Although you probably don't have enough fingers to count the days
until your mare is due to foal, there are some constructive things you can do to
First you should prepare your foaling kit. Put it
together well in advance of foaling season and store it somewhere near the foaling
area. Be sure to restock the kit after each mare foals if you have more than one
Halter and lead rope
Flashlight or lantern (with fresh batteries)
Stopwatch or clock to time the mare's stages of labor
Plastic bags to hold the afterbirth
Mild, non-detergent soap to wash the mare's hindquarters
Buckets for warm rinse water
Sterile, disposable gloves or ob-gyn sleeves
Clean, dry towels to dry the foal, if necessary
Tincture iodine or .5% chlohexadine solution for foal's navel
Heat lamp if the weather is cold (Make sure it is mounted securely and
protected by a wire cage to prevent burns.)
Next you should monitor your mare for any signs of trouble and for the
start of foaling. For more information about monitoring your mare, see our article on Predicting Foaling.
As foaling day approaches you should run through this checklist to
prepare for your new foal.
Determine an approximate foaling date (see the Soon-To-Be-Foal
Make sure the mare's vaccinations are up-to-date.
Remove any Caslick sutures about a month before her expected foaling
Prepare the foaling area - Move the mare to the foaling area at least a
week or two before her expected foaling date to be sure she is comfortable with the area
before she foals - Use a clean pasture if the weather is nice or a large foaling stall
that has been disinfected and bedded with straw rather than shavings.
Alert your veterinarian - It's a good idea to write your vet's phone
number somewhere near the foaling stall or tape it to your phone.
Review the mare's foaling history - signs she gives, average gestation
length, previous foaling problems.
Wrap the mare's tail and wash her udder and genitals when foaling seems
When the time finally arrives, you'll be amazed at how quickly everything
happens. Unless the mare is having problems, you should watch quietly and try not to
disturb her. She will probably remain laying down for 15 to 30 minutes after foaling. This
is the time she will start to bond with her foal.
Your new foal should stand within about two hours and should nurse within
about three hours of birth. The mare's first milk, called colostrom, is rich in nutrients
and antibodies. The foal needs this colostrum, but can only absorb the antibodies within
the first 24 hours after birth. A foal that does not receive the colostrum will be
susceptible to serious infections.
Dip the foal's navel in the chlohexadine solution or tincture of iodine
(diluted one part iodine to two parts water) at least once per day for three or four days
to prevent infection.
Give the foal an enema after the foal nurses, but don't use force to
insert the enema. Then watch for the foal to urinate and pass his first stool.
If you have any doubts about the health of your foal, call your
veterinarian. The warning signs might be very slight, but your foal could be seriously ill
and it's better to talk to your vet than risk losing your new foal.
In most cases everything goes fine and you may feel like you worried for
nothing, but being prepared never hurt anything. Oh, and don't forget to have plenty of
film for your camera.