one very healthy foal fairly easy two years ago. They were also watching this mare from a distance but as soon as she went into labor they immediately got to her. She too was having a red bag delivery but the foal was still alive. They tore the red bag and went after the foal only to find the foal's head. Its front legs were tucked under his chest. After several attempts by two people to correct the position the decision was made to pull the baby out of the mare any way possible. Note, the baby is still alive, but they felt that the mare was starting to be put at risk. Needless to say the foal did not survive. My questions are: 1) How long do you have to get the foal out and not put the mare at risk? 2) How could the foal still be breathing after several minutes had passed by if this was a true red bag delivery? 3) What are the chances of having two red bag deliveries back to back? Fescue is not the problem, she only feeds alfalfa and orchard grass hay and there is no fescue in her fields. 4) Is there anything else they could have tried to correct the foal's position. They tried to push the foal back and get a hold of its legs but they only succeeded in getting a hold of a knee one time and the mare contracted and they had to let go. Sorry this was so long but we are all really worried about the next three mares that are due to foal next month.


Dear Jessie,


I'm so sorry to hear what an ordeal you have all been through! 


1.  The mare is NOT at risk with a red bag delivery. Only the foal is. One of the problems with a red bag is that you can't be sure how much of the placenta has detached. Hopefully, there is enough attached to get the foal delivered without it being deprived of too much oxygen. However, if the entire placenta is detached, you don't know exactly when it detached. Therefore, it's impossible to say how much time you have from when you discover the red bag. It may be 4-6 minutes, or it may be seconds. Sorry I can't be more specific, but there is just too much going on inside that you can't see. All you can do is deliver the foal as quickly as safety will allow.


2.  If the foal was breathing, it was getting oxygen that way, and not necessarily from the placenta.


3.  The chance of this happening is very, very low. Most of the time, no one knows for sure why red bags happen. I'm afraid your friends probably just had terribly bad luck.


4.  A foal should never be delivered with both its front legs down. The risk of injury to the mare is too great. Again, the mare was not at risk because of the red bag, only the foal was. The mare was at risk from imprudent delivery of the foal. In most cases, if owners have to make a decision between the life of the foal and the reproductive health of the mare, they will chose to salvage the mare. So, all you can do is your best to try to get the foal delivered alive without sacrificing the mare. To get the front legs up, you have to pull the knee up (one at a time), then find the ankle and pull it toward you. The legs must be held onto during a contraction. Don't let go. I know there are stories about people getting their arms broken during contractions, but believe me, that would be very rare. I've had my arms squeezed so tightly many times that I've been bruised, but never had anything broken. You have to hold onto the legs during a contraction or you'll never get the foal straightened out--you'll lose the ground you've gained with each contraction. I sure hope this mare didn't suffer any damage to her cervix or uterus. Always, always call a vet when you are confronted with a malpresentation like this.


I hope this helps, and I certainly hope the rest of the deliveries go much more smoothly!



Submitted by Susan in the USA on May 4, 2000:


I think this is a wonderful service you provide.My question is : I have a 12 year old QH mare that was a maiden mare until May 3, she had a tiny filly approx. 2 weeks early. When cleaning up after birth, a foal about the size of 8 week old german shepard was found in it.So twins were in the mare. She had shown no signs of impending birth, so no one was present at birth. I'm wondering if it would be alright to breed this mare back on her foal heat or not? Both Mare and Daughter are doing fine now..Thanks So Much For Your Time.


Dear Susan,


I'm so glad to hear that both Mom and baby are doing well! Whether or not to breed the mare back on the foal heat is a question that your vet needs to answer. If the mare's uterus has involuted well and there is no infection or retained extra fluid, it would probably be fine. But, only an exam by a vet will tell you this for sure. I'd certainly recommend a check by the vet because that could save you a lot of time, money, and inconvenience in the long run.


Have fun with your new baby!


Follow up by Susan on May 15, 2000:


Great Service ! I was unable to take mare to breed back in foal heat. When will she cycle again? Thanks for your time.


Dear Susan,


Most mares cycle again at pretty close to 30 days after the day the foal was born. It's called the 30-day cycle. Hope she gets back in foal easily!



Submitted by Tracy on May 5, 2000:


Thanks for your column. I am a sleep deprived, soon (I hope) to be the proud surrogate god parent of a foal to my bred mare. She is on day 359. She is waxing..last two days, has full bag, relaxed everything and just seems happy as a clam. Last week she started acting like she might be in prestage so I started staying with her all the time. She appreciated this so much that she stopped milk production and backed off the whole idea of delivering. Well now she looks ready again. I have been performing covert surveillance from the house of my pasture owner. She is outside, but I am in Balmy California and temperatures are dipping into the high 50's on cold nights. I guess I am scared about everything, and am fretting about nothing, what do you think?


Dear Tracy,


I think everything sounds fine, and that you are keeping an amazingly good sense of humor about the whole thing!


Hang in there, and please let us know about your new baby!


Follow up by Tracy on May 6, 2000:


Good Morning! Last night after writing to you I returned to the pasture to continue my vigil. Fortunately, Breezy had gone into labor when I arrived. As quick as you can say Jiminy Cricket, a baby boy, with a blaze and two white socks had made his appearance and was nickering in conversation with his momma. He had a suck reflex from the start and was standing (very wobbly) in about 30 minutes. He had his first meal about 30 minutes later after a long agonizing search for the dinnerspout. It seems that both Mama and Baby read your book because everything has followed just as you describe. The vet will be here in a little while, but my only concern at this point is flies. Did I read here that Skin So Soft is okay to use?


Dear Tracy,


Congratulations! And I see that your sense of humor remains! What wonderful news and I'm glad she waited for you to return from cyberspace to present you with her new baby. Skin-So-Soft is okay to use with babies, as far as I know, but I don't really think it's very effective. If it helps, any fly repellent that is okay for dairy cows is okay for mares and foals.


Again, congrats!



Submitted by Kerry in Italy on May 6, 2000:


I am writing to ask your advice on foaling alarms. I've read about several different types. Is there anything to beware of when using them or is it better just to stay up at night? I have a thoroughbred maiden mare with an apparently large foal due in about a week. I'm getting very worried about it! There is no one at the stables at night so I plan to stay there. She is in a large foaling box on clean straw. However, as I also have a full time job during the day - a large number of sleepless nights will become rather a nightmare! I would really appreciate your advice!


Hi Kerry,


The very best "alarm" is your own eyes and ears. I have never used any type of alarm, but there are none that I would recommend staying away from. If you should chose to use some type of alarm, remember two things: 1) they are only one tool and still can't replace close observation of the mare. 2) you must still be in close proximity to the mare when the alarm goes off because you will have only a few minutes to get to her. So, although I understand the problem with staying up so much when you work full-time (I did it for seven foaling seasons--from January to June), that may be what you have to do. But you can take cat naps, and you'll be surprised how much rest you can actually get that way. If the mare shows signs, you'll know, and won't be able to sleep. If she's quiet, you can check her every hour or so and still get some sleep.


Hope this helps, and please let us know how it goes.



Submitted by Becky in the USA on May 7, 2000:


Hi Theresa, this column is great, especially for us first timers!! My question is, I have a 6YR old mare due date to foal May 19, 2000. I noticed three weeks ago the foal kicking quite often, especially when she ate, however now for the last week I havent seen it kicking. Should I be concerned or is this normal in the last month or weeks prior of delivery?? Maybe I just haven't caught it and it is still kicking ?? A friend told me they slow down in their last weeks, is this true ? THANKS SO MUCH for your help.


Dear Becky,


It's unlikely that there is any reason for you to be concerned. Foal activity does sometimes seem to drop in the last weeks, but I think it's probably more a matter of space than the foal not moving. As it grows, it has less room to move so it can't work up as much of a "wallop" as it could before. In the last weeks, you're more likely to see the mare's whole belly jump than to see single "kicks."


Hope this helps, and hang in there--you'll have your new baby before long!



Submitted by Penny in the USA on May 7, 2000:


Last week we lost a beautiful Paint colt, the mare's placenta had detached prematurely (red bag delivery). I was there to cut through the placenta and help deliver him but it was too late. We are now debating whether or not to rebreed this mare. What are the chances for a reoccurrence of a red bag delivery? And is there any known cause or prevention for this condition?


Dear Penny,


I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. It's always so hard to lose one! My experience has been that once a mare has red bagged, she has a greater chance of doing it again than a mare that hasn't. That doesn't mean she will, just that there is a greater chance. I really don't haven't kept track of how much greater the chance is, only that there is a greater chance. As far as I know, there isn't a way to either predict or prevent this problem.


I wish I could have been more helpful.



Submitted by Tom in the USA on May 10, 2000:


My quarter horse mare foaled about a week and a half ago. She had a beautiful black filly, however the filly was born with its tongue hanging out to one side. She nurses fine and is otherwise healthy. I haven't seen much improvement. What causes this? Is this permanent? If it is not, how long will it take for the tongue to be normal again? Is there anything I can do such as manipulation to help? Thanks for your help!


Dear Tom,


This is something that happens infrequently and, although I'm not sure if anyone knows for certain why it occurs, the speculation I've heard is that it is due to some kind of nerve damage during delivery. The good news is that every one I've seen has completely cleared up on its own. It sometimes takes a month or two for it to go away entirely but so far, they've all returned to normal.


Let us know how the baby does.



Submitted by Jennifer in the USA on May 11, 2000:


A breeding stock paint at our barn has had the second foal in a row diagnosed with 'turner syndrome'. She has had a total of 3 foals, her first normal and the other 2 having to be put down immediately. Protruding lower jaw, abnormally thick / strong umbillical cord and slightly crooked legs. We have been told they can get this from eating a mustard weed. Have you heard of such a thing? We kept her confined and know that no weeds were ingested. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Dear Jennifer,


I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of the two foals. Unfortunately, I don't know that I'm going to be of much help. When I read your questions, I did some research because what you described was unfamiliar to me. The only thing I could find about Turner's syndrome is that it is a genetic problem with fillies that causes their ovaries to remain small and undeveloped. They don't mature sexually and are usually unbreedable. That doesn't sound like it has anything to do with the foals you asked about. I looked up plants that may cause deformities like the ones you described. The only thing I could find in that area was sorghum grass. It is a grass that looks similar to corn and is common, especially in the Southwest. It can produce the kind of fetal deformities you talked about. It could possibly be even in hay, so you wouldn't necessarily see it in the pasture.


I would also ask a question. Was this mare bred to the same stallion the last two times? If so, and her owners intend to breed her again, I would suggest going to a different stallion.


Sorry I can't be more helpful, and if you find out anything else, please let us know.



Submitted by Laurel in the USA on May 18, 2000:


Theresa, In January of 1999 I bought a half-starved 14 year old Arabian mare that the owner said had been bred and was due in April. As time went on, I began to suspect that she was not pregnant. The vet confirmed this by palpation. I spent the next year bringing this mare into beautiful condition and would now like to breed her. A uterine culture came back negative. She is producing follicles. I, as well as my vet, feel that she did not breed for the previous owner due to her poor condition and lack of adequate care. However, someone has mentioned to me the possibility of an infection that does not show up on a culture, "chlamydia" I believe. Is this a cause for concern? I have worked really hard to make a success at breeding this mare. Thanks so much for any help. I really enjoy reading the column.


Dear Laurel,


If the mare's culture came back clean and the vet feels that her uterus and ovaries are in good shape, I wouldn't hesitate to go ahead and breed her. I think your vet is right--that the reason she didn't get in foal before was due to her poor condition. If she doesn't get in foal fairly easily, then would be the time to explore for hard-to-detect infections. But I'd bet she'll get in foal since you've restored her to good health.


Good luck, and please let us know how the breeding goes.



Submitted by Debbie in the USA on May 20, 2000:


I just found your site and am very glad I did! I have a 6 yr. old Arabian who is due to foal at the end of June. My question is that she has had very loose stool for about two weeks, the vet said it was just the grass that's in this area, she's seen a lot of it lately and it's nothing to worry about as long as she's eating and acting ok. The mare seems to be doing great but I am still worried about the loose stool. What do you think ? Thank you for your time and helpful words !!


Hi Debbie,


The first thing that came to my mind was exactly what your vet said--the new grass. Are your mare's stools really green? If so, that's usually a good indication that it's the grass causing them to be loose. As long as she's looking and acting okay, I wouldn't be worried. However, be sure she doesn't get enough of that good, green grass to cause her to founder.


Good luck, and let us know when she foals!


Follow up by Debbie on June 10, 2000:


Hello, I wrote before about my 6 yr. old Arabian mare with very loose stool. That was just because of the grass. Well I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to help everyone feel better and giving us a place to come for answers. You are an angel to the horse world! I just wanted to tell you that my mare had a healthy colt June 5th at 5:10am. The given due date was the 29th. I did the figuring from all the dates given that she was with the stud and figured she could go anytime from the 2nd to the first week in July. I don't no why but the night of the 4th is when I did this and when I decided to start locking her in and keeping the gelding away, and also to sleep in the barn. Everyone thought I was crazy, it was too soon to start that. I was awakened by the sound of hoofs kicking the side of the barn and at first I thought she had rolled over and got stuck and the miniature goat was there bumping her in the head, and because she was so big and with the goat on one side and wall on the other. So I chased the goat off and went to the rear end of my mare to help her over when I saw a tip of a nose and tips of hoofs. He was all out a few minutes later. He's the joy of the barn!! I'm telling you all of this because everyone needs to go with their gut feelings and because it's not just other horses you have to worry about during foaling, the goat could have hurt the mare or foal during this time! But we were very lucky and everything was fine. But please remember mare and foal are very vulnerable during this time!!


Dear Debbie,


Thanks so much for the kind words about the column and especially, thanks for the wonderful news! And I agree with you--go with your gut feelings no matter what others think. If you're wrong, you haven't lost anything, but if you're right... Well, you proved what can happen when you stick to your guns.


Congratulations, and enjoy your new baby!



Submitted by Laurie in the USA on May 22, 2000:


My friend has a mare that is due to foal in Aug. She has taken her off all fescue grass and put her on special grain, alfalfa cubes, and special hay. Another friend of mine said that she does this to prevent dead foals or ones that will die shortly after birth due to the fescue grass. The grass lacks a mineral that the mare needs to produce antibodies in the milk for the foal. She also said that there is a selenium shot that can be given to prevent this and the mare can stay in the field and still eat the grass. Is this true?


Dear Laurie,


Endophyte infested fescue is an entirely different problem than selenium deficiency. There are many problems that come with infested fescue--weak, overdue foals, etc., but the problem you're probably referring to is that many mares on infested fescue don't produce milk at all. That results in the foal not receiving the antibodies it need from her colostrum.


Many areas in this country are selenium deficient. Some people supplement by feeding extra selenium, some do it by having the vet give their horses injections of selenium. The injections are usually a Vitamin E and selenium combination. If a mare lives in a selenium deficient area and has not been given supplemental selenium, then her foal may well need the vitamin E/ selenium injection soon after it is born. Selenium deficiency can result in a foal having white muscle disease. This can be easily warded off if owners are aware that a selenium deficiency exists.


As I said, these are two distinct and very different problems. Treating for one has no effect on the other. Giving a mare a selenium injection and allowing her to graze on infested fescue will NOT take care of the fescue problem. If the fescue is endophyte infested, your friend pulling her mare off fescue pasture will take care of it. She should check with her vet to see if she lives in an area that is selenium deficient. The vet can take care of treatment for that. It is entirely possible to have both problems in an area. Again, check with a local vet.

Hope this helps.



Submitted by Kathi in the USA on May 22, 2000:


My Quarter type mare is now on day 344 and is showing almost all the signs of foaling, but nothing has happened in several days and sleepless nights. Her bag has milk, though not dripping, her rump has relaxed down, she has dropped, and the baby is kicking her in her rump. Also, her vulva swells up then goes down, sometimes within hours. Any idea what she is doing or when she may foal? She has been vet checked a few days ago and the cervix was not dilated, but soft and the colt's head was there. Thanks!!


Hi Kathi,


Sure sounds like it could be any time and I certainly wouldn't leave this mare alone for any length of time. Everything you described sounds fine, so all you can do is keep a close watch on her, just as you have been doing. I know it's frustrating--anyone who thinks they are patient should just try watching foaling mares! But it will all be worth it.


Hang in there and let us know when she foals!


Follow up by Kathi on May 28, 2000:


Hi, Theresa! I wrote you a few days ago about my mare on day 344 and you said it shouldn't be very long. Well, last night at 11:17 pm a little stud colt was born with a little help from my husband. She started to drip milk between 6pm and 8pm and then started pacing and pawing--then just laid down to have him. One of his legs was bent back and was caught, so my husband helped get it straight and gave a little pull, and he was out!! He is a very big colt!! Mom and Son are doing well this morning, although I can't get my hands on either one of them. The mare won't get close enough to me to get her halter on, maybe she'll do better later today. Just thought I'd let you know all is well!!! Thanks again for your wonderful column and your quick answer to my questions!!


Dear Kathi,


Congratulations! And give your husband a big hug from me for jumping in there and doing the right thing! Thank heavens the two of you were there to help the mare. And she should settle down in a few days and let you get to her and the baby.





Submitted by Sonya in the USA on May 24, 2000:


I just added your page to my "favorites". I have a few mares that I breed and just love this time of year, although I am a little tired. My question is this: I have a 4 year old mare that just had her first foal at 4 AM yesterday morning. She was in stage I for 2 days with some pretty hard contractions that first day. She had the baby during a short rest that I took in the house for 1 hour after watching her closely for 2 days, imagine that.. I even had the monitor going, but still missed the event. She had a fairly large colt and was about 3 weeks early according to the US (taken in July, showing 17 day old fetus). When she tried to get up right after the baby was born, her back end wasn't working very well and she fell back over (we took precautions to protect the baby as he nursed and she was great about crossing her legs and avoiding a fall.. what a good mama she is already : ). She has regained a lot of her coordination and strength, but is still a little unstable on her back end. The vet has been called several times and he reports that this is due to her long labor and exhaustion, I wanted to see what you thought about what may have contributed to this and how long it should take her to recover or any other concerns that I should have about nerve damage, etc. The baby is now 28 hours old. Thank you and keep up the very helpful advice.


Dear Sonya,


What happened with your mare is generally the result of a prolonged labor or the foal being slightly malpositioned for delivery. This causes compression of the nerves that run across the floor of the mare's pelvis, which can then result in varying degrees of paralysis. Most of the time, the paralysis disappears within a few hours, but may last for a couple of days. You did the right thing by protecting the foal from its wobbly mother, and give her a pat for being so good about the whole thing. The good news is that the chances are excellent that this will pass soon and the mare will suffer no long-term effects.


Congrats on your new baby!


Follow up by Sonya on June 23, 2000:


I wrote a few weeks back about the mare that had some nerve damage after delivery....well that is getting much better, but I now have another question. I have another mare that was due May 14, and she still has not foaled. I have been talking to my vet, whom I trust, frequently and he feels that things are still okay, just taking longer for this baby. Last year this mare had her colt on his due date. The mare is 7 years old and in great health, had all vacinations etc. She bags up every night and gets a little swollen, she has milk, but no colostrum yet. She is not terribly uncomfortable. I can still feel the baby move. What is the longest that you have heard of a mare going prior to the vet inducing or that things were still ok. My vet wants nature to takes its course because she is not showing any signs that say there may be a problem. Any history of other cases like this would give me some peace of mind. Needless to say between my 2 year old son and my mare I haven't had much sleep in quite a while : ), but I am still hanging in there hoping that everything is ok with this new baby. I appreciate your help and advice regarding this matter. Your web site has been very enjoyable and educational.


Dear Sonya,


The longest I, personally, have seen a mare go was 372 days. The foal was very small and underdeveloped and probably wouldn't have survived if he'd been born any earlier. That's one of the problems with inducing labor--you just don't know if that baby is ready to face the outside world. I just had a reader have a mare go 375 days (I believe. I know it was longer than the one I had.) Everything was fine. I agree with your vet that as long as the mare is in good health--eating, drinking and acting okay for a heavily pregnant lady--it's best to wait it out. It isn't all that unusual for mares to carry for a full year and certainly not unheard of for them to go even longer. Sometimes fetal development is delayed for reasons not understood, so that even though the calendar says the mare is due, the fetus isn't ready. I know how worrisome and frustrating this is, but try to hang in there. If anything changes that concerns you, don't hesitate to let your vet know.


Please let us know when the mare foals.



Submitted by Cynthia on May 29, 2000:


We have a 15 to 18 yr. spotted saddle mare she was bred on July 4, 1999, so I know her due date is around June 6, 2000. My question is, after she foals what becomes of the afterbirth? I know what happens to a cow's but is it the same for a horse or do we have to dispose of it? Also did you ever remember the type of clover that is toxic to horses? Thanks for the great information you provide.


Dear Cynthia,


After the mare foals, you will need to dispose of the afterbirth (placenta and fetal membranes). The mare does not, and should not, eat it.


It is white sweet clover that can cause a problem in horses.


Good luck!



Submitted by Gail on May 31, 2000:


I have really enjoyed reading your advice, I wish that I had found this site earlier. Perhaps something that I read could have prevented the loss of the stud colt that my parents' mare just had. He was a rather large colt and he was born in the middle of the night on a Friday. This was the first colt that my parents have had from this mare and only the second time they have owned a mare that was to foal. The colt acted fine Saturday and Sunday appeared to be eating well, was very friendly and my three daughters were in heaven. However, Monday morning they found him laying in the pasture and he was unable to get up. They called the vet but since it was a holiday it would be sometime before the vet would be able to come out. By the time the vet called it was too late and the colt was dead. We are at a loss as to what could have happened. The vet told us that there had been several colts lost this year. Since the colt was already gone he did not come out, and so then was unable to tell us why the colt was lost. Can you please shed any light on this situation for us? We can't help but wonder if there was something else that we could have done to prevent this tragedy. Anything that you can tell us might help us understand. I do not know if they will plan on breeding her again, I think that my parents are still too upset with this loss, but if they should decide to breed her again I want to be as well prepared as possible to prevent another loss.


Dear Gail,


I'm so very sorry to hear about the loss of the colt. Of course, it's impossible for me to say what happened, but the timing is about right for failure of passive transfer. That means that either the mare didn't have good colostrum or the foal didn't absorb it properly. Did the mare drip or stream milk for a while before she foaled? If so, she may have lost all her colostrum. That leaves the foal without any antibody protection from anything, even bacteria that are normally found in the environment. There could be an entirely different reason for the colt's untimely death, but that's the first one that comes to mind and is the most likely.


Again, I'm so very sorry!



Submitted by Linda in New Zealand on June 3, 2000:


I have miniature horses, so far I have had one normal delivery, but am now concerned as I have two maiden mares foaling in a few months time. I have a foaling alarm on my mares so that I can be there at birth but would like to know your opinion on a couple of matters. Firstly if a mare shows signs of having problems say with the foal being presented wrongly how much time would you have for the vet to arrive and still have a healthy foal born, should you attempt to assist the mare yourself even when you would only be guessing as to what you were doing? Secondly I know that a lot of miniature horses are born dead after simply suffocating in the sac, should the sac be normally broken before the foal hits the ground or does the mare normally break it open? With my first foal the sac was intact still on the foal being delivered so I broke it to be on the safe side, I couldn't believe how tough it was!


Dear Linda,


If there is a delivery problem, how long you have for the vet to get there depends on what the problem is and other factors. In some cases, you may only have a few minutes, in other cases, you may have up to an hour. If you are faced with a delivery problem, get the vet on the way, then do whatever you can to help rectify the situation. You can even describe the problem to the vet and get his/her input on what to do. With most malpresentation problems, you can visualize what you're feeling, then figure out how to straighten it out. As long as you act carefully and thoughtfully, there is little chance that you will do harm. And you may well save a foal's life and save the mare a lot of trauma. In the case of a red bag delivery, you have no time to call the vet. You must act immediately, opening the placenta and getting the foal delivered as quickly as safety will allow. The mare does not break the amniotic membrane. Usually it breaks as the foal struggles or as the membrane tightens around the foal's front feet in the later stage of delivery. However, as soon as the foal's head has been delivered, I usually go ahead and break the membrane. That way if the foal breathes early, it will breathe air, not fluid. You can't hurt anything by opening the membrane at that point. And yes, tough amniotic membranes can be a problem with miniatures. Good thing you were there for the first one!


Hope this helps, and good luck with your mares. Please let us know how they (and you) do!