Order Manual
Photo Gallery
Photo Gallery II
Submit Question
Q&A 2006-2012
Q&A 2005
Q&A 2003-04
Q&A 2002
Q&A 2001
More Q&A 2000
Q&A 2000
Q&A 1999
Q&A 1997-98

Advice Column 2003-04


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


Thanks much, Theresa


Submitted by Barbara in California on January 2, 2003:


I purchased your Foaling Manual and am reading it over and over. "Wonderful manual" I would like to know what kind of leather halter should I purchase for a newborn foal? I will have two due the end of February. Should I get an adjustable chin etc? I plan on putting them on as soon as they arrive and are standing on their own. Could also suggest where to purchase them, I would appreciate it.


Hi Barbara,


I'm so glad that you have enjoyed the book! Thanks for saying so. Yes, it is good to get an adjustable halter. I know where to get halters in my area, but don't know where to get them in California or online. The easiest thing to do would probably be to check with some breeders in your area.


Thanks again for your kind words about the book and keep me updated on how everything goes,



Submitted by Rebecca in Texas on January 3, 2003:


Well this is not about foaling, but I cannot find any info on my problem. I have a 6 month old foal that I picked up at auction when she was 5 months old. She was pulled off mom too soon and I am sure not fed or exercised properly, Well she has lordosis, her back sways, and I am wondering if there is anything I can do to try to correct it before her spine fuses, such as supplements or certain types of exercise. I will send you a picture if this will help.


Dear Rebecca,


As far as I know, there is nothing that can be done for this condition. You should have a veterinarian take a look at her.


Sorry I couldn't be more helpful.



Submitted by Angie in Virginia on January 4, 2003:


I just wanted to say thank you for writing such a wonderful book! I have had it only two days now and it has already answered many questions I had and so much more. Everything is explained in great detail (and even better it is easy to understand!) and I know after reading it all that I will feel very confident that I can help my mare instead of being a helpless bystander. Thanks again!


Dear Angie,


Thanks so much for letting me know that you got the book safely and that it is helping. It is always so wonderful to hear that!


Keep me updated on how you all do.


Follow up by Angie on January 4, 2003:


My maiden mare (a TB/Hanoverian) who is bred to a Hanoverian can live on air! She is due in late April and my main concern is that she gets enough nutrients and also that she does not get too much protein etc, and the foal having any growth abnormalties. At the moment she is on pasture 24/7 (until next month when I take her off b/c of the fescue) and she only gets 2 measuring cups of grain (Literally!!) twice a day and a flake or two of orchard grass/alfalfa hay twice a day. (The hay ratio is about 50-50 at the highest with most bales being more orchard grass) I did start her on Calf Manna, which she gets about 1/2 lb a day and then I plan to increase it up to 1 1/2-2 lbs according to the feeding directions. The stallion owner recommended a similar brand of concentrated feed that she uses for her "air ferns" too. Does this feeding plan sound adequate to you? She is also on Strongid C daily. Sorry for the length but I wanted to be sure you had all the needed details. Thank you so much for your time and the book!!!


Dear Angie,


Your feeding plan sounds fine and the only thing I would change is to stop the Calf Manna. It's an old wives tale that mares will benefit from it. Horses don't metabolize it the way cattle do and not only does it not help them, it can also rarely cause problems. You didn't mention your mare having a mineral block available. If she doesn't, it would be good to get one for her. As long as your mare is in good flesh and healthy, chances are excellent that she and the foal are getting all they need.


Hope this helps.



Submitted by Sherrie in Georgia on January 5, 2003:


It's been a while since I have been on the website. Your help was invaluable to us last year during the pregnancy of my 20 year old quarter horse. My problem now is the filly is about 8 months old. We bred the mother back when the colt was a month old(at our vet's advice, he said older horses may be hard to breed again if we didn't do it right away). The problem is the mother and foal are extremely close to each other. About 2 months age we put the colt in another pasture to wean her. Then we put her back in with mother, but we noticed today that the colt is still nursing. The only other permanent pasture we have for the foal is in with a stud horse. Is this safe? How old are fillies before they come into heat for the first time? Is it unusual for a mother to let a foal nurse this long if she is pregnant? Thank you so much for your advice


Dear Sherrie,


It is not unusual for mares to allow foals to nurse for this long. The only thing you can do is completely separate the mare and foal again. It is not good for the mare to have a foal nursing at this point since it is such a drain on her if she is in foal again. I would absolutely not put an eight-month-old filly in with a stallion. It doesn't matter whether or not she is old enough to come in heat (and she will be within a couple of months). I would worry about safety the most.


Hope you can find a way to safely separate the mare and foal.



Submitted by Debby in Lincs, UK on January 5, 2003:


Hi, After finding your web site for the first time and having spent hours reading ALL the advice you have given over the years... I hope you can help me with a question I have. Re: Heat Lamps. As the weather is bitterly cold here in the UK, I would like to install heat lamps in my foaling box for my mare who is due to foal in Feb 2003. Could you recommend, how many lamps to use? Type? How many hours to use them for each day? And any other information you feel would be helpfull. My foaling boxes are; 16' x 24' & 16' x 36'.


Dear Debby,


Depending on just how cold your weather gets, about four heat lamps should be enough. Concentrate them at one end of the stall. The foal will usually seek out the heat and can move away if it gets too warm. How much to leave them on depends on your weather. If it gets relatively warm during the day, you can just have them on at night. I use heat "bulbs" with shields that direct the heat downward and can be clamped to rafters. Over here, you can get them at hardware stores. Be sure to keep the lamps away from any cords, straw, cobwebs, etc. that could catch on fire. They do get very hot. And be sure that the cords are run where the mare can't reach them. As long as the foal is healthy, I only use heat lamps if the temperature gets below about 20 degrees F at night.


Hope this helps.



Submitted by Mandy in Missouri on January 6, 2003:


Hello, I sure do hope you can help me. I have a 7 yr. old Paint mare which foaled back in June 02, the delivery went fine. I got the colt standing and nursing, so I left the two alone and went to sleep for about 5 hrs. I came back out and Lady had turned against the colt, was very aggressive kicking him and running him off everytime he wanted to nurse. This went on all day, The vet came out and he wanted for us to twitch and sedate her, I was not thrilled about it at all, even under this sedation she still lashed out so right then and there I took the foal and raised him. A few times I would try introducing them back, it was out of the question. Pistol is very healthy and growing like a weed. Well this mare Lady, I had her bred back and she is due to foal in May, I have started to TRY TO touch her udder, by the time I run my hand under her belly to her hind quarters she throws a fit, kicking, she almost bit me. So am I looking at raising another foal? Is there something else I can do to get her to be a better mom? Please help me. It's not that I don't mind raising another one, but I should'nt have to. I look forward to hearing back from you, Thank you for your time.


Dear Mandy,


A mare that doesn't want you to touch her udder until after she foals is usually not an indication that there will be a problem with the foal. However, with this mare's history it may be a different story. The only thing I can suggest other than the things you tried before would be to turn the mare and foal outside, if possible, keeping the mare on a lead shank or lunge line until you see how she is going to act. For some reason, being outside sometimes seems to kick in their maternal instinct. I would have given the mare more time. I know it's hard to do because someone has to be with the mare and foal all the time, but many times these mares come around. Some don't, but many do.


Hope this helps and please let me know how she does with this foal.



Submitted by Tammy in Florida on January 6, 2003:


Thank you so much for this column! I have been reading and reading! (so I don't think this is a duplicate question) I recently bought a mare that had been diagnosed with west nile but the vet confirmed she fully recovered. All the broodmares at that barn, including her, had gotten WN and aborted their foals. The vet did confirm it. Well come to find out, my mare still is in foal (the ONLY one who didn't abort) and she is due the end of February. I am really worried about the effects of WN on the foal. Do you think there is a greater possiblility of something being wrong with the foal? Have you seen this happen before? Thank you for your help :o)


Dear Tammy,


I don't know if anyone knows what the outcome will be for a foal whose mother has gone through West Nile. The only thing I can say is that I have seen some mares go through very difficult illnesses and still deliver a healthy foal. Most of the time, if something is wrong with the fetus it will be aborted. I would, fingers crossed, say that you have a very good chance of having a normal foal.


Please let me know what happens.



Submitted by Stephanie in North Carolina on January 9, 2003:


Hi I have a foaling Question. I have your book that I ordered from you after Xmas after getting the wrong one as a gift from my mother Grrrr and have read it and re-read it many times * Thanks for signing it, my daughter was so thrilled. It's like glued to my hand. I just cannot seem to get a handle on my mare though but not from lack of information just because she is acting weird. First let me say I have owned her 331 days so this is how I am guessing on how far along she is as she came in foal to me. She first relaxed (vulva) about a week ago then 2 days later she was really swollen and her vulva looked much smaller ( shrunk up ) really puffy but yet now flush with her rear end. Then 2 days later it relaxed again but this time it was relaxed with the puffy swelling, very puffy still flush with rear end. Yesterday it also started to sag open. She nods all the time, eats 2-3 minutes takes a 5 minute break then does this again until she is done eating, she hasn't turned down any food or hay. She will not lay down for anything, not even to roll. She stands around all day switching her weight from leg to leg, and did do some sweating 3 days ago for a couple of hours but had really bad gas so I gave her some bran mash and it stopped. She is out sleeping now 12:10 A.M.with her face resting on the top of the gate and yawning like crazy. Once she yawned so big she brought her face down and hit it on the stall door. She swishes her tail a lot or holds it to the side. Ok now you know what she IS doing, let me ask you this. If her tail head is not yet relaxed, which hers is NOT, does this mean we have a while ? She has had many of the signs you list in your book for a week or so but no laying down ever. We had stomping 2 days ago but nothing now, not even pawing. I have been wrapping her tail lightly at night and washing her udders ( very little no fluid, kinda flabby still actually) and washing her vulva with warm water and betadine. She has really enjoyed it to be frank and would just stand there. I also have noticed during my washings when her vulva was open you could see way up in there, Well tonight it's very closed, tight and shallow you can't see further then an inch, maybe even a 1/2 an inch and she doesn't really seem to want me there. She jerked away and started winking like crazy. She is not a maiden. What do you think, am I going crazy or should something be happening ? I guess my concern is that she had no muscle relaxation in her hindquarters/tail head, am I wrong to assume that if she hasn't relaxed nothing can get through so we still have time or can this happen quickly ? Her tail has dropped but not the mushy tail area I hear people talk about, and I haven't noticed the V belly yet, could I have missed this? Oh and no discharge or plug have been seen. I think that's it. You were right I feel so much better now after reading your book. I feel like I can handle anything to some point ( not being a vet) since you explain it in such detail, well that is if we can ever get on with it. But yes after being scared to death after reading that other complete book on foaling I must admit yours made me relax and realize I will be ok, just stay calm and remember what I have read and everything will work out. I recommend your book to everyone who wants to learn everything about foaling - it's wonderful, or if they are up for being scared to death and having foaling nightmares they can get that other book.


Dear Stephanie,


I'm really glad that the book has helped you. It's always so great to hear that. It definitely sounds like your mare is working up to foaling. Sometimes they don't do everything in exactly "textbook" order. She should relax around her tail, but that can happen very quickly and isn't so obvious in some mares as in others. This change can take place in just a few short hours. I'm sure you haven't missed anything and chances are good that she will relax around her tail, her belly will drop, and her udder will get more full. Everything you talked about sounds perfectly normal, so I don't think there is anything to worry about. Just keep doing what you've been doing and observing her closely. I am absolutely confident that you know her well enough that you won't miss a thing and will know when she is ready to foal.


Keep me updated!



Submitted by Josanna in Washington on January 9, 2003:


Hi, I was wondering when you sew a mare down, do you sew her from the bottom to the top or top to the bottom? I thought when they were sewn down they had an opening at the top not the bottom. I am wondering about this because the mare I have is sewn down and it is only about half way down, from the top, the opening at the bottom is very large. I would appreciate an accurate description of the procedure. Thanks so very much


Dear Josanna,


The Caslick's procedure is done by sewing the mare from the top toward the bottom. The opening is left at the bottom to allow the mare to urinate and also because most contamination comes from manure, which comes from the top.


Hope this helps.



Submitted by Barbara in California on January 11, 2003:


I have read your book and thoroughly enjoyed it. Shortly after one of my mares that was in her 10th month aborted her foal. He was a fully formed colt but didn't have a full coat of fur on him. He was either born dead or died shortly after. My mare didn't show any signs of labor and the ranch she was on didn't notice any unusual signs. She was eating fine and there was no fescue in sight. She is an 8 year old TB off the track and this was her first foal. We did notice frequent urination with her. That was the only thing that was a little unusual. The vet found nothing wrong with the placenta and didn't do a necropsy. Do you have any ideas as to what could have happened. I would sure appreciate any thoughts you have. I know this is rather vague but I am in shock about this.


Dear Barbara,


Oh, my! I'm so very sorry. There are quite a few causes for late abortions in mares. Most frequently it is because there is something wrong with the fetus. Sometimes it is because the umbilical cord was twisted and the fetus died from lack of oxygen. Once in a while it is from rhino, but I assume that your mare was vaccinated for rhino. No matter the cause, I know how awful this is. If you want to breed the mare again and she checks out okay, please don't let this stop you from trying again. Chances are that it won't happen the next time.


Again, I'm so very sorry!



Submitted by Corine in Drenthe, Netherlands on January 13, 2003:


I just stumbled on your site after doing a Altavista search using the words Imprinting and Foal... Now, about one hour later (I've been reading your advice colunm) I've become a fan of yours! Your explanations are great! Of course I also have a few questions! I worked for a foaling farm for three years (about 10 years ago), and have experience with Paint and Quarter mares. Now I have my own mare, a 3/4 arab, 7 years, maiden, bred to an Arabian. Her last breeding date was April 1st 2002. Today it is Jan 13th and she has been huge for the last month! I'm talking BIG! (her belly measures 235cm around, she is 14.1H)


-does she look so big, because she is a 3/4 arab, and it just shows more?
-she was ultrasounded at 18, 35, 48 days, no sign of a twin, could she still possibly be carrying twins?
-she has bagged up, is restless, seems to have an "itch" on her sides, but is not relaxed around the tail. Could she go early?
-what else can I look for to see if she'll go early, she really looks about to pop, as far as size goes! I have never seen a maiden mare so big, with still 6 weeks to go!
Well, I sure hope you can help me out!


Dear Corine,


I'm glad the column has been helpful! Thanks for taking the time to read it!

It is possible that the mare looks big just because of the way that she is carrying, making her show more. It is also possible for a twin to be missed even with three ultrasounds but if the vet who did the ultrasounds is experienced, it is very unlikely that this is the case. Sometimes maidens bag up early, possibly due to erratic hormone influence. But yes, it is certainly possible that she could go early. If she is really bagged up--I mean a full udder and not just some filling--then you might consider a course of antibiotics on the chance that she might have placentitis. She probably doesn't, but it is something to consider. Otherwise, about all you can do is to continue doing what you have been doing--observe closely for more physical and behavioral changes. I am confident that you will notice any changes and be ready for delivery, even if it happens early. If she goes another four weeks, all should be well!


Please let me know how she does.



Submitted by Brenda in Indiana on January 13, 2003:


We are wondering if we can put two 5 year old geldings with two 9 month old fillies? We are new at this,and do not wish for the fillies to be harmed. The geldings are green broke, and are gentle with us. They have been around older horses, but never younger than themselves. Thank you for your time and help.


Dear Brenda,


If possible, I would first try putting the fillies in a paddock adjoining the geldings and see how they react across the fence. If that isn't possible and the geldings are quiet, it will most likely be okay to put them together. Just be ready to react if a fight breaks out.


Good luck!



Submitted by Jen in the USA on January 13, 2003:


What is the best and safest Fly Spray to use on a pregnant mare?


Dear Jen,


Most fly sprays that you would buy at a tack store are fine for pregnant mares. Fly sprays made for dairy cows work about the best and sprays made for dairy cows are safe for mares.


Hope this helps.



Submitted by Ruth in Missouri on January 14, 2003:


This is gonna be tough but, we have a 7 Yr old Mustang who had been RX with colic although she does not really exhibit those signs, her vitals and gums being pink have been normal during these past few days. Here is the deal, she is pastured with a stallion and we think it may be a baby causing her to lie down a lot she would be about 7 or 8 months (will have vet confirm tomorrow) but wonder if this could be the reason why she is lying down so much and once in a a while rolling over and back to her sitting up? They have treated her for colic and she isn't thrashing or constantly rolling just lying down and her lying flat is within reasonable allowance time. Help???? This would be her first brat and mine, Very worried mom here.


Dear Ruth,


Yes, it is entirely possible that a pregnancy of that duration could make a maiden mare act the way yours has been acting. It's great that you're going to have the vet check for pregnancy.


Hope all turns out well! Please do let me know.



Submitted by Kary in Texas on January 14, 2003:


I have a 10 year old mare (my first horse) that is 7 months pregnant. She is due the end of May 2003. I do not have indoor stalls. I have outdoor pens that do have a roof and a north wall and sand for the floor. What should I make a bed out of for my mare to foal (this will be her 3rd foal) and when should I have everything prepared. When the baby is born, how soon before I should try to touch it and then how soon to put a halter on it? What should I have on hand for the baby and mare? Once my mare is in labor, how long does it usually take and when do I get worried that something might not be right? I just found your website searching for some answers and am glad I found you. Thank you for your advice.


Dear Kary,


Foaling on sand is not an ideal situation. If there is any way you can enclose an area and put straw down for the foal on top of the sand, that would help. Also, make sure that the foal can't roll out of the enclosure under the fence. You need to have everything ready at least two weeks before the mare's due date, or sooner if she shows signs of getting ready to foal earlier than that. You can touch the foal right away and can put a halter on it as soon as it is nursing well. Your questions about what to have on hand and how to handle labor and delivery would take a book to answer, literally. My suggestion is that you read the entire advice column, since you have time, and maybe get my book. If you have specific questions after that, I will be happy to answer them.


Good luck!



Submitted by Kat in Washington on January 15, 2003:


About 5 months ago our Shire mare was confirmed in foal. At about 90 days I gave her a Triple E-FT by Ft.Dodge (IM glute) About 10 min later I noticed lumps on her neck and 20 min later she was developing large, hard nodular welts all over her body (head to tail).Her legs were noticeably thicker, eyes almost swollen shut and she was dyspneic (about 50+/min).I quickly gave her Benadryl (dyphenhydramine) and started making phone calls. Finally got a vet to give us injectable dyphenhydramine so I injected 6cc an hour and a half after symptoms appeared and waited with another 4cc to give if no results. After 10 min her breathing was better and 45 min later the welts were softening so I didn't give the last 4cc. Do you think any harm came to the fetus from all this? I know it was before nidation occurred so I am hoping all is well--------or am I wrong? I can't give her any Ft.Dodge inj. again so that leaves out the WNV. I was also just too scarred to give her the pneumabort injections. I know it is probably a just wait and see thing. I was going to have an US done but for the cost I thought --why?-- since I can't rebreed her then anyway. We have had her only a year so I don't know of any previous problems. I would appreciate any info, or thoughts you might have on this. Thanks


Dear Kat,


First, if the mare didn't abort due to the episode, chances are great that all is well with the fetus. About the vaccination. What the mare had was, obviously, an allergic and/or anaphylactic reaction. I have direct experience with only one horse with the same thing. It seemed that his problem was with the rhino/flu vaccine. He did not react to encephalitis/tetanus made by the same drug company. Giving him a dose of Banamine at the same time the vaccine was given seemed to keep him from reacting. I don't remember which company the vaccines came from or if they tried switching companies. That's the sum total of my experience with this problem. If your mare isn't exposed to horses coming and going, I wouldn't worry about the Pneumabort. Scary episode! I'm so glad you knew what to do and that turned out so well!


Please let me know how everything goes with the delivery.



Submitted by Jan in Ontario, Canada on January 15, 2003:


My question is for fetal development and was wondering at what stage can you feel the foal kick or move? My mare is six and half months and I'm sure I felt movement or was I confusing it with something else? Not many sites with information on this subject, so I am going to research more on your book.


Dear Jan,


It is possible that you felt foal movement. Average time for feeling it is probably about eight months, but every mare (and foal) is different so it's possible that's what you felt.


Hope this helps.



Submitted by Verity in Victoria, Australia on January 16, 2003:


Wow! This is the site I have been searching for so long to find! I think it is absolutely fantastic that there is someone out there to help us all with our foaling problems-Thank you so much! Well anyway, I have a heavily pregnant (and very heavy!) mare who is supposedly due on the 7th of Feb (a very late foal), although she usually foals a bit early so it could be any time from next week on. Also (and now for the big question), she has a lump right where her umbilical cord would have been, along the midline. It sort of continues horizontally from her belly and then goes up at a 45 degree angle at the umbilical cord area. It is not sore to touch and if you press it (it is quite firm so you have to press quite hard) it sort of goes in a little and then stays that way for a minute before going back to the way it was (it is too large to press right in- it feels almost like one of those kids squishy balls only harder). It feels almost like fat. I had a vet friend of mine look at it for about 2 minutes and she pressed it in, felt for rough edges around the outside to look for tearing of muscles etc. (couldn't find any) and was baffled. Not sure exactly how long she has had it but definitely the last 2 weeks. It doesn't seem to be getting any larger. She also has a slight pocket of fluid between her forelegs (on torso) that appears to have appeared about 4 days ago. She is 14 years old and has had foals all of her life (2 whilst with me although as she foaled at 332 and 323 days I missed the both of them! I swear if I have to sit up for 3 weeks straight I will see it this time!). she missed also last season due to poor quality frozen semen but apart from that has bred every year. She seems quite content at the moment but am worried especially about this fat-feeling lump. Please help! Any ideas at all would be greatly appreciated.


Dear Verity,


What you described sounds like ventral edema/milk veins. The fat-feeling lump where her umbilical cord would have been sounds as though it could be a slight umbilical hernia. This isn't all that uncommon in pregnant mares. Usually, you can see it only at the very end of pregnancy and it will go away after she foals. So far, I haven't seen these cause a problem. Also, as the mare gets older and with more pregnancies, the ventral edema may be more pronounced each time. It is normal and nothing to worry about, especially if the mare doesn't seem bothered by it. I'm very glad that the column has been helpful for you! Thanks for saying so.


Please let me know how everything goes.


Follow up by Verity on January 17, 2003:


Sorry to write to you again so quickly-this foaling is really stressing me out! Thank you for your quick response to my last question (hopefully I won't need to write to you too many times more!) I was expecting for it to take at least a couple of days to hear back and you have really put my mind at rest. I have been checking Lilac every day and I think I am possibly imagining things half the time (like trying to watch a puppy grow!). Tomorrow is her 320th day so she could go any time from then on, her last two foals arrived at 323 and 332 days. She appears very bagged up and her bag has definitely not decreased in size during the day over the last 2 days (not sure exactly about before-mind playing tricks and all!). She is very dropped and her belly has moved back (in the last month or so), having had many foals her croup always looks dropped and feels soft so it is hard to tell if anything has changed. I think her vulva may be elongated (but once again due to lots of foals it always seems like that). She still has the white dots around her teats (can they stay there right through to birth?). Also I THINK (may be imagining it) that she had one to two white spots on her hind fetlock that could be milk, but as it has been hot I am wondering if it is sweat and I am making it up. Her teats don't have any wax hanging off them and there are no signs of milk at the ends so what do you think (is it milk)? I have heard that older mares can drip milk for up to a week. Personality wise she seems normal and relaxed still. Have a tent ready to set up when I think she is very close but don't really want to sit up all night every night for the next few weeks if she is not quite ready to go.


Last question: I have her in with her two year old filly as she hates to be left alone and stresses. They get on well and never fight although the filly is very nosy and likes to follow me around the paddock (she is very sweet and never kicks or bites). Do you think it is OK to leave these two together during foaling? Lilac gets very upset if I even move someone next door and I don't want to stress her. Also, I have an old gelding that has been with her during the last two foalings, if you think it is a bad idea to have the filly with her is it too late to move the gelding in? He is very fat and didn't want him on good grass unless necessary, so any advice would be great.


So sorry about this long email, just thought I'd paint you a picture. Thank you for your advice in advance- you don't know how much I (and every other person who has written to you) appreciate it. It is so fantastic having someone who can help with the personal stresses that aren't always delt with specifically in the books.


Hi Verity,


I had to laugh about you being afraid that you've been "imagining" things. I'm afraid I know that feeling all too well! Especially when I've been without sleep for night after night.


Most of the time, the white dots on the nipples will go away shortly before foaling and the udder will turn darker and more rubbery looking. However, as with all things with mares, this is not absolute, just "most of the time." If you haven't seen any waxing or dripping, chances are that the couple of spots you have seen on her fetlock are sweat. Usually if it is milk, there are more than a couple of spots. However, it is possible that she has squeezed out the errant drop or two kicking at her belly or kicking at flies.


She sounds close enough that I would probably be checking on her during the night. Chances are she will give you plenty of warning when she is getting very close, but with these older, experienced mares it may be more difficult to tell because they sometimes take the whole thing so well in stride.


Once the mare is in labor, she probably won't care if the other horses are there or not. The coming new foal generally takes over for whoever used to be there. For safety's sake, I would not let the two-year-old filly be in with her. If the gelding has been with her before when she has foaled, then that would most likely be fine. Since she knows the gelding, it shouldn't be too late to make the switch with him and the filly.


Hang in there! And please do let me know how everything goes,




Submitted by Debbie in Pennsylvania on January 17, 2003:


Hello! My mare had her foal on Jan.3 2003. Everthing was fine with both. However, now I notice that the foal is over at the knee and is shaking on them as well. She is getting grain from a foal feeder plus some alfalfa hay and also 2nd cutting grass hay. Do you think she is getting too much protein? I know she wasn't born with this. Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time,


Dear Debbie,


I would not be feeding a foal of this age anything extra from a foal feeder. Obviously, you can't keep her from getting hay, so it would be wise to stop the alfalfa for now. The other thing that comes to mind is lack of turnout. I see that you live in Pennsylvania, so your weather is a lot like ours. It has been very cold and snowy so I have to wonder if the foal has had much turnout. Many times, standing in a stall will cause this problem in foals no matter what they are eating. If the foal hasn't been out much, I would try getting her out more. If stopping the extra food and alfalfa and some turnout doesn't help over the next few days, or if the problem worsens, it would be best to have the vet take a look.


Please let me know how she does.




Submitted by Mariana in Denmark on January 17, 2003:


Greetings from Denmark. I am a new breeder of harness race horses and am awaiting my 3rd crop of foals (2 this year). I recently acquired an older racing gelding and have watched the mares closely to see what they think of having a 'boy' on the premises (in a separate pasture, of course). One of the mares in foal has been acting as if she's in heat. She squeals, stamps her feet, raises her tail and squirts urine continuously when he's near. My question is...does this behavior have a negative effect on the foal? The behavior is quite aggressive and makes me a little nervous for the foal. She is due in early April and the foal is growing nicely, but I worry that the mares behavior can cause problems for her foal. Thanks for any help you help you can offer. BTW...love the column!!!!


Dear Mariana,


How exciting to hear from Denmark! It is really a special treat to hear from people in other parts of the world.


The behavior you have been seeing in the mare is not uncommon. I have never seen it cause a problem with the foal, so I don't think you have anything to worry about in that regard.


Thanks for your kind words about the column and I will look forward to hearing about your new babies!



Submitted by Traci in Michigan on January 17, 2003:


Hello and thank you so much for your book, I'm making my whole family read it so that anyone and everyone present at the foaling knows what's going on!! Last year (2001) she was bred through two heat cycles and never took. This year she took the first heat cycle. My mare is currently 281 days in foal. She is a 19 year old Quarter Horse mare. This will be her (and my) first foal. She was shown and barrel raced through the first 6 months of pregnancy and then lightly excersised since then. She is now 9 months along and the foal is very active...and very willing to give your hand a good kick if you nudge the mare's belly. However, Nutmeg doesn't seem to be getting very big yet. She has obviously filled out some, but over the last couple months she hasn't increased in size a whole lot. (The last big growth I noticed was shortly after 7 months) Is this anything to be concerned about? Could it be because she was in such good shape physically? Is there a chance something could be wrong as far as hormones (since she didn't get pregnant at all last year is what has me concerned as far as hormones)? Any help would be really great!! Also, if you have any advice about her being 19 and a maiden mare...anything to look for specifically or extra problems that could occur...would be great! Thanks so much for your column!!


Dear Traci,


I'm so glad that you like the book so much! I just hope the rest of your family is as interested as you are! :-)


I think it is most likely that your mare is in such good shape that she is just staying tucked up. I really don't think there is anything to worry about, especially since you can feel such vigorous foal movement. I wouldn't be concerned at all about her size. Since she is in such good shape, I don't think there is much extra to look for as far as her age is concerned. It may be a tight squeeze for the foal since this is the mare's first foal, so help may be needed getting the shoulders through when the time comes. That would be the most important thing.


Please let me know when the new baby arrives!



Submitted by Robin in Florida on January 18, 2003:


I am very puzzled. I AI'd my horse in March to a thouroughbred. The vet came out and ultrasounded her after 17 days and said she was pregnant. He did not like the way it looked. He said she was absorbing it. He did a blood test on her and it came back a one. I forgot what the blood test was called. We put her on regumate to try and keep the baby. He came back out 10 days later and ultrasounded her. He said she lost the baby that If I was to ever breed her again I would have to keep her on regumate for five months. He said she would be back in heat in five days. I took her to my friend's house on the fifth day and bred her to her stud. My mare acted like she did not want to take the stallion, but did after a few minutes of standing there. I took my mare back over there every day for a week and my mare would not let him touch her. She only bred that one time. Well, I never put her on regumate like the vet said and now she is going to have a baby in 9 weeks. My mare's utters have fallen 2 weeks ago. Around the first of Jan. They are not fat with milk, but they get about an inch thick sometimes. Her vagina gets a little swollen. She has not done this, this fast before. This is her 6th baby. She is a 1985 horse. She will be due the end of March. Could she be pregnant by the first horse I bred her to, and the vet was wrong? Is this normal for a mare that has had 5 babies? When the vet checked her the first time he did it so fast and I do not recall him checking the other side. When he checked her the second time with the second stud he did it slower and the black circle (baby) on the screen seemed to be so much bigger than the other pictures that he took before when my mare got pregnant. Please let me know what you think, Thanks


Dear Robin,


If the mare got pregnant on the first breeding, you should have been able to see the fetus with a heart beat on the ultrasound after the breeding on the second heat cycle. If it was still just a black dot, even though bigger than normal, chances are that she got pregnant on the second cycle. However, I can't say that is the case for sure since I didn't see the ultrasounds. If your mare is bagging up already, there may be a problem if she was bred on the second cycle. To be safe, you might want to check with your vet to see about the possibility of giving the mare a course of antibiotics in case she has placentitis. If she does have placentitis, her udder should go down within a few days. If she doesn't have placentitis, you won't have hurt anything and will have covered that possibility.


Please let me know what you find out.



Submitted by Susan in Colorado on January 19, 2003:


Hello,I have been reading your site for over three hours now, and have found a ton of information that is very helpful to me. I have a 4 year old Foundation QT. maiden mare, that will be 8 months pregnant the 23rd. She is due the later part of April. I have had her since she was a foal, and am very excited about our upcoming baby. Although, I must confess to being a total mess emotionally. I am worried to death about her foaling, with all the things that could go wrong. She seems to be doing well. I give her approximately 1 lb of high protein/calcium mare care feed, and 5 lbs of hay (alphalfa/grass mix) twice a day. She does not seem to be getting "fat" other than the baby, and there is a lot of foal movement. I was late getting her started on the 5,7,9 vacc, but the vet just said to give it to her now and then every other month until she foals. I also asked him about any other Vaccs. and he said she did not need any. But, I have seen in your posts where you have said they should get the, Influenza, tetanus, and E&W encephalitis? Can I get these and give them myself? and why would the vet say she would not need them. Also, she is in a turnout pen approx. 40x40, is that large enough to give her proper excercise, or should I be walking her. * I have seen her run around the pen and kick up her heels*. Is this good enough? She will be foaling in an enclosed stall with straw, which I will be present and videoing. Thank you for all the advice you can give on this, and I hope it puts my mind to rest a little.. this has become total obsessive thinking with me. :)


Dear Susan,


Everything so far sounds fine to me. You might check with your vet again about the vaccinations. Maybe he thought you meant any special vaccinations for pregnancy. But yes, she should get the other vaccinations about six to eight weeks before her due date. Tetanus is especially important. Yes, you can get and give the vaccinations yourself but if you are not experienced in giving vaccinations, it would be better to have the vet do it. Remember that most foalings go just fine! You are interested and concerned enough that if there is a problem, I am confident you will catch it in plenty of time and react properly.


Let me know how everything goes.



Submitted by Aiden in Ireland on January 19, 2003:


At what age can a foal and mare be re-introduced to other horses in a field again without them harming the foal. Thanks for your time.


Hello Aiden,


It is best to wait until the foal is quick enough and alert enough to get out of the way in case mom goes to war with someone. It is usually best to wait until the foal is at least a week old. If the mare is particularly protective of her foal, I would wait until the foal is at least two weeks old. If possible, you might also try putting the mare and foal in a paddock next to other horses first to judge mom's response to them.


Hope this helps.



Submitted by Emmalee in Oregon on January 20, 2003:


I would like to know the signs of foaling. I am just learning about horses, I know a lot already. But like I said, I would like to know the signs. like when to wrap their tail, and how far away she is? P.S. I'm only nine years old and still learning. Sincerely


Hi Emmalee,


There are many signs to look for to know when a mare is about ready to foal. Some are waxing or dripping milk, relaxation of muscles around the mare's tail, the mare's belly dropping, and behavioral changes such as pacing, sweating, etc. The best thing I can tell you is to read the questions and answers on this column. There is a lot of information that will help you a bunch. If you have any specific questions after you have read the column, I will be happy to answer them.


Follow up by Emmalee on January 20, 2003:


I just wanted to thank you for telling me those facts. My mare ''Sweety'' is showing the big belly sign. Although she is a couple months away. Thank you again. P.S. I'll keep that advice in mind.


Dear Emmalee,


You're very welcome and please let me know all about your new baby when it arrives.



Submitted by Sharon in Georgia on January 21, 2003:


I have an Appaloosa mare that was bred in June, 2002. She was vet checked at 65 days and was in foal. Now, at 7 months, I don't see a lot of difference in her. She has had one colt (now 4 yrs.) with no problem whatsoever, but I can't remember how or at what point she started showing the pregnancy. Any hints as to what to look for at this point? Thanks for any info.


Dear Sharon,


A mare that is in good shape and has only had one other foal can many times hide a 7-month pregnancy pretty well, so it's difficult to say what to look for. If you can't stand waiting to see if she gets bigger, it would be best to have the vet out to check her again.


Hope this helps.



Submitted by Bobbie in Colorado on January 13, 2004:


My mare is 7 months along and she is making a small bag. I would like to know if this is normal. She is an older mare and has had lots of foals, but this is the first time for me.


Dear Bobbie,


It is not generally normal for a mare to have udder development at seven months. However, your mare's age could be a factor in her case. The best thing to do would be to check with your vet to see if a course of antibiotics may be recommended in case the mare has some placentitis going on.


Hope this helps,



Submitted by Heidi in Wisconsin on January 16, 2004:


I have a question that I haven't been able to find an answer to on the internet. We dairy farm along with breeding horses and our calves have been confirmed to have rotavirus. There is a vaccine for cows for rotavirus but is there one for horses or could you use the cow vaccine on a horse? My mares spent the last month in the environment where they will foal, so will they build up antibodies against rotavirus for the foals? Thank you for the advice column


Dear Heidi,


Good questions, and unfortunately ones that I don't have answers to. First, I'm not sure that the cow rotavirus crosses to horses. I don't know that it doesn't, either. Theoretically, the mares should build up an immunity to the rotavirus to pass on to the foals, but rotavirus can be so devastating that I'm not sure I would want to take any chances. I don't know if there is a rotavirus vaccine for horses. There are other vaccines made for cattle that are routinely given "off-label" to horses. I don't know if this is true of the rotavirus vaccine. The best advice I can give is for you to call a vet school. They are usually very helpful and I'm sure someone will be able to answer your questions. When youfind out, I would really appreciate it if you would let me know so that I can pass the info on to others.


Thanks for writing.



Submitted by Cathy in Minnesota on January 17, 2004:


I have used your wonderful manual for two seasons and looking forward to this spring's babies. I also have True Horse Stories. Thanks.


I have a comment/warning about when you think something still isn't right after having your mare vet checked, don't hesitate to get a second opinion. Last year my older mare was getting fatter by the day. I knew she wasn't a big eater. I had taken her to an equine veterinarian to determine why. This veterinarian only took a blood sample to check the mare's thyroid. I had told the veterinarian that maybe the mare was pregnant because I knew our stud had covered her in November and the check-up was in April. She didn't perform any type of physical exam. Well surprise, at 370 days the mare had a beautiful live filly that died due to starvation. The foal was born sometime during the night and since we had no idea the mare was pregnant we weren�t watching for a baby. This would have been her first foal so she had not bagged. Hopefully this will save others from heartbreak. Thanks again.


Dear Cathy,


Thanks so much for writing, but I'm sorry it is for such a sad reason. You are absolutely right that if you have a strong feeling about something, you should insist on action from your vet or a good explanation for the vet's inaction. If you still aren't satisfied, you are always within your rights to get a second opinion.


Thank your for sharing your story. I'm terribly sorry about the loss of the foal but know that someone else will not have the same loss because you were good enough to give warning.


Thanks again.



Submitted by Erin in Colorado on January 18, 2004:


I just found your site and was so pleased that there's advice out there! I just brought home a seven month old stud colt. I'd like to know how soon will he be acting "studdy" (mounting mares, etc.) And also, I'd like to know at what age I can breed my mare who is now three. Thank you for your time.


Dear Erin,


When a colt will start acting "studdy" is something that varies from colt to colt. However, it could happen at any time and he is now or will soon be capable of impregnating a mare, so I would keep him away from any mare that you don't want to breed. Your three-year-old mare is old enough to breed, but my personal preference would be to wait until next year.


Hope this helps.



Submitted by Kelly in Canada on January 20, 2004:


My mare is 9 months along (was bred April 17 2003), she is 18 years old, This is her second foal- she had one when she was 16 but unfortunately lost it from a dystocia (it was fine otherwise). Last week she went off her feed and water, was up and down in her stall and her pasture, and I saw her stretching out her stomach once when she was in her stall. I have never seen her go off her feed before or behave so lethargically. This behaviour lasted for about 3 days, then she came out of it thank goodness. We were all very worried that she would really colic. My question: is it possible that the baby was in an uncomfortable position and that is what caused her to behave like she had a case of mild colic? She was also dewormed before it would have started, but has been on a regular deworming schedule, so I don't know why that would have made her feel off. She was also inside for about 2 days because of the terrible weather we have been having (I saw her laying down in her pasture on the 3rd day, the day before she was feeling better). Today when I was out, she had a very tiny amount of blood on her vulva. Should I get a vet out? It was hardly noticable- I just caught it b/c I always check her to make sure she's ok. Thanks so much for your help, I really appreciate it.


Dear Kelly,


It sounds as though the foal may well have been in a position that was uncomfortable for the mare, especially since she was inside and couldn't move around like normal for a couple of days. You might check with your vet about having a dose of Banamine on hand in case she goes off feed and seems uncomfortable again. The amount of blood you described is most likely not cause for alarm. I would just keep checking her to see if it appears again. If it does frequently or in a larger amount, it would be best to have the vet take a look.


Hope this helps.



Submitted by Monika in British Columbia, Canada on January 23, 2004:


Hi Theresa, I emailed you before Christmas and have another question. (I also finally got your book - it is an excellent book and I will have it with me when my mare foals). My mare is about 7 months along and doing well. A couple of days ago, however, she cast herself in her stall. Fortunately, I have an intercom in the barn and heard her so I was able to help her, but she could have been down for about 1 - 1 1/2 hours! I have since banked the stall more (she is also in a fairly large stall). Do you have any more suggestions on how to avoid this happening? I am so afraid she will cast herself again and will hurt either herself or the unborn foal.


Dear Monika,


I really don't know how to keep a horse from getting cast. If she hasn't done this frequently in the past, it is likely that she won't do it much in the future. It seems that some horses get cast a lot and some hardly ever do. Hopefully, she is one that doesn't.


Thanks for your kind words about the book. I hope it helps. Please let me know about your new foal!



Submitted by Kim in Pennsylvania on January 23, 2004:


My 4 year old mare is due 2/14/03 (ahh) Yesterday while feeding I think I found the remainder of her mucus plug. It is snowy and bad here but the brown red color was definitely blood. No one else in my field seemed like the candidate. She hasn't really bagged up or shown any other signs of immediate delivery other than voraciously hungry, She is so mean the other girls go around her in the other side of the barn. I am stressed because today I am home with strep throat and my daughter 19 is with her, She loves Joy but really doesn't know what to look for. Should I IV the antibiotics? We are planning on living in the barn. The wind chill is -15 below here today. Thank you for being such a kind and reliable source of information.


Dear Kim,


I don't think you need to IV the antibiotics yet! :-) With no other signs of imminent delivery, I wouldn't be quite that worried yet. Of course, we all know the tricks mares can pull. It isn't uncommon for late-term mares to expel a bit of blood. The mucous plug is usually quite stringy and mucousy. It sounds possible that your mare just expelled some blood from maybe a broken vaginal blood vessel. Just have your daughter watch for any further changes and you stay in the warm house until you're better! If anything changes with the mare, I'm sure your daughter will notice.


Let me know how it goes.




Due to a technical glitch, many of the questions and answers for 2003 and 2004 were lost. I apologize!