You decided to breed your favorite mare. You spent months picking out the perfect stallion to complement your mare so that you can have the foal of your dreams. You got excited when you first saw that black “blob” on the ultrasound monitor screen and got even more excited when there was a heart beat. Then, you got to wait and wait and wait.
All of your waiting and planning over the last eleven months is about to be over.
Important things to remember:
- There is NO such thing as a due date. Gestation ranges from 320 to 370 days (on average), with many mares foaling at approximately 340 days.
- Your mare has NOT read the book. While foaling signs are helpful to predict birth, not every mare is going to exhibit every sign (or even any of the signs).
- If you have your heart set on a black colt, there is a chestnut filly in your future 😉
- Horses have been delivering foals for countless generations……but it’s always a good idea to have your veterinarian’s phone number on speed dial.
Five signs that your mare is about to foal.
- The mare’s udder is full – even the nipples. The udder will look shiny. Frequently, blobs of “wax” form on the end of the nipples.
- The mare looks “slab-sided”. Since the foal has moved into the position for delivery, the mare doesn’t look quite so round and fat.
- The mare’s tail head becomes extremely soft and relaxed. The vulva also becomes elongated and relaxed.
- The mare exhibits agitated behavior. Pawing, biting at her sides and pacing around the stall – or pushing her hind end against the wall is not uncommon behavior.
- The mare is off her feed. Even the most voracious eaters will ignore their meals when delivery is imminent.
Aids for making sure you are there for the birth
- Foaling monitors – these are alarms that can either be attached to the mare’s halter or sewn into the vulva that monitor either laying down or the beginning of birth
- Foaling cameras – watch your mare’s every move from the comfort of your home. “Mare Stare” is a popular service that permits people all over the world to foal watch with you.
- Milk tests – measuring the calcium and/or pH levels in the mare’s milk can give you a window of time where birth should occur.
I am not a veterinarian and urge that you seek the advice of a veterinarian regarding all aspects of your horse’s care and health.