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Mare rejected her foal (long)

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  • Mare rejected her foal (long)

    Over the weekend one of our QH mares foaled a nice colt. She was outside in a small paddock with a donkey. I had run up to the feed store and wasn't gone more than 2 hrs. She had no wax that morning and wasn't showing any other signs she was ready, however she was 11 days over due.

    So this mare decides to foal while I am gone. I come home, open up the back door of the barn looking into the pasture, and see a foal laying on the ground with one of my geldings watching over him. I was stumped at first. The foal was in the wrong pasture for one. And I thought he was dead, but when I ran up to him he blinked. Obviously dehydrated and wounded, I picked him up and carried him over to the mares pasture. The gelding followed me and was in my face nickering to the colt the whole time to make sure he was ok. I set the colt down in the pasture, and notice the mare has the placenta still in her. I go over to grab her and ears pinned and teeth bared she went to attack the colt. So I pick up the colt again and run him in the barn to a stall. He is obviously hurt and in need of some attention quickly, and now I realize what has happened. Upon further inspection, it seems the mare may have grabbed the colt by the neck and flung him out of the pasture.

    I stay with the colt in the stall, call the MO to get out and call the vet asap. She arrives very quickly, and I let her watch the colt while I go grab the mare. Come to find out the mare thinks the donkey is her foal! So I catch the mare and bring her in (w/out the donkey) and put her on crossties in front of the stall. She sees her foal and immediately realizes that this is her colt and wants to see him. So we pick him up, get him on his feet and let him nurse. The mare is totally ok at this point.

    The vet arrives, the foal has an injured front leg, not broken but maybe a tendon. His neck wounds are pretty severe, and he is immediately started on antibiotics. Otherwise he is nursing well. By that evening he can manage to get up on his own and nurse, even on 3 legs. We keep a close watch on him all night.

    The following day he was doing much better until late afternoon. He took a turn for the worst. He would no longer get up, and stopped eating. The vet is called again and he is out quickly. We run IV fluids to him, which seem to help. About 2 hrs after the vet left it just doesn't look good at all. The colt started thrashing, and we knew he was dying so we gave him some banamine and ace to quiet him. He was kicking at his head with his front legs, so we think maybe there was some head trauma. He passed before the vet could arrive back out to put him down. He went very quietly.

    The mare is ok, the placenta was removed with no issues. She was a fine mother AFTER the whole attack. She allowed us to be in her stall and she kept a close eye on the colt. She allowed us to milk her when the colt could no longer get up on his own to do so. She saw the donkey the next day and went nuts to try to get to him. I refuse to put her with him at this point, and probably never again. I think she realizes that her colt is dead now. But has anyone ever heard of this? I have heard of mares rejecting their foals, but never have I heard a mare get confused about which one is her foal. She was a maiden, and at this time I really don't think I want to rebreed her. She is a very nice cutting bred mare, with a good show career.

  • #2
    My heart goes out to you. I had a mare reject a foal violently in 2004 (it was an ET foal). No amount of intervention and drugs made her come around, and if I had not been there to keep her from being able to attack, the foal would have been killed. She wanted to grab the baby by the neck and throw it around. It took all my strength to keep her from doing so. I raised the foal as an orphan.

    I might be inclined to give this mare another chance becauseshe was so good with the foal and her humans in the end. It really sounds like the mare would have been okay if she had foaled without the donkey around and with some humans there to keep the situation under control in the first hour or two after birth.

    I am so very sorry that you went through such a harrowing and tragic series of events. Sending cyber hugs.
    Mary Lou


    Member OMGiH I loff my mares clique


    • #3
      I think the Donkey is the one who attacked and injured the foal . Donkeys are he!! on anything small, especially something small that isn't "acting normally" like a flopping around newborn foal. Male donkeys are the worst. I was chatting with my neighbor, just the other day and he told me of a gelded donkey put in to guard sheep. As soon as the rams started romancing the ewes the donkey attacked them. They actually saw him kill a ram before they figured out what was happening. He was vicious.
      Follow us on facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/River...ref=ts&fref=ts


      • #4
        I would vote for the donkey as well. Where I board, a mare delivered early in her mixed herd of horses and mules, and the mules killed the baby. Saddest thing is, some inexperienced boarders were at the barn when it happened and thought the mules were playing with the foal. Anyone else (mare owner, farm owner, my friends or I) would have known and maybe could've helped.

        For your poor foal it doesn't matter, and you have my heartfelt condolences. But with the mare's later behavior and what I know about donkeys and mules, I wouldn't write her off as a broodmare. Let yourself heal, there will be time to reconsider.
        Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.


        • #5
          You didn't say if this was a maiden mare. I have had the experience of a maiden just being so confused with the whole birth process that she just walked away and left the foal. This happened once with the maiden who foaled with no signs for me to watch. Ours had a great outcome. I am so sorry for you and your mare. Things happen and this was not your fault.
          hunter/jumper ponies


          • Original Poster

            Yes it was a maiden mare, and no it wasn't the donkey! The donkey has been out with several foals and has never attacked any animal. I saw the mare attack the foal the 2nd time. It was definately the mare. She was very confused about the whole situation.

            My donkey has been with my mares and foals for years. He also goes out later on with them when they are weaned. He is a mini, and is not mean to animals or humans. I respect your opinions, but I know my donkey, and I saw the mare react to her foal. Thank you for your thoughtful words.


            • #7
              I'm sorry for your terrible experience and for the poor foal. How was the baby's IgG?

              I wouldn't write the mare off as a good broodmare. As a maiden mare, who knows what happened when she foaled. She did come around once she realized it was her foal. Personally I don't let mares foal out with company. Though I know it is not an uncommon thing to do.

              I've seen my maidens start munching hay after foaling having no clue the baby was their's. Once they understand all the mothering instincts kick it. It sounds like your mare's instincts were misplaced on the donkey and who knows what sort of intervention there was and excitement when she foaled out.
              Accuracy is the twin brother of honesty; inaccuracy, of dishonesty.
              Nathaniel Hawthorne


              • #8
                I have a donkey. She is 22 and thinks she is a welsh pony. She has been out with hundreds of foals and wouldnt hurt a fly.
                Your maiden just got confused. It could happen to anyone of us.

                When Private Collection had my little Blue Who, she was a maiden. Thank goodness we were there. All was well until little "Hootie" stood up. His mom, who seemed fine until then, leaped across the stall, almost tried to go over the stall door to escape this little "monster" who had invaded her territory. It took a bit, but we re-introduced her to her foal (who was still standing) and after snorting loudly at him was able to sniff him. All was well then (took a bit).
                Last edited by Sugarbrook; Apr. 29, 2008, 05:49 PM. Reason: my usual typo
                hunter/jumper ponies


                • #9
                  She was probably confused since she was maiden and didn't know any better that this critter was hers. I could see how some of them might be scared and attack the foal for that reason. I wonder if maiden mares that tend to run off dogs would be more likely to attack their first foal thinking it is a dog.

                  I had a mare a maiden mare that foaled out in an arena while left unattended for 45 minutes during the middle of the day. When I arrived it was obvious that the foal had just stood up and he was still wet. She was standing at least 60 feet away from him, staring at him in what appeared to be disbelief. She just didn't know what to make of it. She didn't go after him but I don't know if she would have ever let him get close to her if I hadn't been there to hold her still while he figured out how to nurse. She just kept turning, turning, turning trying to see what the heck this thing was. It took about 3 hours for her to relax, stand still and allow him to nurse. Fortunately she turned out to be a good mother after she figured out that "strange thing" belonged to her.
                  Altamont Sport Horses
                  Trakehners * Knabstruppers * Appaloosa Sport Horses
                  Home of stallions: Ambrosius af Asgard "Atlantis" & Hollywood Hot Spot
                  Birmingham, AL


                  • Original Poster

                    We did the IgG test at ~24hrs. This is the first time I have done that test on a foal and it was good. I know some people wait another day to do the test, and he wasn't much older than 24hrs when he passed. I don't know if the test would have come back different if we waited longer.

                    I don't usually let the mares out with other horses, but she was pacing the fence line for her donkey buddy, and sweated herself up. She never yells for him, and she was fine in a stall by herself all night. I still have them seperated, the donkey is in with the yearling fillies and the mare could care less about him now. Just an extremely confused mare at the time (not the brightest crayon in the box to begin with) and a lesson learned the hard way.


                    • #11
                      One of my trainners mares regected her foal until they held her leg up and forced the mare to allow the foal to drink. After this the mare bonded with her foal and became a great mom.

                      Good Luck! My heart goes out to you!


                      • #12
                        How unfortunate

                        My mare actually confused me for her 3rd foal (or perhaps she thought I was hiding him in my shirt). While in labour her water broke on me. She spun around and almost smothered me with her nickering, licking and lovings. I couldn't get away from her, I finally slapped her a few times and then I think labour took over as she lay down and birthed her real foal. No confusion after that.
                        If you cant convince them; confuse them