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Advice Column  1999



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 forget to contribute to the column by clicking on "Submit Question." I would love to hear from you!


Thanks much, Theresa



Submitted by Laurie in the USA on January 5, 1999:


I'm stressing out. The horse isn't but I am. I bought a 3 yr old 1/2 Saddelbred 1/2 Arabian in May 98. As I was signing the contract with the guy I bought her from he said; "Oh by the way... she might be bred." This would be her first (Serenity) and mine too. He said; "Hey you might get two for the price of one." I didn't see it that way. I was ready to take jumping lessons and I had no idea how to foal a horse let alone raise a colt. I almost didn't buy her but I loved her and I thought she would be better hands with me. This man treats his hroses more like live stock then pets. He let her run with a 2yr. stallion thinking he wouldn't be able to produce. I had a vet check her. He was wrong!!! She's pregnant. I live in Iowa and you may have heard it is 6 below zero and we have a foot & 1/2 of snow. My stall is 9x11 & cold. I've decided to move her to the garage, we are cleaning it now. My basemant ceiling was too low or I would move her there. The garage has a cement floor that I will cover with straw but I don't know how to keep the garage warm with out burning it down. I've read all I can get my hands on about foaling but have not found much information at all on Cold Weather Foaling.


She started to bag out Dec.31st 98, they are small. Her butt is softening and her vulva is lengthening. I have no idea when she is due. The farmer didn't know when she was bred. I've heard such horror stories about cold weather babies. I contacted the only large animal vet around here willing to work with horses, but he really was not interested in my problem. Please.... I need help. Could you advice me or show me where to get information. I am so worried. I am prepared to sleep with her and the mice when it is closer and she will only be turned out during the day if you think that�s ok. I have kept up on her boosters and wormings but I am wondering if it's to late to give her the last booster. I am so glad I found this web site. I have spent hours reading. I may have already sent you an e-mail but because I am computer illiterate I thought I had better send another one. Thank-you for listening.


Hi Laurie,


I sympathize with your concern about the cold. I live in Ohio and today it's -7. Not too much fun!!


I think the best thing you can do is keep the mare in her stall. The cement floor in your garage would be dangerous for both the mare and the foal. Even with straw down, it will be very slippery. And when the straw gets wet, it'll be even worse. My suggestion would be to cover the outside of the stall with plastic, then get two or three heat lamps and put them up in the stall. You'll be amazed how warm that will keep a stall of that size. It'll be plenty warm for a healthy foal. It won't do much for you sleeping out in the barn, but then, we always do better for the animals, don't we?! :-) The only other thing that concerns me is the size of the stall. It is a little small, and although it will probably be fine, I wondered if there was the possibility of moving her someplace else with a larger stall? I realize that's a pain and may not be possible. Just a thought.


About vaccinations--if the mare is bagging up, it's probably too late as far as the foal is concerned. The vaccinations need to be given at least 30 days prior to the delivery date to give the mare's system enough time to produce the antibodies that she will pass on to the foal. However, if the mare hasn't had a tetanus booster within the last six months, she should get that for sure.


It's fine for the mare to go out during the day. As she gets closer to foaling, though, with the extreme cold, you should keep a really close watch on her while she's out. Wouldn't want her dropping a poor baby into a foot and a half of snow!


So, relax, cover the stall, put up some heat lamps, and I'm sure everything will be fine! Maybe you'll be really lucky and get a heat wave of 30 or 40 degrees when Serenity decides to foal!


Please let us know all about your new baby.



Submitted by Dena in Canada on January 6, 1999:


I have an appaloosa mare due Feb 26/99 who will be 20 yrs old in May/99. She has had 10 + foals. At 283 days pregnant she bagged up (took 2 days), waxed and started dripping milk. The mare showed signs of impending birth -- pawing, relaxation of tail head. Her foal was still alive and moving. This mare foaled last Mar 15/98 with a huge colt and had no problems foaling. She was bred back March 24 & 26 and ultrasounded Apr 15. No twins detected but they can be missed. No vet has checked this mare but after consulting one we are giving 3cc progesterone once daily, 35cc ethacilen twice daily and 1 gram of bute twice daily. Vet believes we are dealing with infection. The foal is still active at 286 days but the mare is still progressing toward birth. Utter is down and not quite as hard still has wax but not dripping milk. The tail head is really lose and vulva is lengthening and becoming puffy. Any advice on premature foals would be appreciated. All thought on handling this mares pregnancy to prevent early birth too. Please note advice is urgently required!!!


Dear Dena,


It's very possible that the mare has a case of placentitis going on which, if left untreated, will certainly cause her to abort. Fortunately, it sounds like your vet is on top of things. I don't know what ethacilen is. Is it an antibiotic? A form of penicillin? If it is, that's great. We've had the best luck with penicillin in cases like this. Also, the vet I worked for found that Banamine has better effects than bute because the Banamine helps when there is a toxin release. I've seen mares turn around quickly, in a matter of hours sometimes, with a dose of Banamine along with the penicillin. It would be worthwhile to discuss the possibility of using Banamine with your vet.


Usually, if placentitis is the problem and the treatment is working, the udder will begin to regress and the vulva and hips will begin to tighten within about 24 hours from the first dose of penicillin. If placentitis isn't the problem, then there won't be improvement. Even if you don't see improvement, though, I certainly wouldn't stop the treatment. As you suggested, another possibility is twins and one has died.


It's encouraging that the foal is still active. Many times, you can detect a significant decrease in foal activity if the foal's in trouble. I'd be very concerned about the foal's chance for survival if it's born at 286 days. Unfortunately, my experience has been that if they're born before 310 days, their chances aren't good. But with all premies, colostrum, plenty of food, warmth, nursing care, and expert veterinary support are essential.


I'm very happy that your vet is reacting so well to the situation. Please keep us updated. I know everyone will be keeping their fingers crossed for you. Hang in there!


Follow up by Dena on January 8, 1999:


Just an update on Rosie. On day 286 her medication was switched to 3cc daily progesterone, 5cc daily banamine and 55cc trimethoprim 24mg/ml - sulfamethoxazole 120mg/ml. She is still hanging on and the foal was moving last night. The Ethacilin (sterile penicillin G procaine suspension) and bute were used originally as they were the drugs I had on hand the night Rosie took sick to treat her. And her prospects of hanging on that night were slim to none. My vet is still caring for Rosie one day at a time and her outlook is far from promising as far as the foal's concerned. Thanks so much for your help. In times like this the more knowledgeable people who are consulted the greater knowledge gained the better the odds. I will keep you posted on Rosie as we go.


Hi Dena,


Thanks so much for the update. I'll keep my fingers crossed because I've seen some mares held off for as long as six weeks with proper treatment (if the problem is placentitis). There's still hope! It's encouraging that you're still seeing foal movement.


Please keep us posted and take care.


Follow up by Dena on January 25, 1999:


Just a quick note to let you know Rosie is now at day 305. She is showing no abnormal signs of foaling now. Her udder is down and normal for a mare 4 weeks from foaling. She is still on 3cc progesterone, 2.5cc banamine and 55cc trimethoprim-sulfa. once daily. Can you tell me approx when Rosie should be taken off the progesterone? Do I have to take her off the banamine before she foals? When we stopped her banamine earlier within 24 hours she was very lame in one hip. I believe the foal is causing her the problem from possibly where it is lying. Is it possible that it could be pinching a nerve? Rosie never did tighten back up in the tail muscles. Three times she has passed small amounts of blood when getting up after she's been laying down. The foal is still active and we can see it moving.


Hi Dena,


Thanks so much for writing. I've wondered many times how Rosie is doing. It's great to hear that she's still holding on. I'm not sure what to tell you about the problem with her hip. It could be that the foal is causing her pain. 2.5cc of Banamine a day is a very small amount. I think I'd be tempted to take her off again and see what happens. If she needs something for pain, it would probably be good to talk to the vet about bute instead of Banamine. The Banamine is used, in this instance, for reasons other than pain. As far as continuing the progesterone, my experience has been that when the signs of impending delivery regress, the progesterone is stopped. On mares that routinely stay on progesterone for their whole pregnancies, it is usually stopped 2-3 weeks prior to their due dates. It would absolutely be best to discuss this with your vet.


Another two weeks and she should be in a safe zone! We'll be keeping our fingers crossed. Please keep us updated.



Submitted by Janet in the USA on January 8, 1999:


This is my mare's 2nd foal. The first time she showed no signs whatsoever. With your experience with mares, what are the chances that she will do this again? There is also something else when asking the vet about stall preparations he suggested leaving her in the pasture because that is more natural for the horse then a stall, but I am worried about her and want her up by the house were I can keep an eye on her. I do have a sizeable corral in front of the barn to keep her in, were she would have plenty of room and I could get her in the barn if needed. She is due to foal the last week in February. The weather here in Kansas is not exactly warm. I would just like to know what you think of this and maybe some suggestions.


Hi Janet,


Chances are very good that your mare will show more signs with the second foal. It seems that usually, once their bodies have been through the whole process, they are more predictable the next time. Having said that, I have to add that there's always the possibility that she won't show any more signs. Unfortunately, they don't always "play by the rules!" :-)


I have no problem with mares foaling outside--as long as the weather is nice, the mare is in a paddock by herself, and it's certain that the foal can't be delivered under a fence, winding up on the other side from Mom. However, in Kansas in February, I believe I'd like to have her inside. She should have plenty of turnout, of course, but it would probably be better for her to be in a stall to foal. Do what you feel comfortable with. That's the most important thing. And I'm with you for sure--I like to be able to keep a close watch on them when they get close to delivery.


Please let us know all about your new foal!



Submitted by Kelly in the USA on January 16, 1999:


I want to thank you for having this website here. I found it through the bookstore. I have read all of the questions and answers and I don't have any for you because you answered them. I am glad to hear that I am not the only person driving my vet crazy with questions. This is my first and my mare has had trouble with her hooves. She foundered five months ago and is now being let out on her own for a few hours. Here is a question for you: Have you ever had a mare founder due to being pregnant? I can't come up with any other reason. MY vet thinks that it was the wet winter that we had. I just hope that five months in a stall with only 2 hours of grazing a day doesn't hurt the baby. She is due April 16, 1999. I can't believe that my mare kept the pregnancy.


Hi Kelly,


Thanks so much for your kind words about the column. We all have questions and need reassurance and I'm very grateful that The Horse Forum has provided a place where people can talk about their concerns.


In answer to your question, no, I've never known a mare to founder strictly from being pregnant. In the ones I've seen, there was always another explanation. Your vet is probably correct in his evaluation. Also, there shouldn't be a problem with having your mare inside so much. Of course, it's good for them to get exercise, but sometimes that has to be balanced with preserving their health. The foal won't care--it was getting what it needed. It's good that the mare is getting out now, but be careful when that lush, spring grass starts coming up!


Thanks for writing and please let us know all about your new baby.



Submited by Angela in the USA on January 22, 1999:


I have read ALL of the previous questions and have not seen an answer to the question I have... my mare is due to foal the last week of April, but she has a tendency to carry an additional 3 weeks from the 340 day "due date". I know one should give the mare's vaccinations at least 30 days before the due date for her to develop the immunity and be able to pass it on to the baby in the colostrum. My question: would it be too EARLY to give the shots if she carries an additional 2 months from when I have given them to her? If I give them to her at the suggested time, she could very well carry the baby for over 2 months longer!


I LOVE THIS PAGE!!! Thank you so much for doing such a wonderful service to so many people.


Hi Angela,


Thanks so much for your kind words about the column, and your very interesting question. It's a good one.


The immunity (and antibodies for the foal) from the vaccinations your mare will be given at 30 days before her presumed due date lasts a lot longer than two months, so there is no problem at all if she goes overdue. The only one that would be iffy is the Pneumabort because it only provides immunity for approximately two months. Ask your vet to be sure, but even if the mare goes more than a month overdue, it probably isn't necessary to give her another one.


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



Submitted by Jody in the USA on January 24, 1999:


Great column! I wish I had known about it before! I have a QH mare that foaled her third foal on Jan 16. We were there and this is our 10th foal, so I think we are used to most of the procedures necessary. I was laying next to the foal when the mother got up and had the umbilical cord covered well with iodine as soon as it broke. This is a Paint filly and her white belly and groin area was covered by the extra iodine, so I know I used plenty. I also treated the stump 2 more times within the next 18 hours, and it dried nicely and no dripping. At five days of age I noticed that there is swelling around the stump. It may have been there sooner, but at the end of the first day it wasn't. The filly is gaining 3 pounds a day, and at 7 days she has grown close to an inch in height. She is nursing, active, and has started playing in the mare's water and mouthing hay. My vet tells me that it could be nothing, it could be common swelling (in 10 foals, I've never had this) or it could be the start of joint ill. He wants me to wait for a fever before I bring her in. I've decided that this foal is too nice to take a chance on and we are taking her in to make sure it is not a hernia, but I've had those and this feels different. My vets here deal more with cattle, and not a lot of expensive foals. We all hope that each foal we raise will be a champion, and her full sister is well on her way. I would like your opinion, just to compare to what they say and for my peace of mind.


Hi Jody,


Congratulations on your foal ! And thanks for your kind words about the column.


If you are concerned about the foal's umbilical stump, then have it checked out. Your vet is right, it could be absolutely normal, but you are the one who is looking at it. A couple of things that I've seen cause owners concern that were really okay were: feeling the inner part of the cord, which feels like a solid tube under the skin; feeling loose skin; and as you mentioned, small hernias. If what you see isn't one of those, look for increasing swelling, heat in that area, and any sign of drainage. However, as I said, if you aren't sure it's okay, have the vet see it. And if you notice any increase in the swelling, heat, or drainage, or if the foal loses any of her brightness and vigor, don't wait for a fever before getting her to a vet!


Please let us know what happens.



Submitted by Ginny in the USA on January 25, 1999:


Of all the foaling books I can get my hands on, yours has been the one I've enjoyed the most. I found this site by accident but I know I'll keep coming back.


This is my 4th year of foal watching. I work on a Thoroughbred farm near the college that I attend. Last year I had a mare that threw me 3 different complications. First, she red bagged. When I got the bag open, I noticed that all I had present was a nose because both of the front legs were back. When the vet arrived, he also determined that the foal was extremely large. All in all, it was about 30 minutes from the time the vet arrived until we got to the clinic. I'm not sure how long we waited for the vet. 15 minutes I think. To make a somewhat long story short, they did not do a c-section but pulled the foal out after they straightened his legs. What amazes me is that there were no broken ribs on the foal, nor did the mare tear. Both of them survived, and at weaning time the colt's withers were at my shoulder. I am 5'5". My question is this. Is a mare who has had a dystocia in the past predisposed to them in the future? I know for a fact that this mare is back in foal for this year.


Hi Ginny,


I'm so glad you've enjoyed the book! And welcome to the column!


Wow! What a mess with that mare! I think it's almost miraculous that the foal survived. Great work in identifying the problems and reacting quickly! It's been my experience that a mare with a malpositioned foal has a slightly greater chance of doing it again than one that's never had a positioning problem. Usually, it seems that these mares do tend to have very large foals. With the red bag problem, I do believe they have a significantly higher chance of doing it again. I've foaled ones that red bag every year. Once in a while, there will be one that will do it once and not again (at least when I've been with them). Bottom line is, if I know a mare has red bagged in the past, I watch her like a hawk when delivery is close.


Have fun on the breeding farm. Since most of my experience came on a large thoroughbred breeding farm, I'm a little jealous that you're there and I'm not!



Submitted by Judy in the USA on January 27, 1999:


Wonderful site! We have a problem for which we have been unable to find anyone with experience. However, we do have a good veterinary university 4 hours from here with a good diagnostic lab who are willing to assist in any way they can. They are working with our local vets who are trying their best to help us. We have also worked with the ASPCA poison control center, who have been helpful and supportive. We have two remaining pregnancies on our property and will do just about anything to save them. One is due March 3rd (she is now 305 days gestation). The other is due 20 days later. One is a 6 year old QH maiden who competed successfully on the track for 3 years until we bought her as a foundation mare for Aztecas. Since our bay Andalusian colt is only 2, we bred her to a race horse last spring (Bully Bullion). This mare is a Dash for Cash and Jet Deck granddaughter, has a wonderful personality and conformation. The other mare is a maiden Peruvian 4 year old, in foal to the 1998 national champion of champions breeding stallion. We live in Texas. One mare was sent to CA for breeding, the other to OK. We have great hope for these foals. However, we are on the most unbelievable emotional roller-coaster imaginable. Here in a nutshell is the story: In 1996 an Andalusian mare of ours delivered a 305 day foal. We were out of town. Our farm manager attended the delivery. The feeling was that the colt could not survive. However, he was able to suck and did get some colostrum from a bottle and was still alive 12 hours later. Our vet loaded him up in the back seat of our son's car, and shipped him to A & M's ICU. He was 100% cartilage. He was raised on soft pillows, with comforters, IVs, O2 and around the clock technicians. The next day after delivery we brought the mare, who did accept her son. Her stall was adjacent to the incubator, so they were able to bond. 5 weeks later he was discharged and is now 16 - 17 hands and entering training. The mare cultured clean and was rebred on the foal heat. One month later another mare developed a bag in June (due Sept. 20 something). We were still in shock from the other prematurity, so called several experts for help. When she started dripping milk in July she was palpated. The cervix was dilating, the mucous plug was coming out, and the mare was considered imminent. She was started on Regumate and Banamine and antibiotics and isoxiprene. The vaginal discharge was cultured and nothing grew. She carried the foal to 315 days. The colt was born without muscle and was becoming bradycardic within a minute or two from birth (the vet was here in 5 minutes from our call that she was delivering). He gave the colt a cardiac and respiratory stimulant as well as glucose. We loaded the mare in the trailer and I carried the colt in my lap giving glucose every few minutes during the 4 hour trip to A & M. This foal was also non-infected, and was released in 10 or 12 days from ICU. He was so tiny that you could easily carry him around in your arms. (I think 45 lbs or so). Well, the saga didn't end there. This pattern has continued with variable outcomes: ICU, stillbirths, late term abortions, premies, dysmature fullterms or almost fullterms, etc. By September 11 pregnancies in different mares had been affected. Necropsy showed nothing abnormal with the foals, which appear to have been alive at the time of delivery and show signs of struggle. No infectious cause has been found, despite extended efforts to grow any pathogen (fungus, bacterial, viral). The placentas, mares, and foals are clean. The pattern has been pretty much unvarying: the mares bag up at >= day 272, drip milk, and deliver prematurely. (The exact opposite of fescue toxicity). In April, one of our most wonderful mares delivered a 308 day foal, experienced severe dystocia, the foal died and the mare foundered horribly (she is still stall bound). Within a month we had a uterine biopsy done. Results: Grade I uterus...no infection. No infection was found within 2 days of delivery when she was cultured either. At this point our whole family was stressed almost to the breaking point. Last summer we had one mare in which the pattern changed somewhat. This mare bagged up much earlier...at 90 days...complete with dripping milk. Apparently the fetus had died at that point, because when she passed the fetus and membranes 5 days later they had started to degrade. She had also developed a discharge, which tested positive for strep. This was the only pathogen identified in any mare, and the diagnostic lab felt it could have occurred after death, since the fetus was retained so long. All mares are vaccinated against Rhino, and the foals show no signs of the disease at all, the placentas are also free of the virus and the mares' titers are what would be expected with a vaccinated mare. Anyway, after that death the lab did toxicology studies and determined the mare's cholinesterase level was 5.4 (low normal: 32) indicating organophosphate or carbamate poisoning. The lab vets consulted with our vets and eight other horses in our herd, including colts, adults, and the mares who aborted or had premies were also tested for poisoning. All were poisoned. The foundered mare had a level of 3.7 and her 2 year old colt had a level of 4 something. My husband is a PhD chemist and he went on a comprehensive quest to find the source. We had hay, moss, bedding, bark tested at Auburn University. We hired an independent lab to test our well water as well as the spray from our overhead spray system (which really was only pyrethrins!). All tests were negative. Anyway, we went through the barn and did discover an organophosphate feed-thru which is supposed to be completely safe for pregnant mares. We stopped it and did follow-up cholinesterase levels about every 10 days for several months. The serum levels slowly improved, finally reaching normal levels of 40s late last fall. Living on the Tx. Gulf Coast where flies are rampant much of the year, many of these mares had been on this for years without much of a break. We had hoped for a quick end to the cycle, but it appears that if a mare was on it during early pregnancy she has little chance of carrying to term without help. Even mares sent away following conception have followed the same pattern. It apparently takes 120 days to clear the RBCs and is stored in fat, which can release with any weight loss. In September we lost another and on December 23rd we lost a ~296 day palomino colt. Again, all tests were negative. We have been told that the organophosphate poisoning has been known to be associated with abortion. For these last two, we are doing the following: they are on 20 mls. Regumate/ bedtime; 10 tablets trimetha. sulfate 2 X day (in case the OP is affecting the cervical and uterine tone...just as a preventative), they are being watched like a hawk. We have video surveillance. The one who is 305 days today is developing an udder, but it is still soft and the nipples are small. Is this normal at this stage? The foal appears vigorous and extremely active. The 285 day mare gave us a terrible scare last Friday. She was raising her tail, flapping it up and down, sweating, trying to urinate without much success, and in general looking like she was in labor. She was given something which stopped the pain and she walked out of it, the sweat dried, and she later began eating hay. Her udder is still soft, but is increasing somewhat in size. Have you ever heard of a situation such as this? Do you have any ideas at all on ways to save the remaining pregnancies, other or in addition to what we are doing? We were told that starting Regumate PRIOR to dripping milk would give us a better chance and this does appear to be the case. In the past we only started it when symptoms (dripping milk, etc.) occurred. These mares are further along than most and neither has started dripping. I see this as a good sign. Some days we feel optimistic. Other days we feel incredibly sad. Horses are some of God's most incredible, wonderful creatures. There would be nothing I would rather hear than the new whinnies of a full-term healthy foal. If you have any information at all on OP poisoning, we would greatly appreciate it. Thank you so much for having such a wonderful board! I will order your book!


Dear Judy,


What a horrible ordeal! I'm so very sorry! I commend you, your husband, and the vets for narrowing down the cause of this awful series of events.


You asked about one of your mares bagging up at 305 days. I wouldn't consider that to be abnormal as long as it's just the beginning of udder development. However, it's impossible to say how quickly she will progress. If she followed a normal, slow development, it's fine, but it's also possible that she will progress very rapidly. The other mare, bagging at 285 days, sounds much too early. I agree that the Regumate and antibiotics should be started when premature udder development is discovered, and not wait until the mare is dripping milk. By then, things are so far advanced that it may not be possible to stop the process. The episode she had with raising her tail, sweating, trying to urinate, etc. could possibly have been because the foal was pinching her bowel and causing her pain. That is common and not usually a sign of danger because it passes when the foal shifts position enough to get off the bowel. I'll keep my fingers crossed that's all it was.


As far as the organophosphate poisoning itself, I'm afraid you've found another person without experience in that area. I've always been taught that you shouldn't use organophosphate dewormers in pregnant mares because of the risk of abortion. I did some research after reading your post, but couldn't find much. The only thing I read that might possibly be helpful was the use of cholinesterase reactivators. With all the people you've had working on this, though, I'm sure that possibility has already been explored. And, I have no idea if it would be useful now, to prevent abortion, or if it is something that is used in acute cases to prevent death in the individual that was directly exposed to the substance.

I know this has been a horrible ordeal for you, and I truly appreciate you sharing it with us. Your experience should make all of us give extra thought to the chemicals we put into our animals.


Thank you for writing and please, please let us know what happens with your mares and foals.


Follow up by Judy on February 1, 1999:


We received your book in the mail Saturday. In spite of the fact that our annual black-tie fund-raiser was that night and I needed a "massive" make-over to transition from "horse person", I couldn't put the book down! I had scheduled an appointment to have my hair put up. The hair dresser kept sighing, as he asked me to put the book down long enough to see if I liked what he was doing! When we got home after midnight, we continued reading it! (After checking the mares, of course!) We are leaving for DC tomorrow and your book will fly right alone beside us. I own just about every breeding and foaling manual out there, including some reproductive texts from vet schools. Yours is the clearest and most well illustrated. You are to be commended on your efforts! - RE: the mares. Today we are at 310 and 290 days. Neither are leaking milk. Neither bag is full. Our ranch manager is staying with them over-night while we are gone (Tues. night until Sun. noon). We got all their meds refilled today, so they won't run out while we are gone. The vet is on alert and only lives ~ 5 minutes from our house. Our son and daughter are staying home, have attended foalings and are going to be checking the mares repeatedly. Since they are not yet bagged up and the foals continue to be vigorous, I feel reasonably comfortable going with Walter on this business trip. At least I hope I do. Actually, we are both pretty nervous. But neither mare looks imminent. Will keep you posted upon our return. Thanks again for your wonderful service.


Hi Judy:


Now remind me, how much did I say I'd pay you for such a glowing book endorsement? However much, it wasn't enough!!


Thank you so very much. Your words mean more than I can say. I worked very hard to make the book as clear and comprehensive as possible, and it's wonderful to hear that you think it pretty well meets those goals. And if I may, I'd like to give Equine Research a big pat on the back. They believe in photos, photos, and more photos. My very patient husband and equally patient friend had taken photos of two delivery sequences. I liked one more than the other and for the book, Equine Research originally planned to use the one I didn't like as much. I brought that to their attention and their comment was, "That's easy, we'll use both of them."


Follow up by Judy on February 8, 1999:


Just an update and quick question. The mares are still holding on. 317 and 297 days. Neither is leaking milk. The one who is 297 days has very little udder development...we hit her with Regumate, antibiotics, and another drug (experimental) and the udder pretty much stopped growing. The mare seems comfortable most of the time. Perhaps just a little short of breath if she's been romping. The other one, at 317 has rather small development of her udder, but what is there is hard. The nipples are enlarging, but she is definitely not leaking or waxing. She still has small granules on the tips that look like sugar grains. Can the udder feel hard to the touch, yet not very large (still 2 distinct sides) at this stage and have that be normal? We are almost getting to a safe zone with her and we want these foals to be healthy soooooo badly!!!! Also, she seems to have a hematoma, about the size of a golf ball, sort of hanging down between her legs. They called the vet out while we were gone to check it out. He said it was just swelling and nothing to worry about. He also suggested that the mares should be basically stalled to prevent them from getting kicked, etc., this close to delivery. We only have the two mares together during the day when someone is with them all the time. They are stalled at night in their foaling stalls with closed circuit tv. Both are high energy mares who want to "burst" out of their stalls in the morning. I don't think keeping them stalled is necessarily the healthiest for them. They both do run and in general have fun. The vet is concerned about "jiggling things around in there". The one with the swelling is the most dominant of any of our 17 horses. I sincerely doubt that the other mare kicked her. As long as the mares are not leaking milk and seem healthy, what is your experience with stalling vs. arena exercise? We aren't letting them loose in the pasture because we are worried about residual OPs in the soil. Their stall area has been completely dug out. The arena was bull-dozed, plowed under (after removing all manure and hay), and fresh sand was brought in. Anyway, any ideas here as to the best approach (free choice exercise in a confined area vs. stalling in a 12 X 24 stall? Thanks again for your help.


Hi Judy,


Thanks for the update. I'm so relieved to hear that both mares are still holding on.


You asked about the mare's udder development, specifically the one at 317 days. Please forgive my failing memory, but is she a maiden? If she is, I think what you're seeing is absolutely normal. A maiden udder will many times feel more firm while still small than a mare's that has had foals before. Even if she has had foals before, I wouldn't be concerned about it at this stage. At 317 days, she should be bagging up and the udder can feel firm. It shouldn't feel overly warm, but can be firm. The continued presence of the granules on the nipples is generally a good sign. Although some mares will foal with them still present, most won't.


I'm sure your vet, after all you've been through, is just being ultra-cautious, and I don't blame him. However, I am of the belief that mares have been "jiggling things around in there" for as long as they've graced this planet. They're pretty good at knowing what they can do and what they can't do. If the mares were mine, as long as they're looking and feeling good, I'd certainly turn them out (or as in your case, into the arena). I wouldn't turn them out with other barren or less pregnant mares, but with each other sounds fine to me. The chances of them kicking each other and doing damage, although of course possible, are remote. Being stall bound can lead to more problems, such as swelling, driving themselves batty, etc. And speaking of that, it sounds like the one's swelling isn't anything to worry about.

The only other thing that crossed my mind about the vet's concern in turning the mares out is if he's worried about release of organophosphates due to exercise. I don't know if that's possible or if it has any bearing at all, but it did cross my mind, and I wanted to make sure we considered all possibilities. I would think, though, that if exercise hasn't bothered them so far, it shouldn't bother them now.


Please keep us updated!


Follow up by Judy on February 15, 1999:


Just a quick follow-up. One mare is now 324 days and one is 304 days gestation. We began weaning the 324 day mare off the Regumate last night. We plan to slowly taper her off over the next few nights. Yesterday at about 5 PM (BEFORE we lowered her Regumate dose) her udder size looked just the same as it had for several days. When I went to give the medication to the mares at 7 PM, one of the teats had swelled significantly! By this morning both have swelled. It is still not easy to express any fluid. However, the tail head is relaxed, the muscles are relaxing, and the vulva is relaxing. When we saw the changes last night we bedded her stall with hay (you can't get straw here), rechecked everything for safety, rechecked the cameras, and checked her repeatedly during the night. Since we can't easily express milk, do you feel the all night vigils can be postponed for a few nights? We are so worried, but both of us work. Before we started having problems we would wait until the milk was white and would then stay up all night...once for several weeks. Re: the rapid changes last night...can this be normal? The foal still seemed to be moving. The other mare is fine. We have had so many deaths, that my anxiety as this birth approaches is almost through the roof. I can't believe we have actually made it this far! The other mare is still hanging in there, without significant change. Thanks again for your help.


Hi Judy,


Thanks for the update. If memory serves, the mare you're talking about that's bagging up quickly is a maiden. They can do some pretty erratic things sometimes, so yes, the quick change is one I would consider to be normal--particularly if she's acting okay. It may still be quite awhile until she foals, however, I'd keep a pretty good watch on her for continued rapid changes. It's probably unlikely that she'll foal until you can fairly easily express fluid from her udder. She may foal before the fluid turns white, but there should at least be something there. Watch for increase in other physical changes and behavior changes. Congratulations on making 324! Even if she foals now, the foal has an excellent chance of being fine.


I'm sure there are many people keeping track of your story and wishing you well. We can't wait to hear about your new babies, so please continue keeping us updated!


Follow up by Judy on February 21, 1999:


Hi! We are at 330 and 310 days now !!!!!! Just stopped the Regumate on the 330 day mare a couple of days ago, after about a week of weaning down. So far everything looks good. The 330 day mare doesn't like to have her udders touched, but loves a good belly rub. I have been rubbing farther and farther back. Also applying warm compresses to her udder which she semi tolerates. Your book indicates that some mares don't like their udders touched prior to birth, but are still ok with the foals. Do you recommend that we just back off? This problem sort of makes getting milk for the foal predictor kit impossible. The other mare has absolutely no problem with having her udder touched. Both are maidens. 


Hi Judy,


Thanks so much for the update. Things are looking good!! And I'm so happy for you!

There's no problem in continuing to work with the mare about touching her udder. The only time I recommend people stop is when the mares are bad enough about it to be dangerous. Then, it just isn't worth it because mother nature usually kicks in after they foal. As long as she isn't trying to kill you, go for it. Maybe by the time she gets ready to foal, you'll have her to the point that you can use the predictor kit.


Thanks again for the update, and we can't wait to hear more!


Follow up by Judy on March 1, 1999:


IT'S A BIG (BIG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) BAY FILLY!!!!!!!!!!!! You were right! The mare laid down, Walter and Kim heard her water break on the closed circuit tv, they called me out to the barn (I was taking a much needed bath), and the birth began at 11:58 PM on 2/27. The foal was born at ~12:30+ AM on 2/28/99. One large foot presented. No other progress. Saw a rectal bulge. Cupped my (gloved) hand, located the other foot, eased it down and out, and the mare proceeded to push until, according to my daughter, her eyes almost "popped out". The mare, although a large mare, was very small compared to the size of the foal. Despite pushing, she made very little progress. We finally applied traction to the legs to keep them from going back, and felt along the legs to find the muzzle. There was very, very little room in there. Kept going until I was comfortable the shoulders were not caught and didn't feel any hind feet obstructing. The vet was already on the way. When we were confident that nothing was malpositioned or caught, we applied very mild traction with each contraction. The mare pushed, but the foal was so large compared to her vulva that even getting the head out, over the legs, was difficult. When the head was out, the nostrils began quivering and the legs began wriggling and it was obvious the little one was determined to try to breathe. Since ~ 30 minutes had lapsed since the water had broken, we decided it was time to exert a little more traction. That seemed to restart the mare's efforts and she started really pushing again and finally the foal was out. The mare had already torn when the head emerged, but hopefully not too badly. However, the cord ruptured at the time of delivery and blood was squirting from the maternal side of the cord. We figured that was probably ok, but so much blood was pooling that we ultimately pinched it off. The bleeding stopped immediately...and stayed stopped when released. The foal, in the mean time, was trying desperately to get to her feet, was obviously mad at the whole situation of being squashed, and started slamming her feet on the ground. We moved her to her mom's view and got the legs out of the way of the poor mare's vulva like your book suggested. Within a few minutes the baby was up and on a quest for food. Mom on the other hand stayed down a long time and was totally exhausted. By that time the vet had come and pronounced the foal in great shape. We waited on pins and needles for the mom to respond, sit up, er....look at her new baby. Finally she sort of moved up on her chest and started nickering. What a wonderful sound!!!! When she finally was able to get up she allowed the baby to nurse and never moved a single muscle. Her placenta hadn't passed in 3.5 hours, so the vet came back and gave her oxytocin. Within 30 or 45 minutes she passed the placenta with the vet applying constant, but gentle traction. It did pass intact. Despite her pain, she has been very careful with her little one. As a maiden mare, she really seems to have a high maternal instinct. She allows us to play with baby, but still wants her scratches too. - We won't know if the mare requires stitching yet, because when the vet came out for the third time today she was soooo swollen that he couldn't fully examine her. He's coming back to recheck her tomorrow. He has her on antibiotics, has us applying Nolvasan to the torn vulva, and, because of the cuts, wants us to keep her stall bound and out of the sand arena until some of the swelling subsides. The mare did reduce her appetite yesterday. She is crying out when she passes stool. She is urinating more easily now. Anyway, we want to extend our special thanks to you for writing that book. We were reasonably calm, kept track of the time (for the 40 minute limit), recognized the need to get the hoof down to prevent a recto-vaginal tear, hopefully limited the damage to the mare, and ended up with a healthy, living, wonderful, beautiful foal and a contented mom!!! - Although the foal initially seemed intent upon lying UNDER her mom, she had now seen the apparent error of her ways and is lying in the center of the stall, or close to one end, allowing her mom lots of room to walk around her. She is trotting and running in the stall...much to her mom's dismay!!! Hopefully we will be allowed to let them out tomorrow. - One other quick question: The amount of blood pouring from the maternal side of the umbilical cord when it severed at birth was quite significant. What, if anything, should be done when this happens?


Thanks again for your support! The next mare is 318 days today and still hanging in there. I think we will get another living baby!!!!!!!




I am so very happy for you! And I know everyone who reads this column is cheering for you! You did a wonderful job, both figuring out the initial problem and with the delivery. The foal should be named after you!


The blood coming from the maternal side of the umbilical cord isn't a problem. It's the blood that was retained in the placenta leaking out. When the umbilical cord can stay intact for a while after delivery, that blood usually drains into the foal. The important thing is to be sure the foal's umbilical stump isn't bleeding. The maternal side doesn't matter.

Thanks so very much for letting us know about your beautiful new foal and her healthy Mom! We'll all be keeping our fingers crossed that everything goes as well for the second mare. Enjoy!


Follow up by Judy on March 31, 1999:


We are very pleased to announce the birth of a live, healthy full-term colt to our other mare!!!!!! The medications were stopped at 328 days, and she delivered yesterday morning at ~7:00. We had been staying up nightly for 2 weeks, so everyone was quite tired, but absolutely elated!!!!! The mare's croup muscles and vulva relaxed about 2 weeks ago. However, the milk in her reasonably small udder was clear but yellow-tinged at the time. As a maiden, and with our history, the guys decided foal watch was indicated. Finally about 4 days ago, her udder started really getting hard and filling. Monday, the milk went from yellow tinged to crystal clear. I was worried that she was actually regressing!!! We have 2 foreign exchange students from Germany with us for Spring Break, who helped with foal watch Monday night. They reported that the mare was lifting her tail up most of the time, urinating very frequently, and seemed "super" alert. Then she started "backing" into walls. Our son went out for the 3 AM shift and checked her milk. It was still crystal clear. Geez!!!! We stuck with it and at ~6:50 AM our farm manager who had come on duty called the house and said she was getting ready to deliver! We zoomed to the barn, the mare was down, head and chest delivered! The rascal mare decided at that point that it was time to stand up. We decided it probably wasn't, so Walter and Thomas sort of held her down, I pulled a little on the foal, she started pushing again, and there he was!!!! He was up and nursing within a short period of time and the mare has been absolutely wonderful!!!! However, I think her maternal instincts are going rampant, because she is not only protective of her own baby, but is calling to the month old foal with that nickering kind of mother sound whenever she sees her in an adjacent arena. I don't think that filly's mom appreciates it at all!!!! Anyway, all is well!!!!! - One funny thing did happen...I looked at the foal and proudly pronounced it a filly. Several hours later, when I was putting iodine on the navel, I noticed that the tissue behind the umbilical stump did not look like tiny teats. Upon closer examination, and lifting the tail, I discovered the error of my ways! I called the vet right out, thinking something was wrong because he wasn't well endowed. The vet just laughed...said it was normal. By evening it was completely clear what his sex was! I suppose at birth, things just haven't come down yet. :)


One question...The mother of the month old foal just went back into heat. The foal has watery diarrhea and isn't wanting to nurse much. She is drinking water and eating grain. Can drinking water cause watery diarrhea (one of the foal manuals states this) or is it more likely heat in the mare? She foal is still running around. We gave her Kaopectate. Regards, Judy, happy, happy, Judy :)


Dear Judy, happy, happy, Judy :-)


Congratulations! I know everyone has been waiting to hear about your second healthy foal! How wonderful it is that things have turned around for you! And believe me, you aren't the first (and won't be the last) to mistake a colt for a filly! :-)


It isn't uncommon for foals to get diarrhea when the mare comes into the 30-day heat. However, anytime a foal of that age isn't nursing well it's cause for concern, since it's possible that the diarrhea is getting out of control. Keep a close watch on the foal because antibiotics may be called for. I have also read that foals drinking water can cause diarrhea. But, I have seen a lot of foals drink quite a bit of water without getting diarrhea, and even if they have diarrhea and are drinking water, my tendency is to think it's a good thing because they are at least keeping themselves from getting dehydrated. So, I'm not sure I put much credence in the theory that water causes diarrhea. The only exception I can think of is a few foals I've seen that seemed to become "fascinated" with drinking water, and drank and drank and drank. Even those, though, didn't really seem to be adversely effected.


Again, congratulations, and I hope the trouble with the organophosphates is now a thing of the past!



Submitted by Lil in the USA on January 28, 1999:


My 18 year old brood mare aborted her fetus last night. The pregnancy was about 9 months along and the mare was up to date on Pneumabort vaccinations. The mare was due to foal near the end of March. There was no warning that I was able to recognize--found the dead fetus, a perfect filly with placenta too, at 9:30 PM when I went out to check on another mare that is due to foal anytime. The mother of the aborted fetus is in good condition this morning. She was banging on her bucket, wanting her breakfast. Last year (normal gestation), her foal was exceptionally oversized and malpositioned. A veterinarian assisted the delivery, but the foal died soon after birth. My mare bled a lot and was terribly swollen, but recovered quickly and was bred back easily. My guess is that she lost this year's baby because of damage to her cervix from the previous delivery. I would assume that it would not be wise to breed this mare again. I will be looking into embryo transfer, as she is an exceptionally high quality mare that has beautiful babies. What do you think?


Hi Lil,


I'm so sorry that the mare aborted. It's always so hard.


If she got back in foal easily last year, and stayed in foal that long, there's probably a good chance that the loss of this foal wasn't due to the foaling injuries. There are many reasons why a mare might abort at that stage of pregnancy. A good vet should be able to do a vaginal speculum exam of the cervix and a uterine biopsy to tell you if the mare is a candidate for further breeding. If she isn't, then embryo transfer would be a good option. However, I'd sure have her checked out before going that route. If you haven't done it, the other thing I might suggest is to have her progesterone level tested if you decide to breed her again. In older mares, that's always worth checking.


Best of luck and I hope you get more beautiful babies out of your mare.



Submitted by Kelly in the USA on January 29, 1999:


I went back and read all of the back questions and no one asked this one. My mares schedule has her being wormed right at her due date. If ivermectrin was used six weeks before should I hold off until after the baby is due? Then after the baby is delivered how long before I can worm mom again? Thank you so much for having this website. I now feel that I am not the only one out there looking for information.


Hi Kelly,


I'm very glad you've enjoyed the website, and thanks for the question.


My personal opinion is that it would be best to wait until about a week after the mare foals to deworm her again.

To be thorough, though, I'll tell you that there will be people who will disagree with this opinion. Recently, it has become popular to worm foaling mares with ivermectrin within the first twelve hours after delivery. The theory is that doing this kills the larva of Strongyloides westeri, which can be passed to the foal through the mare's milk. Some people feel the infection of the foal with this parasite is what causes foal heat scours and that scours can be prevented by worming the mare right after delivery. I have some problems with this. First--I don't like to do anything to immediate postpartum mares that might cause them stress. Second--I haven't seen conclusive proof that foal heat scours is caused by S. Westeri, and I've had too many people who've used ivermectrin right after delivery tell me that their foals still scoured. There have been many studies done on foal heat scours that show a foal will still get it even if it is taken away from its mother at delivery and raised in a sterile environment. As far as I know, no one has proven conclusively what causes foal heat scours. Third--I've read articles by veterinarians stating that it may actually be detrimental to the foal to deworm specifically for this parasite because it is one that horses build up an immunity to. By deworming for it right after the mare foals, the foal doesn't build up an immunity to it and has to do it later, thereby presenting the possibility that the parasite can actually do more damage than if nature is left to run its course. Example: Parasitology - Internal Parasites of Horses


I truly don't know what's correct and what isn't, but since I'm not convinced that this is what causes foal heat scours, I'm still reluctant to stress a mare by using a dewormer so soon after delivery. So, I'd wait a week after foaling to worm her. There now, that's more than you bargained for, isn't it? :-) I hope this answered your question without causing too much confusion!


Thanks for writing and let us know all about your new foal.



Submitted by Susy in the USA on February 1, 1999:


My eight year old maiden mare is nine months pregnant,she has always had a heavy winter coat and is probably overweight now, the weather here in Michigan is in the 40's now, my question : would having a heavy coat and extra pounds and the weather being too warm for this time of year cause her to sweat? [she is shedding like it's Spring]. She has done this before[about seven months] when it was balmy out. She sweats on her neck, girth area, flanks and under her belly, it's a cold sweat. I talked to her vet and she wasn't concerned about it [as long as she's eating and acting "normal"] Should I consult another vet? Or do you have any wise words for me? She's eating fine. Her bag is looking like it's beginning to start something. I've worked on a breeding farm but never saw this before [the sweating] any advice would be great! She's been wormed every two months and has had her rhinos. I'm guessing it's too much heat for her, the weather, her coat, and hay. Thanks for your time! I've got your book, wonderful!!


Hi Susy,


My gut feeling is that the sweating is due to just what you said--heavy coat, extra weight, and warm weather. If your weather is like ours, it's also been very damp outside. That could contribute, too. As long as she's acting and eating okay, I would not worry about it, unless the sweating becomes more than just dampness and turns into running sweat. It's normal for her to be shedding now. The broodmares I've worked with almost always starting dropping hair in January. The thing you said that most concerned me is that she may be starting to bag up. It's too early for that. If it continues, I'd certainly get that checked out as it may be a sign of placentitis or some other problem. As always, if you notice any chances in her behavior, or if her sweating or udder increases, it's always best to call the vet and have her looked at.


I'm very glad you like the book. Thank you! Take care, and let us know how it goes,


Follow up by Susy on March 10, 1999:


Hi, I wrote you back in feb.about my 8 yr. old maiden mare. She was sweating on her neck, flanks, belly. Well we got through that. Today she sure was acting like she was in first stage labor, biting her front leg, kicking her belly, swishing her tail, flaring nostrils. I was flipping out ! She is at 303 days, way early for baby to show up. Is this normal pre-labor discomfort? She is wimpy when it comes to pain. I called the vet, she figured it was the baby moving into position etc. She advised to give banamine for the discomfort, that has helped. The mare is still all normal in the hind end, hips, vulva, bag, etc. Do I need to start sleeping in the barn yet ?[I will anyway] Thanks for any input, I'll keep you posted !


Hi Susy,


It sounds like she has the maiden mare "syndrome." She doesn't understand that she's pregnant and when the foal gets into a position that's uncomfortable for her, she lets you know about it. This sometimes also happens with experienced mares if the foal is in a position that's really painful for them, but it happens much more frequently with maiden mares. If she does it again, a brisk walk of 10-20 minutes might help shift the foal's position into one that's more comfortable for her. Otherwise, Banamine usually helps. As long as she isn't showing any physical changes indicating that delivery is near, there probably isn't any reason for you to sleep in the barn yet. Now remember, that's just my best guess! :-) They can always pull a quickie without any warning.


Please do keep us updated.


Follow up by Susy on March 20, 1999:


Hi again, well we're at 313 days(eight year old maiden showing signs of first stage labor march 10) Today there was pinkish heavy mucous at her vulva, I freaked ! Horse isn't acting like she's ready yet, no milk(had my poor husband go get milk replacer just in case) baby is bouncing around in there like it's ready to see the world ! The mare doesn't seem too worried. No signs of any stage of labor. Still all normal in rear. Hopefully she hangs on for another 12 days or so. Any advice would be great again!! Thanks, this site is THE BEST! Will keep you updated!


Hi Susy,


I would have freaked, too! Then tried to remind myself that maiden mares sometimes do weird things. And would still keep a close watch on her, of course! :-) I don't know why maiden mares sometimes do such erratic things, but my assumption is that they can get erratic bursts of hormones. I'd still do what you've been doing--keep observing her closely for any other changes--but since she isn't progressing in other ways, I think there's an excellent chance that she'll hold off until she's in a safe range to deliver. You should be there in another week, at 320 days. I wish I had some wonderful words of wisdom to really ease your mind, but all I can say is keep watching. Just what you wanted to hear, huh?


Hang in there and please do keep us updated.



Submitted by Jennie in the USA on February 5, 1999:


First of all I love your web page here. It has been most helpful.


I have a mixed breed mare part Tenn.Walker. I purchased her in Dec. knowing she was with foal. She is due as well as I know in March, She was in poor condition when I got her but has improved greatly. I don't think this is her first foal from all the signs. Her udder looks as though it has been filled out before, ect... She is around 15 and is a Palomino color.


Anyway to my question(s) , she has a temperamental disposition, although I think she is more relaxed with me than my husband. What I'm wondering is, do you think she will let me help her if need be when she does foal. I plan to spend the last of this month in the barn. This is my first by the way, and I don't want to miss it ! I know most mares lie down to foal and I don't want to risk startling her to make her stand up. I have read your article on your book here on the internet and plan to get your book. You have been most helpful and easy to read ! My mare has started to relax in her hip area and has a dropped look to her tummy, so I think she is on schedule. I would appreciate any help you could give me about handling mares with an attitude!:-)


Hi Jennie,


The best thing you can do is spend as much time as possible with her before she foals. When I foal new mares, I always try to spend time with them beforehand, grooming, etc., because I truly believe you can build a rapport and gain their confidence (most of the time!). When foaling time comes, you'll just have to play it by ear. If your presence seems to bother her, then back off and watch from a place where she can't see you. It's very important not to disrupt the process. The book does discuss mares that want to be left alone.


Thanks for your kind words about the column. I'm very glad you've enjoyed it. Enjoy your mare and let us know all about your new baby!


Follow up by Jennie on March 9, 1999:


I wrote you a few weeks ago about my Palomino mare. I have since found out she isn't due til April 12. My question before was about helping a mare with an attitude and your advice is working. I have been spending time grooming her ect.. and i do see a difference in her. My question now is while grooming her a couple days ago I thought I noticed a little bulge underneath her belly. This evening I am sure I found yet another bulge. These bulges aren't back around her udder. Which is showing some signs of changing but not really bagging up yet. Or waxing. These are about the size of my hand. They aren't really hard but not mushy either. They aren't hot to the touch. She shows no signs of pain when I touch them. I am just totally stumped as to what they could be. My first thought was maybe a rupture but I really have no idea. She is otherwise doing fine and acting fine. What do you think this could be?? Thanks for all your help!!


Hi Jennie,


What you're seeing is probably normal ventral edema occurring along the path of the lymph channels. Since the bulges aren't hot or painful, it's very unlikely that they're anything to worry about. Exercise can sometimes help the swellings go down, but not always. As long as the mare is feeling and eating okay, and the bulges don't get hot or painful, I'd consider them to be a normal part of the late pregnancy "syndrome." If you do feel heat or she acts like they're painful, it would be best to have a vet take a look.


Hang in there and let us know when she foals!


Follow up by Jennie on March 18, 1999:


Hello, its me again.:) Just wanting to know your thought about my mare. She is due April 12. She has already bagged up and her vulva looks a little swelled to me today. Do you think this is all early? She hasn't waxed yet that I have seen. She is acting fine, just miserable. I just wonder when you think I should staying with her. I do not want to miss this. Thanks for your time and advice, its been most helpful! ps. the bulges I noticed before are seeming to be fine.


Hi Jennie,


As of right now, April 12 is 23 days away. So, your mare is very close to the 320-day mark. Once they hit 320, the foal has an excellent chance of being perfectly fine. Sounds like your mare will make that and even if she foaled today, everything should be okay.

It's really impossible for me to tell you through cyberspace when you should start staying with the mare. My best advice is to do what your gut tells you to do. If you think you should stay with her, then stay. And do it even if people make fun of you. As I've said before, I've spent many more nights with them being pretty sure they wouldn't foal than nights I was sure they would. They can do some surprising things and I'd rather be safe than sorry! A little discomfort and inconvenience on my part is worth it to make sure Mom and baby get the help they might need.


I'm glad the bulges are okay, and please keep us updated. Hang in there!



Submitted by Candy on February 10, 1999:


My mare had her first foal two years ago (mine too) She had a filly at 335 days. She is now in foal and is 318 days. She is already showing the classic signs; utters are full & hard (could barely get my fingers between the halves to clean) ; pelvic muscles are soft; vulva is soft and very flabby; she is very full in the ribs just in front of her flanks; she is sunken in front of her hips; she goes out of her way to be unfriendly to her horse friends, she is flatter in the area of the girth.


Finally to the questions... Could it be possible that she will foal this early? If so, should we take any extra precautions? I am very sure of my breeding dates. Also, is it true that mares carry colts longer than they do fillies? Please help.


Hi Candy,


It sure sounds like she could be getting ready to foal early. At this point, if she holds off for another couple of days, I wouldn't be too worried. My experience has been that the vast majority of foals do very well if born after 320 days, and you're almost to that. Yes, I think there is a tendency for mares to carry colts longer than fillies. It doesn't always hold true, but the tendency seems to be there.


I hope everything goes smoothly and please let us know all about your new foal!


Follow up by Candy on March 1, 1999:


I wrote a few weeks ago. I am happy to say my mare did not foal early, she made it to 333 days and delivered a CUTE little black filly. I was lucky enough to witness the whole birth. Got a little scared when after 10 minutes when she hadn't progressed past the two feet. So I took a deep breath and felt for the nose to be resting on the legs. It was so I grabbed the cam corder and just stood back and taped. What a wonderful experience.(Missed it the first time when I thought I had a minute to run to the house, got back and she had already delivered) Sorry this is lengthy, but I know how much I enjoyed reading the follow-ups when I was waiting for my foal. I think this forum is great, and you do a very good job answering the questions in a friendly and informative manner. I plan on breeding my mare again for next year and I also plan on reading anything I can get my hands on in the mean time (first off will be your book). Keep up the good work! And good luck to all of you out there waiting on your babies!


Hi Candy,


Congratulations!! Thanks so much for letting us know about your new foal! You're right, I think everyone enjoys reading the follow-ups. I'm glad you've enjoyed the column. Please stay with us. And be sure and let us know about next year's baby.


Have fun with your new foal.



Submitted by Karen in the USA on February 22, 1999:


I have a 12 yr old quarter horse mare that has had a prolapsed uterus. She has foaled successfully four times but she lost the last two foals. After she delivered the last one (two years ago), she failed to deliver all of the placenta. The vet gave her a shot to restart her labor which resulted in a partially prolapsed uterus. I was recently told by a different vet that a prolapsed uterus rarely reoccurs in subsequent foalings. I don't want to put this mare in an unreasonable risk, so I want to get as much information as possible before I make any decisions regarding the breeding of this mare. Any advice/information you can provide will be appreciated. Thank you.


Hi Karen,


I'm afraid you've hit on a topic that I don't know much about. I've only seen very few prolapses and the results of most weren't good. I don't have any personal experience with the survivors being rebred, so I really can't answer your question and I don't want to speculate about it. It's much too serious an issue. The best advice I can give you is to get in contact with a couple of vet schools. They are usually very happy to help people and can probably give you good information. You might also try a search of the internet.


Sorry I couldn't help, but if you find an answer to your question, I'd really appreciate it if you'd come back and let us know what you found.



Submitted by Helen in the USA on February 24, 1999:


I have a 26 year old mare that my father keeps on his property. She is essentially his horse since I am unable to keep her where I live now. He called me this weekend informing me that a neighbor's stallion that they recently purchased jumped the fence and bred my mare. Our concern is her age. I purchased her as an eighteen month old starving refugee. She grew quickly and filled out nicely with a lot of TLC and became quite a beautiful horse. She had a foal when she was about three years old when she was bred by an escaped colt at the farm where I had her trained. This first pregnancy was uneventful and she foaled without complications in the pasture. She has been a very healthy horse and has had no serious health problems. She has not been ridden in years, and is pastured on 14 acres (with a few cows and a donkey). She is never confined to a stall (she prefers it that way). She maintains her condition and weight on her pasture and does not receive any supplemental feeding except during drought or rough winters. Are there any concerns with a mare this old carrying this pregnancy and foaling?


Hi Helen,


I usually don't have a problem with breeding older mares that are healthy and in good condition, but 26 might be pushing it. Is it possible to have a vet check her and see if she actually got in foal? Mares that age will lots of times show heat but aren't truly fertile, so it would be worth having her checked. If she is in foal, and you or the vet are worried about her health, it might be best to abort her. I really think you should have a veterinarian's input on this to help you make a decision about what's best for the mare.


Thanks for writing and let us know what happens.



Submitted by Fran in the USA on February 24, 1999:


Is it normal for a mares coat to become really coarse when she is with foal? My mare is shedding really bad, and her coat feels as coarse as a goats coat. She used to have a nice soft coat, even early on in her pregnancy, but since she started to shed, she looks awful. Please give me some advice on what to do for her. She doesn't seem to be sick, and I haven't changed her feed. Thanks. I love this column.


Hi Fran,


I can't really say that I've noticed mares' coats being coarse because of pregnancy. Their coats are usually the same as always. The one thing that comes to mind is a selenium problem. Is your area selenium deficient? Check with your vet if you don't know.


How old is your mare? That could have some bearing on her coat. And maybe once she sheds out completely, her coat will be better. As long as she's looking okay otherwise, and feeling okay, it's probably nothing to worry about.


I'm glad you've enjoyed the column and thanks for writing.



Submitted by Shari in the USA on February 27, 1999:


Oh my gosh what a wonderful site I have found! This will be a long one, sorry. I will of course be ordering your book - have to know as much as possible.


I just wanted to share my first foaling experience. It was last year and the mare was due April 1 and I work in an accounting firm so with the stress of work and the baby coming it was quite a time. We would go out and check her at night around the time she was due and things just weren't happening - well she went two weeks over. I have to say it was probably one of very few times when I was out of control, my poor husband. The night the foal came I had my son come sit outside with me and things started happening very quickly but she seemed to be straining without things going quickly enough for me (nose out, nose back in) so I decided to help and starting pulling and yelling at my husband at the same time to help I was getting tired - then one big push and me pulling and out the big guy came. His tongue was hanging out of his mouth and he was not moving, I was crying, he was dead. My husband said he wasn't and then he started moving. Is that normal? He was a long legged long headed big eared beautiful paint colt. He walked around for a week with that big pink tongue hanging out of his mouth. So, that was it, and now I have three on the way this year - you would have to wonder why we go through this, but two of these are from our very first foal crop from our foundation bred quarter horse stallion. But, oh my gosh, one of them is from my maiden mare that I raised. Here we go again. Thank you for listening.


Hi Shari,


I'm glad you like the column, and I really enjoyed your post! What a time you had last year! See, sometimes you just have to get in there and help. Sounds like the foal was so big that it's a good thing you did. His tongue hanging out of his mouth for a week is something that happens occasionally. It's due to a partial paralysis that they almost always get over, and lots of times it happens because they're squeezed pretty good on the way out during delivery. So, you certainly did the right thing by helping the mare.


It's normal for a foal not to move right away after delivery. Sometimes it takes a minute or two to see much going on. I always roll them up on their chests as soon as they are delivered and start rubbing them to stimulate them. Being up on their chests makes it easier for them to expand their lungs to breathe.


Thanks for writing and you'll have to let us know about your foals as they arrive!


Follow up by Shari on March 16, 1999:


I got the book!!!! Oh how I wish I had gotten it last year. It would have been a tremendous help with that colt. I have a question about something I saw in the book about the Caslick's. I have a mare due the first part of June that has had the Caslick's done, I was under the impression that we opened that up a few days prior to her due date but you indicated we do it 2-4 weeks before? Is that because we don't want to miss her delivery and then worry about healing too quickly? I just don't want that to be uncomfortable during delivery and have a big tear to fix or the foal to have delivery difficulty, I don't have enough experience for that. Can you elaborate a little on this for me? Thank you.


Hi Shari,


Thanks for getting the book. I'm very glad you like it.


The reason most vets open the Caslick's at 2-4 weeks before the mare's due date is exactly as you suspected--in case the mare decides to foal early. Since mares can sometimes do sneaky foaling tricks, it's better to have the Caslick's opened a little early. You're also correct that not having the mare opened can cause delivery problems, not only for the mare, but also for the foal. You don't have to worry about things healing back together. Usually, the edges don't even try to grow back together but if they do a little, it's no big deal to gently tease them apart. It doesn't seem to bother the mares to do this.


I hope this helps and if you want more information, please don't hesitate to ask. Let us know when your mare foals.



Submitted by Deb in the USA on March 4, 1999:


I own a 15 yo pure arab mare that I have been trying to get to settle for the last 3 years. She has had 3 previous foals with no trouble at all in conception, pregnancy or delivery (different stallions) according to her last owner. Her last foal was 4 years ago. However, my experience has been different: The first year she almost made the 90 day cut (big infection when she reabsorbed), second nearly two months (we infused her prior to breeding and had a minor infection that cleared up by itself after reabsorption) and this last year at an 18 day ultrasound, one horn was enlarged and uterus had "cloudy" material but no infection developed. I had a biopsy done last spring that showed minimal scarring but uterine tone was extremely poor (mid-June). However, by the end of July/beginning Aug. tone was good and that's when we bred her. I've had her on a complete supplement for about a year now--Accel--from VitaFlex that is used frequently for rescue horses (complete amino acids + minerals/vitamins + biotics). She gets a minimal amount of grain with Accel and the rest good quality alfalfa hay. My vet keeps mentioning uterine insufficiency and frankly, I'm starting to believe him. I'm wondering if this is indeed the case,what your recommendations would be if any. Are progesterone supplements (not shots) available and would they be worth a try? Someone in an arabian discussion group mentioned a higher fat content diet.... My vet has really written her off as a breedable mare but I would like to try one more year before I do the same. Her bloodlines, confirmation and disposition are really good....


Dear Deb,


This is a difficult problem. Have you had cultures done, too, as well as the biopsy? Was there any sign of infection on the biopsy? Many of the mares we saw that had poor uterine tone had low-grade infections. Your thought about progesterone is a good one, too. Some mares don't produce enough progesterone on their own to maintain pregnancy and need to be supplemented. This can be done with a product, Regumate, that is given orally once a day. If you breed her again, be sure to have her progesterone level checked and talk to the vet about the possibility of beginning the supplementation about a week after she goes out of heat after being bred.


The only other suggestion I have is to get a second opinion. Different vets have different approaches to mares with reproductive problems and it may be that another vet has had good success with mares like yours.


I wish you the best.



Submitted by Lynn in the USA on March 7, 1999:


I have another question...I guess since this is our first foal it's kinda normal, but I sure feel like such a pain...Anyway...here goes..I've been reading the posts and saw that one of the owners had two babies with joint-ill. The suggestions in a book I've got states that to prevent this illness the mares should foal outside in a grassy area. At this time of year it's hard to find a real grassy area even here in Florida. What are your suggestions and how do you feel about this? I sure appreciate you and it's quite obvious everyone else does too...Thanks so much for all your help and advice....


Hi Lynn,


I don't see anything wrong with mares foaling in nice, green grass, providing the area is safe--proper fencing, good weather, things like that. However, I don't believe foaling outside guarantees prevention of joint ill or any other foal illness. The theory is that since it's outside, Mother Nature takes care of more "bugs" and it is therefore cleaner than in a stall, where things can build up no matter how well it's cleaned. I agree with that but still don't see foaling outside as a guarantee.


Thanks for your question and kind words. I really enjoy doing the column and sincerely hope it helps people. Be sure to let us know when your mare foals.



Submitted by Darlene in the USA on March 9, 1999:


Thank you for developing this wonderfully informative website! I have just purchased a 10 year old Tennessee Walker mare (Fancy) who is due to foal on or about March 22. She has had four pregnancies from which two foals survived. The others were either stillborn or died shortly after birth, each death more than likely the result of vascular compromise attributed to the mare eating fescue grass. The previous owner basically allowed nature to take its course and did not provide any prenatal treatment with regard to immunizations.


Now that Fancy is in my care, I have her stalled and she is eating grass hay that has been tested/approved by our local agriculture department and broodmare feed. I plan to have a veterinarian administer tetanus, rhino, E&W vaccinations and worm her. I'm also going to request that she be given whatever medication is necessary to insure that she produces milk (since she's been on fescue). My questions for you are: is there anything else that I need to have the vet do, and would Fancy's delivery be considered high risk since she has not received appropriate prenatal care? This is my first foaling experience and I am very worried that the odds are stacked against the wee one's survival. Thank you for your advice and I intend to purchase your book.


Dear Darlene,


If Fancy is due March 22, it's too late for the vaccinations to be of much use in producing antibodies for her to pass on to her foal in her colostrum. However, I would still have her vaccinated for her own sake. Be sure to have the vet give the foal tetanus antitoxin since Fancy hasn't had a timely tetanus vaccination.


How long has she been off fescue? If it's been a month or more, there shouldn't be a problem with her milk. If she's on schedule for delivery, she should be bagging up pretty well by now. If she bags up, the vet shouldn't have to give her anything for her milk production. If her milk is a problem, be sure the foal gets adequate colostrum. That is of utmost importance. If the mare isn't producing enough, the foal can be given frozen colostrum or a colostrum replacement. If she's been off fescue for a while, I don't think I would consider her delivery to be high risk since it sounds like the problems were with the foals, not the delivery itself. If she's been on fescue more recently, then yes, her delivery could be high risk. If you can get the vet there for the delivery, it certainly won't hurt anything. Also, I'd have the vet out as soon as possible after the foal is born to make sure everything is okay.


There really isn't anything else you can do that you haven't already considered. Just try to attend her delivery and have the vet out ASAP. If she's just been taken off fescue, watch for signs of imminent delivery other than bagging up--relaxation over hips, relaxation of vulva, foal dropping, etc., and behavior changes.


I took care of three mares a couple of years ago that weren't pulled off fescue until right before their due dates. All of them went at least three weeks overdue, and one went more than a month over. One had low milk production, but the others were okay. The foal that was carried the longest had some problems, but came through it in fine shape.


Best of luck to you, and please let us know how things go.


Follow up posted by Darlene on March 24, 1999:


I wrote you on 3/9/99 with regard to my mare Fancy and potential foaling problems she may have due to poor pre-natal care, etc. I am happy to announce that at 1:15 a.m. today, Fancy gave birth to a very large and very beautiful paint stud colt. Although she had some difficulty with the birth due to the Bingo's size and his presentation, which we managed to correct, no other problems were encountered. Her milk production is marvelous and she is the perfect Momma! Oh, the sound of her sweet "nicker" when she first said hello to him! The only important and urgent question I have to ask of you is: How do you get iodine stains off of your hands!?! :>) Thanks again for your wonderful web site; I have told many of my friends about it!


Congratulations, Darlene!


Isn't that nicker the most wonderful sound ever!


I got a great laugh out of your question about getting iodine off your hands. All I can say is: time cures many evils ! It'll wear off in a few days.


I'm so happy for you, and thanks so much for letting us know about your new baby. Enjoy !



Submitted by Candace from the USA on March 10, 1999:


We have a mare who has had three foals, and we still have trouble with her allowing the foals to nurse. This year it was more than 4 hours and the next day, today, she is still only allowing him to nurse from one side of her udder. Our vet thinks nature will take care of itself. However, we are concerned both about mare and foal. Is the foal going to get enough, including colostrum? What will happen to the mare if this continues? AND What suggestions do you have? We have tried milking some out of her and holding her while the foal tries to nurse but she kicks. What should our vet be doing? Please respond as soon as you can.


Dear Candace,


Fortunately, this doesn't happen very often with mares after the first foal. I know what a trial it can be when one acts like this. The foal won't suffer from nursing on only one side as long as the mare allows it to nurse frequently enough. However, it could be trouble for the mare since the build-up could possibly cause mastitis. The only role your vet could play in this would be to sedate the mare so the foal can get a good nursing from both sides. That might be enough. Otherwise, it's a matter of time and patience on your part. You may have to resort to twitching the mare. Will the foal willingly try to nurse from both sides? If so, sedating or twitching the mare might get the job done. You might have to help the foal go for the other side. To do that, someone needs to use their hand to cover up the side the foal has been nursing on and give it no choice but to go for the other nipple.


I feel for you--this can be a real ordeal. Please let us know how it goes.



Submitted by Halina in the USA on March 10, 1999:


Hi Theresa! My TB mare just foaled yesterday, and everything about her delivery was normal. However, she is not producing a lot of milk, and the quality of her colostrum was poor. The vet tubed the filly with some milk he got from the mare within a few hours of birth, and the baby had an IgG later that day, but I still don't think she's getting enough milk. The problem is this: my mare is incredibly protective of the baby. She just about wants to kill anyone who gets in her stall. What should I do if we have to supplement the filly? It takes 3 strong guys just to catch and hold the mare for the vet. Can she be tranquilized? My mare has always been difficult to handle, but never to this extreme. Do you think she'll get better as the filly gets older? Any help would be appreciated.


Dear Halina,


So sorry you're having this problem. If you think the foal isn't getting enough milk, then yes, you can sedate the mare to get the foal supplemented. Do anything you have to do--the foal obviously has to be given enough to eat. The good news is that the mare's production should pick up, and yes, her behavior will improve. It varies with how long it takes mares to get over this extreme protectiveness. Sometimes it might take three or four days, sometimes a week or more.


Hang in there--it will get better. Let us know.



Submitted by Mandi in the USA on March 13, 1999:


I have a five year old paint that is due any minute and I have read your book over and over and an Inprinting book as well. Thank goodness for your book first of all. It has explained things very clearly for me. As for my mare she has had milk for about two weeks and on the vets recommendation I pulled on the teat once and a drop of blood came out, I was a little alarmed, but like I said I have read your book. Getting to the point, I know that my mare is showing almost every sign physically and recently ( in the last two days) she has become real moody, but no wax. How can you tell how close a mare is to labor if she does not wax? I want to tell you this... when we first got her she threw a fit in the trailer and strapped her front knees, not too bad, but enough to be sore. After that nothing bad has happened to her. Every day we see the foal kicking inside her, not just once a couple times an hour. I would list everything that has changed, but it is just too much. I just wanted to know if a horse doesn't wax how what are the other signs to pay more attention to? And can the trailer incident, that happened during the 5th month of her pregnancy play any role in the foal? Oh, in the case studies at the end of the book, is the older mare with toxic shock okay to this day? That story reminded me of my 20 yr. old quarter horse..


Hi Mandi,


I'm so glad the book has helped you. That's just what I like to hear!


Is your mare a maiden? At five years old, I would expect she may be. Maidens can be harder to predict because they sometimes do erratic things. She may still wax, but as you know, you can't count on that. She should still make at least some of the other physical changes--mushy muscles in her rear end, relaxed vulva, belly dropping, etc. She will probably also show some behavioral changes--more uncomfortable, rubbing, kicking, pacing, etc. Just keep a watch on her and I'm sure you'll know when her time is near. The 20-year-old mare in the case studies would now be 28. She was only at that farm to foal for that year, then went back to her home farm in another state. The last I heard about her was a couple of years later, and she was doing fine.


Thanks for writing and I hope everything goes smoothly. Please let us know when your new foal arrives!



Submitted by Kristy in Canada on March 14, 1999:


I have a mare that has been waxing for the last 4 days and I read in the Quarter Horse Journal that as soon as waxing is occurring labor should happen within 24 hrs? She hasn't done anything. She's been up and down and laying down a lot more than usual. How long should I wait before getting worried?


Hi Kristy,


Actually, it isn't at all unusual for mares to wax for four days. Usually, they will foal within 72 hours, but they can wax for much longer than that. I've had some do it for weeks and everything be perfectly fine.


As long as your mare is eating and acting okay, I doubt that there is anything to be worried about. Her being up and down a lot more than usual probably means it won't be much longer.


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



Submitted by Kathy in the USA on March 16, 1999:


Just love your advice column, wonderful information!  


Our first foal is due 4/3/99, although she is already bagging up and walking around with her tail up in the air. Most of mares in this area are delivering 10 to 14 days early, so we expect an early arrival as well. On to my question. As I was saying most of my friend's mares have delivered early and I have been hearing different information on how many times after delivery you should give the Oxytocin. One vet says just once after delivery is fine, another vet says a shot or two daily the next three to five days after delivery. What do you think is the best way to give the Oxytocin?


Hi Kathy,


Thanks much for your kind words about the column. I hate to sound like a broken record, but I do love doing it and really hope it helps people.


About the oxytocin. My opinion is that unless there is a specific reason to give it, it shouldn't be used at all. Reasons to give it would be a retained placenta, low milk production, or if the vet felt the mare's uterus needed extra help with the involution process. Oxytocin can be dangerous, and that's why I don't advocate its use on a routine basis. Of all the mares I've foaled, I would guesstimate that less than 10% of them needed oxytocin in the immediate postpartum period. I don't have a problem with giving it when there is a reason to, but again, I think there must be a real reason.


I hope this helps, and doesn't add to the controversy you're facing. Best of luck and let us know about your new foal!



Submitted by Sarah in the USA on March 16, 1999:


Hi, how are you doing? I know you are probably very busy now that foaling season is here, but if you could answer this question as soon as possible I would really appreciate it. Here is a brief summary so you can be caught up to date on her progress. My mare (China) was due on the 13th of this month. She is a maiden and she started her udder development right on track and everything is normally progressing (from what I have read) Her udder is very large but there is no milk in the nipples. They are not filled at all. For about a week or maybe a little more now she has been biting her sides regularly, perhaps between 5-10 times a day. Her muscles over her hips are definitely relaxed, and her vulva slightly longer. She has also been rubbing her rear, and just recently swishing tail the last few days. Anyway she has had turnout everyday and she usually takes a nap laying down about once a day. Well today we turned her out and she laid down almost the WHOLE DAY, except for a couple of times to get some water or do a poop, or for a short graze. She would alternate between flat out and sitting up. Her poops have been smaller the last few days. We called the vet and he said that this can be normal and she should foal in a couple of days or so but this could last a while. If it persists he wants to look at her or if there is a presence of a discharge on her vulva. We had a lady come out to look at her that has been foaling mares for a long time and she said that she doesn't think that she is ready because her nipples aren't distended and there is no show of milk. Why do you think she suddenly laid down so much? We gave her a bran mash to see if that helps her to have larger poops again. Do you think she is ready? Sorry it's so long and I love your book and this website. I also wanted to say Congrats. to Judy on her foal . Any info. would be great. Thanks


Hi Sarah,


Everything you described sounds normal to me. It seems that sometimes when the mares are so chock-full-of-foal, their manure piles will be smaller, but more frequent. Laying down more than usual can be a sign that the mare is close to foaling, so you should definitely keep a close watch on her. It's possible that she spent so much time down just because she's worn out from carrying all that weight, and maybe she didn't rest much the day before. I agree with your friend that usually the mare's nipples will fill, but that surely isn't 100%, and especially not with a maiden. You did right by getting in touch with your vet--it lets him know what's going on and, hopefully, eased your mind a little. So, bottom line is: keep doing what you've been doing--watching and waiting! :-) I can tell that you take such good care of this mare that you'll know if there is really something to be concerned about.


We'll be waiting to hear about your mare's delivery and the new foal (and Judy's next one, too!).


Follow up by Sarah on March 27, 1999:


HI! I wrote you a week or so ago about my mare who was overdue. Well she started waxing up and 5 days later she delivered a healthy, strong buckskin colt! We had to pull him because he is very large. He is 40" tall and has a lot of muscle. He is now 3 and a half days old and very sweet. Thank you for your book. It really helped. China has her hands full with this little guy! One more to go.


Hi Sarah,


Congratulations!! And thank you so much for letting us know. Sure sounds like it was good you were there for the delivery. Wonderful! It's so great to hear!


I'm glad the book helped and hope you have an easy time with the next one! Let us know.


Follow up by Sarah on November 13, 1999:


I just wanted to update you on my two foals who were born earlier this year. The colt, (Cisco) who was born in March, is now a very striking, big foal. He stands 13.1 hands at his wither and 14 hands at his butt. He is still sweet as pie . When he was four months old we showed him at a futurity and we won! His sister is also doing very good. She turned into a very sweet, willing and loyal friend. Very different from the hellion when she was born.


I wanted to give some advise to people. These foals were our first foaling experiences and we were there to witness both births. (They were both maidens too) Our first mare went to day 351 and we just kept waiting and waiting.(You could say we were a little over anxious) Finally the big night came and it was worth all the waiting in the world. Just hang in there. It's worth it when they are born. One thing we found very helpful is an intercom. (Like one from radio shack) It DID NOT take the place of physically checking them but did assist greatly. We got to know their regular pattern and when they were in labor we heard a different breathing sound. We still physically checked them regularly but it really helped. I would also like to say there is nothing more rewarding than having your own foal. I have never had so close a bond as I do with my babies.


Hi Sarah,


Thanks for giving us an update on your foals, and also for your encouraging words about attending foaling mares. I agree with you, audio monitors can be a big help. As you said, you can't rely on them entirely, but they sure are a help. And I also agree with you that there's nothing like being there when that baby is born!


Keep enjoying your babies!



Submitted by Ginny in the USA on March 18, 1999:


I was wondering if you could give me some statistics on mares who have had colic surgery. Can they go on to have normal pregnancies and how long after the surgery can they be bred? Unfortunately, we just lost our best mare to complications. She had a fatty tumor wrapped around her intestines that was shutting off circulation. When they went to do surgery on it, there were other complications. The owner wanted to try and save her and so she was in surgery an additional 2 hours. She seemed to recover and was back home with us for a little over a week. She regained her appetite and they even started to turn her out. It seemed though, that she was a bit off every so often because she pawed a lot and didn't always finish her feed. She was 19 and everybody's favorite horse, so it was quite a blow to us all.


Hi Ginny,


I'm so sorry about your loss. It's always very hard!


I can't give you any numerical statistics, but can tell you that many mares go on to have successful pregnancies after abdominal surgery. I even knew one that had colic surgery while she was pregnant, then finished the pregnancy and delivered a healthy filly without complications. I think it would be an individual judgment about how long after surgery a mare could be bred. It would depend on many factors, such as how bad the initial problem was, how long recovery took, things like that, so each mare would have to be evaluated individually.


Again, I'm very sorry about the mare. Thanks for writing and asking such a good question.


Follow up by Ginny on March 24, 1999:


I'm back with more questions! Now that I can get reliable advice from someone, I find that I have more and more questions. I hope it is not too much! Anyway, this time my question concerns foals and rotovirus. Are there any physical signs/symptoms that distinguish rotovirus from just plain scours? I know when the babies can develop foal heat scours and I've also seen how fast they can deteriorate if not taken care of. Also, can the virus be transmitted to an unborn foal (so that it has it at birth) through contamination? Ex: using the same pitchfork, transferring germs from shoes, boots.


Hi Ginny,


Good questions. Rotavirus and foal heat scours are very different. With "normal" foal heat scours, the foal usually doesn't feel bad--it continues nursing and is bright and active. Foal heat scours usually only causes a real problem if the foal isn't truly healthy to begin with. Foal heat scours is generally self-limiting and will clear up on its own. It can be helped with probiotics and sometimes antibiotics, if necessary. Rotavirus, on the other hand, is very debilitating for a young foal. The diarrhea is much worse, the foal stops nursing and looks really sick. With proper treatment, the disease is rarely fatal, but treatment must be intense. Dehydration is the biggest problem because the diarrhea is so severe, and IV fluids are almost always needed.


I do not know if the virus can be transmitted to a foal in utero, but do know that a foal born into a barn that has rotavirus going on will contract and come down with the disease before it is a week old. That can be a very dangerous situation and a foal contracting rotavirus that young requires intensive therapy. Also, it's virtually impossible to keep from spreading rotavirus around once it breaks on a farm. It is so virulent that it takes very little of the virus to produce the disease. Remember though, the good news is that the disease usually isn't fatal if treatment is quick and intense.


Thanks for the question, and I sincerely hope it was just an information-gathering question, and you don't have rotavirus on your farm.



Submitted by Amanda in the USA on March 20, 1999:


I bought a mare in late September who is pregnant with her second foal. The old owner said that he was not sure of her due date. We know that it is soon because she has quite a bit of milk and she has already had blood and her udder is filling up and I would say everything is ok. Lately she has shown signs that she is a little tired of being pregnant, like she acts a little antsy, and she acts tired all of the time, but her muscles are beginning to relax and her udder is beginning to feel hard. What measures should we take with her and not knowing when exactly she is due? And, when and if labor should be induced? I just want to make sure that I am taking care of her right and covering all of the bases for her care.


Hi Amanda,


The behavior you describe is perfectly normal for a late-term mare. They do sometimes get tired, grumpy, etc., and who can blame them? :-) Inducing labor in a mare can be an extremely risky thing to do--for both the mare and the foal. And since you don't know exactly when the mare is due, it would be even more risky than usual. There has to be a critically compelling reason for inducing a mare, like saving the mare or foal's life, and it sounds like you're a long way from that.


My best advice is to keep a watch on her (because it may not be long before she decides to foal), and enjoy the whole process. Most of the time everything goes just fine and it's a wonderful experience.


Hang in there and please let us know about your new foal.



Submitted by Carol in the USA on March 22, 1999:


Hi, I've been following this column for some time. My mare is 310 days today, last year she foaled a large colt at 329 days. Foal was dead, we missed the delivery. She has foaled 4 other healthy foals unattended (we just bought her last year) owners told us she has foaled 2 weeks early on occasion. Last year I checked her at midnight and all was quiet then at five she had the foal! She never waxed or dripped, never seemed to bag up much more than about 3/4 full. Anyway, right now her bag seems about the same as last year, her belly had dropped, her vulva is getting longer and she's passing manure frequently. Rubbing or standing with her hind end up against everything, including me. I guess my question is this, if you were me, would you just starting sleeping in the barn now, and if she would foal now, what would her chances be that things would be okay? Do you think the vet should be called out if they start to foal under 320 days no matter if she seems to be foaling normally? I've read your book faithfully and have it in my foaling kit.


Hi Carol,


If the mare is looking and acting like she did when she foaled last time, then I certainly would be staying with her. Even if she holds off for a while, it's better to be safe than sorry!


The foal would be quite early if born now, so I would try to get the vet there as soon after delivery as possible to check things out. I don't think it's necessary to have the vet come for the delivery itself, as long as everything seems normal, but would definitely get someone to take a look at the foal as soon as possible.


I'm very glad you've enjoyed the column, and the book, and sincerely hope everything goes well for you, your mare, and the foal. Please let us know!



Submitted by Shannon in Canada on March 25, 1999:


I have a 6yo TB mare who is due any time, she is between 345-355 days. She has had all the signs of foaling for about the last week & 1/2 except for waxing. My concern is that her teats are pointing towards each other, instead of being vertical. When I got her in July, she had just weaned a colt and my sister-in-law who was the previous owner, said that they were like that the whole time Amber nursed her colt. She also didn't have a lot of milk, he wasn't malnourished, by any means, but she had a lot less milk than the other mares. Could this be caused by the problem with them not being vertical. As this is my first foaling experience I too am a nervous wreck, and I am making my family nuts!! I have read a lot about foaling, but I have to say reading other people's stories really helps a lot, and there has been so much valuable information. I am also glad to hear that I am not the only one that can't contain my excitement.


Hi Shannon,


It really does help to read other people's experiences, doesn't it? It's nice to know you aren't alone.


I doubt if the mare's nipples have anything to do with how much milk she produces. Was she a maiden last year? That may have had more to do with it than anything else. I've also seen mares whose udders were small enough that it seemed they couldn't be producing a whole lot of milk, then when their foals were weaned, the mare's udders blew up like balloons. So they were producing a lot more than we thought they were. How long did it take your mare to dry up last year?


I hope she foals soon and let us know all about it!



Submitted by Jenna in the USA on March 16, 1999:


Just recently a mare at my barn gave birth to a healthy colt. The vet examined the colt a day after he was born. The vet says he is healthy as can be. Today I noticed he was eating his mare's manure. I asked the stable hand if this was normal. He says it was, but I'm not really sure. If this is normal, please clarify for me.


Hi Jenna,


This is absolutely normal behavior in newborn foals. Most people believe it is the way they introduce normal digestive bacteria into their guts. No need to worry about it.


Thanks for writing.



Submitted by Lisa in the USA on March 27, 1999:


Thanks so much for such a wonderful and informative column.


My question is about my mare that is 328 days pregnant. She is very attached to our two geldings (one of which is her 4yr old son). I am keeping her separated from them in a paddock during the day and 12x20 stall at night. She throws a fit if she can't see or hear them. My problem is that we are planning to take the geldings off our property to do some riding in a couple of days. Do you think this will be too stressful this late in her pregnancy? She has had clear fluid for the last 3 days when I check her udder. She carried her last foal for 345 days.


Dear Lisa,


This is kind of a toughy. I sure wouldn't want to do anything to upset the mare at this point, so you'll have to decide just how upset she'd get if you took the geldings away. If you take them, I would suggest leaving her in the stall while you're gone. If she does get upset, she probably has less chance of hurting herself in the stall than if she's out in the pasture. I have visions of her running through a fence or something.


Hope you get to have your ride! And thanks for your kind words about the column. Best of luck and let us know about your new foal,



Submitted by Misty in the USA on March 29, 1999:


Though I haven't had the chance to read your book, your advice seems right on target. My worries are these:


1. I gave my mare her shots (a 4way) and wormed her about a week ago, then I received a letter from the man I bought her from and found out her breeding dates were April 25, 27, and 29. Now she is starting to wax up and I am worried that I gave her those shots too late. I know it's too late to do anything but should I worry about it for future problems?
2. She's kept on pasture, and though she has a stall, it is concrete and there is no straw available. I had a mare last year that foaled out alone with no problem, but she was a BLM Mustang with lots of experience. This one is a 5yo maiden Arab. I really want to be there for this one. We have the neighbors watching her pasture as well as the people that board her, and of course, us too.


I guess I'm just a nervous mama, but aren't we all when that time comes?


Hi Misty,


Yes! We're all nervous when the time comes! I'm sure you will have a wonderful experience.


I wouldn't worry too much about the vaccinations. The things that cause illness most frequently in newborns are things that aren't covered by the vaccinations. The things that cause the biggest problems are things that your mare is exposed to every day, so she will have plenty of immunity to pass on to her foal for those things. You should let your vet know about the late vaccinations, but I sincerely doubt that you'll have any problems, especially if there aren't horses moving in and out of the barn.


Hang in there, it will all be worth it! Let us know about your new foal.



Submitted by Elizabeth in the USA on March 31, 1999:


Can you please describe what would be a normal vs an abnormal discharge for a mare in her last few months of gestation? Last year my friend lost her colt (and almost her mare) due to a massive uterine infection that went unnoticed. I only noticed a slight amount of yellowish colored mucus material on her mare last year about 1 week prior to delivery. The vet even looked at the mare a few days before the delivery and didn't notice a problem. This year, my mare is pregnant. About three weeks ago I noticed a very small amount of a dried white discharge around her vulva, which continues to show up. She is not due until around April 24th (but started bagging up on March 24th). After last year, I'm a bit freaked... is this normal or not?


Dear Elizabeth,


I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend's foal. When was the mare due and when did she deliver? If she was close to her due date, then the amount and type of discharge you described doesn't really sound like something that should have set off alarm bells. If the discharge occurred more than about a month before her due date, then it was an important indication that all was not well. Unfortunately, what a lot of people don't understand is that there can be a significant infection going on, and not much, if any, vaginal discharge will be apparent. I've known people here who've had their mares bagging up two months early, dripping milk, and the vet tell them that as long as there wasn't a vaginal discharge, there wasn't a problem. Those mares lost their foals within a week of talking with the vet.


Sometimes it can be difficult to determine what you're seeing, as far as a discharge is concerned. With your mare, a dried, white discharge around her vulva suggests to me that it is dried urine. It isn't unusual for a late term mare to kind of "dribble" urine because of the pressure of the foal, especially when they lie down. The urine then dries around the vulva and looks white or slightly yellow. If this is the case, it isn't cause for concern. Another good sign that you don't have anything to worry about is that if your mare is due April 24, and starting bagging up on March 24, that's about as close to normal as she can get.


Things to watch for with a uterine infection or placentitis are: premature udder development (earlier than 4-6 weeks before due date), early waxing or dripping milk, decreased foal movement, sometimes lethargy and lack of appetite in the mare. As long as your mare is acting okay and eating okay, there probably isn't anything to worry about.


A normal discharge in a late term mare is expulsion of the mucous plug. The plug can expel all at once or over several days. It usually looks mucousy, whitish, and is sometimes blood tinged. A mare will usually foal within 3-4 days of expelling the plug, but it isn't abnormal or unusual for her to go another ten days or more. It's also normal for a mare to have a small amount of bloody discharge in the last few days before delivery. Anything else should cause concern (except for the dried urine described earlier). It's just very important to put the whole picture together--signs the mare is showing and what her due date is.


I hope this helps, and please let us know when your mare delivers.



Submitted by Garry in the USA on April 26, 1999:

Please explain "waxing" during the period of foaling. How much waxing from the start to foaling? Any special preparations for prefoaling?


Dear Garry,


"Waxing" is the leaking of colostrum from the mare's udder. It hangs from the ends of the nipples and looks a lot like candle wax. Mares that wax will usually foal within three days, but some may not wax at all and some will wax for a lot longer than three days. Either case is normal. Prefoaling preparations are too numerous to go into on this column. At the risk of blowing my own horn, I would suggest that you get my book. It contains all the information you will need to prepare for a new foal.

Thanks for writing.



Submitted by Lisa in the USA on April 27, 1999:


My 14 year old mare just gave birth to her tenth foal. This year her udder development was marginal so we put her on thyrol and domperidone immediately after foaling. The foal is large and didn't seem to be getting enough from the mare so we tube fed her and bottle fed her on her first day. The foal, however, did not urinate for 23 hours after birth. She had an attendant with her continuously so there is no chance we just missed it. Could dehydration cause such a delay in urination? Now the mare has a large bag and the foal is full of energy but has edema in the fetlocks. The edema is worse on the left side in both front and hind legs. She is getting one and a half cc of banamine daily to help reduce the swelling. What could be the cause of this and why would it affect one side more noticeably than the other?? Everything else on the foal looks normal, her igg was 1500 and white cells, red cells and protein levels all normal. Hope you have some ideas ... my own vets are perplexed.


Hi Liz,


Yes, I would think it's certainly possible that dehydration could cause a delay in urination. It makes sense that if there isn't much fluid there, the body would try to retain as much of it as possible.


I'm afraid I'm as perplexed as your vets about the foal's swelled fetlocks. I have seen this happen before, and sometimes there isn't any apparent reason for it. As long as I didn't detect any heat or pain, I therapeutically ignored the swelling and it always went away on its own. Are the joints hot? From your description of the foal being so active, I would assume that there isn't any heat or pain. The first things that come to mind are joint ill (which seems unlikely in the absence of heat or pain), too much of mother's milk (which also seems unlikely for the same reasons), or maybe the remote possibility that since the foal is large, perhaps it's an aftermath of how it was crunched in the uterus. I also wondered about the buildup of some kind of toxins as a result of the dehydration? I don't know if that's possible, but might be worth bring up to your vet. A last thought would be that if the foal was weak during the time you were tubing and bottle feeding her and was having difficulty getting up, the swelling could be the result of slight trauma.


I hope everything resolves easily, and please let us know what you find out.



Submitted by Carole in the USA on April 29, 1999:


I am very anxiously waiting for my QH mare to foal. According to everything I've ever seen with a mare, I believe she should have foaled a week ago. So I wait, my question is: once the baby finally gets here what shots should the baby receive. The reason I ask is that my friend who is a vet assistant just had a baby (human) and I don't want to bother her. When I went to the vet clinic the temp gave me shots that you would give an older colt, I tried to explain that Laurie knows what I need, I suggested looking at my previous receipts but they didn't teach that I guess. So what shots should I give the little darling. This mare was born in my lap and is so special so I want baby to be o.k.. So I have learned "blessed are the brood mares and the vet assistants"


Hi Carole,


If your mare received her prenatal vaccinations, then the foal shouldn't need any vaccinations until it is about three months old. Some people give tetanus antitoxin to newborns, but if the mare has received a tetanus vaccination within the last few months, the foal probably doesn't need the antitoxin.


Best of luck, and let us know all about your new baby!



Submitted by Anonymous in Canada on May 5, 1999:


I have a story. I will try to make it short. A Quarter horse maiden mare gave birth at noon in our boarding stable to a big, beautiful colt. The birth was difficult and long (she had laid in the corner and had to be pulled out). Vet came shortly after and tubed the colt some colostrum from the mare, as he seemed very fatigued and didn't seem to want to get up. Three hours later the foal hadn't gotten up, so the barn manager expressed some milk and POURED it down his throat. An hour later the foal did get up and started to nurse. He seemed a little fuzzy or dopey but otherwise O.K. Next morning he was nursing well and exploring a bit. Still a little dopey but getting better. By late that afternoon the foal started to breathe heavily and seemed to be lethargic. The vet came the next morning and diagnosed pneumonia. He prescribed antibiotics and a painkiller. He tried to tube him some milk but could not get the tube down his throat. As the day progressed the foal got worse. The next morning the foal died. The vet felt he may of breathed in fluids while being born and that's what caused the pneumonia. He wasn't aware of the milk having been poured down his throat. I was horrified to hear that this person who claims to have 28 years experience with horses (and reminds you of it) would do something so stupid. You don't need 10, 20, or 30 years experience with horses to know that you never pour liquids down any newborn's throat. That is just plain common sense!! I guess we will never know how he got the pneumonia, but I really feel that this foal had a good chance had this not been done. My horse is boarded at this stable and I have seen some stupid things done, but this has really ruined my confidence in the people who run it! Had this been my foal, there is no way this barn manager would have poured milk down his throat!!


Dear Anonymous,


Yes, you are absolutely right--pouring milk down a newborn can certainly cause aspirations pneumonia. Of course, we don't know for sure if that's what happened with this foal because of the other complication with a difficult delivery, but chances are high that if a foal isn't fed correctly, aspiration pneumonia can be the result. They must be fed slowly, with them up on their chests and not lying on their sides, and in small amounts, allowing them to suck and swallow at their own pace. A foal that doesn't have a suck reflex shouldn't be fed that way at all.


I'm glad you shared this story and I do hope others will take it to heart and learn from it.



Submitted by Lenita in the USA on May 5, 1999:


I have a 22 yr old mare that is 349-351 days pregnant. We have expected her to foal for the last three nights, but nothing yet. Today she is dripping some clear fluid mixed with a few drops of blood. Have you ever heard of this? Any advice?


Hi Lenita,


Yes, if you're talking about dripping clear fluid with blood mixed in from the udder, that's fine, and normal. It isn't at all unusual to see a little blood when the canals through the nipples open up. No problem, as long as her udder isn't very hot and painful. Sounds like you're making progress toward foaling!


Hang in there, and let us know how it goes.


Follow up by Lenita on May 6, 1999:


Thanks for the response, but the blood is coming from her rectum. There have been no changes yet today, she is somewhere between 350-352 days, I've heard the longer they carry the higher the chances it will be a colt, is there any truth to that ?


Dear Lenita,


If there is blood coming from your mare's rectum, she needs to be seen by a vet right now! There is nothing associated with a normal foaling process that would cause rectal bleeding.


Yes, there is a small tendency for mares to carry colts longer than they carry fillies.


Please let us know what you find out about the rectal bleeding.


Follow up by Lenita on May 17, 1999:


My 22 yrs old mare was bred May 22,23,24 of 1998. She is starting to founder and we have expected her to foal for the past three weeks and no baby. She has plenty of milk but has yet to appear to wax over. My vet doesn't want to induce her labor as long as she is getting up and down on her own, which the last week she has done. Previously we were having to go make her get up every three hours, which is really not feasible to do and work. Please give me your advice, it would be greatly appreciated.


Dear Lenita,


So sorry you're having a problem! I agree with your vet, I wouldn't induce the mare unless there is absolutely no other alternative. I assume she's receiving treatment for the founder? If not, discuss some anti-inflammatory for her with your vet.


Best of luck, and please let us know how she does.


Submitted by Lenita on May 20, 1999:


Just wanted to let you know that my mare that was having the problems with foundering and was past due, finally had a colt yesterday morning (362 days) around 5 o'clock. Baby and mom are both doing fine!


Congratulations, Lenita!


Thanks for letting us know. I'm sure that having the weight of the foal gone will help your mare. Enjoy your new baby!



Submitted by Jan in the USA on May 7, 1999:


We have moved from the panhandle of Oklahoma to SW Missouri. We have 2 mares that are in foal. One went to 52 weeks last year before foaling & didn't bag up until she delivered or right before. I do think I saw what appeared to be dried white on her teats a couple days before, though. This time, this mare has developed a fairly large, full bag & is very big (from the pregnancy), I also noticed the white dried drops on her teats again about 1 week ago. Her actual due date is May 27-29. I had heard that usually mares carry their foals about the same amount of days year after year & if so, she wouldn't deliver until mid-June. I was wondering if the change in location could cause a difference in foaling time & if their are any more clear signs about what to look for right before she foal. She had a colt last time.


Hi Jan,


No, mares do not necessarily carry the same number of days for each pregnancy, especially if bred to different stallions. Some can be fairly consistent, but some are wildly erratic.


The dried white drops on the ends of the mare's nipples are what's called "wax." It generally means that the mare will foal within about three days, although again, this can vary by quite a bit. Other signs to look for are physical changes--dropped belly, relaxation of muscles around the tail head, vulvar relaxation, hollowness in front of hip bones, fullness in front of stifles, etc.--and behavioral changes--restlessness, maybe going off feed, biting at sides, kicking at belly, etc.


Good luck.



Submitted by Danni in the USA on May 9, 1999:


I have an older mare (14) who is at day 342 with her 5th foal. She has been dropped for two weeks and now has been waxed on one nipple since Monday the 3rd, she started dripping and streaming from that side on Thursday and then Friday the color had turned to white as opposed to amber colored, as of this morning (Sat) the other side had a huge chunk of wax which proceeded to drop off late morning and she has been dripping and/or streaming all day! How long can she do this before I should worry about colostrum loss?


Hi Danni,


If she hasn't foaled by now (Sun AM, May 9), I'd already be worried about colostrum loss. If she hasn't foaled, and you don't have saved colostrum on hand, it might be good to alert your vet that colostrum replacement may be needed.


Best of luck, and please let us know how it goes.



Submitted by Rita in the USA on May 12, 1999:


We have a 6 week old filly, born with infected navel, which the vet first said it was a rupture, that would later be surgically corrected. After a week, I had the same vet come out to check her. He said it had changed shape but still felt it was a rupture. 3rd week I had another vet check her and he said it was an infected navel, and prescribed 25cc of 3 different antibiotics under the skin each day for 8 days, after the 5th day we could no longer hold her for the shots, so he suggested 2 large sulfur tablets once a day, orally...doing this for 5 more days...she was much better, rupture/naval infection drew up and seemed to be almost normal, now 2 weeks later she has a fever of 101.4, and I'm afraid she still has the same or associated problem. What should we do?


Hi Rita,


Sorry you've had problems with your foal! It's always difficult. Without seeing the foal, it's impossible for me to give you any idea what might be the problem now. Does the navel look different again, or appear to be healing? How is the foal acting? A temperature of 101.4 usually isn't anything to be concerned about, especially if the temperature outside is warm. The very best thing you can do is have the vet back out to see the foal--the second vet who diagnosed the problem correctly to begin with.


Good luck, and please let us know how the foal does.



Submitted by Christina in the USA on May 16, 1999:


Thank you so much for your help before. We put my mare on regumate and SMZ tablets. She stopped streaming milk the next day and stopped dripping all together the day after. My vet still felt she was trying to abort twins, and would only give enough SMZ for one week. She started dripping milk two days after being off the tablets and advanced to a full stream again three days later. She had a single small baby on the 11th of May. It was still a little early, but did not have any of the premies characteristics. I knew all of her colostrum had to be gone. I did have 8 0z of colostrum frozen from when she lost her baby two years earlier. I only hoped it was still good. I had also caught 4oz of her milk when she first started dripping milk three weeks earlier. She absolutely would not let him nurse and squealed loudly when he touched her, anywhere. She did lick him and try to mother him as long as he stayed in front of her. Sooo, I stayed up all night, backing her in the corner of the stall so he could attempt to nurse, he would give up and lay down. I would milk her, make him get up next to her and give him a bottle. This went on all night, he was fed 6-8oz every hour.(I wanted to get as much in him as possible).He kept trying and finally by 8am (he was born at 7pm)he figured it out and ignored her squealing (this was very comical if I had not been so sleepy) and was able to find dinner every time he tried. The IgG test came out between 200 & 400. He was tubed with some oral serum? and the next day the test was up to between 600-800. So far he is doing fine. When he was born the after-birth came out when he did, before she even stood. Should I have tied it and cut it? It took awhile to break, I was beginning to get concerned. Also why would the afterbirth come out like that? Does that represent a problem? (her previous foal two years ago was born still in the allantois-chorion) Is this going to be a continuing problem with her? Would this have anything to do with her milking so early? Thank so much for your help.


Hi Chris,


Congratulations! I'm so happy the foal is doing well. It sounds like it would have been good if the vet had left the mare on the antibiotics for another week, but at least everything turned out okay.


If the mare expels the placenta right behind the foal, you should let it sit for a few minutes, until the umbilical cord collapses and the foal won't bleed through its umbilical stump, then cut the cord. If the cord breaks on its own, that's fine, but sometimes when this happens, the cord won't break and the foal is left to drag around a placenta if someone doesn't intervene. When the placenta comes right behind the foal, it can indeed be a sign of a problem. In your mare's case, probably the placentitis. It can also be considered a borderline "red bag," or premature placental detachment, because if the delivery had been complicated and taken awhile, chances are good that the foal would have been without oxygen. Fortunately, you didn't have that problem. Since this mare has done this twice in a row, I would certainly keep a close watch on her at future deliveries. My experience has been that if they do it once, they are more likely than other mares to do it again.


Again, I'm so glad you wound up with a wonderful, live foal. And I'm very proud of you for hanging in there and doing what needed to be done to get the foal colostrum and get him nursing!



Submitted by Rachel in the USA on May 18, 1999:


My neighbor recently lost both her foal and the mare, so we are a little nervous about our first foal that's on the way. We were told when we bought her that she might be in foal. Sure enough the vet confirmed it. He said she would have it in June or July. It's may 17th and she looks very close to having it. She's bagging up and soft around the tail. The vulva is stretching. We have no way of finding out when she was bred. I've been setting my alarm at night to check on her, but no foal. Is there one sure way of telling when she will foal? She started to wax up a little. She lies down a lot at night, so I end up checking on her a lot, not knowing if she's foaling or sleeping. Before the water breaks can you see the contractions in the stomach?


Dear Rachel,


Unfortunately, there isn't any one way to know when a mare will foal. Oh, how everyone wishes there were! Instead, you look at the overall picture--behavior and physical changes. Since your mare is waxing and has other physical signs to go along with it, I wouldn't think she should be much longer. So keep watching her closely.


I'm so sorry to hear about your neighbor losing her mare and foal. Please let me assure you that is a very uncommon occurrence. Chances are, everything will be fine with yours.


Please let us know all about your new foal!



Submitted by Michele in the USA on May 20, 1999:


My mare had her first foal on Monday, May 17, 1999. Normally, I can do anything to my mare and thought I wouldn't have any problems with her letting me handle the new foal; however, that is not the case. She is not letting me or anyone else near the foal. She keeps blocking me, pinning her ears and threatening to kick. This is very unlike Amber. I feel she is too protective. How can I assure her that I am not going to harm her new foal? What can I do to get her to let me handle her new foal with no interference from her?


Dear Michele,


Please don't be offended by your mare's behavior or think it means you have lost her affections. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's just that her instinct to protect her baby far outweighs her loyalty to her human buddies. She can't help it, that's just the way it is. The good news is that she'll get over it. Most mares improve greatly after a few days, but some will take a week or more. If you can, try to focus your attention on her when you go into the stall. Pet her, scratch her, make over her, and try to reassure her. If that doesn't help pretty quickly, then you may have to get someone else to hold the mare so you can spend time handling the foal. With someone else holding her, catch the foal and take it right up under her nose, so she knows you don't mean any harm. Be patient and know that for sure, this will pass. Before long, she'll be happy to share the foal and you'll be able to spend all the time with it that you want!


Take care.



Submitted by Shelley in the USA on May 20, 1999:


Our male colt was born prematurely (3 weeks). We bottle fed him for 2 days with his mothers milk, then he started nursing. He has been walking on his front ankles the whole time. He is now 4 1/2 weeks old. I had 2 vets tell me not to worry or do anything about his feet and legs until he was a month old. One of his back legs suddenly swelled to twice the normal size last Thursday. I called the vet, but he couldn't come until Monday. In the meantime, we got him up and let him nurse. On Monday the Vet came and diagnosed him as Naval ill and gave him a shot of tetramyacin (I think that was the name of it). He has made no improvement and actually seems a little worse. He has a very hard time getting up, rests a lot, is loosing weight, nurses some, eats hay and grain. The vet is going to see him again today and probably give him a shot of the same thing. Is it just a very slow reacting medicine or does he need something else. I am afraid we are losing him, and desperately want to help him. Thanks for any advice you might have.


Dear Shelley,


It sounds like you have a very serious problem on your hands. And it sounds to me like you need to get a second opinion from another vet--now. One shot of any kind of medication and then nothing for three days isn't going to cure anything, much less navel ill.


Please let us know what you decide to do and how the foal does.



Submitted by Lauri in the USA on May 22, 1999:


Our quarter horse delivered a beautiful mare approximately 2 weeks ago. Mother & foal are doing very well. They are in a large pasture and have open access to a very large stall. It is now Spring and the flies are staring to come around the horses. My question . . . can we effectively use fly spray around the foal and nursing mare. Most of the fly sprays on the market advise not to use around foals and nursing mares. We also have 3 other horses in the same pasture. Can we use the spray on them and could it harm the mare and foal.


Dear Lauri,


Congratulations on your new foal. They are they best, aren't they? It's always an amazing experience.


I'm leery of fly sprays on foals, too, and haven't really used them. Many people use Avon's Skin So Soft without problems. Also, anything you find that can be used on dairy cattle is safe for foals. If you have access to any alternative veterinary medicine boards, they can give good tips for fly control.


Keep enjoying your baby!



Submitted by Sandra in Canada on May 25, 1999:


Can you give me your opinion as to any negative (& positive effects) for Regumate to increase the chances of a mare carrying her foal to term? Both of my mares are on it. First one because she has several follicles surrounding an apparent healthy embryo complete with a beating heart, but my vet fears she may want to come back in heat. The 2nd mare is older, she had an incidence of early embryonic death last year and the tone of her uterus is soft. They are both on Regumate for 100 days. I would appreciate any opinions from you.


Dear Sandra,


The best way to know if a mare needs Regumate is to have the progesterone level in her blood tested. If the level is above 4 (that's the cutoff most vets use), she doesn't need Regumate. If it's below, she does.


For the first mare, I don't quite understand what the vet was telling you. It is important for mares to keep producing follicles in the beginning because the corpus luteums that form after the follicles ovulate are what produce progesterone and maintain the pregnancy. Later, the progesterone is produced from other sources. And...follicles form on the ovaries not in the uterus, so I am a little confused about them "surrounding an apparently healthy embryo." Could the vet have meant cysts rather than follicles? As for the second mare, older mares often need progesterone supplementation (Regumate) to maintain pregnancy because they don't produce enough progesterone on their own.


Since Regumate is so expensive, it would be well worthwhile to have the mares' progesterone levels tested. The test is cheap (about $30 around here) compared to the cost of the drug.


Hope this helps, and good luck.



Submitted by Patricia in the USA on June 5, 1999:

Hi,,loved your book,,it was right beside me in the straw during our last foaling.

Situation: Last foaling was suspected placentitis,,mare bagged at 7 months,,was put on 11cc Regumate and 11 tabs of SMZ's daily,,pregnancy went on well and delivered healthy colt at 321 days,,2 days after going off Regumate. Two years later,,same mare is at 9 months, T3 on progesterone tests and holding, no bagging,,everything normal. New mare bred to different stud, began bagging at 8 months, low progesterone T2 and low estrogen 1300 (can you explain what the estrogen level tells us???)..She is on 15 cc of Regumate...for two weeks,,bagging didn't go down so I've started her on the SMZ's,,,she is 280 days..Should I begin to notice a decrease in udder size soon or will it maintain?? She has had all vaccinations, is regularly wormed and is not on fescue. The vet says the foal is very large and active,,,he wants her taken off Regumate 3 weeks prior to delivery. What is the average time to deliver after going off meds?? Our other mare delivered almost immediately,,should we expect similar results here?? I've heard that 2 to 7 days is normal. Also the mare who is normal this year,,I suppose I can't expect her to follow her previous schedule due to the fact that it was hormone induced,,so am I correct to assume that this will be like an entirely new experience? Thank you for all your help!!


Hi Patricia,


I'm so happy that you enjoyed the book! I hope it helped.


I'm afraid I'd have to look up information about estrogen levels. It isn't something we check very often and I never can remember how to interpret the results. I'll try to remember to get back to you about that. Usually, when you start SMZ-TMP for a mare that's bagging up, her udder will regress. If she just holds steady, though, that's good enough. How soon a mare will deliver after being taken off Regumate is highly variable, and can even be variable with the same mare in different pregnancies. For example, one mare I know that's on Regumate for her whole pregnancy delivered exactly two weeks to the day after being taken off it, for two years in a row. This year, she waited 22 days to foal. So, as with everything else with brood mares, all you can do is watch and be prepared for anything. From the experience I've had, an average of 2-7 days after being taken off Regumate seems a little soon.


Yes, the previous mare will be a whole new ball game this time. Fun, isn't it! :-) I can't say that I've been all that helpful to you, but I hope everything goes smoothly from here on out. Please do let us know. It'll be interesting to see how soon the mare foals after coming off Regumate. I'd really like to know.


Good luck.


Follow up by Patricia on June 6, 1999:


Thank you for the information. You've been most helpful..I will keep you posted on both mares. I am relieved to know that if her udder holds steady that is normal, because I haven't noticed much regression in size. My vet measured her placenta and said he didn't believe she has any infection,,speculum exam showed her cervix dry and clean,,,can you think of a possible cause for this mare's low progesterone levels??


Dear Patricia,


The reason for low progesterone is that the mare�s body isn�t producing. I don�t know why this happens.


Stay in touch!



Submitted by Laurie in the USA on June 6, 1999:


My mare had her foal last night and everything seemed fine until he stood up! The foals' back legs seem extremely unsteady. He is kind-of walking on his fetlocks with his hooves pointing upward. His hindquarters also seem shaky and hunched-up? Please help! Unfortunately there is no vet available close-by. Thank-you!


Dear Laurie,


Your foal is "down at the pasterns." Most of the time, this condition will correct itself with time and the foal strengthening up. The ligaments and tendons in his legs are loose and need time to tighten up. If he's actually walking on the backs of fetlocks and heels, you need to watch and be sure he doesn't rub sores on them. Also, if this is the case, don't put him out on hard ground, keep him in a bedded stall. Most of the time, you'll see a huge difference in these foals within a few days. If you haven't seen a significant difference in a week, or if he rubs sores on his heels or the backs of his fetlocks, you definitely need the help of a veterinarian.


Best of luck, and please let us know how the little guy does.



Submitted by Jane in Canada on June 21, 1999:


I have a mare that is about to foal. Her baby is an unexpected "two for one" deal. I bought her last August and ever since October I had the funny feeling she was pregnant. In March I had her examined by the vet and he confirmed that she was indeed pregnant. He gave her - her booster shots, left instructions on increasing her feed and said 'see ya when she foals' probably the end of May or June. Well is it now June 21 and she looks like so could go at any time. Her udder is quite full and hard, her croup is sunk in, her tail is loose and her muscles are loose. Her udder is producing a clear liquid so far. Its been extremely hot here so we have been leaving her in with a fan during the hot day and putting her out for a few hours in the evening usually from 6:30 to 10:00 ( when its dark). If we left her out all day she would become quickly dehydrated. She's quite content to lay down and sleep and stand in front of her turbo fan when its hot. When she out she's in a small grassed run that is 60 x 120 and is right beside the house and barn. We hope she will foal in her stall but what do we do if she foals outside one evening? We don't want to leave the mare and foal out all night because last week a coyote killed a three day old calf down the road. The calf was in a large field with twenty other cows.


If we move the mare and foal into the barn soon after foaling will it affect their bonding process? Or should we simply keep an all night vigil for the first night and then move them the next day? Since she's a maiden mare we don't want to do anything to jeopardize her relationship with her foal and risk her rejecting it. I do think she's going to be a good mom because before I got her she liked to babysit her little sister and she did have the advantage of being a in broodmare herd for the first couple of years of her life. I have never had a mare give birth before so this is a first for me too! Should I be checking on her during the night?


Your column is great - I hope to order your book for 'next time'. I really enjoyed reading the other bulletins and your replies. Your advice is down to earth!


Hi Jane,


First, thanks for the kind words about the column. I'm really glad you've enjoyed it. I try very hard to keep all the answers practical and "down-to-earth."


Sounds like you're in the homestretch with your mare. You are absolutely doing the right thing by keeping her in during the day and putting her out in the evenings. Poor mares are miserable enough without being out in the hot sun. If she should foal in the paddock, it shouldn't be a problem. Just be sure the foal can't be born under the fence and pushed through to the other side. And there won't be a problem with putting the mare and foal in the stall if she does foal outside. Just wait until the foal can get up and walk with some coordination, then take them into the stall. It won't hurt their bonding process at all. And it's a heck of a lot better than having a newborn out there with coyotes around!


Best of luck, and let us know all about the new baby!


Follow up by Jane on July 5, 1999:


On June 24, my mare gave birth to a beautiful bay colt - we have named him 'Twofor' - as in 'two for one' and he was born on the 24th. I slept through the birth even though I had the baby monitor beside my pillow! Twofor whinnied and woke me up. When I saw him for the first time his ears were still floppy, so he wasn't too old. She must have given birth between 4:00 am and 5:30 am. His dam looked like she had an easy time of it. The afterbirth was already passed and she showed no signs of trauma from the birth - she didn't even look like she sweated.


The baby had a strong sucking reflex but couldn't get to his feet because of his "foal slippers" slipping on the straw/sawdust bedding and rubber mats. The only mistake we made was not stepping in to help him to his feet so he could suck. The vet arrived about three hours after his birth and immediately helped him to his feet. The baby was a little fatigued from trying to get up and so was not latching onto the nipple. Also the vet thought that her nipples were a bit short but felt that if I milked her out and bottle feed the baby that this action would not only help the baby get his strength but help the nipples get lengthened. He left instructions to see if I could get at least 3 to 5 ounces of milk into him every half an hour. He told me that if the baby was on his feet at feeding time to make sure I held the bottle near her udder. If I couldn't get the milk into him I was to call and he would return and tube him to make sure that he received the colostrum within 12 hours of birth. (It was a good thing that we had a lamb's bottle in our birthing kit - we just made the hole a bit larger and it worked fine. Thank goodness the only things we need to use from it was the bottle and the iodine). Well he didn't have to tube him because after I milked her off and offered the baby the bottled milk I managed to get about 1� quarts of milk into the baby -he quickly gained strength and became more steady on his feet. He was able to latch on to mom and nurse without further assistance. He is now over a week old and has grown quite a bit. He was imprinted a little bit at birth and we are practicing him lifting up his feet and getting him used to having a halter on for short periods of time. He has even been led around a bit. We can't get over how much he mimics his mother's action - if she is eating hay or grazing he pretends to do so as well. He has already taught himself to drink out of the water bucket and to stretch his neck up to lick the salt block just like mom.


Having a foal is a wonderful experience. We plan on enjoying everyday of his growth - already he seems to be growing too fast!


Dear Jane,


Congratulations! What great news! And please, next time you see your vet, give him a big hug! He handled everything just right and that's so wonderful to hear.


Thanks so much for letting us know, and keep enjoying your baby!



Submitted by Chandra in the USA on July 3, 1999:


I wrote to you a little over a month ago about my mare that was not on very good feed and was worried about the health of her foal. Thanks for the reassurance that the foal will get enough nourishment from the mom. Now my question is, when is she ever going to have this baby? I know you can't answer that but my vet is absolutely no help. She said that my mare would foal any time at the end of April, because she was starting to bag up. We don't know when she was bred (any time from last April until the middle of Sept) The vet has been out a couple of times for other reasons but refuses to do a check on the foal for fear of infecting her. I don't have any good horse vets in my area. Beauty is only 2 years old and has had a small bag for the past 2 months. The first month it would go away completely and reappear a few days later. She has it all the time now, for the past 4 weeks. Her tail head and hip bones have been protruding for that long also, she is very hollow and triangle shaped for almost that long and three weeks ago she had a dark purplish mucous on her tail and her vulva. 8 days later a little more showed up. My vet now says she's not close because she hasn't "waxed". Her udder gets pretty hard and when I let her out to pasture her nipples get really big. She eats and acts fine though. Now I'm scared she might have placentitis and nobody noticed, though the baby is still moving good. I'm sorry for being so long but I don't have anyone else to ask. Is it too late to start antibiotics? Thank you for all the help through your column.


Hi Chandra,


I don't think placentitis is what's going on because if it were, she would have aborted by now. I don't recall you having said before that the mare is only two years old. That really throws a wrench in the works. I don't have any experience with foaling mares that young. Maiden mares can be a challenge under the best of circumstances because it seems that at times they have erratic bursts of hormones, causing them to show signs for a long time, or off and on for a long time, or sometimes not at all. Since Beauty is still just a baby herself, and obviously a maiden, I don't know what could be going on with her, hormonally. My guess is that everything will be fine, just strung out a lot. About the only thing you can do is what you've already been doing--watch her carefully and give her lots of TLC. I hate to disagree with your vet, but don't rely on waxing as a sign that the mare is going to foal. It has been my experience that a full 25% of mares do not wax. And from what you've described about other physical changes, it sounds like she could do it just about any old time she feels like it (I hope soon!). Also, there is absolutely no reason that your vet shouldn't palpate the mare. Since the exam is done rectally, she won't infect her. As long as the exam is done carefully and gently, as with any other palpation, there won't be a problem. I think it's an excellent idea to have it done.


I sure hope things move along for you and Beauty. Please let us know.


Follow up by Chandra on July 7, 1999:


Great News, Beauty had her foal at 11:45pm on Fourth of July. Boy what an experience ! We had friends over, so I didn't get her in from the pasture until much later than usual. My husband and I went up the hill to get her (of course she was as far away as possible), when we spot lighted her it looked as though she had just gotten up. Her tail was really high and when I grabbed her halter and he looked around back he noticed she was really "juicing" (husband terminology). I took off at a fast walk and that is all it took for her water to completely break. The wind was at our back and we got sufficiently drenched. Lee stayed behind to make sure it didn't start coming out and we made it the 1/3 mile back to the barn, though I had to do a lot of coaxing for her to make it the last few hundred yards. As soon as she was through the barn doors she laid down and the sac appeared with two feet right behind it. I grabbed the cam corder and set it on the ground where I thought it would video and got the whole event, Lee grabbed the Camera and kept the light on her rear end. I washed up and felt to make sure the head was where it needed to be (what a relief it was, to feel that little muzzle in between the front legs). She had a little trouble getting his head out, it was pretty big. I helped just enough to make sure she wouldn't get up and that she got his head through. It was over in 15 minutes after hitting the barn. Beauty is coal black w/ a snip of white on her forehead and Rocket is coal black w/ a white star and two white quarter socks on his back feet. He was up and standing on all fours in 15 minutes, she took about 35, he pooped in 1 hour and nursed successfully in 1 1/2 hrs (he tried to nurse on everything from her halter to the barn walls before he finally found the spot). She is really sore around the udder area and swelled up inside the vulva area today. I found an equine vet that is coming out to check her today. I want to thank you for your site, Even though my husband kept telling me to breathe, I really couldn't have been so calm without your advice throughout the column. THANKS, THANKS, THANKS!


Dear Chandra,


What wonderful, wonderful news! I'm so happy for all of you! And thanks so much for telling us the whole story. I loved it!


Now you can settle back and enjoy your new baby!



Submitted by Carla in the USA on July 8, 1999:


I would like to know if you can hear fetal sounds in late term mares if you listen in the flank area with a stethoscope. If so do they sound similar to bowel sounds or more like human fetal sounds and can you hear the fetal heart beat. Also I would like to know what the fetal movements feel like and if normal bowel movements while the mare is eating feels like the fetal movements. I purchased an Icelandic from Iceland, she was vet checked before she left Iceland, the vet said she was not in foal. Since she arrived here in the States (after an airplane flight to NY, quarantine 3 days, and a month long trip across the country) she has shown signs of foaling, She is slowly bagging up, getting white spots on her teats but no wax, she rubs her tail on every thing, she is getting mushy in the rump area, she still has control of her tail, and there is movement in her flank area while she is eating mostly. She has been this way for about four weeks now. She is also in a herd situation with 3 other mares 3 stud colts and a gelding. She is much smaller than the rest of the herd, but when I separate them she finds a way to get back with them. Can you give a brief description of a false pregnancy. Thank you for your time. I have learned a lot from your column.


Dear Carla,


You cannot hear fetal heart sounds in horses with a stethoscope. The fetus actually lays on its back most of the time, and is so low in the mare's belly, and so surrounded by the mare's bowels, that it's impossible to hear fetal heart sounds. The only possible way to hear them would be from under the mare's belly, but that would take a lot more sophisticated equipment than a normal stethoscope. Fetal movement can be detected in the mare's flank area, and lots of times, they do move when the mare is eating. Sometimes the movement looks like "jabs" in the flank or lower down in front of the stifle, and sometimes the mare's whole belly will jump.


I don't have any direct experience with false pregnancies, but from what I've heard from others, the mares follow all the things late term pregnant mares usually do. Your very best course of action would be to have a vet take a look at the mare. A 30-second rectal palpation will answer your question.


Best of luck.



Submitted by Debbie in the USA on July 12, 1999:


I have an 16 yr old appy mare. We have had her on pasture for the past 3 yrs and we finally were able to go and bring her home. To make a long story short, my mare is pregnant and I have no idea when she was bred. She is bagged up and has been for about a month now. Two nights ago she started acting like she was in the first stage of labor ie: lip curling, pawing, grouchiness, getting up and turning around and laying back down, groaning, panting, tail swishing etc. She was also dripping milk. Of course this is our and her first foal and we wanted to be near her to help her if she needed help. Well it seems that she didn't want us near and quit having labor symptoms. The next day she was back to normal and showed no signs of labor. Is this normal? Is there such a thing as false labor and if so, does this happen close to her foaling? She is huge round and the baby has dropped. Her belly looks like a triangle, and she has the hollow in front of her stifle and her hip bones are sticking out a little. She is in good condition if not a little overweight. It's hard to tell what is fat and what is baby. Also I haven't noticed any kicking of the foal. I've been staying up at night and checking on her every 15-30 minutes. I haven't noticed any waxing but she is very aggressive towards our other horse, who is also pregnant. Any advice? This is nerve racking. I've had this mare since she was 6 months old and she is registered and worth quite a little bit of money. Please help. I love your column and I'm glad I found it, just wish I found it earlier.


Hi Debbie,


Mares don't have false labor that I'm aware of, but the foal can make them very uncomfortable by laying on their bowels. When this happens, they show colic signs that can look a lot like first stage labor. Also, first stage labor can last for a couple of days, off and on, and a mare may act just like you described. This is normal. If the mare has been dripping milk, then forget about the waxing. It doesn't apply any more once the mare is dripping. If she drips a lot, she may lose all her colostrum and you will need to provide a replacement for the foal. One more thought--have you had a vet confirm that the mare is in foal? You said you have no idea how she was bred, and that you haven't seen any foal movement. It's rare, but possible, that she may be having a false pregnancy. If she doesn't foal within the next few days, I'd certainly have a vet take a look at her.


Thanks for your kind words about the column and please let us know what happens.



Submitted by Louise in Canada on July 16, 1999:


I have another question for you, my mare foaled five weeks ago and I have recently noticed that her spine appears to be much more prominent than it was before. She is carrying very good weight and has done throughout her pregnancy, she is twelve years old and this is her first foal. The flesh just seems to have sunk in slightly around her spine. Would exercise to increase the muscle tone be of help?


Hi Louise,


Exercise might help, and of course without seeing your mare it's impossible for me to judge, but most of the time, when a mare's spine becomes more prominent, it is the first sign that she is losing significant weight. It's amazing, but sometimes the weight can seem to "melt" off them from one day to the next--it happens that fast. I'd certainly keep a close watch on her weight.


Take care.



Submitted by Tammy in the USA on July 25, 1999:


What has your experience been with foals who have had surgery to correct a meconium impaction? Our 1 day old foal had to have surgery to correct the problem. She is recovering from the surgery just fine so far, but the veterinarians at UGA, where the surgery was performed, said foals are at risk of developing abdominal adhesions after colic surgery. Our foal may be doing fine now, but may have complications if adhesions form. Do you know of any foals having this kind of surgery and what was their outcome? We are very distressed at the thought of losing our baby after what she has been through. Thank you so much for the running the advise column. It has been an invaluable source of information to refer to during the entire pregnancy.


Hi Tammy,


In my very limited experience with foals needing surgery for meconium impactions, all of them have done well. I think there's a very good chance that your baby will now lead a healthy, normal life.


Best of luck.



Submitted by Joy in the USA on July 31, 1999:


Hi, I have a 3yr. old Mini mare that we are pretty sure that she is having a baby anytime. I looked in her vulva last week & saw some yellow stringy like stuff. Is this normal? I called the vet & he said 7-10 days probably. She has not been checked by him. When we got her nobody knew that she was pregnant til about a month ago when she looked different in the belly. She is a maiden mare. Your site is very helpful. Thanks a lot.


Hi Joy,


The stringy stuff could have been the mare expelling her mucous plug. If so, it's normal. My very best advice to you would be to have your vet out to make sure the mare is indeed pregnant, and close to delivery. Sometimes those minis can fool you!


Good luck.


Follow up by Joy on August 1, 1999:


My mini mare is due anytime now. Right above her tail it is shaped like a V, does that mean she is softening up. Last nite after she urinated I took a kleenex & wiped her and there was some yellow (not to thick stuff) is this normal? It is very hard to tell when she is going to foal.She already does all the things you look for. The flies are bad right now so she stomps,bites at her side, yawns (when sleepy) I saw her once curl up her nose, but it was after she had urinated. That was comical. I sure want to be with her when she has it. When I put down straw she thinks it is her bathroom. Oh yeah the other nite she was pawing in a corner & I thought it is getting close. Well out came a big toad!!!!! Thanks for listening.


Hi Joy,


You got a toad instead of labor, huh? That was too funny!


Yes, the "V" shape means she's relaxing over her hips. The yellow stuff on the Kleenex was probably urine. Not to worry, sounds normal. About all you can do at this point is join thousands of others in the watching and waiting ordeal. It sounds like you're doing a good job keeping track of what she's doing, so I'll bet you'll catch her.


Take care, and let us know all about it when she foals.



Submitted by Jan in New Zealand on August 22, 1999:


It is some time since I last wrote to you about my TB mare in foal with twins. My mare has been scanned and is doing very nicely, she is still holding both twins (one on each horn), and is now 191 days approx. she is huge and loves her daily feed, she is also getting grumpy with her paddock mates and stays clear of them. Her due date is the 19th January 2000, but from what I have read most twins come around a month early, bring us to 19th December 1999, and her last foal was a fortnight early so this will bring to around the 5th December, 1999, Danger Zone I think, we plan to put a foaling alarm on her 1st or 2nd December 1999, and will have someone at home at all times. I know this will be hard going but hopefully all will go well. My question: Is there any thing else I should be looking at, that I may have forgotten, or doing that I'm not now.


Hi Jan,


I'm so glad to hear from you again and get an update on the mare. No, I can't think of anything else you can do. It sure sounds as though you have a good handle on everything. Watching and waiting...watching and waiting...that's what it's all about now! :-)


Please keep me updated.


Follow up by Jan on October 4, 1999:


Just a short note to bring you up to date, my TB Mare having twins lost them Saturday 2nd October, we are not sure why, but neighbours said all the horses were racing around Friday afternoon and she delivered 6am Saturday morning. One filly and one colt both fully formed and just waiting. Thanks for all your advice and help, I really like your column.


Dear Jan,


I'm so sorry. Unfortunately, this is the most common outcome with twins. Usually what happens is that the mare's uterus just can't provide enough oxygen, nutrition, etc., for both of them. Such a shame. But I hope you don't let this stop you from breeding again.


All the best.



Submitted by Carrie in the USA on August 19, 1999:


I have a mare due to have her first foal in mid January. The winters here in Indiana have a tendency to get bad sometimes so my question is what do I need to do in order to be prepared in case the weather is cold. I'm assuming that I would need to heat the stall but I'm not sure how to do it without creating a fire hazard. Also I've been warned to watch out for frostbite. I have a blanket already but I'm sure I'll need more. Any advice you can give me would be most helpful.


Hi Carrie,


Most of the time, a healthy foal will do just fine in the cold as long as it's in a stall that is free of drafts. However, since I live in Ohio, I understand your concern about winter! It can help a lot to cover the stall with plastic and install heat lamps. As long as the heat lamps and cords are out of the mare's reach and the lamps aren't in contact with straw, hay, wood, spider webs, etc., they really are quite safe. I use the clamp on kind so that I can put them in the best spots to prevent fire hazards. A stall covered with plastic only will keep a stall amazingly warm and adding a couple of heat lamps will make it toasty. A blanket is fine to use on foals most of the time, but just remember that it is possible for a foal to get the blanket twisted and get caught up in it. All that said, I don't routinely use blankets or heat lamps with healthy foals, no matter how cold it is, and have never had a problem as long as they were protected by good, windproof stalls.


Hope this helps.



Submitted by Jenny in Australia on September 2, 1999:


My friend has a 20yr old thoroughbred mare who has never foaled before. She was scanned to see if she is pregnant and the vet said she was, this was very early in her pregnancy. She in now 2 weeks overdue. She looks like she is in foal but she also does things that makes us think she is not. She has bagged up but the milk comes and goes! Her vaginal area has swollen but there is no discharge. She seems to be having what we think are contractions but they have been like that for at least a week. Could she be having a phantom pregnancy? Can they have these? We have not yet been able to detect any foal movement. Any advice would be greatly appreciated as my friend won't get the vet as the mare is happy and healthy in her self.


Hi Jenny,


Yes, it is possible for mares to have false pregnancies. However, the things you described in the mare aren't at all unusual for a maiden mare in late term gestation. For instance, the udder fullness that comes and goes is very typical. And the discomfort is, too. Two weeks isn't really terribly overdue, and not uncommon, either. And in some mares, especially maidens, it can be very difficult to detect foal movement. My guess is that she's in foal and just late. Now that's just a guess! It's really hard to tell from this distance! :-) Just keep a watch on her and as long as she's happy and healthy, don't worry too much. If she goes another two weeks without foaling, I'd certainly have the vet out to check her.


Best of luck, and please let us know what happens.


Follow up by Jenny on October 6, 1999:


I wrote to you about a month ago about a mare who we thought was having a phantom pregnancy, well you were right she was in foal ! She eventually foaled a month late though, she had a cute chestnut colt. She suffered a prolapsed uterus but we got the vet out and she is doing fine now. But not so the foal, from the moment he was born he was weak he never tried to get to his feet or suckle even after 3hrs. I told the owners that something wasn't right but they did not listen. As he was not my foal I left him to return home. When I returned the next day he still had not suckled even with human help and could not stand. He had grown very weak and just lay motionless in the stable which they had just put him in. He had been out in the rain all night. His body temp had dropped really low. They were advised to move him to the horse hospital. On the way he was even weaker he couldn't even open his eyes as the trip was an hour away he just grew weaker. But as we traveled along I managed to bottle feed him some milk from his mother which seemed to help a little bit. When we got to the hospital the vet tried to insert an IV drip into his leg but couldn't get a vein after trying for a while we finally got a vein in the neck and three bags of IV containing some glucose for energy he finally stood supported with our help he seemed so much better. But as the days passed he did not improve. A blood test was taken and the results showed the colostrum in his blood was well below 200. Where it should have been above 800 the vet said that he thought that the foal looked like he had not developed fully in the uterus. Have you heard of this before even though the mare went a month over date. Could it have something to do with her being 20 years of age. The vet said the foal needs a blood transfusion but he didn't want to do it because of the side effects. Are you aware of what side effects he was talking about? The foal is still at the hospital to date. With no significant improvement. Any suggestions or ideas would be greatly appreciated.The foal is trying so hard to survive but things don't look all that great for him. I just wish my friends had listened to me and may be he would be o.k.Thank for taking the time to read this and for replying. Your column is so great there is nothing like it.


Hi Jenny,


Oh, the poor foal! I sure wish the owners had listened to you, too, and am very surprised that the foal is still alive. I'm shocked that it could go on this long with an IgG level so low. Yes, I have seen foals that were way overdue be underdeveloped like this. It could have to do with the mare's age, but necessarily. I don't know why the vet doesn't want to do a blood transfusion on the foal. Yes, there can be complications, but if plasma instead of whole blood is used, the risk is greatly lessened. Also, without being given the needed antibodies through the procedure, the foal doesn't have much of a chance. Was the foal possibly given antibodies through some other means? Has its IgG level come up?


Please keep us updated, and pat yourself on the back for doing everything you possibly could.


Take care.


Follow up by Jenny on October 10, 1999:


Hi its Jenny here from Australia,this time I have some really goood news. I had not enquired about the foal for some time as I was scared of what the results may be, but yesterday the owners came over to see me and to tell me that they had brought the mare and foal home!!!!!!!!!


I went over there to have a look. The mare and foal were quietly grazing on the long green grass in the paddock. What a beautiful picture of health they were. The foal even put on a show for us as he cantered around his mother bucking and playing. It was great to see him suckling on his own and in fact it was unreal to see him alive! It actually brought a tear to my eye. I guess the blood transfusion worked wonders. I just liked to thank you for your words of encouragement and great advice. I hope that you continue your great column for a long time as I may need your advice if I myself try my hand at breeding!!


Hi Jenny,


Thanks so much for the wonderful news! I really appreciate you letting us know. And thanks bunches for your kind words!


Enjoy watching that baby grow!



Submitted by Martha in the USA on September 16, 1999:


What are the odds of a second foal being rejected by a mare? My maiden mare had a foal last year and wouldn't feed it without intervention. I had to sit in the goat shed all day and every time the foal wanted to suck, I had to jump up from my chair and rush over and bend the mare's ear to make her stand still for the foal to suck a few nibbles. Even after one whole day of this, the mare still wouldn't let the foal nurse and I had to load them up and take them over to the vet's to let him work with her for two days, and from then on that was her baby and nobody could mess with it, she took great care of it. She's in foal again this year and I'm hoping she will do fine. What are the chances?


Hi Martha,


Good news! Chances are excellent that your mare will accept her next foal without one whit of a problem. Her reluctance to accept the first one isn't all that uncommon with maiden mares and almost always, once they get over it, they're over it for good.


Let us know how she does!



Submitted by Louise in Canada on September 26, 1999:

I am looking for advice regarding the weaning process. My foal was born on June 12 and I was planning on weaning her at about 5 months of age. She is very independent most of the time, however, her mother is extremely protective of her and prevents her from visiting with other horses over the fence although she is very anxious to make friends. I was wondering if you recommend gradual weaning or total separation, some people have advised me to move the mare to a different property for a month which I would prefer not to do. I plan on putting the mare and filly in adjoining stalls, would a half-wall between them be a good or a bad thing? Are they better off not seeing each other? What about adjoining paddocks for turnout? I want to make this as easy as possible for them both - please help!


Hi Louise,


Weaning is always a quandary. Different people do it different ways, some "cold turkey," and some by a gradual process, and are successful. Generally, I prefer the "cold turkey" method, particularly if there is more than one foal or if there is a suitable companion to put the foal with after weaning. In your case, it sounds like the mare might be more of a problem than the foal. That causes me concern about putting them next to each other with a half wall and in adjoining paddocks--you can't be sure what the mare will do to get to her foal and she could wreak some real havoc. If you think her temperament is such that she won't try to tear things apart, then your plan may work. Just watch carefully to be sure that the mare doesn't hurt herself. You might start by separating the mare and foal at feeding times, then putting them back together, gradually increasing the amount of time they are apart. That should lessen the mare's anxiety about being apart from her foal. If the mare won't accept the process, you may ultimately have no choice but to move her off the farm for a month or so.


I hope this helps, and best of luck.



Submitted by Lisa in the USA on October 3, 1999:


I am interested in purchasing a mare for breeding purposes. When I asked if she had any previous foaling problems, I was told her last foal was presented up-side down, and needed to be turned and assisted out of the birth canal. The seller also said that the vet told her the mare has a very long birth canal. Can you tell me if I could anticipate this as a future foaling problem? Thanks so much.


Hi Lisa,


I have never heard a vet refer to a mare having "a very long birth canal." That's a new one on me, so although I'm not sure what the vet meant, it doesn't sound like a major problem to me. As far as the mare's last foal being upside-down, I wouldn't worry about that too much. It is something that doesn't necessarily repeat, and even if it does, it isn't a usually a difficult problem to straighten out. So, if you really like the mare, and these are the only reproductive problems she's had, I don't think you should be frightened away from her. A good question to ask would be how easily she gets in foal.


Hope this helps.




Submitted by Pamela in the USA on October 11, 1999:


I have already e-mailed you but I am getting concerned about my mare and you seem to answer these questions quite rapidly. My mare was serviced for the last time 4/17/99. She had an ultrasound on 5/12/99 to confirm pregnancy. I just looked up the time line you suggested to another writer and she certainly looks like she has more then a beagle inside her right now. Is it at all possible that a second embryo could have been missed at the time of the ultrasound? There is a chance she is to be moved to another location fairly soon, is this a wise move should she be carrying twins? And, would a vet be able to tell at this point if she has more then one fetus? Thanks for any information.


Dear Pamela,


Yes, it is possible for a twin to be missed on ultrasound. However, since your mare was ultrasounded at about 25 days, the chances are less that one was missed than if she'd been checked at 16 days (since the vesicles are so much larger at 25 days). It's still possible that a twin was missed, but unlikely at that stage if the ultrasound was done by a vet that does a lot of reproductive work. It would be difficult, if not impossible, for a vet to detect twins at this stage of pregnancy. If there were twins, it would be just a matter of luck to find both of them in a position that both heads could be felt. And, the fetus is usually way down in the abdomen at this stage, and can be very hard to reach. Has this mare had foals before? Sometimes on a third or fourth pregnancy, they seem to show much earlier and look larger a lot earlier than with previous pregnancies--like they're stretched out and just let it all hang out. I wouldn't be worried about moving the mare at this stage of pregnancy. Also, about all you can do is continue giving her good care. If she has twins, there isn't anything to be done about it except make sure she stays in good health. Although twin pregnancies usually don't end well for the foals, the mares usually come through just fine. I hope that eases your mind a little.


I hope everything goes well and please keep us updated on how she does.



Submitted by Tammy in Canada on October 18, 1999:


This mare we bought in January (we didn't know was bred). I wrote here for advice and stuff because she looked like she was going to foal soon (that was in July). Now in october she still hasn't foaled. In July she got a bag, and was stretched at the back and so forth. Now she looks ready again. Even the vet said she looks pretty close but since he wasn't our vet and my mom was out of town I wasn't able to get him to look closely at her or give us any info because I had no money and my mom has to ok it. This mare last Wednesday (today is Monday) was said to be in labour. We try to check her but she seemed to be kicking, and we gently touched her rump and she almost laid down cross ties and all. The thing is she has no bag and since that day no real signs have shown up except 2 times we say what looked like her but was kicking. The vet was able to tell me that this is the baby in position to come in the birth canal. Could you give me a quick over view of things to look for? She is stretched and spread apart (the hole the baby comes out) She is quite swishy and her rear end is dimpled. Just no bag and no other signs. We haven't ridden her since June. PLEASE HELP


Hi Tammy,


The very best advice I can give you is to have the vet out to do a rectal palpation on the mare. With her history, it's really impossible for me to tell you much and she needs to be seen by a vet. That's especially so since she hasn't developed an udder. I really believe it's the best thing to do. If she is in foal, and bred in, say December, she might not be due to foal for another month. Please, make arrangements to have a vet do a thorough exam to find out for sure if she's in foal and, if she is, how close she might be to foaling.


Please let us know what you find out.


Follow up by Tammy on December 19, 1999:


After a very long wait and endless hours of foal watch into the early morning and 2 foal colics, 4 false labor etc. from July to November, my mare's foal was born in the field in the pouring rain at 2:30 in the afternoon. She is really pretty and has a little diamond and a little white sock as well as white outlines around her eyes. She will eventually turn gray but right now she is a beautiful chestnut with black stockings and a white sock. The thing is that her mother is now kicking her very hard knocking her to the ground and biting her unbelievably hard. We know for a fact this is not normal because if it were for punishment because she does it repeatedly even after she is in the corner doing nothing. This can happen minimum of 20 times in a night. She is only 3 weeks old. I was wondering how we can try to stop this behavior and if it isn't stopped how early can we wean the foal? This could partially be because her mother was starved and is very competitive and protective for her food and is afraid that the baby will eat it all. We bought her over 200 pounds underweight and bred. The baby will steal a few bites but mom gets really angry with her for this and bites or kicks her leaving her running around screaming in the stall. Could you give me some advice with this problem


Hi Tammy,


I'm happy to hear that the birth of the foal went okay, but it sounds like you have real trouble now. I couldn't tell for sure from your message, but does the mare only treat the foal like this when the mare is being fed grain? If so, I'd take the foal out of the stall while the mare eats. I don't think even tying the mare up to eat would do the trick. If the mare does this randomly, even when she isn't eating, then it might be best to wean the foal. It is early, and she would have to be supplemented with mare's milk replacement formula, but that would be better than having the mare really hurt her. If a maiden mare behaves like this right at the start, they usually get over it. But a mare that is treating her three-week-old foal in such a way probably won't stop, so that's why I'm truly concerned about the foal's safety. If you should have to wean the foal, it would help to put her with a companion--an older horse of suitable temperament, a small pony, something like that.

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



Submitted by Sini in Finland on October 23, 1999:


Hi Theresa! Thank you again for your great work on here. Wrote you on the first of July 1998 asking for advice in case our Fjord mare Kaci has twins. Luckily, she gave birth to only one foal, a sweet colt whose name is Somnus. Everything went well and we were there all along. Kaci was very sweet - when she saw that we were taking care of the foal imprinting him she decided to lay down and get some rest before getting up again. Somnus is soon 1,5 years old and still a very sweet gentleman. He and his big sister Troia (who was present in the same pasture when Somnus was born and came to lick him, too, as well Kaci did have been each other's best friends from the beginning. They still sleep side by side and do everything together. Kaci, by the way, licked both her foal and me and so did Troia (obviously because I had been handling the foal and was smelling of him). So there was a very strong sense of belonging together and a beautiful bond between all of us. Thanks again and all the best


Dear Sini,


Thank you so much for writing. It's great to hear that your mare had only one foal and that all went well. And how cool it is that Somnus and Troia are best friends--not to mention you--his human best friend!


Thanks again for writing.



Submitted by Lorri in Georgia on October 26, 1999:


I've read with a great deal of interest this forum, you seem to really care about mares and their reproductive foibles!


I have an 11 yr old Shire mare who had one foal 6 yrs ago. When I bought her, she had an undiagnosed fungus infection--I didn't have a BSE done, to my dismay. At any rate, we spent last year getting her cleaned up, and this past May cultured her prior to breeding by AI. She was clean. Her next cycle (June) we AI'ed her, then ultrasounded her at 15 days, but no vesicle was found. We decided to sell her, and had the vet out to run a Coggins on her in Sept so we could advertise. He palpated her just to make sure, and said she was 90 days in foal! He ultrasounded her, and said he saw an umbilical cord. So apparently she *is* in foal, and he just missed the vesicle on the ultrasound. She is also looking plumper thru the flanks--her 5 month exam is in about 3 weeks, so we'll know for sure then. My question, tho, is this: twice now (both times when she would have been in heat if she were open) we have seen clear mucousy stuff dripping in long streams out of her vulva. It's just a one time thing, and she has just finished urinating both times. What is this? I've checked her, and she's perfectly clean back there, no fever, no irritability. Any ideas? I'll be asking the vet when he comes out, but I don't want to incur an extra farm visit charge when he needs to come out in a few weeks anyway for her 5 mo check and my other mare's 30 day check...


Hi Lorri,


My assumption would be that it she is just pushing out the last urine, with maybe some vaginal secretions. I don't think it's anything to worry about. As you said, waiting to have the vet take a look at the five month check is fine.


Good luck!



Submitted by Eva in the USA on October 29, 1999:


Our mare delivered a healthy colt this morning. My question is that his penis and sheath seem to be inverted and he seems to be leaking urine onto his side when he lays down. Is this normal and will he outgrow it as some articles have stated?


Hi Eva,


I'm not sure what you mean by an "inverted" penis and sheath. If you mean that the penis is showing all the time, then that's completely normal in a newborn colt. If you mean that the penis stays up inside the sheath all the time (retracted), that's not normal, but not uncommon and not a cause for major concern. And as you asked, the condition usually corrects itself. I've seen some take as long as a week to correct, but they always have. If it doesn't correct by the end of a week, have the vet take a look. In the meantime, there can be a problem with urine getting onto areas it shouldn't. The biggest concern is urine on the umbilical stump. Be sure to clean the stump and treat it with either iodine or chlorhexadine (Nolvasan) a couple of times a day. The urine may cause irritation to the colt's belly when it sprays during urination, or on his side from leakage when he lies down. Urine may also cause irritation to the inside of his sheath. A light coating of Vaseline on the affected areas usually takes care of that.


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



Submitted by Wael in Egypt on November 16, 1999:


Which is better ,as a uterine wash, for treating metritis in a mare, is it Gentamicin+saline or Oxytetracycline+saline


Dear Wael,


The antibiotic to be used for a uterine infusion should be one to which the offending organism is sensitive. Many of the organisms that are the most commonly found in uterine infections are sensitive to gentamicin or a gentamicin/penicillin combination, so I would choose gentamicin/saline over oxytetracycline/saline. For the very best result, though, a uterine culture and sensitivity should be done to determine what the organism is, and to which antibiotic or combination of antibiotics it is sensitive.


Hope this helps!




Submitted by Pam in the USA on November 27, 1999:


I have recently purchased your book on foaling which has been extremely helpful and valuable. Unfortunately, the way we found out about you is troubling as I will explain.


We bred our six year old mare in 1998 AI with frozen semen approximately six times to the same stallion with no results. She did, however, develop an infection which resulted in the necessity of antibiotic treatment with a uterine flush and a D&C performed by our vet. She cultured clear and four months later we bred her again to a different stallion who lives at the same barn with our mare. We again bred AI as our mare severed the tendon in her hock early in 1998 and although she has healed beautifully, we didn't want to take any chances of reinjury. The good news is that she checked in foal and is due the first part of January of 2000. On October 30th she showed signs of colic and did not show any relief after walking. Our vet oiled her that evening and she since recovered. However, a few days later she showed a discharge and was treated with SMZ's. Unfortunately, this treatment upset her stomach and she wouldn't eat so we discontinued the antibiotic tx several days later as the discharge was gone. The discharge has not returned however approximately ten days later she showed signs of wax and then several days later she began lactating. At first, only a few drops of milk but then she would occasionally stream milk. This has continued to be her pattern. Her udders initially were not full however, during the past few days she shows signs of bagging. The vet did a rectal exam and ultrasound. The foal is alive, however, he does suspect placentitis which became apparent in the ultrasound. This is the point where I went on the internet and found your book. As of this date, 11/27/99, our mare is 289 days along. She was moved to the foaling stall when she began lactating and is on a monitor. I have taken all of your advice and we are prepared with frozen colostrum, hair dryer and blanket, etc. I do need to talk to our vet as you also indicated antibiotics may need to be administered which we need to have on hand. I know the chances of this foal surviving before 320 days is slim but I can't not try everything possible. Is there anything at all that I am missing or that you would recommend? Are we at the point where we should be staying with her next to her stall? Also, should we be doing anything further for the safety and well being of our mare? She is our first horse and the thought of losing her foal is devastating. The only thing worse would be losing her.


Any suggestions you can give me will be greatly appreciated. Our vet simply states that if she foals now there is nothing we can do and that all we can do is hope that she hangs on for four more weeks. If she foals we just can't stand by and not try everything possible. Please help us if you can.


Dear Pam,


I'm so happy to hear that you recognized a problem and acted quickly. It sounds like you are doing everything you can to take care of your mare and her foal. The only question I have is this: Is the mare getting any antibiotics at all now? If she is still lactating, I think she should still be on antibiotics. In fact, I think it may be necessary. If the SMZ's don't agree with her, then you might talk to your vet about putting her on a 7-10 day course of injectable penicillin. The vet I worked for usually started mares with placentitis on a course of penicillin and that did very well for the vast majority of them. Some were chronic cases and to avoid that many injections, he would switch them to SMZ's after a course of penicillin. A couple have had to stay on SMZ's for as long as four months because every time the antibiotics were stopped, they'd bag up again. All of these, though, resulted in healthy foals. So, I think you should talk to your vet about a course of penicillin. As far as staying with the mare, you'll have to play that by ear. If she shows ANY change in behavior, I would certainly stay with her. I can't stress enough the importance of talking to your vet about the penicillin.


Best of luck. We'll be thinking about you and please let us know how things go.



Submitted by Marla in the USA on December 9, 1999:


My mare is due to foal at the end of March. When she was 2 months pregnant she foundered and rotated. She now is sound enough and seems to be in no pain but she acts exhausted and ties up when she exercises. Any ideas? Is there anything I can do to prevent her from re-foundreing after she foals. I was told there is a chance of it. I don't want to take any chances with her. Thanks in advance.


Hi Marla,


You said the mare isn't showing any pain now, but if she acts exhausted after exercise and seems to tie up, then she is still in pain. My advice would be to limit her exercise (let her decide how much she needs to do) until after she foals. The weight of the foal only exacerbates the pain due to rotation. There is nothing special you can do to keep her from foundering again other than the things you would do with any horse--most importantly, don't overfeed her. As long as the foaling goes normally, there is no reason that foaling itself should cause her to founder again. If she becomes more painful as the weight of the foal increases, ask your vet about putting her on bute. The bute won't hurt anything and it is very important to keep her stress level down by keeping her as comfortable as possible.


Best of luck, and please let us know how she does.


Submitted by Suzanne in the USA on December 9, 1999:


Ok, I have read your book and I think it is marvelous. My question to you is this. I have a mare who is currently 307 days but shows little mammary activity. I have leased this mare and her owner states that she bags up and streams milk for a week before foaling and says that she carried a good bag at 300 days with her first foal. Should I be concerned this early on. This will be her second foal and she is huge and has had her five seven and nine month palpations and rhino shots. I know she has had no fescue hay due to the fact that we feed alfalfa cubes. We killed the field that she has been in last summer with roundup and reseeded with a non-fescue pasture mix. Please let me know if the fescue shot may be in order. My vet doesn't seem concerned but I have only one chance to get a foal from this really nice mare and he is more up and up on the physical and illness side of vet meds.


Hi Suzanne,


Thanks so much for your kind words about the book. I'm glad you like it.


I wouldn't be in the least bit worried about a mare that doesn't have much udder development at 307 days. At 307 days, she is still more than 30 days from her "due" date, so she sounds perfectly normal to me. And you can throw out entirely what she did with her first foal. My experience has been that what mares do as maidens may have little or no bearing on what they do with subsequent foals. The pattern she shows with the second one is much more likely to be the pattern she will usually have.


Take a deep breath and don't worry, because I truly don't think you should be worried now. Please let us know how she does.



Submitted by Hope in the USA on December 13, 1999:


This is truly a wonderful site, Thanks! My concern is with my 7 yr. old mare. She is 5 months along in her pregnancy. About a week ago, I took notice that she has been passing manure quite frequently, smaller piles, but still well-formed and neither dry or mushy. A few days later, I noticed she appeared a little stocked-up in her one rear leg, it was gone in a day, and she never showed more than a little favoring. But she has still been passing her small piles of manure, very frequently. (to give a rough time span: perhaps 3/4 piles in 20-25 minutes, sometimes only about 4-5 "balls") She appears in good spirits, eats, drinks well. But it has just not been sitting well with me. So I pulled out my trustworthy vet book and start looking for an explanation for this. The only thing I came up with is nerve damage?? Is this common in horses? And would this be a reason for her consistent manure piles? I was just wondering if it would have more to do with her pregnancy? The only other pregnancy I had any experience with was this mare, but we bought her in her 6th month, and I can't say that I took notice to this during that pregnancy. Any insight would be quite helpful, I am not reluctant to call the vet out, but she appears normal in all other areas. Not to mention, the quality of vets in our area doesn't make me feel any better. I look forward to your response, thanks so much.


Dear Hope,


Thanks for your kind words about the site. I'm glad you've enjoyed it!


I don't see any reason for you to be worried about your mare's frequent defecation. It sounds normal to me. Because of the foal's increasing size, it is not at all uncommon for mares to feel "full" and pass stool more often to feel more comfortable. As long as the manure is normal consistency and the mare is eating and feeling okay otherwise, I certainly wouldn't worry about it. Also, the stocking up in one hind leg, from your descriptions, sounds like a very small injury. Since it was gone in a day, I wouldn't worry about it, either.


Let us know all about your new 2000 baby!



Submitted by Tracy in the USA on December 22, 1999:


Hi Theresa, what a wonderful site. It is nice to know that there are people that genuinely care about horses. Here is my question. I have a tb maiden mare whom I purchased from a friend last year. At the time she was almost 6 yrs old and had some major training problems. When my friend bought her she was ill mannered, would rear up when being lead, would bolt under saddle,etc. Well to make a long story short I bought this horse after my friend tried to take her trail riding[with her 4yo son in the front of her saddle] and the horse went balistic. I really felt this horse was abused prior to my friend puchasing her and thought the potential for her being abused again would be great.[To many people think they have to be "BOSS" Anyway after owning her myself for 1.5 yrs and developing trust we are one. I really like her gait and decided to breed her with a Tenn. Walking horse. I would like to someday ride her foal in competitive trailriding. Well since she came back from the stud farm she has started acting very aggressive. I had her U/S at 17 days and palpatatyed at 5mos. She is deffinatley bred. She does not act aggressive with me but with other horses. Any horse on the trail she will kick, at feeding time she lays her ears back and lunges at the other horse next to her in their stalls. I am worried that once she foals she wont let me near her foal. Am I being paranoid or do I have reason to be conserned. Thanks for all your help, MERRY CHRISTMAS


Dear Tracy,


Especially since it's the Christmas season, I'm very happy to be able to give you good news. What you're seeing in your mare is raging pregnancy hormones, and not at all unusual. She may settle down about other horses as time goes on, or she may not. But, and here's the good part, it shouldn't affect how she acts toward you after the foal is born. I don't want to give you the wrong idea, she may still be quite protective of her foal for the first few days, but it doesn't have anything to do with what you're seeing now. And since you've established a good relationship with the mare, you shouldn't have much of a problem working through any over-protectiveness she might show.


Best of luck, and please let us know how it goes with the new baby!



Submitted by Lisa in the USA on December 26, 1999:


I was just wondering if it's normal for my mare to show udder enlargement just going into her 9th month. My other mare never showed any signs of enlargement until the middle of the 10th month. Both mares are due at the same time. I have her on Omolene 300. It's designed for mares and foals. Could this hurry the milking process? I'm not overly concerned, but just curious if this is a possibility for some mares. Thank you


Hi Lisa,


It's possible for a mare to develop udder at that point and be okay, but not likely. In the vast majority of cases, early udder development is a sign of a problem--frequently placentitis. It would be a good thing to get the vet out and have him/her take a look. Placentitis can usually be dealt with if caught early and treated.


Please let us know what you find out.