Alert - Preparing for Birth
Two weeks before your mare's estimated foaling date is a good
time to put her in an area by herself and to watch her everday
habits. Once she varies from these habits you will know she
is getting ready to foal. Some signs to watch for are as follows:
- By checking her tail dock area as time gets close there
will be less resistance when lifting it up to check vaginal
area. The sign here is when there is no resistance and it
lies flat against her body with no life to it at all.
- When she suddenly is pacing her paddock area, back and
- Pawing at the ground like expecting something or anxious.
- Quick movements of her head whipping around to look at
her backside. These type of movements will have the same
look as collic.
- Her udders will be full with milk to the point of possibly
dripping down her legs. This sign would indicate birth within
l2-36 hours. This will be the best sign. This does not always
happen in all mares but if it should, keep a constant watch
- Urinating constantly or taking the position is another
definite sign of just hours to go. 7. The making
of, what I call the pain face. The mare's upper lip curls
over and head in the air. This shows she is having pain.
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Your mare is definitely beginning labor, your phone calls have
been made and help is at your side along with your imprinting
kit. Are you all ready to start?
If the foal is already on the ground along with mare, you may
at this point quietly and slowly walk up to them. Try not to
all rush up at the same time, don't want to get your mare up
and on her feet before she is ready. Remember she has just had
Start by peeling off the sack from the baby. Do it gently as
this is part of the afterbirth that you will inspect at a later
time. Allow the umbilical cord to break on its own accord. Do
not force the break. Usually either the foal will pull hard
enough or the mare in trying to get up will break it.
The person caring for the mare should gently hook a lead line
to her halter. While the mare helper is doing this part, you
and a second helper are positioning yourselves on the back side
of the foal. One should be at the head and one at the tail.
The helper with your kit should be passing the spray bottle
of "tamed" iodine to disinfect the stump of the cord. Next a
towel may be used to dry the head and body of the foal. This
stimulates circulation to the foal. Make sure to remove any
obstructing membranes or mucus from the mouth and nose.
During this time if the mare has risen to her feet, allow her
to approach the foal either at the tail end or head end. This
reduces her from being anxious and avoids placing you or your
help between mare and foal.
Training procedures now begin. Do not allow the foal to get
up by gently but firmly holding him down on his side. A good
way to do this is position the foal's head towards it's shoulder
(the fetal position). This will help keep him down and will
not harm him as this is the position in the sack before born.
You want to rub your hands over his entire face and head area.
The foal will try to resist, do not stop. You will work on this
part until the foal relaxes (a sigh of exhaled breath) and continue
just beyond that point. You can never overdo but you can underdo.
If you stop to soon and the foal is struggling to escape you
fix that behavior in him and the foal will remember that this
is except- able behavior. This is so important that I can not
stress it enough. What we are doing now is to desensitize or
habituate the foal. Each stimulus we do must be repeated until
the foal no longer shows any resistance. Do not continue on
any other parts until the foal relaxes. Usually it will give
a sigh and you will feel the relaxation in him.
From the face and head, include the poll and the ears. Rub and
massage the ear until its desensitized to your touch then insert
a finger into the ear not too far to harm him and wiggling it
until this area is desensitized. With your arm wrapped around
its neck so that your hand can hold near his cheek area of his
head, you'll do the same to its other ear. Remember, what you
do on one side of the foal you have to do on the other side
as well. This might be a good time to have your helper with
your tools to pull out the clippers, turn on and run it on the
backside of the cutting part against the foal enabling the foal
to feel the vibration and the noise. Do this also till the foal
once again is totally relaxed.
Next is the mouth. Massage the upper lip, the underside of the
lip. Insert a finger in the mouth and desensitize the mouth
inside, on each side and the tongue. Your foal will now always
be easy to put a twitch on, bridle, worm or perform dentistry
upon without fear.
Completing the head next is the neck area. Do both sides of
the neck including the mane. Be aware it will take at least
an hour to completely desensitize the foal that as yet has not
been on its feet.
After the neck comes the withers and back which is done all
the way to the tail. Then comes tail and the perineum(area under
the tail.) Insert your finger a short way into the rectum to
desensitize this area. This makes vet exams go a lot easier.
While the foal is lying on its side do the upper shoulder, rib
cage, and the chest only. At a following session you will do
the stomach area. Following this, the upper most limbs, stroking
the full length until that is completely densensitized. Flex
the joints and finally pat and rub first, then tap on the bottom
of each hoof at least 50 times. Patting on the bottom should
be hard enough to make a slapping noise. It teaches the foal
not to fear the farrier's handling or work on the foals hooves.
Desensitize the groin area. If the foal is a male, be especially
thorough about the sheath. If it is a filly, pay attention to
the udder area. All these things are elimating fear in the foal
for vet exams, well or sick, for temperature taking and generally
easier handling during grooming procedures.
This is when I introduce the Spray bottle of warm water, crackling
paper(newspaper),and plastic bag(white for visual view)to overcome
spooking to sounds on windy nights or paper suddenly blowing
in front of them.
Without allowing the foal to get up, roll him over. I find the
best way to do this is both you and your helper holding a set
of legs and gently turning over the foal. Carefully watching
out for flairing legs. It is now time to repeat the whole procedure
on this side. When you finish both sides the foal should be
relaxed enough with you to just lie in your arms and not struggle.
Try this for a few seconds. Now its time to let the foal and
That's it. You are finished with your first of daily sessions.
This should be done once or twice daily. Before leaving the
area allow the foal to stand, get his strength and balance and
begin to nurse. Once you are sure it is starting to nurse leave
your mare alone with her new foal to do her bonding.