Submitted by Tiffany in Oklahoma on January 2, 2002:
Do you recommend cutting the umbilical cord or letting it detach on its own? If you recommend cutting it, then how far away from the foal should you cut it? Thanx so much
I recommend letting the umbilical cord break on its own. There are circumstances under which I will cut an umbilical cord, but with a normal foaling it is best to let it break on its own. If you have to cut it for some reason, cut it about two to three inches from the foal's belly, then be sure it doesn't bleed. The vet may have to trim it, but it's better to cut it a little too long than to cut it too short.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Winona in California on January 4, 2002:
We have an 8 year old quarter horse mare who is about due in May. When will be able to see or feel the foal moving?
This varies greatly from mare to mare, but about eight months or so seems to be average. Try feeling while and just after the mare eats or drinks.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Catherine in Texas on January 5, 2002:
How common is it for a NOT pregnant mare to bag and have fluid coming from her udder? She was bred, but either absorbed or didn't take and she is older (16 now) with previous foals. Not a big tummy at all. Just had a feed change from pasture with alfalfa and a 12% feed to coastal hay, Equine Senior, and dehydrated alfalfa. I was cleaning between her nipples and when I pulled on one I got a huge stream of clear fluid. Calling vet tomorrow and she already has a checkup scheduled for February 4, but if you happen to read this before then comments or ideas would be great! Very strange...
The fluid in the mare's udder could be due to the feed change or is possibly a hormone imbalance. It's not all that uncommon in mares as they gain some age. I'm sure your vet will be able to help.
Thanks for writing.
Submitted by Denise in Texas on January 5, 2002:
I plan on breeding my mare this Spring (she did not stick last Spring). Is it alright for her to graze on winter wheat, an acquaintance of mine said it will make the foal too big for normal delivery, is this true????????? He said he has had several problems with his brood mares and the foals were too big for normal delivery so he took them off of the wheat and no more problems. Thanks again for your time
I don't know. I haven't heard anything about winter wheat one way or the other, but I doubt that any feed would make a foal grow too big. That's pretty much decided by genetics, not feed. Interesting, though.
Submitted by Julia in Iowa on January 10, 2002:
I have heard that feeding moldy hay to horses can cause colic and abortion in a pregnant mare. I have hay that looks really good... but doesn't quite smell right. We have a pregnant Clydesdale mare coming and am wondering if this hay is safe to feed to her... Our other horses are eating this hay... but are not enthusiastic about it. It's alfalfa, clover and orchard grass mix. How often does moldy hay cause abortion? Is there a strong chance of abortion if you feed questionable hay? I'm not even sure there is mold in this hay - I've looked and can't see any evidence of it but I trust my horse's noses more than my nose or eyes. And the way they act... makes me suspicious. Thanks in advance!
Yes, moldy hay can cause abortion and colic, very serious and sometimes deadly colic. So if you have ANY reason to think the hay may be moldy, don't feed it! Much better to be safe than sorry.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Megan in Oklahoma on January 12, 2002:
My brother just recently bought two mares in foal. One due end of Mar, the other end of May. He is so generously going to give me one of the foals! We are all first timers to foaling and coming across your Advice Column has been a God send. Thank you! I've learned so much reading the posts. My brother had a question. He is wanting to do round pen work with the new mares to establish a relationship with them. Is this wise to do in their condition? Also when should they be separated before the first mare is due to foal? They do not like being separated and so is this too stressful for them right now to be separated while one is in the round pen? Thank you so very much for taking the time to read and answer these questions. We are all looking forward to a great experience with these mares.
Thank you for your kind words about the column! The mares don't need to be kept separate until the first one looks like she is ready to deliver. It's fine to do round pen work with them as long as it isn't too strenuous--getting them really hot and sweaty if they aren't used to it wouldn't be good. It's also fine to separate them for round pen work. They might get upset but as long as they don't get terribly agitated, they'll get over it.
Enjoy the whole experience!
Submitted by Audra in Oklahoma on January 17, 2002:
I am having trouble finding info on foal cataracts. How do you know if a foal may have cataracts? Is it genetic? We have had two other foals from the same dam and sire without cataracts. If you could tell me anything or give me advice as to where to look for more info I would appreciate it. Thank You!
Usually if a foal has cataracts, you can see them. Have you tried searching the internet for foal cataracts? I would think there should be info available. Yes, cataracts can have a hereditary component.
Hope you find some info.
Submitted by Trina in Alabama on January 19, 2002:
I have a question. I was in the barn this morning and my racking mare went into labor. This was her first foal and we left her alone for a little bit and she was at the wall laying down. We called the vet and he said to help her but the foal would not come out and after we did get it out it had already died on Jan 19, 2002 at 10:30 this morning. And Jan 25 we have another foal due what can i do to keep this foal alive and well and not let it get stuck.
There is nothing you can do to keep a foal from getting stuck, but you can help the mare if one does get stuck. If the foal isn't progressing, it's okay to take hold of its front legs, above the ankles, and pull when the mare pushes. Also, if a mare lies down too close to a wall, get her up and make her try again.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Carol in New York on January 21, 2002:
A mare I was given had been given Regumate to get her ready for breeding by the owner. When the vet came out to check her over to be sure she was ready to be bred, the vet and the owner got a surprise in that the mare was already in foal. Seems she was in a pasture briefly with a yearling waiting to be gelded. The mare is now with me for as long as I wish and is due to foal March 3, 2002. My question to you is: Is there any problem with giving Regumate to an already pregnant mare?
No problem with a pregnant mare getting Regumate. Quite a few need it to stay pregnant and if they don't need it, it won't hurt anything.
Submitted by Lori in California on January 21, 2002:
Hi Theresa! Soooo happy you have a website. I'll be ordering a copy of your Complete Book of Foaling Manual, but I have a question that maybe isn't unique to you but I'm concerned about what to do. My 8 year old quarter horse mare is 9 months into her pregnancy (her first) and is doing quite well. I am in the process of setting up her stall (which she hates!!!) that has access to a large dirt paddock. I have started feeding her in there to help make her more comfortable, but she is so worried about everyone else as she is the alpha mare that when I close her in she is so stressed!!!, even jumping up and crashing into the gate. I worry about too much stress or her hurting herself. I sure don't want her foaling in the dirt!! What should I do?? When the time comes will she not care about being in a stall?? I'm also thinking she'll probably turn 180 degrees and not want any of the other horses any where near her. I'm probably overthinking this but I'd feel better having some advice from an expert. Thank you!! Can't wait for your book to arrive.
I think your gut instinct is correct--when the mare gets close to foaling she will want to be by herself and won't mind being in the stall. In the meantime, do whatever makes her happy. But I'm sure I don't need to tell you that!
Keep us updated on how things go.
Submitted by Dawn in Arizona on January 22, 2002:
Hi, I have a question regarding the eating habits of my pregnant mare. She is within her tenth month. Her 345th day is March 10th. I have read several places that it is very important that the pregnant mare receive feed that is high in nutrition during her last trimester. We started her on a feed that is created for pregnant mares in their last trimester as well as lactating mares. We started giving this particular feed about mid Dec. It is an alfalfa based pellet. I have owned this mare for 2 years and we have always fed pellets. She has always eaten everything we gave her, never been an overly picky eater. Meanwhile, we board some other horses that receive alfalfa hay morning and night. As a treat, we like to give my mare a little of the hay as she loves it. Lately, the past week) she won't touch the pellets and only eats the hay. We typically don't give her very much hay and her primary diet was always the pellets. She liked the pellets up until now. I am concerned now that she is not getting the proper nutrients that are in the pellets. She is not underweight by any means but it concerns me that the baby is not getting the nutrients in the pellets. Her teeth are fine and she isn't showing any symptoms out of the ordinary. I have also read that the mare's eating behaviors often change as they get closer to their due date. Although it is only an average, the projected due date is still more than a month away (3/10/02) unless you count the 320th day which is Feb 13th. My worry about her new found eating habit is increasing each day. Should I just continue to feed the hay? What about all those needed vitamins? She does not have a nice green pasture, only a fenced arena. Her only feed comes from us morning an night. Is the lack of interest in her regular food normal this far from the due date? This is the first baby for us both. Sorry to be so long winded, I like provide as much detail as possible in hopes for a more complete answer. Again, thanks for such a wonderful site.
Mares can change their eating habits drastically when they are pregnant. I have known several mares that, for reasons known only to them, stop eating pellets in late pregnancy then as soon as they foal, they'll gobble them up like they did before. I've also know ones that wouldn't eat pellets when they were empty, but would eat them like crazy when they are in foal. Who knows why they do some of the things they do?! :-) But don't worry. The alfalfa is good for the mare and if she really needs the pellets, she'll eat them. You should have a mineral block available to her but other than that, I wouldn't worry about it.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Cathy in Minnesota on January 22, 2002:
I have a 16 year old maiden arabian mare that was pregnant, pasture breed. I thought she was due any day (sept 01) so I was cleaning out her bed and found an aborted four month old fetus buried in the straw. The fetus was not a mummy. I insisted that the vet come out to check her. The vet checked the mare saying that her cervix was closed and would take a culture. The culture showed a yeast infection. The vet said the mare wouldn't be able to be breed due to this infection. The mare has remained the size of a tank since that time and is very moody. Before all of this, the mare looked like a five year old in excellent shape. I have talked to many horse people and have tried to research this to no avail. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you
You mare needs to be treated, whether or not you ever try to breed her again. Yeast infections can be very difficult to treat, but treatment needs to be done. If the vet won't treat her, then my advice is to get another opinion. You might search the internet (especially the sites of vet schools) for info on yeast infections.
Sorry for the loss of the foal!
Follow up by Cathy on May 22, 2002:
I wrote to you earlier this spring about about my two mares; the older one (Lucy) that aborted her fetus and was found to have a yeast infection and the newly purchased mare (Ma Belle) that was pregnant to deliver in May. I purchased both of your books and have enjoyed and appreciated all the wonderful information and pictures. I had the foaling kit ready for action. We have a beautiful healthy filly (Goldie). She was born at 1 P.M. May 20th. I missed the event by 20-30 minutes as Belle didn't indicate she was ready to do her thing. I think she planned it that way! She knew what she was doing as this is her fourth baby, but her first filly which is exactly what we hoped for. During the four months that we owned her, I had made sure that Belle was fed plenty of nutrients and TLC. It sure shows in Goldie's health and Belle is glowing. Goldie has been up and going strong since she came into this world. You would never know that she is only two days old. Thanks again for your informative site.
Thank you so much for the wonderful news! I'm so glad everything went well with the birth of the new filly. What happened with the yeast infection?
Submitted by Lynne in Alberta, Canada on January 23, 2002:
I have an Arabian maiden 8 year old mare bred every other day from March 6-14/2001 and I was wondering why all the information I have read suggests calculating the "possible" due date from the last day the mare was covered? Is it unlikely, therefore, that a mare will settle on the first breeding? I have enjoyed your column and learned a lot from it, Thank you!
The approximate due date is calculated from the day of the last cover because that's most likely the one that was closest to when the mare ovulated, and therefore, that's the one at which conception occurred. Mares generally go out of heat within several hours after they ovulate. So yes, it is unlikely that a mare will get in foal from a breeding early in the heat cycle, especially if that cycle lasts as long as your mare's did. Many mares get in foal on a first and only cover, but only if that breeding is timed to correlate with ovulation.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Cathy in Florida on January 24, 2002:
Just found your spot and love it! I have two mares due this spring. One is a TW and the other is a 1/2 Arab. The TW I had utrasounded and was confirmed at 18 days. I never had her rechecked so now I'm going through the .."is she still in foal"..thoughts? She is a 16 years and the year before having her bred she was kicked in the head and almost died. She still has a few problems chewing hay...I have her on Mare and Foal, keep plenty of good costal in front of her and supplement with beat pulp twice a day. She has always been on the thin side, the vet thought she looked okay. But then the others I have are BLUGAS. Her due date is March 6th. I have yet to feel a foal move or I don't know what I'm feeling for or where to feel? She does have a milk vein (I think)....and two definite bulges in front of her bag. I guess what I'm asking is just where to put my hand to feel for movement? The other mare is very much in foal and looks it. She is due a month after the TW mare (who isn't anywhere as big as the 1/2 arab, of course the TW mare is very small and long backed). These will be my first foals on the ground and I'm a nervous wreck. Thanks so much for any help.
It could just be the difference in mares between the two. Some mares don't show as much as others. Try feeling for foal movement right in front of the mare's stifle, or a little below, and feel while and right after the mare eats. If you still can't tell, there is always getting a vet out to take a look at her.
Hope she's in foal!
Follow up by Cathy on January 26, 2002:
Hi Theresa.....I wrote earlier asking for the spot easiest to feel foal movement. WOW...I found it, with your help! I was a little worried that she had slipped. As she is so much smaller then my mare that is a due a month after her. The movement was large and almost a rolling feeling. It started higher up under the ribs and continued down to a little before the stifle....Her foaling date is 38 days away.....I'm so very excited!
Good news! We'll be waiting to hear about your new foal.
Follow up by Cathy on January 28, 2002:
First I would like to say, your column is a godsend. I am drawn to it like a moth to a flame. I have yet another question, this one on the relaxation around my mare's hindquarters. Would this be on either side of her croup. I'm beginning to feel and see (I think....lol) a hollowing on either side of her tail? Is this the right spot I should be looking at? It is kind of hard to describe, but I can almost put my fist in a depression on either side? She has 32 day left of calculated gestation. Thanks again
That's exactly what you're looking for! Let us know when the new baby arrives and thanks for the kind words,
Submitted by Dana in California on January 25, 2002:
First I am so glad I found this site! My mare is a 6yr old TB and this is her first. She has been dripping colostrum for about 4 days. Please understand I had to look the word up that's how new I am at this. In talking with a friend he said this could be a problem for the colt. What kind of problem is the first question. Second question, is this a normal happening? I have called the vet and he has not returned my calls and that's making me even more nervous. She is being kept outside so she is walking around and drinking water and eating. I am going to start to bring her in at night to a birthing stall. Is that wise to do? As I am sure you can tell I am a totally nervous twit. But I just want to do the best for her. Thanks again for this great site. I only wish you lived next door.
I don't think you are a nervous twit! I think it's great that you're asking questions. It isn't really "normal" for mares to drip colostrum for that long, but it happens quite frequently. It doesn't mean that anything is wrong. However, your friend is correct that this can cause problems for the foal. The reason is that foals are born without immunity to anything, including bacteria found naturally in the environment all the time. The way the foal gets this necessary immunity is through its mother's colostrum, which contains the antibodies it needs to survive. A foal will not survive without either its mother's colostrum or a colostrum replacement. Since your mare has dripped colostrum for a long period of time, you need make sure a vet sees the foal when it is about 12 hours old and does an IgG test to determine if the foal is lacking antibodies. If it is, the vet can give it a colostrum replacement. It is absolutely essential that the foal be checked for antibody levels. If the vet you've been using isn't returning your calls, it may be time to contact another vet. It's good to bring the mare inside at night so you can more easily keep a watch on her.
Please let us know how everything goes.
Submitted by Molly in Washington on January 27, 2002:
I purchased my Quarter Horse mare from a race trainer. She ran at Santa Anita. After a successful barrel career, I have bred her to our stallion. She was sutured at the track and I had to open her up some to breed her. My question is this: Should I open her more before she foals or should I let her tear? I'm not sure where her natural opening ends and her suture scars start! The vet thought she'd need to be opened, but I'm reluctant to cut on her if I can avoid it! Any thoughts or related cases? (I am a vet tech, and do a lot of my own care, within reason, of course!!). Thank you for your time!
The mare needs to be opened, not allowed to tear. If they are allowed to tear, it's usually a mess. If you aren't sure how far to open her, have a vet do it this time so you can see where to stop cutting.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Mike in Indiana on January 28, 2002:
I started my own small breeding operation in the Spring of 2001. Now I'm anxiously waiting for my fist babies. I have not had horses for several years, and must confess that I've not had any of my horses shots updated. My mares range in pregnancy from 6 months to 7 1/2 months. Is it too late to bring them current, or should I wait until after they foal now? I love your advice column, and have really enjoyed reading up on different peoples problems. I've learned a lot already, and look forward to this foaling season. Thank you,
You need to at least give the mares rhino shots, then bring them up to date on their regular vaccinations about six weeks to two months before they are due to foal. Best bet would be to establish yourself with a vet, if you haven't already.
Good luck on a successful season.
Submitted by Levi in South Dakota on January 28, 2002:
Hello, I stumbled across your page here and I think this may be the perfect spot to find out what I need. Anyway, I have a paint mare that is at 7 months of pregnancy and this is her first foal. Well, I was wondering if I should be able to visually tell if she is bred? I haven't had her ultra sounded or checked, but shouldn't at 7 months be able to tell at sight? Shouldn't there be a bulge by this time? Anyway, any info will be greatly appreciated....thanks.....
It may be difficult to tell on some mares at seven months whether or not they are pregnant. That would depend on body style, physical condition, etc. Since your mare is a first-timer, it could be particularly difficult to tell with her just by looking. So, she could be in foal. If you want to know for sure, the best way is always to have a vet palpate her.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Shannon in Michigan on February 5, 2002:
Hi, my mare is pregnant and due in about three weeks. The last few days her teats have been extremely itchy and last night my husband was rubbing her to relieve the itch when he noticed that one (the one that is still quite flat) appeared to express a drop of blood! We are having the vet out tomorrow, but any advice or info would be appreciated, we are quite worried about her and the foal.
Not to worry. This is quite normal. It seems that as the udder prepares to lactate, the canals opening to the outside begin to stretch and that sometimes causes some bleeding. Many times after this blood is noticed, the mare will shortly begin to wax.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Rose in Arkansas on February 7, 2002:
Just a quick question, I know you are covered up, especially at this time of year. My TWH mare is only 282 days today. She carried her last foal for 329 days. When would you recommend having her caslicks removed? Also, I visited a web site that stated a foal could be born safely anywhere from 305 to 365 days. I thought 305 was very early and not safe. What are your thoughts on this? So far, this pregnancy is going well and I'm hoping for a nice safe delivery. Thank you again for your time and please let me know what you think.
Caslick's are usually opened two to four weeks before the mare's due date, or earlier if signs of an earlier delivery are present. I would calculate from when she foaled last time. I know some people say foals can be born safely at 305 days. That has not been my experience. I have found that foals born before 310 days generally have a very slim chance to survive, and some born 310-320 can be pretty iffy. The only exception I know of that regularly breaks that time frame is miniature foals. They seem to be routinely born early and do just fine.
Glad everything is going okay. Keep me updated.
Submitted by Mary Lou in Tennessee on February 8, 2002:
Hi, I have a similar question to one of the ones posted on the column. My mare is a 14 year old Arabian who has had two live foals in the past, born here while I was present to assist - everything went normally. She has aborted and then been barren 2 or three years in between times. The mare is currently in foal again, and she first bagged up 3 weeks ago. I'm not sure of the exact due date this time because I pasture bred her with my stallion. My question is two-fold. First I can't remember how long generally from the first "bagging up" I can expect delivery. There's a tiny amount of waxing on one teat, but no milk dripping yet. Her udder looks full aside from that. The second part to my quesiton is that she's HUGE bellied right now and seems to be carrying her foal lower this time than before. She has an edema- a pouch of what seems to be fluid between her front legs that is about palm sized and hanging a couple of inches down. It seems to extend back toward where the swell of the belly begins. She's eating and going to the bathroom normally, and doesn't appear to be in pain. She doesn't want me to touch it but then I think she's tired of me poking and prodding at her anyway and she walks off. Is the swelling evidence that something may have ruptured or is this likely just a fluid build up due to poor circulation and her belly size or age? It doesn't appear to be anything relating to a mammary edema. she is turned out in a paddock area with free access to her stall. I'm feeding 1/2 bale Orchard Grass hay, and about 6-7 pounds of mixed grain/pellet 14% sweet feed with 1 pound alfalfa pellets and a mare plus supplement and 2 cup flax seed and a dollop of corn oil all split into 3 feedings a day. Water is in constant supply. I didn't give her grain this morning only her hay wondering if that might affect a change in the swelling. Would hand walking her for a while make any difference you think? Any thoughts? Neither of us are beginners at this but it's the first time I've seen her have this "pouch" thing. I'm very attached to this mare and anything different worries me. I check on her several times a day and I note every little change.
Dear Mary Lou,
Mares generally foal an average of four weeks or so from when udder development begins, and since your mare is now waxing a little, it sounds as though she's pretty much on schedule. The edema you see is normal. It's part of the lymphatic system. I know it looks awful, and they do get sick of you poking at it, but it's almost never anything to worry about. A little hand walking wouldn't hurt, but probably won't help a whole lot. The good news is that this edema goes away fairly quickly after delivery. In most cases it is down significantly within several hours and is usually completely gone within a couple of days.
Good luck and be sure to let us know about your new foal.
Follow up by Mary Lou on February 21, 2002:
Hello Theresa and readers: I'm posting as a follow up to let everyone know that my mare delivered her third foal safe and sound at about 7 a.m. Teus. Feb. 12. It was a healthy red chestnut Morab colt with a blaze face, 3 stockings and a sock. We've imprinted the baby and he's very people friendly. The mare is doing great, the intact placenta came around 11 a.m. The pocket of edema I was concerned about was gone just a couple hours after the foal's birth and she's giving plenty of milk. The foal is already curious about his mom's grain and appears to be trying to lip at it. He's really a cutie and exploring everything. Thanks for the reassurance it helped having someone experienced to ask.
Dear Mary Lou,
Congratulations! And thanks so much for writing to let us know about your new baby!
Submitted by Karen in Oregon on February 16, 2002:
I just found your website today. It is great, and very informative. My question is this. This is my QH mare's 2nd pregnancy. Her first pregnancy she was pasture bred between Oct. 4th and Oct. 20th. She had a large beautiful colt on Sept 11th. We bred her again on March 3rd. She is now at 349 days, and still not acting like she's going to foal soon. She's huge, she bagged up about 3 weeks ago, but no waxing yet. Her last pregnancy, she stomped around and swished her tail a lot, and bit at her flank for a few days before foaling. She is doing none of that, but she's very tired all the time. She's sleeping a lot more than normal. I didn't have her pregnancy checked this time. She was covered only 1 time, but never went back into heat. I just figured if she was pregnant, great, but if she wasn't, we could always breed her again. Now I have read some things about false pregnancies, and am worried that maybe my mare isn't really pregnant. In false pregnancies, do mares get super huge? Our vet was out here about 3 weeks ago to geld a couple of horses, and thought she looked pregnant. I never questioned if she was or not until I read about someone else having a mare that had a false pregnancy. I guess I'm worried since this pregnancy is lasting so much longer than her first. If a mare is having a false pregnancy, will she get over it on her own, or does she need a shot or something? I'm giving her 3 more days, then will call the vet if she hasn't foaled. Thank you
Sounds to me like she's in foal. One thing to remember--since this is her second foal, last time was her maiden year, and many mares on the second foal don't do a thing like they did with the first. They know what it's all about so many don't show behavior signs like they did the first time. I'd say she just isn't ready yet.
Let us know.
Follow up by Karen on February 17, 2002:
I wrote to you 2 days ago, asking about false pregnancies. My 7 year old mare still has not foaled. She has been so cranky, and doesn't want me to even touch her. I put my hand on her belly this morning, and thought I felt something move, but she was so upset that I was touching her that I quit. Her nipples feel rock hard, and she has been rubbing her rear end on things, and holding her tail up a lot. Her vulva is elongated and swollen. It looks like it is opening a little, and about a week ago, she had a little blood dripping from it for a few days. I am planning on calling the vet tomorrow, (Monday), and make an appointment for him to come out. I don't know if false pregnancies have all these symptoms, but I will be so disappointed if she is not pregnant since I gelded my stud. I loved their first baby, and wanted one more out of them. Thank you,
With the signs your mare is showing, especially the slight bloody discharge, I really think she's in foal and this isn't a false pregnancy. Of course it's always good to have a vet take a look any time you're in doubt, but I think she's just not quite ready to foal yet.
Please let us know what you find out.
Follow up by Karen on February 23, 2002:
I just wanted to update you on my mare. She is now at 356 days. The vet was out today. He did a check just to make sure there was really a baby in there. He said that yes, there is definetly a very active foal in there, but didn't think that she would be foaling real soon. He said that her bag isn't completely full and he had to reach in pretty far to feel the foal. He said the foal felt like it was in the right position. He also said that since he is predicting that it won't be in the next couple of days, that she would probably have it tonight. I've been out at the barn, and she seems pretty calm. Occasional tail swishing, a stomp now and then, but mostly just eating. I wanted to tell you that I have learned so much on your forum. I have been reading on it every evening since I found your site, and even so, I am only on page 7. Still 13 pages to go. I wonder if I will be finished before the little one arrives. When I first got on here, I thought there was only one page. I was so excited when I found out there were 20. If people would read the pages before asking you questions, they probably wouldn't need to ask you too much of anything, since you cover so much information, over and over. By the time I am done reading all 20 pages, maybe my mind will have retained some of it. Thank you so much, Theresa, for dedicating so much time to this page.
Thanks much for the update on the mare. I'm sure having your vet out did a lot to ease your mind. Sounds like he's been around if he says that since he predicted it would be a while until she foals, she would probably foal that night. I like that! You'll have to keep us updated. Thanks so much for your observations on the column. It does my heart good to know that someone is actually reading it from beginning to end. You're right, there is a lot to learn there and if people would just take the time to read, I also believe most of their questions would be answered.
I hope that baby arrives before you get through the whole column! Please do let us know.
Follow up by Karen on March 2, 2002:
Just an update. We are now at day 363 and still no baby. It's so hard to wait. Today finally she is starting to show signs again that it will be soon. Her vulva started relaxing again last night and has had some discharge. Usually it will look like it's relaxing, then will tighten up again by the next morning, but this morning it was still relaxed and is still tonight. She doesn't look like she has dropped yet, but her bag is very full. No waxing up, but she didn't with her first pregnancy either. This morning she was pacing a lot in her stall, and when I put her out in her paddock, she was acting strange, pacing, and flipping her head around. The dog was on the outside of her fence, but I think she was upset he was there. Usually she doesn't pay attention at all to the dogs, even if they are in her pasture with her. This afternoon, while I was cleaning her stall, she was very agitated. She kept swishing her tail, stomping her feet, biting her sides, and going in circles. That lasted for about 15 minutes, but quit as soon as I put her in her stall with her evening grain and her hay. She ate for about an hour, then had a nap, and is now eating again. Her body keeps getting really tight, and some of the times it does that, she passes gas. Anyway, I don't think tonight will be the night. You can tell anyone that asks, a full moon does NOT work. I saw on your site that a few people had asked about it, and we had a huge full moon on her 361st day, but nothing happened. I still have 7 pages to read on your site, and I'm trying to hurry and get them read, because I'm sure Rosie is waiting for me to finish them before she foals. Oh well, thanks for listening. I guess misery loves company. Hope everything is going well for you.
Sure sounds like your wait should soon be over. Let us know! I agree with the full moon deal. If they are ready, they will foal. If they aren't, they won't.
Follow up by Karen on March 7, 2002:
It finally happened! My mare foaled on her 367th day, and I missed it. At midnight, she was calm, no signs of restlessness at all. I fell asleep but went out to check on her at 2:30 and there was a foal standing next to her, completely dry. She had a BIG colt that came complete with his top teeth (they are barely through though). The vet did a blood test on him and called today to say that the numbers were lower than he would like to see them. They were in the 400 to 600 range. Do you know what he meant? He said he wasn't too worried since my mare seems to have a lot of milk, and the baby seems so alert and healthy. Thank you again for this great site. It sure helped me while I waited for the big day. I still have 5 pages left to read, and still plan on finishing them because they are so informative.
Congratulations! I'm sorry you missed the delivery, but very happy that all went well. The numbers your vet was talking about is the IgG level--the level on antibodies in the foal's blood. It is best if the reading is 800 or higher. But most foals do just fine at the 400-600 level. It could also be that if the test had been taken a few hours later, the foal would have tested at 800 or more.
Congrats again and have fun with your new baby!
Submitted by Mary Lou in New Jersey on February 16, 2002:
Hi, I have found your advice to be so useful in the past. This year we are expecting an early March delivery, which can still be quite cold in this area. In a previous post, you recommended a heat lamp - is there a source or type you could recommend that is safe to use in a barn? With all the combustible elements around, I always fear starting a fire. Thanks so much
Dear Mary Lou,
That's a very legitimate concern. I just use heat lamps like you can buy at Wal-Mart with a clip on light shield. As long as you put them up in an area where they aren't around straw, cobwebs, hay, and make sure the lamp is extended away from the wall and not pointed right on it, there shouldn't be a problem.
Good luck with your coming delivery.
Submitted by Sherri in Texas on February 17, 2002:
This is not so much a foaling question, as a "get to the stallion" question. What suggestions do you have for safe trailering of mom and new baby going back to the stud farm? I have a 3-horse slant. Figured I'd take the partitions out and tie the mare up front. Bed with straw (too slick??) and head to town. New baby is quite a stinker with a very good aim with those hind legs, not too sure how I'm going to get him INSIDE the trailer either. Any advice?
Foals will usually follow Mom into the trailer without a problem. If yours gives you a problem, he should be small enough for two people to cradle him and escort him into the trailer. Straw or sawdust is okay for hauling. Be careful about tying Mom up in the trailer unless you can partition her from the foal enough that he can't get to her rope. A couple of years ago, someone I know hauled a mare and foal to the breeder--nice big trailer, plenty of room. They arrived at the breeding farm to find that the foal had gotten Mom's rope around his neck and died. So either leave the mare loose or if it's a short trip, partition the foal away enough that he can't get caught in the rope.
Hope the mare gets right back in foal.
Submitted by Leanne in Iowa on February 19, 2002:
I have a Thoroughbred mare, recently bred, who showed a 2 Progesterone level on blood test, and the stallion owner said it must show a 4 level to be reasonably safe in maintaining the pregnancy. The mare was started on Regumate right after the breeding, has been ultrasounded in foal twice. Will I have to keep this mare on Regumate her entire pregnancy? Thank you!
Most mares can go off Regumate between 100-120 days. You can have her progesterone level tested again at that time. If it tests high enough, you can stop the Regumate. The test reads only natural progesterone, not that provided by the Regumate, so the test will tell you if she is producing enough progesterone on her own.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Donna in Ohio on February 19, 2002:
It was nice to find your site. This is mine and my mare's first time so it's the blind leading the blind. I found a lot of answers by glancing through but have one concern. My mare & I are very close however when it comes to touching her stomach or even start to touch near her teats she is ready to kick me out of the stall. She is a standardbred and I can do pretty much anything to her but that and she is serious about it. Could this be a sign of a mare we could have problems with the foal sucking? When she raced she did have cortesone injections in stifles but I don't know if that has anything to do with it. Also, we have had racehorses in and out the entire year we have been here, but yesterday the last of the three left and she is alone. She seems agitated and put her ears back tonight when I went out on my usual night visit. What's up with my girl, is she just lonely tonight. Could this stress her out into any danger? Thanks Theresa, I really appreciate it.
Don't worry about the mare not wanting you to touch her udder. It doesn't mean a thing about how she will react to her foal nursing. As a maiden, she may be unsure of things at first, but if you just hold her still and let the foal go at it, she'll catch on. She probably is lonely, but she could also just be grumpy. I doubt that the stress will cause any problems with the pregnancy.
Submitted by Janice in Oklahoma on February 22, 2002:
Hi! First, I just want to say what a wonderful wealth of information! Great Job! Here's my question. Let's hope I have a dry, standing, nursing foal by the time you answer it ;-) I have a 10 yr. old QH maiden mare. We do not know her due date as she was in foal when I bought her, which was a pleasant surprise. From the palpation and the previous owners "story", we came up with "sometime in February". She's had a bit of "bloody show" for 4 days. I (and my vet) assume this must mean she passed her mucus plug. He has told me not to worry about it. She's been waxing for 5 days and has a good sized bag with distended udders. She's been relaxed "back there" for 2 weeks. This has become much more noticeable during the last 3 or 4 days. She's had the typical "dips" on each side of her tail head for a week. Now these dips are gone and she's hollowed out in front of her hip bones at the top of her flank instead. She also has some swelling of her back legs and just seems utterly miserable. There's good fetal movement and all seems well. I have her bedded in a 14x24 stall on straw with (supervised) turnout during the day. Based on this info, can you give me a "best guess" when this baby is going to get here? I keep saying "any day", "any day", but any day just isn't here yet!
My best guess is "any day", "any day", "any minute", "any minute!" All sounds fine and I, too, hope you have a dry, standing, nursing baby by the time you read this. The only other thing I can say is that I don't think I'd leave that mare long enough to see if this answer is there yet!
Hope she's gotten it done!
Follow up by Janice on February 23, 2002:
Thanks for your quick reply Theresa! We still have NO BABY! She laid down yesterday and seemed to be straining a bit, then got up and acted like nothing happened! She's having a lot of tail lifting and swishing, but has stopped waxing??? I think I read somewhere to watch for that, as it means they are getting closer. Is that true? I ended up sleeping for half of the night in the barn and visiting every hour or so for the other half. Could my visits cause her to hold off on her labor? She doesn't seem at all upset that I'm there, and she acts like she enjoys my company, but I've heard that mares don't like people around when they foal and some of them WON'T foal when you're there. Well, I turned her out in the big pasture today, so I best go check on her. It's difficult to watch her 24-7 because I have an 18 month old son who is still breastfeeding. I must admit, he's taken a few naps in the barn this past week! LOL! I guess one good thing is that I have a clear view of the barn and corral from my bedroom window. Thanks again.
As long as the mare doesn't seem to mind you being around, it's unlikely that's holding her up. Sounds like she just isn't quite ready yet. If they've been waxing and it stops, I haven't found that to be a sign of impending delivery. I'd say when she starts waxing again, watch out. Of course, we are talking about a pregnant mare here, so I wouldn't trust her a bit even without wax.
Please keep us updated.
Follow up by Janice on March 9, 2002:
We have a BABY! I wrote to you 3 weeks ago about my QH mare who was due to foal. Well, she DID at 10:30pm on 3-8-02. For 2 days prior to foaling, she leaked "wax" so bad that she coated her legs and was leaving puddles, so it was pretty easy to guess that she was REAL close. The baby (no name yet) also got very active that day and was kicking like crazy! She's a sorrel mare with a wide blaze and she threw me a little appaloosa colt! He's a looker. Mom and baby are doing great. Just wanted to let you know.... Thanks!
Congratulations! And thanks so much for sharing your good news! What a relief that everything went well. Did you get the foal's IgG level tested? With that much colostrum loss, it would be a good thing to do just to be safe.
Congrats again and enjoy that baby!
Submitted by Pamela in Arizona on February 22, 2002:
I sure hope you reply ASAP!!!!! We are a small Arabian farm in Arizona and we have recently discovered that two of our new foals (ages two months and three months) are having a problem I have never seen before. Nor can I find a single article about this problem anywhere on the Internet! These foals are not growing any heel on the rear hooves. Their pasterns are therefore at an extreme angle and appear to be too long and weak -- sloping downward as is normally only typical with new born foals. They are not walking on their rear pasterns. The pasterns are off of the ground, but they are not growing any heel on those rear feet. What could cause this? I think it may be a nutritional problem, however I cannot find any advice anywhere on how to correct it. The foals are nursing and eating alfalfa and Dynafoal pellets. Some of the foals are eating Pure Pride 300. The foals have plenty of toe growth on all four hooves. They are not currently getting any turn out time to run and play. What can we do to correct this problem? Does this lack of growth in the heel on two and three month old foals have a name? Please help!
Of course without seeing the foals I can't say for sure, but my suspicion is that this isn't a lack of heel growth but 1) toes that aren't being worn off because of lack of exercise and 2) possible ligament problems from lack of exercise and eating too much alfalfa. So, I would get them outside and quit feeding them alfalfa. My husband, a farrier for almost 30 years, concurs with this opinion. If this is what's going on with the foals, it should be a simple fix, which should be good news. I hope that's all it is.
Please let us know.
Submitted by Maureen in Ohio on February 26, 2002:
I really appreciate all of the advice you give, but I haven't come across this question yet. I have a mare due to foal around March 3rd. With the full moon coming (tomorrow) and the severe change in climate here, a lot of people say the mare will foal at this time. Is this like an old wives tale, or can it be true? She is very full in the udder, veins and all, but her teats haven't descended or waxed yet. Thanks for all your time and advice.
If anything, my experience has been that a cold snap will many times make mares go "on hold." Sometimes it seems that it doesn't affect them at all. And I don't really subscribe to the full moon theory. If they are ready, they will foal. If they aren't, they won't. The signs you describe with your mare seem to suggest that maybe she will be a little while yet.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Deepika in West Bengal, India on February 28, 2002:
My friend's very valuable mare foaled 3 weeks ago - a lovely big filly. Now we find that her right rear leg seems to be paralysed, after just a days lameness. The mare lay down, and was eating, and the foal was feeding. The vet thinks it is a pinched nerve, and she is being giving her Neurobion and anti-inflammatory medicines, being turned gently, and light massage given to the affected limb. Today she is very panicky, thrashing around, banging her head, and they have packed the stable with jute bags filled with hay to try and stop the mare hurting herself. What can it be, and is it OK to give her a tranquiliser since the foal is feeding ?
I'm very sorry to hear about the mare's problem! It would be hard for me to say what might be wrong with her. After that much time from foaling, it seems unlikely that she would only now be showing signs of nerve problems from delivery. But the vet can see her and I can't, so maybe he's right. I don't know what kinds of horse diseases you have in India, but one thing that came to my mind is the possibility of a rhino infection (specifically EHV-1) that causes paralysis. The paralysis usually starts in the rear end and progresses forward. Yes, you can tranquilize the mare even with the foal nursing. Not enough of the tranquilizer will go through to the foal to harm it.
Please let me know how the mare does.
Submitted by Rhonda in Arizona on February 28, 2002:
I have just purchased an Arabian mare for showing purposes. She exudes quality and type. She does however have the largest udders (teats) I have ever seen on a horse. She has had one baby and she is 5 years old. Any suggestions on how to suck up the over enlarged teats? It is quite noticeable. Please email me back if you have any suggestions. Thanks for any remarks or remedies.
You didn't say if the mare's udder is soft and floppy or has some substance to it. If it's soft and floppy, then I'm afraid that's just the way it's going to be. After nursing a foal, some mares' udders just seem to stay that way and as far as I know, there isn't anything you can do about it. If there is substance to her udder, like there may be fluid there, you may want to check with the vet. It's possible that there is a hormonal imbalance, but my money would be on her just now having a bigger udder.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Colleen in Michigan on March 5, 2002:
We have an 15 yr. old mare who has always been on the heavy side (especially during the winter.) To our surprise she is pregnant. We had a stud colt last Spring and didn't know she got caught. My concern is that we did not give her any Rino shots? She is forming a small bag now. All the articles and books I have read talk about how the mare should of had those shots at 5,7,9 months. As close as I can figure she could have the foal any time between now and the end of April. What can I do now to help this mare and foal? The mare is due to be wormed soon. Can I worm her or do I have to wait until after the foal is born? I would appreciate any advice.
I would go ahead and worm her, and you could vaccinate her, too. Don't worry about the rhino shots that were missed at this point. They are to prevent abortion for EHV-1 and that obviously didn't happen! :-)
Good luck and have fun with the new baby!
Submitted by Lyn in Idaho on March 5, 2002:
I was delighted to stumble onto your website! I have an 11 year old maiden Thoroughbred mare. She has been the model brood mare until just recently. She settled (via artificial insemination) on the first try and has been very healthy. At 210 days she developed colic like symptoms and was hospitalized. She was given fluids but was never given pain killers- she didn't need them. We came to the conclusion that she had become dehydrated and the vet thought the foal was moving around and spent a little too much time laying on her colon (how rude!). She now has a water monitor and at 260 days it was very low - worried about dehydration, I watched her for a couple of hours. I noticed mucus like discharge - clear with a bit of a pink tint and rushed her to the vet. They gave her fluids, checked her cervix (no sign of discharge) and palpated (slightly soft). The following morning they took a cervical swab after performing an ultrasound and noticing a spot on the placenta was thickening. I am waiting for results of the culture - because she has no access to fescue grass they suspect she may have a bacterial placentitis? How effective is treatment if this is the case. Apparently the thickening is not at the cervix and there does not appear to be any separation yet. Is any thickening considered abnormal? I'm quite worried - this is my first "pregnancy" too! Thank you in advance for the advice.
Thank your lucky stars for having such great vets! Yes, bacterial placentitis is probably what's going on and it is much more common than many people think. The good news is that your vets are on top of it and it is usually successfully treated, especially when caught early. Thickening of the placenta is always cause for concern, but again, it can usually be treated successfully.
Please let us know how things go.
Follow up by Lyn on March 6, 2002:
Hello Theresa - just a follow up for you. The culture came back today on my mare and I had already scheduled a follow up exam for today because the discharge had continued and had turned a milky yellow color. Unfortunately, the culture was positive for strep. Upon exam of the cervix the vet found it to be open (size of a small fist) and draining purulent discharge. ICK! The good news is the baby is still alive and the mare has been started on KPak(?) IV antibiotics and SMZ tablets orally. The vet gave her a 50/50 shot of keeping the foal (But I think she was being generous. She says she usually gives people higher chances than that). I am worried and hoping the mare will rally and pull it off. The vet said if she loses the foal it will likely be within the next 5 days. In your experience do these foals (assuming it makes it) automatically become septicemic (SP?) or can they be healthy since she has so much time left - she is at 262 days today. I appreciate your advice a great deal! We know what our odds are - I would just like to know what odds are of a healthy baby after this kind of a setback? Thanks - and keep your fingers crossed.
With the treatment your mare is getting, if she does not abort, there is a good chance that the foal will not be septic. My experience has been that if treatment is successful and the pregnancy continues, the foals may be born a little weak but are generally not septic. The fact that the mare's cervix is open is not a very encouraging sign. But the treatment is right and I would have to go along with your vet's assessment of the foal's chances. Since she can see everything, I'm sure she has a much better grasp of the situation than I can have from here.
I'll be keeping my fingers crossed. Please keep us updated.
Submitted by Jeri in Ohio on March 5, 2002:
I have a four year old miniature mare due to foal May 28th. time frame this year. I had her ultrasounded on the 29th.day & was diagnosed in foal. I had the second ultrasound at 137 days & you could see the backbone, ribcage & rear leg of the foal. My question is, my mare does not look pregnant? She is chubby, but does not have that hanging, low belly that I see on most mares. This is her first foal & I am paranoid. She could not have absorbed after the 137th. day (is this possible?) & I check and have found no sign of aborted fetus. The mare is watched very closely & well cared for. I am a first time mom & wondering if it is normal for her to look cubby, but not that obviously pregnant look? I have fed her normally until now in the last trimester. Maybe she will look preggy within the next couple of months??? TOTALLY PARANOID! Thanks for any advice.
It isn't at all uncommon for a maiden mare not to look very pregnant at this stage. Chubby sounds about right. She may not show a whole lot until the last month or so. If she doesn't at that point, it would be good to have the vet take a look. But I'd bet she's just hiding it well!
Let us know how she does.
Submitted by Sheri in Arkansas on March 7, 2002:
We have an orphaned thoroughbred 5 week old filly. We have tried foalac and the baby will not suck or drink it, but does eat grain and hay. What are some suggestions to insure proper nutrition? Any help on getting this filly to adulthood, please help!
If the foal is eating hay and grain, try the Foal-Lac pellets. Maybe she will like that better. Also, try hanging a bucket with some Foal-Lac formula in the stall and leaving it there. She is obviously drinking water out of a bucket, so if she decides that she likes the taste of the Foal-Lac, she'll drink it, too.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Melissa in Mississippi on March 13, 2002:
Ok, I'm sure you have heard this before, I just purchased a Mare from a widower whose husband passed away. The Mare is fixing to give birth anyday now - All she could tell me is that it was due somewhere around March. Well March is here and by reading and hearing people and asking question, I'm sure she is ready - but the thing that bothers me most, is her barn is not even close to being done, and that worries me, our vet said that horses have colts all the time out in fields, and that I should not worry. Well Teresa tell me, should I worry? I have my foal list already to go - luckily I work at a Doctor's office. Again should I be concern about her having it in open fenced-in field. Thanks
The two biggest things to worry about are the weather and whether the lowest part of the fence is high enough for a foal to roll under. As long as the weather is decent, foaling outside isn't a problem. Just make sure the fences are "foal safe." If you can't make it safe, it might be best to consider taking the mare somewhere else to foal.
Submitted by Donna in Texas on March 13, 2002:
4 days postpartum, our 14 year mare has a brown runny discharge, but seems healthy otherwise. Is this normal or do you think she has a vaginal infection? The afterbirth seemed to be intact when we picked it up.
As long as the discharge is thin and brown and there isn't a lot of it, it's mostly likely fine. If it lasts longer than three or four days or turns thick and mucousy, you need to have the mare treated.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Lisa in Arizona on March 15, 2002:
Hello There! I have a mare who has had one previous foal close to 4 years ago. She is due any day now. Her bag is small but it feels pretty tight and hot. My question is If a mare has gone as long as mine w/o foaling, might she have some of the maiden mare characteristics? And should she be more closely monitored. Thank you!!
A mare that has had a foal before generally will not regress to maiden tendencies. I would expect that she would bag up more like a mare that has foaled before even though it has been a while.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Andrea in Idaho on March 15, 2002:
What kind of turn out do you recommend for a mare and a new baby? My mare is due in early July and she currently has a 10 x 12 stall which will be enlarged for the birth. But I am worried that the turn out is not adequate. She has a short metal paddock that is 20x20 which opens up on a electrified fence of two strands of tape. There are currently similar arrangements on either side of her with horses in residence. This is a boarding stable that has agreed to let her foal, but I am responsible for creating the safest foaling area hopefully without spending a small fortune.
I'm afraid this isn't what you're going to hear, but I wouldn't turn a foal out in an area fenced by two strands of electrified tape. That just isn't safe and I have actually heard of one foal being electrocuted. So, I wouldn't risk it.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Tena in Texas on March 16, 2002:
I have a 9 year old Quarter Horse who is ready to foal anytime. I'm concerned because her teats are filling at unequal proportions and they are hard, when I milk her, just slightly, only a small amount (just a drip) of clearish milky liquid comes out, do you think that she will have trouble nursing the foal adequately? We have another mare who is strictly a brood mare and her teats are large but soft and they "milk" a lot easier, is it because she is a brood mare or would it seem my other mare "Lady" could have a problem?
I think everything sounds perfectly normal with your mare. Chances are that her udder will equal out and when the foal is born, the milk will flow just fine. The difference with the other mare is just numbers of foals.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Tammie in Texas on March 18, 2002:
First let me say that I love what you are doing for horse people all over. I have a couple of questions that I hope you can help me with. I have a 12 year old arabian mare, she has never had any problems foaling before. This year she ended up with placentitis. Because I check my mare on a daily basis, I was lucky enough to notice the discharge she had. The vet we use put her on smz tabs twice a day and regumate. She is now within two weeks of foaling, she is starting to bag up, crop has dropped, very mushy, and it looks as if the foal has moved back. The one thing the vet told me to watch for is red bag. The vet also told us that the mare should be watched round the clock. Wouldn't it just be best to take her off the regumate and let her foal now? I have been up every night for the past two weeks with her. She lays down like she is in labor, but nothing. Can you please help, before I go crazy. I worry way too much, but I have never had a mare with placentitis before. Thank you so much for your time and any advice you can give.
If the mare is within two weeks of her due date, then yes, it would probably be good to take her off Regumate. It won't stop her from foaling, but there really isn't a reason for her to be on it now, unless your vet has some concerns that I'm not aware of. If you haven't discussed this with your vet, it would be good to do so. Good for you for noticing her problem and getting it taken care of!
Please let us know how everything goes.
Follow up by Tammie on April 4, 2002:
I just wanted to update you: The mare that had placintis had a big beautiful filly. The filly is very healthy. The mare still has an infection but being flushed every day. Thank you for your advice on all of this mess. I love the advice you give everyone. It helps us all out. Thanks you very much!
Congratulations! I'm so glad the filly is okay, and I'm sure the mare will be fine also. Thanks so much for letting us know.
Now enjoy that baby!
Submitted by Deborah in Arkansas on March 18, 2002:
Thank you so much for your foaling manual. I received a copy about 3 years ago. Each year at foaling time, I read it again just to refresh my memory on certain things. I have recommended it to many friends and horse owners, and many have borrowed my copy. I am so happy that I bought my copy. It is always right there when I have a new foal, just in case something goes wrong and I can't remember what to do. THANK YOU!!! It is the best and most informative foaling book I have ever seen!!!
Thank you! So very much! What a kind, thoughtful thing to do--to write just to say that. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.
I hope all of your foalings go well!
Submitted by Elysia in Florida on March 18, 2002:
Hello Ms. Jones. I purchased your book and have been repeatedly impressed with the ease and clarity you describe foaling events and situations. You are my MOST accurate source. However, as you would expect, your book gets borrowed often and lo-and-behold, I have a foal due and no book to refer to. Here's my question...I noticed a granular substance on my mare's bag today (almost like sand or sugar but it cannot be dusted/wiped off) and can't remember what you said about that anomaly. Can you remind me? P.S. She's due this week.
Thanks for your kind words! I'm not sure what causes the substance you're talking about, but it is normal. It has been my experience that usually (and I stress usually :-), the day those granular spots go away is the day the mare foals. They rarely go longer than 48 hours after the spots disappear. Not to worry.
Hope she gets it done soon for you!
Submitted by Lori in California on March 19, 2002:
Hi! Even though I've read your book twice and have read over your pages of advice, I still have a question. My 8 year old maiden mare is 300 days. (I was there when she was covered) Two days ago, I noticed her udders started filling. My question is that from what I've read maiden mares don't bag up at all and people worry. If they generally start at about 30 days out, is it uncommon for a maiden mare to be filling at this point?? Would she fill now and still go 40 or more days??? No other obvious changes, just uncomfortable with some tail swishing. Thanks
Udder development 30 days ahead is one of those "rule of thumb" things with mares. Your mare showing some udder development is fine. Yes, she could certainly go for another 40 days. Also, even if she decided to be exactly "text book," udder development now would mean that she would foal at 330 days (ten days earlier than 340), which is still completely normal. So far, I don't see that you have a thing to worry about, and I really like giving news like that!
Let us know how she does.
Submitted by Elizabeth in North Carolina on March 19, 2002:
Hi there! I've been reading all of your informative info. on your advice column. It's great! My husband and I are expecting our first foal on March 24th. For one and a half weeks our 21 year old mare has been with a completely full udder and dripping white milk. One week ago she had an episode of false labor. She continues to show all the signs but she is only mildly filled out in the flank area and has very slight depression in front of the hips. Every night she starts to breath hard and will swish her tail at times. Her back legs are swollen and she appears miserable. I haven't seen the foal move since last week. Is this to cause alarm or is she just in a holding pattern? I also read one of your columns where someone had asked about a monitoring system. I bought a baby monitor from fisher price which has 1000 ft. range which seems to work great so far. I can even hear her drink water and eat hay. Thanks so much for your time. Can't wait to hear from you. If anything happens before then I'll let you know.
Chances are good that your mare is just in a holding pattern. If she goes longer than her due date, you might want to have the vet take a look. But for sure, have the vet out soon after she foals since she has almost certainly lost all of her colostrum and the foal will need a colostrum replacement.
Hope she gets it done soon! Please let us know.
Follow up by Elizabeth on March 29, 2004:
Hi there! I had written in to you recently about some advice and thought I would give you an update. On the 27th of March we had a beautiful little bay colt at 2AM in the morning. He is a mirror image of his mother,star,snip and all. I even was lucky enough to catch it about the time his head and feet were emerging. I had to tear open the sack because it was still intact and full of fluid. Everything else went great and she didn't have any trouble. I am so glad I read everything that I did because she passed the placenta a few minutes after birth and the cord didn't break from the foal, therefore we had to tear the cord from the foal. You were absolutely correct about the colostrum, tests revealed he had not received any from the mother and had to have replacement. He is now on his third day of life and is very curious and "spunky". Thanks so much for having this web site, it has some wonderful information.
Congratulations! I'm so glad the delivery went well and very happy that you had educated yourself and knew to check for appropriate antibody levels. Good for you!
Enjoy that baby!
Submitted by Therese in Texas on March 22, 2002:
Recently my 10 year old mare who has successfully delivered 6 babies began having a shoulder problem in her 8th month of pregnancy. Our vet evaluated her and determined that it was the shoulder and suggested we give her bute to help the pain. She almost coliced. He then began giving her cordizone shots until he determined that they were not working and that it was getting too close to her delivery. She could hardly walk, became very thin, sluggish. Her teats would bag up then go away. She finally made it to delivery day, a full 11 months. The baby was born, stood up tryed to nurse. We called the vet and told him the mare had not let her milk down. He said we would be ok until the morning. He came out the next morning and took blood back to his office to see if she had gotten any antibodies and he went ahead and gave her glucose and electrolytes. The test said she had not. He waited and took another blood test at 3 PM and she still had not received the antibodies. He did not suggest any colostrum replacement except for the blood plasma. Someone else suggested the liquid Equine IGg and we had him tube it in her as she was getting too weak to stand. Why would the vet wait 21 hours before giving the colostrum? Could we possibly have saved this baby's life if it was given sooner? She died 21 hours after birth. Please give me some reassurance in my trusting his judgement.
I'm so very sorry about what you've been through with the mare and with losing the baby. I'm also sorry that I can't be encouraging about your vet. A foal that hasn't nursed cannot have received any antibodies, so to wait that long to administer a colostrum replacement is inexcusable. I wish I could see some benefit of the doubt here, but I just don't. He also shouldn't have waited until the morning to see the foal. A foal with a mother that is producing no milk needs immediate help. And just to add injury to insult, oral IgG should be given much sooner than your foal received it. There is a good chance that the foal could no longer absorb the antibodies properly at that point. At 21 hours, a plasma transfusion should have been done.
Again, I'm very sorry about your loss.
Submitted by Karen in Alaska on March 24, 2002:
I have a beautiful mare with a 1 1/4 cm umbilical hernia. I have been approached by a stallion owner to have her bred, however, I'm concerned about the hernia. I've done research but have not found any advice concerning prognosis. Her original vet gave her a bill of clean health. She said it would be purely cosmetic. My vet says not to breed but has not looked at hernia extensively. I'm sure it's better to be conservative but it's just odd that information on this topic is so hard to come by. Have you heard about this topic? What is usually the advice?
I have seen mares with umbilical hernias carry foals and do just fine. I think the hernia should be very carefully examined by the vet to determine its extent, but it would probably be okay to breed her. I'm also surprised that there isn't more information on hernias.
Let me know what you find out.
Submitted by Elizabeth in Nevada on March 25, 2002:
Hi. I love you colum! But after I read all of the questions I am still left with a blank. On the 21st of this month my mare, a 12 year old hanoverian, gave birth to a black 150 lb foal. She was 10 days over due and the mare was in pain from extreme swelling of her milk glands all along her underline. She could barely walk. The vet came out and palpated her and said the foals head was in the birth canal and was ready to have him and could not understand why she hadn't. They said that inducing had many risks, but I was very stupid and went for it. My mare was in labor for three long horrid hours. The vet then came out and pulled my poor guy free from her. The sack had also not broken and had to be cut. They pulled him out and right away we knew that something was wrong. He was very lethargic and refused to stand. His eyes were sunken a little into his head. His ears were flopped over like a dog and his coat was very silky ( I was told this meant he was premature) and his legs were very cold. I slept out in the barn with him bottle feeding him every twenty minutes. The poor foal also did not receive much colostrum. When the mare was given the shot she drained a lot of her colostrum but the vets did not tell me to save it until after the foal was actually born. All through the night I massaged his legs and tried to get him to stand, but he never got better. By morning he was worse. We had a warm sunny day and He seemed to perk up a little but only to lift his head a little and to nicker at me. By eight that night he refused to eat and his gums and lips were icy cold. He died in my arms at eleven that night. My question is. Why did my foal die? Did he have Neo-Natal Maladjustment syndrome? Or maybe an infection? Why were his legs so cold and was the choice to induce what killed him. I would just like some closure to this tragic event. I forgot to mention when they pulled the foal out he has already passed the meconium inside of the mare. The vets told me this means it was the right choice to induce but I am still not sure.
I'm so sorry. What a very difficult thing to go through! I would not have had the mare induced, and I think that many of the problems you encountered were probably due to that. The first problem I see is that the vet left after giving the mare the drugs to induce her. Induced deliveries are almost always difficult and I don't understand why your vet left you alone to deal with that. I also don't agree that the expulsion of meconium in utero said that induction was the right course of action. It could be that the foal expelled meconium due to the stress of the induced delivery. The foal also almost certainly suffered a lack of oxygen during the delivery, which could be what caused the cold legs, floppy ears, and weakness. It is always very risky to induce a mare and as you tragically found out, a vet needs to be in attendance until the foal is born when the decision is made to induce. Again, I'm very sorry. I think you did everything possible to help your mare and save the foal. The outcome was not your fault. If you decide to breed again in the future, I hope everything goes much more smoothly.
Submitted by Leanne in Iowa on March 29, 2002:
I have a filly, Arabian, born evening of March 27, 2002. She is "over at the knee", in otherwords, her front legs are bent forward at the knee......I've also heard it called "knock-kneed". I called my vet, and he said not to worry that it will usually correct itself within a few days. I've attended my mares' foalings, approx. 6 over the years, and have never seen this....all foals have had straight front legs...... Question: In your experience, should I have the vet give her an oxytetracycline shot, or do these type of newborn 'over at the knees' really straighten up on their own????? She gets around ok in the stall...nursing well..etc. Doesn't seem to have any trouble getting up or down....just is bent over at the knees. What should I do???????? Please advise this worried "mom".....thanks so much!
Your vet is correct that most of the time these foals straighten out without any intervention. Exercise helps, so if the mare and foal aren't getting any turnout, you might try getting them outside. If the foal hasn't improved significantly within the next few days, that's when I would consider going with the oxytetracycline. But again, most will correct on their own with some natural "stretching."
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Debbie in Kentucky on March 31, 2002:
We had a thoroughbred horse colt born early Saturday morning. When we first saw him, he was nursing and seemed to be doing just fine. About an hour later, he was showing signs of diarrhea. This continued to get worse until he was unable to get up at all. We took him to the vet where he was tested. His colostrum level was better than normal but blood tests showed high levels of bacteria. He was treated by fluids, additional colostrum, and bottle milk, but died about 12 hours after being born. My question: the vet had checked his penis area since we had not seen him urinate other than dribbles of urine on the foal's stomach - it seemed to be okay but there was no part of the penis showing. Could the foal have been eliminating inside his body causing toxins and bacteria? We are going to also have the mare's milk tested.
I am so sorry about the loss of your foal. What a terrible shame! No, I don't think not being able to see the foal's penis had anything to do with his problems. It isn't uncommon for a colt to have a retracted penis. They still do eliminate urine, usually by dribbling on their bellies--just as you saw--so the urine is actually going to the outside even though it looks weird. It sounds to me like your foal did have a bacterial infection, probably acquired after birth. There is an organism that is the one that is usually responsible for this, but I am brain dead right now and can't think of its name and don't want to tell you the wrong thing. In any event, I don't think the retracted penis was the likely cause.
Again, I'm so very sorry.
Submitted by Shirley in Kansas on April 2, 2002:
Hi Theresa, I recieved your book today.. I love it. Thanks a million.. Now I have a question. We had a colt (striped Dun) born tonight at 10:15. What I would like to know is.. When the colt was being born and was out to the hips there was a large amount of yellowish fluid come gushing out. It did not look like amniotic fluid. Have you ever seen this and iis it something we should be worried about? If you could get back with me as soon as you can I would really really appreciate it. So far baby is fine. Got up and has stayed up since 2nd attempt. Is still trying to nurse tho.. Thanks again
Congratulations! I'm so glad the delivery went well. The yellowish fluid was most likely allantoic fluid. It can be quite yellow at times (normal) and not all of it is expelled when the mare's water breaks, so more can come at any time during the delivery as well as afterward. It sounds normal to me, but I'm sure that by now your vet has seen the mare and foal and reassured you.
Thanks for your kind words about the book, and enjoy your new foal!
Submitted by Carrie in Ontario, Canada on April 4, 2002:
Hello Theresa, I just found your column on the net while I was searching for foaling information. Your column is just great. I really don't have any questions yet but I do have a mare due in May. This will be her fifth foal and she has all colts and I'm hoping for a filly, could you just let me know if it is the mare or stud that determines the sex of the foal. Thanks again.
The sex of the foal is determined by whether it gets an X or Y chromosome from the stallion. The mare only has X chromosomes. If the foal gets an X from the stallion, it will be a filly. If it gets a Y, it will be a colt.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Ruth in Tennessee on April 6, 2002:
We bought a 9 year old pregnant Arabian mare about two months ago. She is due to deliver tomorrow according to calculations. She's in good health, full bag, and started waxing two days ago. Here's my concern, and I guess it's really too late to do anything about it now. When we brought her home we were keeping her stalled because of our concern about fescue grass in the pasture. My husband talked to a "long-time horseman" about a month ago, and he told us that "ah, fescue grass won't hurt her, it's the dry fescue hay you have to worry about." Since he raises horses we took him at his word and started letting our mare out to graze some, gradually so she wouldn't founder on the fresh grass. There is a lot of clover and bluegrass in the pasture, but also some fescue. Now since I found your site, I've been reading about fescue grasses causing so much trouble, and I am worried sick. She is ready to go any time now, and in fact I am about to go to the barn to check on her again for the fifth time today. How worried should I be about the fescue? Thanks!
Since your mare appears to be doing everything on schedule, it's unlikely that you have a problem with fescue. But for future reference (as it sounds like you figured out), the "long-time horseman" is absolutely wrong about only dried fescue hay being a problem. It can also be a problem, but the green stuff is the biggest problem.
Hope you have a foal soon! Please let us know.
Submitted by Nikki in Wisconsin on April 11, 2002:
Hi, I love reading all the posts, they are great. I have an appaloosa mare who has had 2 foals before. Her due date was april 9th. Here are her signs, about 4 weeks ago started bagging up and getting VERY witchy. About 2 weeks ago her vulva appeared swollen and very long. About 1 week ago her hips looked caved in, tail is being held higher and a little off to the side, and softening of muscles around tail. She has not waxed at all but from what I read not all do. I also have read that a first stage labor sign is sweating on neck, chest and armpit area, which she started yesterday morning. I thought for sure she would go last night but NO. How true and how close is the sweating thing? I hope to hear from you soon, a full night's sleep is long needed. Thanks so much.
They can sweat off and on for a couple of days. Also, they can sweat in those areas if the weather changes from cool to warm very quickly. I don't know what your weather has been, but you might take that into account. Still, it sounds as though she should certainly be ready at any time.
I hope she goes soon so you can get some sleep!
Submitted by Stacey in Queensland, Australia on April 20, 2002:
I am a real beginner at this foaling business. I have two maiden mares due to foal October and November this year (2002). I am just wondering if the umbilical cord breaks away naturally or is help needed? This is the first time to your site and I think it is excellent to be able to ask these questions, And also to read other peoples questions and your answers to those. I think you are very generous with your time and would like to thank you muchly.
Thanks for your kind words. I really appreciate it! In the vast majority of cases, the cord breaks naturally on its own either when the foal kicks away from the mare or the mare stands up. Once in a while, the placenta expels without the cord breaking. In that case, it is okay to cut the cord--after it has stopped pulsating. Cut it at least 2-3 inches from the foal's belly. It is better to leave it too long than to cut it too short. If it bleeds, just pinch it off with your fingers until the bleeding stops.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Andrea in Deux Sevre, France on April 20, 2002:
Our mare has just foaled a colt. We use electric fencing and have no real alternative for the next couple of weeks. Can we keep her there with the fence turned off, and when is it safe to turn the power back on.
I don't know if you have the tape kind of electric fence or the wire kind. The tape kind is less of a problem than the wire kind. If the mare is used to the fence and doesn't challenge it, then it would probably be okay to put the mare and foal out with the fence turned off (although some horses know if that wire is "live" or not and will challenge it when they know it is off). It's really hard to say when it would be safe to put the foal out with the fence turned on. My preference, obviously, is never. But if you have no alternative, I would say wait to turn the foal out with the fence on until it is at least a couple of weeks old. Hopefully, by that age it should be able to take a jolt if it touches the fence. You said you had no alternative for the next couple of weeks. If you will have safer fencing in a couple of weeks and the mare isn't challenging the fence with the power off, then I wouldn't turn it on at all with the foal out there.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Arleen in Maine on April 20, 2002:
We have a new foal who is now 24 days old. She has begun nibbling at and eating the mare's feces. This has progressed to the point where the foal now does this constantly, actually raising her head to the mare's rectum as she is excreting. The foal & mare are turned out daily & get plenty of exercise. Free feed hay is provided which the foal nibbles at. We also provide a quality mare & foal feed which the foal only occasionally nibbles at in a foal feeder. She prefers nursing off the mare, which is fine, but we are concerned over her intake of the feces. Can you advise what may be the cause of something like this and what suggestions do you have to remedy the situation. Thank you so much.
It is perfectly normal for a foal to eat its mother's manure. This is how they introduce normal bacteria into their guts. It sounds like your foal may be a little obsessed with it, though. I don't really know how you would stop it, but you might try getting a probiotic product from your vet and giving it to the foal. I don't know for sure that it would help, but it's worth a try since it could be that the foal still isn't getting all the bacteria it needs. However, it could just be a habit at this point. I don't think it's anything to worry about and would expect the foal to stop on its own before long.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Cyd in Pennsylvania on April 21, 2002:
Theresa, first a thank you and some news. I ordered your Foaling Manual and loved it. Thanks so much for getting it back in print. Second, my Mountain Pleasure mare foaled 5 days ago and delivered a good sized, healthy filly at 326 days. However she retained the placenta, and I had the vet here to clean her within your recommended time period. He said this is most common with early foalings, that while my filly is not premature, the placenta was not yet mature and was adhered very tightly - lots of surface area. Now my 2 questions: How early do you consider a 326 day foal and do you have any ideas why she foaled early? It did not take us by surprise because she had been steadily shaping up for the last 3 weeks. Also, how far along in a mare's pregnancy can you expect to feel foal movement? My 2nd mare is due in July. Thanks so much,
Congrats on your filly! A foal born at 326 days is only very slightly early, based on 330-350 being entirely normal. Also, many mares foal routinely at 326 days and their foals don't seem to be premature at all. I've seen mares that were overdue have very tight placentas and ones that foaled quite prematurely have ones that expelled right away. So although your vet could be right about the placenta not being "mature," this is something that really doesn't follow with what I've seen. When you can see foal movement varies a great deal from mare to mare. You can usually see it earlier in mares that have had several foals--sometimes by about six months. With maiden mares, it may be much later, and with some you may not see much foal movement at all, ever. It isn't too soon to start looking with your mare due in July, though. Look especially while she eats and drinks.
Submitted by Sioux in California on April 21, 2002:
My mare has always been very dominant at eating time. In her own corral she chases the horses in neighboring corrals away. She now has a 2 week old foal. For the first week and a half she shared everything with her foal. Now she is practicing the same behavior with her own foal. She chases her off at feeding time and will not let her nurse until she is full. I know this is a behavioral problem so I am trying different things but would sure like some input. At every other time she is the devoted and concerned mom. HELP!
I wouldn't be worried about this. The foal isn't going to suffer from not nursing for the time it takes the mare to eat. And right now, the foal doesn't really need to be eating any grain. When the time comes for the foal to eat grain and even more hay, try putting the foal's food at some distance from Mom. If Mom tries to guard both places and keep the foal away, tie her up at her food.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Karen in Nevada on April 22, 2002:
I have a 12 year old Warmblood mare that foaled two weeks ago. She has a ruptured prepubic tendon. Do you know whether there is any surgical techniques to cure this and do you know what the success rate is? I would really like to save this mare and any advice would be greatly appreciated.
There is a procedure that can be done. A mesh-like material is placed on the bottom part of the mare's belly to sort of �take the place of� the prepubic tendon. I have only seen one mare that has had this done, but it was very successful with her. When I saw her, she had just delivered a foal and all was well. It felt pretty weird--you could feel the mesh under her skin--but it sure seemed to have done the trick since she carried a pregnancy to term and delivered successfully. You might check with your nearest vet school to see if they are doing this procedure.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Ned in the USA on April 29, 2002:
I just lost a mare while she was attempting to foal this past Friday. This was a proven brood mare who had foaled 7 times previously with absolutely no problems. When I checked on her first thing that morning, I knew she was having problems. A small amount of the amniotic sac was protruding and by her appearance I could tell she had been in labor for several hours. I immediately tried to contact my vet and he was already on an emergency call in the opposite direction from where I live. I tried to get a couple of others and they were not available. I found a vet that I had never used before and had to load the horse and take her to him. I found out that I knew almost as much about handling the problem as he did. Anyway, this is what I have the question about: This foal's head was tucked downward and packed against the mare's rear. (I know this because after the vet tired out, I then began to work on her to first try to reposition the head and then to try and get giggly wire around the head to sever it.) We were not able to move the head could not get the wire around it either. We must have worked with her for an hour or more. She began to bleed profusely and so I took her home and put her down. My question is; could this mare have likely been saved by a more experienced vet and do you have any particular suggestions for handling a similar situation? I have no hard feelings toward the vet I used. He did the best he could and I couldn't find anyone else. Horses are mostly just hobbies in this area and there are no vets anywhere close to me that specialize in horses.
I'm so sorry to hear about what happened. I think it is very possible that had your mare been in the hands of an experienced vet, she might have been saved. I have known of a few that the foals have been dismembered to save the mare. But, it's always a risky proposition to remove parts of the foal in utero, even in the hands of an experienced vet. Since you worked on the mare, you know how difficult it is to try to manipulate things in such a small space, and do it "blind." I'm glad that you don't blame the vet who tried to help. At least he tried.
Sorry again for what happened.
Submitted by Connie in the USA on May 4, 2002:
Can you tell me what it is the foal expels from its mouth after birth? I had seen an article many years ago and it looked bean shaped but I've forgotten the technical term. I hope you can give me the answer, as I cannot find the article describing it . Any information will be appreciated. Thank you.
I think you are talking about the hippomanes. It doesn't actually come from the foal's mouth�that�s an old wives� tale. It forms from sediment in the fetal fluids and is expelled with the fluids during or after delivery.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Dawn in Wisconsin on May 4, 2002:
My 11 year old quarterhorse foaled April 30, 2002 and it's a nice looking filly. My question is, the filly has swelling on her "female parts" The area seems to be set lower than my other fillies and is round and about the size of a golf ball. This area is slightly open and getting in the way when she has a bowel movement, stuff is getting in and on her. Can you tell me is this some sort of known defect or is it common and just goes away. I had a vet out here to take a look at her to make sure everything was okay and he said he had never seen anything like it and that I should let him know if it goes away. I would appreciate any information you might be able to give me. Thank you.
This isn't all that uncommon, if it's what I think it is. It usually improves as the filly plumps up. If it doesn't, you should surely have your vet take another look.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Kristine in the USA on May 6, 2002:
I found your web site last fall and ordered your book. As others have said, I threw out the rest and yours became my "Bible"! I just wanted you to know how your encouragement paid off. In your book, you talk about not being discouraged by others who make jokes about staying in the barn with the mare. I have a (formerly) maiden mare and was watching her like a hawk ~ she was 3 weeks before her date but showed both behavioral and physical signs of foaling. I started watching 4-26 and was rewarded on 5-2 with the birth of a filly. My husband and friends were making fun of my overprotectiveness and I might have been discouraged if not for your book. My mare had a little trouble foaling (started against the wall, walked around with head and legs out, jumped right up-tearing cord-blood everywhere!). We got through it like champs and my husband just kept saying, "Is that supposed to happen?" and I could say, "Yes, it's in the book." Then right after foaling, my mare had VIOLENT contractions, similar to the mare you describe in the book. She would have smashed the foal, as she was thrashing and rolling and was totally out of control. I held the baby in the corner (knowing not to take her out of the stall, because of your book) and my husband called the vet. She came with in 15 minutes and had to tranquilize the mare twice. Once the mare settled down, all was well. She is a great mama and next year we'll be ready for the contractions. And I bet that next year, no one will laugh at me for sleeping in the barn. Without your book, I may have lost them both! This message is sent with a very sincere "Thank you!"
Thank you so much! What a great story and I'm so glad that, first, the book helped so much and, second, that you took the time to tell me about it. Does my heart good!
Have a great time with your foal!
Submitted by Yvonne in Michigan on May 10, 2002:
Can a newborn foal have ulcers? Could rotavirus symptoms mimic this to some degree? Would you turn out a foal (even briefly) that was running a temp of 101.3?
Yes, a newborn foal can have an ulcer. Rotavirus could mimic ulcers to a certain point early on, but foals generally don't get raging diarrhea with ulcers like they do with rotavirus, and my experience with rotavirus is that the diarrhea starts pretty quickly after the foals begin showing signs of pain. A temp of 101.3 isn't one that I would necessarily call a fever. So, yes, I would absolutely turn out a foal with that temp--assuming that there was no other reason that it shouldn't go out. There may be considerations other than the foal's temperature.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Noel in Texas on May 12, 2002:
I bought a 14 yr. old mare on May 2002 and I'm wondering if I could still breed her in about 2 years? Any information would be very appreciated.
As long as the mare is in good condition and you have a vet do a physical and reproductive exam done on her before you try to breed her, it should be fine to breed her in two years.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Dee in Montana on May 15, 2002:
I have a month and half old stud colt and his belly button popped out like a hernia. What can we do about it?
Best to have a vet take a look to see if the foal needs surgery to repair a hernia. There is nothing you can do about it by yourself.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Sonja in West Vlaanderen, Belgium on May 15, 2002:
I keep following your site, just out of interest of the big mystery of baby's and new mom's (both on two and four legs!). One of the people that wrote you asked about the fact that it could be that colts are left and fillies right in the horns of the mare, I can say it is not a rule, my mare had a filly and she carried left. Thought I share that with you. For the rest both my girls are doing wonderful, mom and baby fight over goodies, and mom hunts her away when food is coming (bar closed then!) - but for the rest, they do great. Food is just a big issue amongst the girls! Is there any rule to determine the expected size of the foal? She was 80 cm big at one month of age, mom is 130 cm, dad unknown. Just curious what we can expect. Greetings from Belgium
I'm glad everyone is doing well! I don't really subscribe to the idea that the horn the foal is in will let you know what sex it is. Maybe it works sometimes, but certainly isn't all that reliable. There is a formula for getting a rough estimate of the foal's expected mature height, but I truly don't remember exactly what it is. I think something along the lines of measuring the foal from elbow to ankle and turning the tape measure up from the elbow and that should be the mature height. But I can't swear that's right, so don't hold me to it! :-)
Submitted by Cindy in Isla Bocas del Toro, Panama on May 18, 2002:
Don't know if you can help me or not. My pinto mare gave birth to a beautiful colt on March 1st, and though I have given anti-parasite meds to the mother (thinking that baby would get this through her milk) I think I need to give vitamin shots and perhaps anti parasite to the colt directly. Can you please advise me if this is necessary, and on quantities-- or tell me where I can get more info on raising a young horse? Many thanks in advance
I wouldn't give the colt vitamin shots without a veterinarian being involved. It's fine to worm the colt directly. It's usually best to use Strongid paste first. I think if you go to some of the horse sites that sell books, you will find quite a few books about raising young horses.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Phyllis in Virginia on May 18, 2002:
Dear Theresa, thanks to you and your book I unexpectedly came across my father-in-law's mare down getting ready to deliver. She was having some problems and everything I read in your book came rushing into my head. I helped her to deliver and everything went great. Thanks so much for a great book. The reason I am writing is my mare is due according to her last cover date will be June 16th. She is huge and don't think she is going to go that long. How far along can she go and the baby be safe for delivery and to live. Thank You.
Good for you for helping the mare deliver successfully! My experience has been that most foals born after 320 days will be fine. From 310 days to 320 is sometimes iffy but certainly not hopeless. Earlier than 310 is usually not good. So, your mare isn't too far from being into a "safe" range.
Hope she holds on for you. Let me know.
Follow up by Phyllis on June 11, 2002:
Once again you came thru. My little filly was born on the 9th of June, 5 days early. Text book delivery. After about 3 hrs I noticed the baby wasn't doing too well. When she ate the milk would shoot out of her nose. I kmew that I had read in your book about a cleft palate. When I called my vet and explained to him the problem he said there was no chance for her. My heart sank. He said not to get attached to her and to put her out of her misery now. I had asked him about the pressure from the udder being so strong and that she was actually getting more than she could swallow. he flat out said no. Well, 3 days later and a lot of prayers she is running around and no sign of the nose problem. The mother's udder has softened up and I have never seen a healthier baby. Thank you. If it had not been for your book we would have put her down. It was the best money I ever spent. Keep up the good work.
Thank goodness you followed your gut and didn't put the baby down! It's this kind of story that makes me so glad I took the time to write the book. Sometimes I just don't know what these vets are thinking!
Great job! Thanks for letting me know. Enjoy that baby.
Submitted by Ashley in Ohio on May 19, 2002:
Do bottle fed orphaned colts act unruly towards people? Do they know how to act like real horses? Do they have horse like manners? Please respond ASAP.
Bottle-fed orphans act unruly toward people if people allow them to. The do know how to act like horses, although they will do better if they can be put with a suitable older horse.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Tracy in Washington on May 26, 2002:
First I want to say I have read some great information! The question I have is, I have a 11 year old maiden Arabian mare. Her due date is tomorrow. For the last 12 days she has started showing signs, relaxation of her tail, dropping etc. 2 nights ago she paced circles in her stall, bared her teeth, bit her sides, yawning and grinding her teeth but nothing since. Her milk went from clear yellow to just plain clear. Do you think it could be soon or is she just a baby when it comes to the discomfort of late pregnancy? :) I also have another mare due in 6 days and show no signs whatsoever. I can see the foal move so I know it's alive. This mare is also a maiden. One last question, how do you know if your pasture has fescue? What does it look like? Thanks for listening to a very paranoid mother!! :)
It sure sounds like the first mare is working up to delivery. She may be a bit dramatic about the discomfort she's having, but it still sounds as though she is getting very close. The other mare may just be more stoic and not show as much discomfort. She may also be a ways away from foaling. Fescue looks so much like other grasses that it is impossible for me to describe the difference. If you search the internet, you can find sites with pictures of it.
Hope all goes well.
Follow up by Tracy on May 31, 2002:
Hi, more questions to bother you with! My first mare that was "due" 4 days ago is still showing signs but no foal. She is now lifting up her back leg and biting underneath on her abdomen. Still very minimal bag and only clear fluid. Can she foal anytime even without a bag and milk? Should I be waiting for the milk to come before having sleepless nights or should I be checking her now? I have been checking her about every 3 hours during the night, how often should I be? My other mare is "due" today but has only softening around her tail area, no bag or any other signs. Should I be watching her closely too? Sorry for all the questions but I really want to be there for the deliveries without being completely sleep deprived!
Chances are that the mares will bag up more before they foal, but no, it isn't a certainty and it is also possible for a mare to foal with clear "milk." Without being able to see the mares, it really is impossible for me to give you a good idea of how often you should be checking them. Based on what you said, checking them every three hours during the night should be fine. But you can see how they are changing and what they are doing, so just follow your gut. You'll do the right thing.
Hope they don't keep you up too much!
Follow up by Tracy on June 12, 2002:
I just wanted to update you on my mares. My first mare finally foaled on June 9th at 3:45 am. She started dripping milk Saturday morning and by 8:00 pm was pacing frantically around her stall with frequent bowel movements. I never left her so I got to see the whole thing. She delivered a bay colt with four white socks and a white star with a very small strip that goes half way down his nose. His antibodies are in the "gray" area so we started him on Sulfa tabs today. The sad news is that my other mare that was not showing any signs and lost her foal. The vet thinks it happened a month or two ago. I obviously did not see her foal move as I had previously stated. Must have been gas or something! It seems bizarre that she could pass a 9 or 10 month foal without me noticing. My other mare is torn and bruised from delivering and this mare had nothing! The vet said I wouldn't notice but it still seems weird. Do you have any idea would could have caused such a late term abortion? I'm not sure if we have fescue or not but my first mare foaled fine and they were always turned out together. We are rebreeding both this weekend but I don't want to be setting us up for another heartache if it happens again. She is a 17 year old maiden but the vet said that wouldn't have anything to do with it. Any ideas? Thanks for all of your advice and for keeping all of us that are doing the foal watch thing sane!!! :)
Congrats on your new foal and I'm sorry about the other mare. There could be any number of things that caused the mare to abort, too numerous to list here. The first thing I would be concerned about with a mare of that age is her progesterone level. That is an easy thing to check when she gets in foal again. Contaminated fescue is unlikely since the one mare did everything normally.
Enjoy that baby!
Submitted by Debbie in California on May 27, 2002:
My mare was ultrasound and I have a picture of one embryo.....she was only covered once..and she went 351 days...well last night she had a tiny filly AND an embryo that was about the size of a basketball..it had all limbs and a large head (with eye sockets and no eyeballs).....this filly was so wobbly I had to hold her up to nurse. Today she is getting up on her own, she is so tiny about 50 lbs, that she goes between her mom's legs and walks right under her belly with room above her head. She also has a weird big bump on her forehead like the embryo. Could she be like a preemie even though mom went over? Is her bump just not a fully formed head? weird huh?
I'm so sorry that you had twins, even with ultrasound. Unfortunately, sometimes the vessicles are stacked right on top of each other and it's impossible to tell that there are two. I would think that your surviving filly is actually premature (dysmature), even though gestation time was long enough. That will happen with twins. Although I can't say for sure, I would think that the domed forehead is just a sign of prematurity and should resolve over time.
Hope everything continues to go well for the little filly.
Submitted by Patsy in Illinois on May 28, 2002:
My friend has a 5-year-old appaloosa mare whom I want a foal out of (her first) and she is broodmare sound due to an injury to a front fetlock which included infection down to the bone and later surgery and leg casts twice. She is now walking well, building up the muscle tone in that leg again, and joint supplements are given and she is doing even better. My question is, will the joint supplement do anything to the unborn foal? Or is there a joint supplement that is approved for unborn foals?
As far as I know, joint supplements are not harmful to a fetus. However, this is certainly a question that you should ask your vet before the mare is bred.
Submitted by Nancy in Alberta, Canada on May 31, 2002:
I have a maiden mare about to give birth. Her nipples are inverted, and are getting worse as the udder fills up. I am wondering how the foal will suck, and if they don't come down, will I be able to express colostrum for it by using a breast pump? I am quite concerned as I have never encountered this problem before.
What you described sounds like normal udder development. As the mare's udder develops and fills more, the nipples should distend downward. I know that sometimes they look like the nipples are just going to disappear up there somewhere, but it's all part of the normal process. I don't think you have anything to worry about but if the mare's udder is still like that when the foal is born then yes, you can milk colostrum from her and give it to the foal. Chances are great that you won't have to do that.
Let me know how she does.
Submitted by Sally in California on June 1, 2002:
I just wanted to let you know that my experience this year using a human pregnancy test on a mare was that it didn't work. It said not pregnant and I did the pregna-mare test 2 weeks later (at 48 days) and got positive results. Another mare was ultrasound in foal at 14 days and her human pregnancy test also said not pregnant (there were 3 in the box so I tried both horses). We have 4 out of 4 mares bred this year!
Thanks for the info and congrats on getting all four mares in foal!
Submitted by Dianne in Washington on June 1 2002:
My mare just had her first foal 3 days ago. She doesn't have much of a bag and the baby always seems hungry. Is there anything I or a vet can do? The baby seems healthy, just always hungry. Also, I know the mare will come into heat in about 8 days. When will her next heat be? I'd like to wait until after the foal heat to rebreed her. Thanks for your help.
If you are concerned about the mare's milk production, you can supplement the foal with a mare's milk replacement product. Try milking the mare right before the foal nurses. If you can get several good, strong squirts out without any trouble, chances are she is producing okay. Also, many maidens will take a few days to begin producing really well. It may be that she just hasn't picked up yet. As long as the foal is active and alert, I would just give it some time. If the foal's activity level and alertness drop at all, I would give some supplementation. Most mares come into the second heat and are breedable around day 30. Start checking at about day 25.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Linda in Tennessee on June 5, 2002:
I have a three-week old quarter horse filly whose right front leg, in particular, appears to be crooked. She is extremely calf-kneed right now. My vet says he'll come back to look at her legs in about 60 days; friends say her front legs will straighten up, but I'm still very worried that they won't. I've heard of "therapeutic neglect" correcting the problem, and I hope that is the case. I guess I need reassuring that this is a common occurrence and usually corrects itself with time.
Yes, therapeutic neglect generally takes care of the problem. If it doesn't there is still time to do surgery. As long as the filly is getting around okay and exercising like a normal foal would, I think I would give her some time. If she shows any signs of soreness, it would be best to have the vet back sooner.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Sandi in Texas on June 6, 2002:
Someone told me that you can use thryoid meds for thinning down weight and neck on horses. She said they do it a lot in the Quarter horses and it has no adverse effects. Is this true? What are the effects, and can it cause thryoid shut down if they do not have a problem and do use a drug for this type of neck/body reduction?
Thyroid supplements should only be used on horses that have been shown by blood work done by a veterinarian to have low thyroid. There absolutely can be adverse side effects from giving a normal horse thyroid supplementation. In my humble opinion, messing with a normal horse's thyroid level to thin its neck is criminal. I don't understand why we continually have to try to impose our vision of beauty on animals that nature has already made beautiful, many times to the detriment of their health.
Hope this helps, and I'm off my soap box now.
Submitted by Julie in Vermont on June 7, 2002:
I just found your website and have been reading it all morning! Thank you so much for all of your good advice! I bought a chocolate brown donkey (Phoebe) in October, to keep my sister's standardbred mare company (the two are best of friends). The previous owners told me that the donkey was bred to a spotted grey donkey (maybe an interesting color foal....?), and would be due to foal in May or June. She sure looks ready to foal, now- big udder with thin white milk, big belly, has rubbed all the hair off her bum. She has been vaccinated and wormed. She has previously had three foals. Although I am a resident doctor, training in ob/gyn of the human kind, I have never seen an equine birth before. Is there anything in particular that I should know about donkeys? I am worried about not being able to recognize if something is going wrong. Do horses usually stand or lie down to deliver their foals? Is it okay for her and her foal to go out to pasture with our mare? (who is despondent and panicky without the donk....) Also Phoebe seems to be flaring her nose and lifting up her top lip every half hour or so: have you seen this before? At first I thought that maybe this was a reaction to contractions, but it's been going on for a week now, and I'm assuming that she could not have been in labor that long. Hormones? She is a very sweet lovey cuddley donkey and I am excited to have a baby around! Thank you very much-
Thanks for your kind words! I really haven't had much experience with donkeys so my answers will be based on horses, but it is my understanding that they are pretty much the same. Mares usually lie down when foaling (note the usually). The foal presents front feet first, head on top. Anything else is a problem. Delivery is generally complete 10-40 minutes after the mare's water breaks. The lip curling you have seen is very normal. It is absolutely a sign of discomfort, but not necessarily a sign of labor. As long as she is acting, eating, and drinking okay for a miserably pregnant lady, everything is most likely fine. It would be best to separate the donkey and her friend initially to gauge her reaction to another horse around her baby. If she doesn't seem to mind the presence of another animal, then it is okay to put them back together. I had the distinct pleasure of foaling a few mares (his mares) with a human OB/GYN. He was amazed at the differences in equines and humans--especially the structure of the placenta. I'm sure this will be a very interesting experience for you!
Let me know if I can answer anything else and please let me know how it goes.
Submitted by Ashley in Florida on June 9, 2002:
What are the best supplements for production of mare milk?
A balanced diet and healthy mare are best for milk production. Supplements won't help without those. If the mare is on a good diet, supplements usually aren't necessary.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Larissa in Indiana on June 12, 2002:
I have a 9 day old shire filly diagnosed today with dysmaturity. She was born at 340 days gestation. Her breathing is rapid and her heart sounds like she's been running even at rest. Her IgG was 400mg/dl. What is going on and what can I do to treat/prevent this from happening?
Your filly's IgG is on the low side, so she would be susceptible to infection. It sounds as though she may have a respiratory infection, which would be common with low IgG. There is nothing you can do to prevent this, but foals can be given transfusions to raise IgG levels. Also, she probably needs antibiotics if she isn't already on them.
Let me know how she does.
Submitted by Jennie in Ohio on June 15, 2002:
Just wanted to drop a line. I wrote you way back in 1999. You were so helpful with your advice. I ended up with a beautiful black filly which we named Cheyenne, she is my pride and joy. I got to ride her this Summer for the first time and she's just awsome. Cant imagine my life without her! I just wanted to say how grateful I am to you for your help and let you know how great it is just knowing you're out there. We are breeding our first time this season and hopefully will be getting a baby next season so I'm sure I'll be in touch. Thanks again!
Thank you so much! And it's wonderful to hear that Cheyenne has turned out to be such a good horse.
Stay in touch.
Submitted by Dawn in Pennsylvania on June 17, 2002:
I have 10 broodmares all in the same very large pasture. 2 mares who have 1 month old babies came in with milk dripping down their legs, their bags swollen and untouched, the foals with light green watery diarrhea. One of the foals has not resumed nursing, she drinks A LOT of water, which I thought was unusual for a 1 month old. She picks at grain and hay and grass, but I am afraid she is not eating enough. She stands at her mother's side like she wants to nurse, but doesn't. We have to milk the mare's huge bag every few hours, and the foals diarrhea has slowed down, but it is still running out. We have the foal on probiotics, and Copperequine ( a supplement), but I want to know how to stop it and get her nursing again. What more can we do? The mares seem 100% healthy, are on regular worming and immunizations etc. Any thoughts can help, but I am afraid time is running out.
You really need to have a vet see these babies. It sounds as though they might need some antibiotics. I would get a vet out as soon as possible.
Submitted by Bethany in New Hampshire on June 18, 2002:
I would like to know some information on Wobbles, is that what it is called or is there a more scientific name for it. The question is-- what is it and what causes it? Thank you.
Wobbles is a neurologic problem caused by constriction of the spinal cord in the cervical spine. It is called cervical stenotic myelopathy. There appears to be a genetic predisposition in some breeds. If you search the internet, I'm sure you'll find lots of information.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Kari in British Columbia, Canada on June 18, 2002:
My daughter bought a 13 hand pony yearling (at least she was told he was a yearling) last year. She wanted a pony stallion to breed to some of her mare ponies. Because we thought he was only a yearling I let him run with my 15 hand Morgan mare. My daughter came home tonight and advised me that one of the mares teats is enlarged but not the other. Have you ever had a case of a pregnant mare only developing on one side of her bag?? Thanks for any information/help you can offer.
It is absolutely normal for a mare to start bagging up in a "lopsided" fashion. It is also possible for a yearling colt to be fertile.
Submitted by Rosemary in South Devon, UK on June 24, 2002:
Hi, sorry this is two questions....I found your site when searching for information on foal absorption. I have a wild pony mare who has had both ears pared and notched (as identification) and been hot branded with a large letter, so she doesn't want any human company for a while. It is a worry because she appears to be very pregnant. she is about 5 years old so has probably foaled before. I watch her on camera overnight and she rolls a lot, and been twitching her tail and and pawing up the straw for weeks. She's out during the day and follows the others in at night, I can't get near enough to see the udders at all but she does have a line appeared on her side and seems to have dropped a bit. I can't think of anything to do except let nature to take its course. However when I was talking about re-absorbtion of foals, no-one here knew anything, could you help, up to what month is it possible etc.? Also, we have reared lots of orphan foals on Goat's milk and some of ours are now eight years old and competing. Our recipe is 1/3 milk 2/3 sterilized water plus glucose as a basic feed, I think it is a bit light but prefer to err on the side of caution. Do you think that is sufficient? Sorry it ended up three questions.
I think all you can do is let nature take its course. Keep watching her and when she goes into labor, if there are any problems she will most likely let you help. Mares seem to know when they are in trouble and will many times allow help no matter what their attitude is normally. I'm not sure exactly how far along a mare can be and resorb. My assumption has always been that it is unlikely that they would resorb after about 90 days. After that, they would abort. But that's just a guess. If your goat milk recipe has worked for you in the past, I wouldn't change a thing. I surely wouldn't argue with success!
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Joy in California on June 26, 2002:
Hi Theresa, you really gave me some good advice the last time I emailed. I appreciate it. I was wondering if I could get your opinion on the foal predictor kits. Do you think that they are reliable and accurate? I have one and used it once for the last foal and the results they gave me were right on. She foaled the next morning. But we kind of knew that she was ready anyway. I used it on the mare that is due to foal on July 1st. But I don't know whether or not to trust it. It's not like it matters when she foals, but it is kind of nice to know if she is getting close.
I haven't used the foal predictor kits myself, but have heard from many sources that they are overall very reliable. As with anything with foaling mares, though, nothing is foolproof! :-)
Follow up by Joy on July 5, 2002:
A couple of weeks ago, I emailed you asking your opinion on the predict-a-foal kit. I have used it twice now on different mares in foal, and found it to be really accurate. It tells you within 12 hours when your foal is to be born. I just want you to know that your advice column is the most helpful website for foaling I have found. You have so much info, it is amazing. Thanks for all the good info.
I'm glad that the foal prediction kits worked well for you. Thanks for letting me know!
Submitted by Amy in Arkansas on July 1, 2002:
I have a story that I wanted to share if I could. My husband was looking for me a riding horse so that we could all ride together sometime. Well he cut an ad out of the paper and told me to go and look at this mare. The ad read: 13 year old sorrel quarter horse mare (bred), kid broke, anyone can ride. I thought hey great that is just what I need. I went to look at this mare and almost passed out. The mare this man showed me was 250 lbs underweight, had no hair (due to extensive skin irritations including rain rot that went untreated), had no milk and was about to drop a baby. Later I found out that the mare is also blind due to neglect. Well needless to say I couldn't leave her there. I bought this mare, had my vet out and gave her all of her shots and started pumping good food and wormer into her like there was no tomorrow ( yes I was concerned about too much too fast but my vet said we were ok). Well I just knew we would loose the foal due to her condition, but we gave her drugs to bring in milk and she waited 2 weeks and 1 day to deliver Storm (just enough time for the antibodies from the vaccines to kick in). He was very small and skinny, but is now 6 weeks old and a beautiful healthy bay colt. He is growing and is so sweet. Mom is learning to deal with her blindness and is about 200 lbs heavier (she still needs a little around the ribs). I can not imagine breeding a mare and letting her get in that shape. Thanks for letting me share.
Thank you for your story. And thank you for taking care of this poor mare and her baby! I'm sure you will get tons of enjoyment out of both.
Submitted by Bron in South Australia on July 11, 2002:
Hi Theresa , I love reading all the information in your column and have read it from beginning to end. I noticed a few times that you mentioned something called Regumate. What is this and what is it used for? Is it to balance the hormone levels in some mares? I have a mare that" may" have low hormones after the 6/7 month date. Would this be useful for her? I only say "may" because she lost her foal at 7 months last year, but we suspect a dog had been in chasing her at the time.
Regumate is progesterone. So yes, it is a hormone used when the mare isn't producing enough progesterone on her own to maintain pregnancy. I don't know if that was the problem with your mare, but a blood test to find out her level will tell you for sure.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Peggy in California on July 19, 2002:
I have an 8 yo maiden Dutch WB that we have had a terrible time breeding. Last year we bred her using frozen semen. The first dose was inseminated too early (local vet would not believe that frozen protocol is different!). Two doses were, literally, lost in a bovine semen storage tank (groan). The mare inseminated again later in the spring, and had a systemic reaction to the mosquitoes on the breeding farm. Fast forward to this year and one last dose of semen. On her first cycle she was inseminated and didn't take. Then we switched to fresh cooled. Voila! She got pregnant. Confirmed in foal at 20 days, she had resorbed by the 45 day check and immediately after the 45 day check came into season. It is now July 19 and I have to figure out what to do from here! A biopsy and culture were taken today (she has fluid accumulation). WB breeders do not aim for January babies, and, in fact, both of my WB mares were born in June. As far as the environment the mare is kept in, she is stabled at my home and is in light to moderate dressage training, with jumping approximately once per week. She is turned out daily when she can't be ridden. Her turn out partners are a 4 yo Westphalian mare and a 2 yo Welsh gelding. We also have 2 welsh mares that had foals approx 6 weeks ago. Everyone is current on vaccinations. They are fed oat/alfalfa cubes and timothy - when I can get it. They also get Strongid C and Equiprep. It has been unseasonably hot and dry, even for Southern California. Since the mare was bred she has been restricted to the property - no trails, no shows, no clinics. The Welsh gelding is the only one who has left the property - this past weekend - for a show. Assuming no infection or evidence of virus (rhino, EVA, etc), do you recommend waiting till next year to attempt to rebreed? If the tests come back could she be rebred this year? Are there any other things I should be looking for, or pushing the vet to look for? (I am switching vets as my current one is not proactive). Any guidance would be very helpful - my husband is telling me to sell her because she is so difficult to breed and to focus on my West mare. Thank you!
I wouldn't even count the mare as being bred on frozen semen. The success rate with frozen semen can be so low that I never hold that against the mare. That she got in foal on the first breeding with fresh, cooled semen is a good thing. And one resorption wouldn't bother me regarding the mare's future as a broodmare. That isn't nearly enough to blame her, either. If the tests come back okay and you get the fluid in the mare's uterus taken care of, there's nothing wrong with breeding her again this year. As a matter of personal opinion, though, I don't like to see babies born in the middle of the summer. The heat and flies are harder on them than cold weather. I see that you are in California, so if you live in an area where the summer weather is moderate, then breeding again this year is certainly fine.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Rianne in Vlaanderen, Belgium on July 21, 2002:
I have spent hours reading your (very helpful) site, but I do have some questions left! I'm waiting for my 20yr old maiden Arab mare to foal (it is now 352 days) Her belly has dropped, the muscles in the rear end are relaxed, there are pits above the tail. The udder is tight when in the stable, and when squeezed I get a cloudy substance, though not much) Is this edema? What exactly is "bagging up"? How big are the waxing droplets usually? Because I can faintly see something on the teats but not larger than a pin drop, also on one opening a slight reddish colour (but reading your site I guess it's normal). The horse is in fine shape, still loves her food and for the first time in 17 yrs she likes to be fondled and brushed. Though I'm not really worried about the outcome of this pregnancy (at 20 years she's still as fresh as 3 yr old- something that worried me at the beginning of the pregnancy because she was racing round the paddock (or during riding) bucking, rearing and generally showing off, I thought that poor foal must get the shaken-baby-syndrome) I am worried that I'm gonna have to keep babysitting at night for another 2 weeks. People say that Arabs and maidens carry longer than others and so do older horses- is this true? Can you give me a definition of "longer" The stallion is said (story from other breeders who used him) to give small foals. As my boss will not allow me to take time off over two weeks (and as I refuse to leave the mare and foal alone the first couple of days) I might have to quit my job over this. Could you tell me your best guess?
Bagging up is udder development, which it certainly sounds like your mare has done. That the fluid you are getting is cloudy says that she should be getting close. The reddish droplet at the end of the nipple is blood from stretching of the canal. As you said, this is normal. It also usually means that waxing will begin soon. Wax can be anything from a very tiny drop of colostrum at the ends of the nipples (or nipple) to huge globs. Of course, it is impossible for me to give a good guess without seeing the mare, but from what you describe it sure sounds like she shouldn't last much longer--no more than a few days. But, she's a mare and we all know what that means!
Hope this helps a little.
Submitted by Tracey in Ohio on August 1, 2002:
Wonderful, wonderful, site you have here. You must spend hours returning messages. I know I spend hours reading. My mare who just foaled June 24th died two days ago. Leaving behind her 5 week old filly. She's beautiful! And very healthy. I ran around and found Buckeye brand milk replacer and pellets. She's been eating some pasture and hay, and today ate some of the pellets mixed with the grain that she had nibbled on with mom. She does not like the milk replacer. I've tried a bottle and a bucket. Do you have any suggestions as to how to get her to drink the milk? Thanks so much.
I'm very sorry to hear about the loss of your mare! Some foals just won't drink the milk replacer. You might try using a syringe to squirt some into her mouth. Just be careful not to choke her. Sometimes once they are forced to get a few tastes of the milk replacer, they decide that it's okay. Also, leave a bucket of the milk replacer hanging in her stall. It's highly unlikely that you will get her to take a bottle. At your filly's age, as long as she's eating the milk pellets with some grain and drinking plenty of water, I wouldn't worry about the milk replacer too much. Try with her for about a week and if you aren't successful, you should probably just concentrate on the milk pellets.
Again, I'm so sorry about your mare.
Submitted by Jeanne in North Carolina on August 8, 2002:
We bought a 6 yr old pony at the end of April, not knowing she was in foal. We began suspecting in June, and she was palpated on June 10th. At that time the vet estimated 1-2 months until delivery. She has had some udder development for about 6 weeks now & we have periodically been testing the calcium level in her milk for about 5 weeks - no change. Last week she was getting a bigger bag, starting to relax in the croup & vulva, and her belly was moving back. However, over the last several days, all this has reversed and she again looks far from ready. Have you seen this before? We can still see the foal moving once in a while, so we assume it�s healthy & she has been off fescue for several months. We�re fairly sure she�s a maiden and don�t want to miss the delivery since this is new for us, too. How quickly can a maiden develop the signs before foaling? If we don�t see any indications in the evening are we pretty safe to sleep at home that night?
Yes, I have seen "reversal" of signs. It usually happens when the relaxation, etc., isn't very far progressed. I've never seen it reverse when I thought a mare was really close to delivery. Any mare, but particularly maidens, can change drastically in a matter of a very few hours. They can look the same as always at 8:00PM and foal at midnight, or even earlier. So in answer to your last question, no, even if you see no indications in the evening it isn't necessarily safe for you to sleep at home. Most mares will show enough signs to make you suspicious, but a few will not.
Sorry I didn't have news that would make things easier for you!
Submitted by Beth in Pennsylvania on August 9, 2002:
A friend had a mare who foaled out in the open, no real problem there, but she did no post-natal care (mare had no prenatal care either, for that matter) and the foal later contracted joint-ill. It took them a WEEK from the time they first saw her limping till they caught her and had a vet examine her. They had to take her to the local Vet University for treatment. The vets there recommended euthanasia, as the illness had progressed to the point of no return. So she lost a beautiful filly for lack of care. I just wanted to let your readers know, PLEASE take care of those foals! Get help if you aren't sure what to do- that's why this forum is here! USE IT!! Thanks- just feeling super bad for that foal and her mom....
I couldn't agree more. Thank you for sharing a "real life" case that illustrates perfectly the need for timely veterinary care.
Submitted by Sandi in Montana on August 23, 2002:
I was brought a two year old pregnant Mustang mare to care for today. My question is, can this horse founder on green grass? She was kept in a corral with just dry hay, and she is quite thin. I have no idea when she is due, but I would say within the month. I plan on deworming her tomorrow. Any more advice would be appreciated. Thanks
Yes, the mare can founder and/or colic on green grass if she hasn't been on it. You need to gradually build her up to it. It's a good idea to deworm the mare and it would be a great idea to have a vet take a look at her, if you haven't already, to get the vaccinations she needs. Other than that, there is a lot of info on the column that will help if you have time to read it.
Submitted by Terri in Ireland on September 8, 2002:
I would be glad of some advice on my 8 year old mare. She bred one foal who is now one year old. I had her AI'd in May 02, and she appeared to be in season at 21 days. She was scanned not in foal at day 25. I decided to leave her until next year as I wanted an early foal. We watched her over the next few months and tryed her with a teaser but she did not come into season again. I got her scanned again in early August (by a different vet). The vet was not sure about the scan but said she appeared to be pregnant from examination as the uterus was enlarged at one side. Then to confuse matters further she came into season the next week. She has always come into season regularly through the summer months (I have owned her for years) so I'm not sure what is going on! She has also become quite bad tempered and moody, and doesn't like having her back touched, she normally is very quiet. Sorry this is so long but any advice would be appreciated.
Although it is certainly possible for a pregnant mare to show heat, since the vet wasn't sure about the later ultrasound I would be suspicious that the mare may have an infection or be retaining fluid in her uterus. That would account for the uterus being larger than it should be, but the vet not finding a foal. It could also account for her being touchy about her back. I think the first step would be to have her checked again, by whichever vet you feel is more experienced in reproduction.
Please let me know what you find out.
Submitted by Cindy in Arkansas on September 16, 2002:
I am asking this question for a neighbor of mine. She has a horse due to foal any day. However, she has noticed that her udder has become very hard. The horse has been on fescue for the past few months. Could this be mastitis or something else and what can she do to keep the colt alive after the birth. She has already lost a foal from a previous horse and doesn't want the same to happen again. She is new at raising horses and is concerned because she has heard lots of bad stories about horses eating fescue. Could you tell us what problems that she might encounter and what steps she should take to deal with this situation?
It is perfectly normal for a mare's udder to become very hard and quite warm as she nears foaling. One problem with infested fescue is that mares who graze on it commonly don't develop an udder and produce milk. That wouldn't seem to be a problem in this case, so it is mostly likely safe to assume that there isn't a problem with the fescue the mare has been eating.
Let me know how everything goes.
Submitted by Leslie in Missouri in September 18, 2002:
Recently, we bought a four year old thoroughbred mare that had been retired from the track and bred. She has had the Caslick's operation performed on her. I am not comfortable with this, as it has visibly disfigured her vulva, and I am nervous about missing the time of her foaling and having her tear. I have had many pregnant mares before, of various breeds, and none of them were ever sutured, nor did they need to be. Is this a truly necessary operation, or just something that the thoroughbred industry has gotten into and it is difficult to change? Her vulva is perpendicular to the ground, I do not think that she will contaminate herself with feces. Thank you for any input that you may have.
Yes, sometimes mares off the track have Caslick's when it isn't really necessary. Since the mare has had the surgery done, I would probably leave things alone until 4-6 weeks before her due date, then have her vulva opened. After that, it would be best to let your vet decide if she needs to have the procedure redone after foaling or being bred again. If having the Caslick's in place is very worrisome to you, talk to your vet about having it opened now. It would most likely be fine to do so.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Lori in California on September 24, 2002:
Hi Theresa. Could you please direct me to some possible help on weaning a single 5 month old filly?? Thanks
I don't know of any specific sites on the internet where you can find this information, but I would think that a search would turn up something. Weaning can be done gradually or cold turkey. It's a matter of personal choice and depends on the mare and foal and your preference. Gradual weaning means separating mom and baby over time, starting with separation at feeding times, when riding mom, etc., progressing to longer and longer periods of time apart. Cold turkey means just that--complete separation all at once. The best thing to do if you chose this course is to take the mare or foal to a different facility if you can't separate them by enough distance that they can't see each other. They need to be apart for at least a month. With some mares and foals it takes longer. Be sure the mare is completely dried up before she comes in contact with her foal again.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Cynthia in Texas on September 28, 2002:
My mare gave birth on Sep. 18. When should it be safe to resume riding her?
I would give the mare about a month before riding her. Actually, the concern is more for the foal than for the mare. You have to be careful not to tire a young foal out if you allow it to follow when riding the mare. Also, be sure you ride in an area that is safe for the foal.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Amy in Maryland on October 6, 2002
I have a 16 yo TB mare that was bred to a Trakehner. She is a Maiden mare. She was orphaned as a foal for reasons I do not know. She is very easy to handle by humans but can be aggressive towards other horses. She has 1 or 2 horses that she gets along with very well, the others she pins her ears at. She is very defensive of her food in her stall, so I have already made arrangements for her to foal in a stall where she cannot see any other horses. She is not ticklish when I handle her flank or udders. I am worried about the possiblility of her rejecting the foal due to her aggressive behavior towards other horses. I was planning to imprint her foal and I have heard that this can help mares accept their foals. She is due March 2003. Is there a tendency for mares who are aggressive towards other horses to reject their own foals?
In my experience, it doesn't hold that a mare who is aggressive toward other horses will reject her foal. Most take very well to motherhood. It may be a little touchy at first since she is a maiden, but I wouldn't expect her to be any different than any other maiden mare. I would surely be watchful, but I would think it will be okay. It is a good sign that there are some horses that she gets along with. Since she is so protective of her food, you may need to watch her when the foal gets old enough to eat solids. She may not like that. She will most likely be fine. It's just something to pay attention to. Imprinting the foal is fine. I don't know that it helps a mare accept her foal, but it will be good for the foal and may help the mare accept the idea of you handling her foal.
Hope this helps and I'll be interested to see how the mare does.
Submitted by Rose in Tennessee on October 7, 2002:
A mare of mine just gave birth to a colt on Friday October 4th, 2002. He ate real well Saturday, but by Sunday around late evening I went to check on them and noticed that he was just laying down. He has the scours and I can't get him to eat. This has gone on for 2 days. Today is Monday October 7, 2002. The mother has plenty of milk so I know that lack of milk isn't the problem. He was born a little early, the due date wasn't until October 15th, and as I said she had him October 4th. If you know what might be wrong with him, and how to cure him please email me. I just am not sure if he is going to make it.
Your foal needs a vet right away. He at least needs antibiotics and probably needs fluids and more. In the meantime, milk the mare and feed him with a syringe or bottle. But really, he needs a vet.
Submitted by Cathy in North Carolina on October 11, 2002:
I have a mare that will be 2 in April. How old do you breed a mare? At what age do you start breeding your mares?
The earliest a mare should be bred is three, and four or five is even better.
Submitted by Brenda in Nebraska on October 13, 2002:
First of all, your book is INVALUABLE for any level of horseman. My copy is worn out, need to buy a new one! Couple questions: My mare had her first foal nearly six years ago. She tore during delivery (foal's hoof went through the rectum) - follow-up surgery was performed successfully. Vet says might need special handling during delivery due to any scar tissue. What else should I be concerned about, and how do I prepare? Should I board her somewhere that has an experienced mare "midwife" in attendance? Second question: How soon during gestation can you start seeing/feeling the movements of the foal? Where is the best place to feel?
The most important thing with your mare would be what your vet said--to be sure that someone is in attendance for the delivery. It is always best to have an experienced person on hand, but it would really be just a matter of making sure the foal's feet are deflected downward away from the top of the vaginal vault. If you feel comfortable with that, there is no reason that you can't foal the mare. When you can feel the foal varies a great deal from mare to mare. I would say that about eight months is average, but sometimes it's much later. The best place to feel is under the belly and in front of the stifles. Feel when the mare is eating or drinking or right afterward.
Thanks for your kind words about the book!
Submitted by Gris in NSW, Australia on October 21, 2002:
I have a 2 week old mini-foal. He is generally well natured and is responding to his name and coming up for a pat and kiss. However in the last 4-5 days has taken to biting or nipping at people. I am not sure if he is playing or being aggressive. He usually will bite on a sleeve and just pull. What ways are best to teach him that this behaviour is unacceptable without breaking the trust or confidence he has in me?
The best thing to do with a nipping foal is give them a little flick on the nose as soon as they try to bite. It's just a foal's way of testing and they need to be told firmly, but kindly, that this behavior is not acceptable. A little flick on the nose won't destroy the foal's trust in you. He may run away and pout for a few minutes, but he'll be back!
Hope this helps and sorry it took me so long to get back to you.
Submitted by Becki in Colorado on October 22, 2002:
My Dutch WB/THb mare is 5 1/2 months along in her pregnancy and this will be her first foal (and mine as well!). She has always been an easy keeper and sure seems to be filling out and getting heavy quickly. Over the last couple of weeks I have noticed what sounds like labored breathing to me. Every few breaths, I can hear a little groaning sound. I first noticed it when I gave her 5 month Rhino shot. She isn't coughing and otherwise doesn't seem to be in distress, other than getting out of breath much easier than she used to (I attributed that to the stage in her pregnancy and the fact that she seems a bit heavier than she should be). I'm wondering if this is anything to be concerned with. Could this be due to the position of foal? I don't want to be an alarmist, but on the other hand I want to make sure everything is ok. Thanks for your help!
As long as the groan is the only thing you notice, I wouldn't be worried. Just keep a watch on her and if you see any other signs of respiratory problems, it would be good to get a vet to take a look. The foal really isn't big enough yet to put enough pressure to cause this (especially when the mare is standing up), so please be sure that she doesn't put on too much body weight. That could cause problems with her breathing.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Dianne in Queensland, Australia on November 2, 2002:
I have been told that mares sometimes eat their own placenta after delivery. But most information says you should get rid of it. Is it safe to let her eat it?
Mares do not generally try to eat their placentas, and they should not. It is not safe, so you should remove the placenta from the stall and save it for the vet to examine (to make sure it is all there).
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Lillian in Oregon on November 14, 2002:
I wanted to know if your book "The Complete Foaling Manual" contains details on the palpating of the mare to determine pregnancy, etc.
No, my book does not contain information about palpating mares to determine pregnancy. It focuses mainly on the time around foaling.
Submitted by Tamela in Illinois on November 15, 2002:
I am looking for some place to find a wireless barn cam that works in a metal shed. Am trying to find a used preferably but a new would be fine also.
I haven't used a wireless barn cam, but have heard that you can get them at Radio Shack.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Cynthia in Georgia on November 24, 2002:
We have a small horse farm in North Georgia. Raising paints and quarter horses. We bought a paint mare two years ago and bred her for the first time as a 4 year old. She lost twins at 9 months. We had her bred to a different stallion last year and the vet palpated her and said she was the right size for her weeks. Her due date is March 20, 2003. Three days ago I checked her and was fine although very large. Today I checked her and she has started to fill with milk. She is irritable and acts like she is sore all over. She had milk last year for about a month before she lost the twins and we are very worried that here we go again!!!!! Oour vet says there is nothing we can do at this stage except keep her in a stall to help her stay calm. We had another horse breeder tell us last year that she had a short body and it was a good thing that she lost twins when she did, I really didn't think that we would lose babies two years in a row. Is there any medications that can be given to help her carry to term? Is it possible for mares to always produce twins? I should have had her ultrasounded in the beginning, but now it is too late ! Please give us some advice because we are very frustrated parents and so are our kids because they love our horses as much as we do.
There really is nothing you can do at this point if the mare is carrying twins. If there wasn't the distinct possibility of twins, I would suggest a course of antibiotics in case she might have placentitis. But with her history and since you said she is big, sounds like twins are a better bet. Yes, it is always best to have mares ultrasounded early in pregnancy to check for the possibility of twins. Saving a few bucks not having the ultrasound done isn't worth what can happen without it. There are some mares that ovulate two eggs on almost every cycle and a very prone to conceiving twins. It is important to work with a good equine reproductive vet during the breeding cycle (they can sometimes time the breeding so that only one egg is fertilized) and to have the mare ultrasounded for the possibility of twins.
I hope everything goes okay.
Submitted by Sherry in California on November 29, 2002:
Got your book! Spent the whole day reading it, it is wonderful. I do have a question that I hope you can help me with. I plan to AI my 6 year old mare after she foals in March. I have talked to my vet about it, and he seems to feel AI on her foal heat won't be a problem, as he will do a breeding fitness exam and ensure everything is good to go. What I didn't think to ask is whether the percentages of successful AI on foal heats when all goes well is higher or lower than waiting until her next cycle. I wish to have an earlier foal the next time as it will hopefully be a halter show baby, and every extra day counts in that venue! But I don't want to have to reship semen and do it all over again just for that reason, if the percentages aren't going to make it worth the try. Do you have any ideas? Thanks in advance.
The percentage of conception is higher on the 30-day cycle than on the foal heat. In working with an equine reproductive vet for seven years and breeding hundreds of mares a year, we found that if mares are infused after foaling, their chance of conception on the foal heat increases quite a bit. As far as the mare's physical well-being is concerned, there is no problem with AI on the foal heat. If your vet is experienced in reproduction, he should be able to tell by the tone of the mare's uterus, how well it has involuted, etc. if she has a good chance of conceiving on the foal heat. As long as he gives the green light, it is worth trying on the foal heat if you want to move her foaling date up. If she isn't quite ready on the foal heat, short-cycling her off the foal heat will cut a few days off from the 30-day cycle and the percentage of success will increase that way as well.
Hope this helps!
Submitted by Mandi in Washington on December 2, 2002:
First off, I wanted to thank you so much for such an informative and unintimidating forum. Last year was my first foal and I spent two weeks of foal watch (completely sleep deprived) reading every one of the posts. I will be buying your book this year. My question is regarding my 6 month pregnant mare, Moose. This will be her 3rd foal, all by my Shire stallion. She is fed 4 flakes of alfalfa daily as well as 1 lb of LMF-A Super Supplement. She is in great weight and spirits, has a nice healthy winter coat and is not blanketed. A week ago I noticed dried sweat on her chest and lower neck. It has been very sunny during the day and I assumed this was the cause. But every day, there has been the same dried sweat. Last night, she woke me up by pacing and I saw that she was drenched in sweat and seemed uncomfortable. She wasn't showing any colicky symptoms and was not running a temperature (99.4). She snarfed down an offered carrot, and she had drunk her normal amount. A couple hours later, the sweating stopped and she was cheery and ready for breakfast. Is this normal? I have been in contact with my vet daily and he is coming out here today to look at her. Thanks in advance for any help you may be able to provide me.
First, thanks for your kind words about the column. I'm glad it has helped and know that the book will help even more. Although I can't say for sure, it is possible that your mare is sweating and pacing because the foal gets into a position that is uncomfortable for her. It may mean nothing and be normal, or it may be important. It's great that you are having your vet out to check her. Your very good observations will help immensely in determining for sure what's going on. I think it is a good sign that, other than these episodes, she is acting normally.
Please let me know how it goes.
Submitted by Gina in Illinois on December 12, 2002:
Hello, I have question about my pregnant mare and exercise. My mare is 5 years old, and in great shape. She is now almost 7 months pregnant and little by little showing more and more (this is her first). Her food is regulated, her weight is watched, I've even purchased a saddle with a wider tree to accomodate her. I ride her almost every night because she has been in training (she is an ex-barrel racer who is learning to slow down and ride more western pleasure like). I am hoping that what I can teach her now she will somewhat remember and she will then be easier to work with once she has foaled. It's winter where I'm at and during the nights when it's really cold and drafty in the barn, I blanket her and during the day is out enjoying the pasture (unblanketed). My plan is to keep her in great shape and physical condition and then of course 2 months prior to foaling just ride her lightly bareback...but is this ok? This is her first foal - and everything has been great. But I get mixed messages from people on whether working her is healthy or not. Some say it's good for them because it helps them during foaling - some say you shouldn't really ride a pregnant mare at all past 5 months. Help? Will riding her and working her still cause her to abort the foal? Or worse? Any advice...suggestions...Thanks.
What you're doing is just fine. Since you are working to slow the mare down, I assume that your daily workouts aren't all that strenuous and since the mare was already in good shape, it's good to keep her that way. As long as you continue to use good sense about not working her too hard, the work is great for her. And I'm with you--being in good shape will help her immensely when it comes time to deliver.
Let us know all about your new baby!
Submitted by Rhea in Washington on December 12, 2002:
I have a mare that just foaled a few days ago and she has rejected her baby. Due to the unsafe condition for the foal from his dam, we have seperated them and begun bucket feeding. My question to you is, what temperature in the stall should we try to maintain for this foal. Our weather gets very cold, sometimes o degrees and below. At the present our weather is ranging about 32-40 degrees. I have him blanketed and heat lamps in a 20 x 20 stall area. The temperature is at about 43 degrees now in the stall. Thanks a lot.
I am so sorry that the mare rejected the foal! A normal, healthy foal will do fine over the winter without a lot of extra heat. If your daytime temperatures range in the 30's, I would take the blanket off the foal during the day. As long as the foal is active and not shivering, taking the blanket off during the day will help prepare it for the colder weather that is probably still to come. When the temperature really dips, the blanket and heat lamp combo will do just fine to keep the foal safely warm.
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Susie in Indiana on December 13, 2002:
I was just curious to know what is the most common malpresentation in the mare? Thank you for your help,
I'm sure that everyone who foals a lot of mares will give you a different answer to this, but I think the most common malpresentation for me has been upside-down foals. That's good, because it usually resolves pretty easily!
Hope this helps.
Submitted by Philip in North West, South Africa on December 14, 2002:
I have a 17 yo TB mare which I bred to an Irish Draught Sport Horse. The mare was covered last on January 26,2002. She must be more or less 320 days pregnant at this stage and being a first time breeder I cannot wait for my baby. She is showing all the signs like relaxing of the muscles and her udder is swelling daily for the last 3 weeks. I have read every article I could lay my eyes on and are in constant contact with my vet and a friend that also breeds. My mare has developed a soft swelling of about 2-3 cms below her belly. When touched it gives a spungy feeling and my vet says it is normal. Is this normal? Other than that the mare is enormous, I am worried that the foal might be too big? Your column is great!!!
The swelling sounds normal and if your vet, who has seen it, says its okay, then I'm sure it is. Usually, this swelling goes away within a day or so of foaling. It would be unlikely that the foal is too big. The cross with a TB mare and an Irish Draught Sport Horse shouldn't produce a foal too big for the mare to have safely. With all that you have done to educate yourself, I'm confident that you will know if anything is wrong. All sounds well so far.
Please let me know how everything goes.
Follow up by Philip on January 3, 2003:
I wrote to you recently about my TB mare that was in foal to an Irish Draught Sport horse stallion. She gave birth to a strong, healthy colt on December 28,2002. He is a chestnut with a white blaze and looks just like his sire. I named him Icarus. Thanks for your kind advice, keep up the good work and I will write again once I have rebred my mare.
Thank you so much for letting me know that your mare foaled successfully! I really thought all would be well but have to admit that your mare has crossed my mind several times.
Congratulations and thanks again for the update. I look forward to hearing from you in the future.
Submitted by Pat in Cheshire, UK on December 15, 2002:
My thoroughbred was last covered on 18/04/02 and was scanned in foal, and has gained weight appropriately. This is her second foal. My vet is now saying he does not feel enough fluid for the gestation, and he now thinks she may not be in foal. The same vet could never feel her first foal and she produced a lovely filly. I am now doubting this vet and wonder if I should seek a second opinion. The stud say that she will be in foal because there is fluid. I am now utterly confused and would like some advice. Thanks
At this point in gestation, the foal is still pretty far down in the mare's abdomen. I agree with the stud farm that if the vet is feeling fluid, it's a pretty good bet that the mare is in foal. If she wasn't in foal, the vet should be able to feel her entire uterus without a problem. Since the vet couldn't feel her last foal, I'm not sure that I would have a lot of confidence in what he says this time, either. Whether or not you get a second opinion really depends on how badly you want a definitive answer. If it would make you feel better to get a second opinion, then by all means do so. My "across the ocean, can't see the mare" opinion is that there is probably a very good chance that she is in foal.
Hope this helps and let me know what you decide and find out.
Follow up by Pat on January 12, 2003:
I wrote to you recently re: TB mare scanned in foal but Vet can't feel foal and questioned small quantity of fluid. Well, we have decided to go for urine analysis and should have results by end of week. In the meantime, the mare weighed 1200 lbs two weeks ago and she now weighs 1234 lbs so she is gaining weight and definitely looks a funny shape if she is not in foal! I just think she has great muscle tone and is keeping things nice and tight, but I can't help feeling a bit apprehensive. My question is this.. would she continue to gain weight if not in foal? I am feeding her well but as you can imagine I am so confused by my vet's uncertainty! I have even gone right round the field in search of any signs of aborted foal but found nothing. I feel really paranoid now! Anyway, thanks for a wonderful reassuring site you provide. I spend hours reading the questions and find your responses so helpful.
Thanks again for your kind words about the column. I wish I could say that a 34 pound weight change in you mare is signficant, but in a 1200-pound horse that really isn't very much difference. I certainly hope it means a growing baby!
Please let me know what you find out from the urinalysis.
Submitted by Sonya in Nebraska on December 20, 2002:
I have a mare that is due January 20th that is caslicked. I just moved out here the beginning of the year, so I have no normal vet. I called an equine vet and he told me I can remove the caslick on my own. He gave me instructions, but could you give them in a little more detail? I can bring her up there if I need to, but would be much easier on her if I just did it on my own. I am very experienced with horses, and would greatly benefit from doing this on my own.
Personally, I would not do this procedure without a local anesthetic since it doesn't involve "removing" stitches, but is actually cutting tissue. Since I am not a veterinarian, I am not comfortable with giving instructions on a veterinary procedure over the internet. My advice is to either get a vet to do it or call the vet back to be sure of his instructions.
Sorry I couldn't be of more help.