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  1. #1
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    Jun. 4, 2002
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    Default Maiden Mare Kicking foal in paddock...what to do?

    I have never seen anything like this. One of my clients has a Dutch Harness Mare that foaled just under two weeks ago. She is a young maiden..three years old and bred at two. The sire is a top Park type Arab. She produced a drop dead gorgeous filly.

    The mare has not been a good mother from day one. The filly had to dodge halfhearted cow kicks from the beginning that I chalked up to soreness...and the mare was better with pain medication and would allow her baby to nurse. The filly had to be confined for the first week due to being down in the pasterns and needing glue on shoes with trailers for her hind legs so we didn't really pick up on this until the first time we put this mare into a half acre individual paddock.

    The mare took off trotting and the baby beside her...all is fine until the mare kicks out and caught the foal on the side shortly after she got running. We thought it was perhaps exuberance of her own youth and inexperience and the foal was in the way. Either way the filly was OK and undamaged. Fast forward to 4 days later...just now.

    I was passing by the paddock and the mare was acting pissy...wanted to come in and I had to park my truck that I'd just unloaded with a gate. The mare took off when I got closer to her paddock (I was driving very slow and she's seen my truck many times). I watched her take aim as she ran and kick the filly in the head as she was running beside her...no mistake this time...it was deliberate. The filly flipped over, laid still for a second and then got up shaking her head. Ran back to her mother. She has a scrape halfway down the side her head about two inches below her eye and otherwise seems OK. I almost had heart failure.

    I was and am flabbergasted. I've never seen a mare intentionally kick her own foal like this. Is this a problem anyone else has ever seen or had? What to do with this mare? How can I protect this filly from her dam? I have called my client and told her what happened and am watching the filly carefully for any swelling or further injury...but I'm pretty worried. I wonder how many kicks I have not seen...and have actually witnessed two?

    Anyway, if anyone has any suggestions, please let me have them. I am as upset as if this was my own foal. Thanks.



  2. #2
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    Jan. 12, 2005
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    Ontario
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    I had one maiden that kicked at her foal a few times in the first couple of days outside. She never actually made contact (thank God) but she came darn close. This particular mare is one that always liked to run and play after being kept in even just overnight. So after 2 days she was excitable. I think she just wanted to play and chalked it up to her inexperience as a mother. Luckily she settled down pretty quickly or I would have been really concerned. Is the mare turned out in a herd? Maybe she would be more protective if there were other horses around and think about her foal instead of playing? I hope she settles down for you, I really don't know what else to say, GOOD LUCK!!!



  3. #3
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    I think it sounds pretty awful.

    I had a very young maiden who gave us a few good scares when she first went from foaling stall to pasture. She was definitely kicking TOWARD the baby but I didn't get the sense that she intended harm... she was just playing like she'd frolic with her same-age girlfriends. Since she did not connect with the colt, she may have been controlling her aim -- but also, her son quickly learned to (a) stay more than a leg's length away from mom and (b) duck and run if things looked dicey.

    I don't know what I would have done if she had connected with him -- especially on the head. That poor baby! I hope there are other breeders with suggestions -- my only input is to take it seriously.
    Arrange whatever pieces come your way. - Virginia Woolf

    Did you know that if you say the word "GULLIBLE" really softly, it sounds like "ORANGES"?



  4. #4
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    May. 27, 2006
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    Ontario, Canada
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    I had a maiden mare that was horrible to her foal at first. She pawed at him when he was down, stepped all over him, and did kick him out in the paddock. Square in the face, breaking his nose. He was about 3 weeks old at that time. She seemed extremely inconcerned about him. I ended up taking him away from her for something, I cannot remember what...but our resident 'babysitter' mare showed interest in him, so I allowed them to meet. When his dam saw that she went NUTS, screaming and screaming for her foal. But them back together and she was great. And yes, I rebred her.



  5. #5
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    Jul. 23, 2003
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    Unfortunately not all maiden mares make good mothers. Your client's mare sounds too immature to have a foal and there's always the possibility that she may never have a good nurturing instinct. If you value your foal, you need to explore other avenues. We've had a few maidens be a little stand-offish in the beginning but nothing as serious as you are having to deal with. We do have an older mare who will not tolerate her foal being bucket fed in the stall with her. She will attack him viciously unless we stand there with him at every single feeding. Other than that, she was an okay mother though definitely not the most loving I've ever had. Is there any way you can find a nurse mare for your foal, or put mother and foal outside with a fence between them? It would require someone to be there every time for nursing but might be easier than having an injured foal.
    Susan N.

    Don't get confused between my personality & my attitude. My personality is who I am, my attitude depends on who you are.



  6. #6
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    Mar. 17, 2006
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    Sunbury, NC
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    We have a mare who had her first foal for us last spring (2nd foal overall). She was kept in a fairly small paddock attached to the barn until the foal was about a week old, and at that time some friends came to see the baby. We took them to the ring and turned them loose. Filly followed at mom's side as mom got more and more worked up. Suddenly, she started to kick the filly, and like you, first time we thought it was accidental but then it became apparent she was doing it on purpose! The first time she kicked her in the side and the filly squealed and almost fell down. We started trying to stop the mare but in a large arena we could not get her. She made a couple more small stabs at the baby but then kicked her right in the head, causing her to tumble and scream!! We were horrified, but filly seemed ok. We caught the mare and put them up and didn't know what happened.

    This happened again when filly was about 4 weeks and we put her out with the rest of the mares/foals. They got to running and playing and again mom started kicking at the foal. Filly was a bit smarter now and we could not tell if she made contact but it was scary nonetheless. After that we never saw it again, but we are hoping it doesn't happen again this year!!! With her it only seemed to happen when the baby was very young and following close at foot, and during a time of great excitement. Not sure how to prevent it, what do you do, I ask also!?
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  7. #7
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    Jun. 4, 2002
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    Default

    Thanks for the replies.

    Yes...it does seem to be only at times of great excitement or agitation. This mare could care less about where the filly goes either. The baby can be 50 yards away and the mare is indifferent...just grazes. I've never seen a mare so careless with a young foal..then the kick I saw tonight...UGH. Other times she nuzzles her and seems to want to mother her. It's like a dual personality.

    The baby is resting OK. Her jaw has a nasty abrasion where she was kicked but that seems to be the extent of the damage. When she went down and laid there stunned, I thought the mare had killed her. :-( She was wobbly for a few steps and than ran up to her dam who acted indifferent to her. Just crazy...

    The vet and I spoke for a while tonight and she's coming out tomorrow to breed a different mare and will give her a thorough exam...and I told her I had put this discussion up here on this forum. She is interested in what the other breeders here have to say. She doesn't have any great ideas either. We talked about Reserpine for the mare, isolating her or trying her with another mare. We were worried that out with other mares and foals she might kick another foal also...but it does seem to be mainly when her foal is close beside her. I wondered about trying to get the baby onto a surrogate mother or inducing lactation on a mare we know would be a good momma. I think the idea of a nurse mare is being talked about now. The owner is quite upset as you can imagine. This is a very valuable foal. Everyone was so thrilled when this mare had such a lovely foal and now the disappointment in the mare and worry is overpowering. I am more convinced than before that breeding a two year old is a bad idea. The clients insisted last year as they wanted a return on their investment in this mare...and now I think everyone is regretting it.

    Thanks again.



  8. #8
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    Mar. 23, 2004
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    Versailles,Ky
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    A maiden who will kick a foal at this point should be removed as his mother. Get a nursemare. They can so easily harm or kill a foal with behavior like that!
    Touchstone Farm. Visit us at the slideshow of our Dutch mares and foals below! 30 mnutes of photos.
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  9. #9
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    Feb. 1, 2003
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    VT
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    I had a mare that kicked her first foal so much that I weaned the foal at 2 months. This was a very dominant mare who had spent most of her life turned out alone as she was a performance horse. She treated her foal like she would treat a submissive horse and would kick at her if she did not move out of her way - pronto! She would kick at her when she was eating her dinner in the stall, so I moved them outside 24/7 with a run in so the foal could get away from her. The foal would lie down to sleep in the run in and the mare would walk in and claim the shed for herself. If the foal was sleeping and did not pay attention to this, she would kick the foal! Finally, after the foal had gotten kicked in the hock and hip, I gave up and weaned her. She was fed milk pellets and lived with another mare/foal that I had.
    I decided to give the mare one more chance to be a better mom and she was the perfect mother after that (she ended up having 3 more foals for me). One year, she even adopted/nursed a second foal.



  10. #10
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    Apr. 4, 2005
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    Default I remember this one.

    With Sandy doing the Nursemare thing, she sees this type thing all the time. In fact she is on her way home from replaceing a rejector as I write this. BUT, I have one that sticks in my mind. I don't want to scare anyone but this did happen. I was installing a fly control system at a TB farm in NY. I came back from lunch to find a Vet truck parked in my spot. The girl that worked at the farm was sitting on a bench, crying her eyes out. She was crying so much she couldn't tell me what happened. I looked in the wash stall and the vet was working on a foal. The foal looked dead to me. I asked the girl again what happened. She said, I don't know? The mare was sooooo good with the foal. For 3 weeks she raised it. Then to day, she was just standing there in the paddock and just turned around and started to kick the foal. For no reason, she just kicked it. Then she went after it and struck out at it and it went down. Then she just killed it, just killed it. She screemed.This was a very expencive foal. The lady that owned the place,and still does, found out that this wasn't the first time she killed her own foal. It happened befor and nobody said anything about it. She bought a killer. The mare was a producer and She had winners at the track. She was a mare you just had to breed, a bread winner some would say. That was the last foal she killed. The owner told Sandy to replaced her with a Nursemare every year she foals. I think it was 5-6 times befor she was sold, with the knowledge she was a killer of her own foals. I wonder how many foals are found dead in a paddock and nobody knows what hapened?



  11. #11
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    Apr. 4, 2005
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    NY
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    Default I remember this one.

    With Sandy doing the Nursemare thing, she sees this type thing all the time. In fact she is on her way home from replaceing a rejector as I write this. BUT, I have one that sticks in my mind. I don't want to scare anyone but this did happen. I was installing a fly control system at a TB farm in NY. I came back from lunch to find a Vet truck parked in my spot. The girl that worked at the farm was sitting on a bench, crying her eyes out. She was crying so much she couldn't tell me what happened. I looked in the wash stall and the vet was working on a foal. The foal looked dead to me. I asked the girl again what happened. She said, I don't know? The mare was sooooo good with the foal. For 3 weeks she raised it. Then to day, she was just standing there in the paddock and just turned around and started to kick the foal. For no reason, she just kicked it. Then she went after it and struck out at it and it went down. Then she just killed it, just killed it. She screemed.This was a very expencive foal. The lady that owned the place,and still does, found out that this wasn't the first time she killed her own foal. It happened befor and nobody said anything about it. She bought a killer. The mare was a producer and She had winners at the track. She was a mare you just had to breed, a bread winner some would say. That was the last foal she killed. The owner told Sandy to replaced her with a Nursemare every year she foals. I think it was 5-6 times befor she was sold, with the knowledge she was a killer of her own foals. I wonder how many foals are found dead in a paddock and nobody knows what hapened?



  12. #12
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    Oct. 20, 2005
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    Get a nurse mare, bottle or bucket feed the baby - whatever. Get it away from that mare. We lost a foal this year due to being in exactly the wrong place when he received a kick from his mother. She nailed him right in the ribcage and put a hole in his lung. We couldn't save him.

    Don't leave that baby with the mare one more minute.
    It's a uterus, not a clown car. - Sayyedati



  13. #13
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    From what I have seen, sometimes very young mares just don't think about the foal much when they run and buck/kick out. It may be something to try to keep the foal away from the mare and lunge her for 20 minutes each morning before turnout. Let her get the yee haas out. Then bring the baby out to let them both loose.

    We also had a mare here that was mean to her foal just at feeding time. Her first foal, it was sad to watch, and someone had to stay close, only while she was eating. Her 2nd foal was a preemie. It spent a week or so in the hospital. When we brought the baby home and tried to put them back together, she was barely tolerating it for a few hours, definitely not to be trusted. We finally decided to separate them. Took the foal away, and the mare thru a HUGE tantrum. We put him back in, and she scooped him up and chased us out of the stall. From that minute on, she was a great mom, and was super with the rest of her foals too.
    Last edited by Fairview Horse Center; Apr. 6, 2008 at 02:39 PM.



  14. #14
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    I completely agree that the age has something to do with it. My best girl was an absolute beeyatch with her first foal. Second she was far better with. She was also 2 years older and had two years more of interaction with other young foals.

    It sounds quite a bit like how my dogs fight. The only time they fight is when they get all worked up over something--say someone at the door. First they're barking at the stranger, then *snap* they are at each other. I don't know why, but it happened with unrelated male & female I had before too. Same phenomenon. I know it's not uncommon. Something to do with adrenaline and all...

    If you can prevent 'exciting' turnout for another few weeks, the foal will have gotten really all it needs from Mum and you can wean. Sounds awful but better 'orphan' than dead. Four-to-five weeks is the crucial time. My orphan was orphaned at 5 weeks. She *did* have another mare who adopted her (my grand old Trak mare ) but she was nursing her own filly a month older. I bucket fed in addition to the adopted Mum, and BOTH fillies then got milk replacer pellets as well as soon as they were old enough--because filly #1 was obviously 'sharing' her nutrition.

    My fabulous repro vet was SO relieved that the Orphan was 5 weeks--said, "oh, she'll be FINE. The nutrition in the milk starts declining right around then anyway." It was not difficult at all to supplement her with milk replacer, then pellets soaked in milk replacer then, eventually, just the pellets. These days I would also add Rejuvenaide or Foal Aide in a heartbeat. SO simple to give a dose daily and know they're getting the vits and mins.

    If you've got another mare who would take her, even if not in milk, it would be worth it. Better if she can nurse--though it won't be nutrition and you'll probably have to help out... I would even think an Igloo Momma would be better than the natural Mum.

    How absolutely horrifying. I hope you can figure something out.
    InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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  15. #15
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    Regarding the original post I'm still trying to figure out why they bred a 2 year old to begin with - her level of maturity is probably a big factor here. We've only bred a few mares at 3 - most are bred at 4 the first time.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ise@ssl View Post
    Regarding the original post I'm still trying to figure out why they bred a 2 year old to begin with - her level of maturity is probably a big factor here. We've only bred a few mares at 3 - most are bred at 4 the first time.
    In Ireland it is quite common to breed at two. I've seen many three year old first time mothers and the majority of them were very good with their foals. There's always an exception though as there is with everything else.

    I do not think her age is a factor in all of this.
    *The Quietman ~ Irish Approved Gr.1 Stallion
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slewdledo View Post
    Get a nurse mare, bottle or bucket feed the baby - whatever. Get it away from that mare. We lost a foal this year due to being in exactly the wrong place when he received a kick from his mother. She nailed him right in the ribcage and put a hole in his lung. We couldn't save him.

    Don't leave that baby with the mare one more minute.
    This sounds like the best advise, I certainly wouldn't leave a foal with a hateful mare that kicked the foal.

    I would never rebred a mare that acted that way either. If it were an extremely valuable mare, I would probably do embryo transfer, but not let that mare near another foal ever.

    As Slewdledo said, it just takes one kick and that's the end of the foal.
    http://www.herselffarm.com
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  18. #18
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    Clients of mine had an older WB mare that had had a few foals as a younger mare, embarked on a performance career, got injured and they decided to re-breed her while waiting her injury out to see if she could be shown once again.

    From the moment her foal was born, she hated it and attacked it in the stall while it was still down on the ground and hadnt even gotten up yet. They ended up making a makeshift "standing stall" in the stall for the mare to be in so the foal could nurse without threat of being killed and they thought as well due to possible hormonal surges that as the days went on, and the Mom hopefully bonded with the foal and experienced relief each time she nursed that she would get better with it.

    At Day 5 they opted to orphan the foal as every time it even went near the dam you could see she was furious to be sharing her space with this intruder and they never dared turn them out together in the same paddock unless someone was always holding on to the mare

    Even though she was fine as a younger mare with her first 2 foals, they opted to never breed her again due to this bizarre behaviour with her 3rd

    Good luck - I cant even fathom what else you can do in this case except to separate them and orphan the foal ...



  19. #19
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    Apr. 4, 2005
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    I don't think that age is a factor either. We have seen so many calls over the years on this same subject. The ages of the mares are all different. Why they reject or do what is done here with this OP or those that have repied is a good question. People have all the answers but what is the horses answer. One said, that the vet said that milk looses its quality around 5 weeks. I question that. If a mare is eating the same thing she was at foaling time and the foal is still nurseing,Then why sould there be a difference in the milk. Foals nurse untill the mares ween them at about 6 mons. naturally. So why would nature decline the milk quality. I have talked to vets that say the milk is still a good quality even at 1 yr. I have seen foals on mares at over 1 year. Some breders ween at 3 months. You can see the difference in a foal that was weened at 3 months and the one that was on a mare for 6 months. Anyway, all mares are different on how they treat their foals, but when they start to kick them, common sense has to kick in.



  20. #20
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    I had a maiden like this, but she was 6 years old and the alpha mare. She kicked at the foal when she was running and the filly would try to stay next to her. She didn't like the filly in her space. Se also wouldn't share her hay in the stall with the filly, but wasn't so aggressive.

    I did separate them for fear of the filly being killed. All it takes is one kick. I think the owner is very lucky the blow to the head dead not kill the foal. I wouldn't take any chances.



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