From the Horse Midwife

So you’re having a foal. Well, not you personally. Because that would be.. well you know how it would be. Anyway. Your mare is having a foal. And chances are that you want to prepare for foaling because you’re pretty excited about this whole experience for one of two reasons. Either a) the mare is really special to you and nothing could be more amazing than producing your own foal from her or b) you’re super excited about this foal because YOU’VE chosen the cross – this is your designer baby. The Louis Vuitton of foals. Now, here’s hoping that your prayers for a beautiful golden colt with a white star and four white feet have been answered (any guesses on what my dream horse was as a little girl?).

So you’ve done the breeding bit. She’s been and visited her man and done the deed. The vet has scanned her in foal. A few months have passed and you’re approaching the final weeks of her pregnancy.

The nerves start to kick in. You started Googling, didn’t you? All the things that can go wrong. It’s quite terrifying. But keep yourself calm by remembering that only 1-2% of foalings (slightly higher in Thoroughbreds) have a major problem with foaling. So if you were to foal 100 mares in your lifetime, only one or two would have problems. Most mares foal perfectly fine. But there are still some things you can do to make yourself feel better. Below are some handy tips to help you get prepared.

Foaling Date – Make sure you predict your mare’s foaling date based on her Last Service or Last Artificial Insemination date. The average pregnancy for a mare is 335 – 342 days (though miniatures can go anywhere from 300 days on).

Foaling Location – Think about where you’re going to foal your mare. Ideally she’ll be close to the house for all those late-night dashes out to the paddock to shine the torch under her belly to look at her udder.

Foaling Alarm – Investing in a foaling alarm is a really smart move! These handy devices generally go under a mare’s halter and send either a text message or an alarm when the mare lies down – but beware – there will be a LOT of false alarms when she lies down to sleep because she’s fat and her feet hurt! They can be expensive to buy so if you’re not doing a lot of foaling check out your local saddlery or vet to see if they hire them out!

Foaling Kit – Make sure you have a foaling kit prepared and ready to go! Ideally at the door where you put your gumboots and torch so you can grab it on your dash out to check the alarm (maybe this one is finally the real thing and not the tenth false alarm for the night!) A very basic foaling kit should include antiseptic spray, scalpel, headlamp, and a towel at the bare minimum. I would also highly recommend buying or borrowing some foaling straps on the off chance that you do have to assist.

Vet Contact – Let your local vet know when your mare is due to foal and that they may get a call if something goes wrong. Ask them for any tips and advice they might have. Make sure you have the after hours phone number in your phone (because odds are she’s not going to foal in the daylight!) and have that programmed into your phone. The last thing you want if there’s a problem is to be scrolling through Google looking for afterhours clinic numbers!

The other thing you can do to build your confidence in foaling is to look up information and videos of NORMAL foalings. Not problem foalings – NORMAL foalings. There are so many different foaling issues it would take a long time to learn to identify and remember all of them. So for most people identifying what a normal foaling looks like, how long it takes and what you can see is the best thing you can do – because that means you can identify if something is not normal. You don’t necessarily need to know exactly what’s wrong, if you can identify that it doesn’t look normal then it may be time to call your vet.

Over the next few weeks we will cover what a normal foaling looks like, what signs to look out for leading up to foaling, how to tell if it’s going normally, when to intervene, when to call a vet and what to look for to help you decide among many other things.

Until then, happy foaling all!

P.S. if you have a question please feel free to get in touch and ask us at info@foaled.co.nz, or over on our Facebook page or Facebook Support Group

P.P.S If you haven’t already – this information and more is available for download as part of our Foaling Roadmap

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