Pregnant Mare and Foaling Thoughts

This was a handout I received from Dr. Woods of the Northwest Equine production Laboratory, University of Idaho.


Care of the pregnant mare


The health of the mare during pregnancy is important to Care of the pregnant mare to produce a normal healthy offspring. The mare should be provided a stress-free environment with plenty of food, water, and exercise. A good immunization and parasite control program will help insure a healthy foal.


Length and Gestation (Pregnancy)


The average length of gestation in mares is 330 to 350 Days. mares can foal earlier or later and still produce a normal foal.


As Foaling Time Nears


Four to eight weeks before foaling give the mare her BOOSTER VACCINES for Tetanus, sleeping sickness, Influenza, and Rhinopneumonitis. This helps increase the antibody levels in colostrum - to better protect the foal until his first vaccinations are started.


Foaling Environment


The stall should be at least 12 by 12 feet, well ventilated, not drafty, clean, dry, and safe. Heat lamps are rarely needed for the mare and foal. Depending on the mare, early placement (several weeks) in the foaling environment permits the mare to become familiar with her surroundings and relaxed at delivery time.




Tail wraps (if use elastic type be careful not to leave on to long as may damage blood supply resulting in loss of part or all of tail) halter and lead rope Topical Iodine solution for navel Antibiotics (if your DVM advises) VCR camera and enough cable to reach TV in bedroom so wife can watch mare during nite while husband sleeps! Actually mare will be relaxed and foal easier when watched this way. once she is in labor you can go to the barn to help. Leave the cheerleaders who want to make noise in the house watching the monitor.


Signs Seen As Parturation Approaches


A few weeks before delivery mammary development occurs. The filling of the udder occurs gradually with the greatest increase seen during the last 2 weeks, As the glands fill with colostrum the pressure causes some to leak out and hang on teats. (Waxing) Waxing usually occurs 24 to 48 hours before delivery, but may be seen as much as 4 days prior. Maiden mares (1st foal) may have minimal udder development with little or no waxing. During the final days of pregnancy the muscles over the rump begin to soften as the pelvic ligaments relax. You can usually notice relaxation and elongation of the vulva also. Foaling signs may be subtle with allot of variations from mare to mare. Mares prefer quiet and solitude at foaling. This may be the reason most foaling occurs at night when there is a minimum of activity.


First Stage Of Parturation


Restless, pacing, pawing, taking periodic mouthful of hay. Sweating on chest and behind elbows, anxious, looking back at flanks, stomping rear feet.


Second Stage of Parturation


Second Stage Breaking water (placenta rupturing) May note abdominal pressure as contractions become noticeable. Within about 5 minutes you will usually see the translucent amniotic membranes showing from the vulva. Mare usually lays down at this time. In a normal presentation you will see the tips of the front feet.- soles down. One front foot will usually be ahead of the other. As the foals continues to emerge the head will be seen at about the level of the knees. Parturation normally is complete within 20 minutes after the birth start of the second stage. The mare may remain lying down for up to 40 minutes after the foal's hips clear the birth canal. This time is important since the umbilical cord remains intact and significant amounts of blood are passed to the foal from the mares placenta. Pictures and celebration will only hasten the mares need to stand and may have an after effect on the foals strength.


Third stage


Passage of the fetal membranes (afterbirth). discuss with your DVM when they want to be called due to failures of the membranes release. We at our clinic feel 6 hours is MAX.


Times To Call For Help


One leg showing or one leg and nose showing

Nose and no legs

Soles of feet facing upwards

Too much time

Premature foals

Mare Problems

Mare unable to stand after delivery

Signs of colic


Tears around vulvar area

No milk


The average foal is on his feet in about 20 minutes. He must be up within 60 minutes following birth or needs help. If the foal hasn't nursed within 2 hours call you DVM. As soon as the foal has it balance it will begin looking for manure to eat. This is a normal way for a foal to acquire intestinal bacteria. Therefore, it is important though have a very clean foal environment as well as an effective worming program for all horses especially those associated with your foals.


Foal Heat


Usually 3 to 9 days after parturation the mare will begin cycling. At this time her milk will become richer and often results in foal diarrhea. To help lessen the chances of this, it is helpful to decrease the amount of rich grains or other feed being fed. After foal heat has ended gradually bring mare's ration back to the desired level.




All of the times for labor ect are opinions. Your veterinarian may feel some are too long and others are too short. A quick phone call would certainly be in order before the mare foals, before it is an emergency, during office hours....