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Turnout for new moms and their foals...

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  • Turnout for new moms and their foals...

    Okay... newbie here...

    My mare just hit day 300 (YAHOO)! And I'm hoping she makes it to day 320 (she's looking ahead of schedule and according to the vet based on u/s, he think she'll go early too).

    So one of my biggest concerns right now is the turnout situation for my horses. My two mares (momma-to-be and my 5-year old) are turned out together where I board right now. They are the best of friends... and my younger mare is miss protector for my broodmare. My broodie is okay when turned out alone, but my younger mare goes crazy when she can't see her (although I can ride her and take her off property to shows/lessons without any issue - it's just during turnout). The other issue with my younger mare is she is a dominant mare, and she doesn't take kindly to strangers. She is also my show horse, so the turnout situation with my broodie is perfect because my broodie is so mellow and docile, so I don't have to worry about any injuries to my young one.

    BUT... my broodie will foal at some point... and that becomes the issue. Because I board, I don't have complete control over turnout (ie. the setup of the pastures/paddocks), so without making any changes to the facility, I am limited with what my options are. If it was up to me, I would split their paddock and turn them out next to each other... but that can't happen.

    SO... does anyone have any experience turning out mare and foal with another mare who has never foaled??? If so, how and when did you introduce them? Any other turnout recommendations (either way)???

    As a side, they are stalled next to each other as well, so my young one will see/smell/hear the foal every night.
    Piedmont Sporthorses
    https://www.facebook.com/BayMeadowsFarm

  • #2
    There are no absolutes so our experience is irrelevant. All you can do is give it a try and see how it goes. I would turn the mare and foal out alone for a few days then introduce the other mare while on a shank, first over the fence then inside the fence if that goes ok.
    McDowell Racing Stables

    Home Away From Home

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    • #3
      What Laurierace said in spades!!
      Siegi Belz
      www.stalleuropa.com
      2007 KWPN-NA Breeder of the Year
      Dutch Warmbloods Made in the U. S. A.

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      • #4
        I have no advice, but I will be watching this thread because I have a "mixed herd" and will be acing a similar situation in the future.

        Comment


        • #5
          I've had an open maiden (planned on breeding her the following year) with a pregnant pro Mom. They were very herd bound. I have my field set up so it can be split and let Mom & foal have their own space. After foaling I split the field. Turned out and both mares started running and calling. Fearing she would run the foal to exhaustion, I decided to open it up. Mom was in charge and used body language to tell the maiden she had to keep some distance. Both were happy and all was very peaceful
          Epona Farm
          Irish Draughts and Irish Draught Sport horses

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          • #6
            I would be really careful with that situation, especially with the younger mare being dominant over the broodmare. New moms take at least a week, and often longer, before they are comfortable with other horses around their foals, even if the other horse is their BFF. You don't want the dominant mare to get rough with either your broodmare or her foal, and not have the mom be able to keep the other mare away. I currently have a mare with a foal by her side who lives with another broodmare. She foaled, and it took two weeks for her to be okay with that mare near her foal, even over the fence. They are best friends, and the other mare is heavy in foal. They are together now, and it is a great situation, but even that one took some time for the mares to be comfortable. A foal is a game changer in equine relationships.
            Mystic Owl Sporthorses
            www.mysticowlsporthorses.com

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by horsetales View Post
              Mom was in charge and used body language to tell the maiden she had to keep some distance.
              Excellent! Let me ask... what were their herd dynamics before baby? Was mom in charge, or maiden?

              Thanks!!!
              Piedmont Sporthorses
              https://www.facebook.com/BayMeadowsFarm

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              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by clint View Post
                I would be really careful with that situation, especially with the younger mare being dominant over the broodmare. New moms take at least a week, and often longer, before they are comfortable with other horses around their foals, even if the other horse is their BFF. You don't want the dominant mare to get rough with either your broodmare or her foal, and not have the mom be able to keep the other mare away. I currently have a mare with a foal by her side who lives with another broodmare. She foaled, and it took two weeks for her to be okay with that mare near her foal, even over the fence. They are best friends, and the other mare is heavy in foal. They are together now, and it is a great situation, but even that one took some time for the mares to be comfortable. A foal is a game changer in equine relationships.
                Thanks Clint!
                Will you separate them when the second mare foals? and then reintroduce them after some time has passed?
                Piedmont Sporthorses
                https://www.facebook.com/BayMeadowsFarm

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                • #9
                  Ditto what Clint said. I've seen even the most docile broodmares turn evil on any other horse until the baby is 7-10 days old. They're very protective-- a good thing!-- but it can be a dangerous situation. Sometimes the broodmare runs over her own foal in an attempt to charge the "newcomer." Sometimes the newcomer ignores the mare's warnings. After a week or two, the overprotectiveness wears off and most are fine.

                  Not every mare is this way, though-- two of the TB mares I managed were absolutely GLUED to each other most of the year, but were bred 1 month apart. We had to separate them after the first mare foaled; but she was way more concerned about her girlfriend than her foal, and would run the fenceline the entire time she was turned out...wearing the poor newborn out trying to keep up with her. She was on limited turnout until her friend foaled, and the two were put side-by-side for a few days, then together within a week. Those two were an exception though... we had to wean them together, as well, because the mares made more of a fuss leaving each other than leaving their foals! (not the best of mothers)
                  “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
                  ? Albert Einstein

                  ~AJ~

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                  • #10
                    The Mom was in charge. she is not a strong alpha and with most other mares is not in charge. Our field is 4+ acres, so there is room to keep distance. I think because she is not a strong alpha there may have more insecurity without her friend. All I know is both were galloping and screaming, so we made the decision we thought best knowing their dynamics pre-foaling. Both calmed down insantly when put back together.
                    Epona Farm
                    Irish Draughts and Irish Draught Sport horses

                    Join us on Facebook

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                    • #11
                      In addition to the other concerns that have been shared, the size of the turn out area is a huge factor. If there is not enough room for the other mare to get far enough away to from a protective dam, then there is increased chance of physical conflict and/or running the mare through the fence. I often have a "auntie" companion with the mare and foal, but the turn out area is big enough for peace to be negotiated. I would be very concerned that the boarding facility turnout space would be too confining to risking putting the younger mare in with the mare and foal.
                      Dawn Jones-Low
                      Faerie Court Farm Arabian Sport Horses

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                      • #12
                        I understand prudence, but for goodness sakes, mares have been foaling in herds for many many thousands of years. It's sort of a shame that we take nature and biology out of the picture as much as we do. Don't get me wrong, I foal separately from other horses and give appropriate time for mom and baby bonding and am definitely way more cautious than probably needed, but it just strikes me as sort of sad about how controlling we humans really are. In my experience, once mare and foal are turned out with others the ugly mean mamma mare face threat is usually enough to remind everyone to keep their distance :-).
                        I am on a biology rant today because of how many people erroneously thought a FB picture of fledging goldeneye ducks was photoshopped (it may have been, but not for the reasons cited). OK - I think it's time to go out and see my first two mares and foals (2 and 5 days old) who are happily sharing a nice, grassy barnyard. And yes I agree - size matters!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Lisa, I agree with your general position on this and have designed my set-up to integrate mares and foals back into the herd after the foals are a month old. I also do keep companions with the foaling mares, but again, I have specifically designed my set-up to allow for the kind of space that is needed for a protective mare to define a safety zone. I believe that my horses benefit greatly and from being raised in a mixed age herd. The youngsters learn great social manners, and I've noticed that maiden mares raised in the herd figure out nursing much quicker than the maidens that came here without having been exposed to other mares with foals.

                          My worry with the OP's situation is that the facility is a boarding facility (not a breeding farm) and likely is not set-up optimally to minimize risks to the foal, dam, and companion mare. We also don't know how experienced the staff is with managing mares and foals which could further complicate the scenario. There's a lot of IFs in play here.
                          Dawn Jones-Low
                          Faerie Court Farm Arabian Sport Horses

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by LisaO View Post
                            I understand prudence, but for goodness sakes, mares have been foaling in herds for many many thousands of years.
                            Yes, out in the open, so the new mares could have some space to themselves at first. And in the wild, many foals are killed or die - our goal is to try to keep most foals alive! I also ditto what Clint said - new mothers need some time to settle in w/ their baby - they may be crazy protective for the first days. And you don't want new baby run over (or run down) during an altercation.

                            Another thing to be aware of - some mares steal foals.

                            I don't do mixed herds - my mares with foals have their own (big) pasture. My geldings and non-bred mares are in separate pastures. It is just safer that way. Yes, a mixed herd can work out fine, but make sure the pasture is big enough and you have adequate supervision at first.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Many years ago I had an alpha mare "steal" the foal from the new mother and would not let us near it. This alpha mare had never shown any aggression towards people before. I was able to get the foal away form her and put Mom and baby back in their separate paddock. Eventually was able to reunite them with the herd and the alpha mare showed no interest. This was a very tense and scary time as I was afraid the foal was going to be trampled. This mare had never shown this behavior before.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by MysticOakRanch View Post

                                Another thing to be aware of - some mares steal foals.
                                This is what I would be concerned about, esp because the non-pregnant mare is alpha. I have had this happen. In my situation both mares were pregnant (so baby-stealer had pregnancy hormones going), and had been out together for months. Non-alpha mare foaled early, in the field, and alpha mare stole the foal. They went bananas. We had to split up the alpha mare from the other mare's foal, and you would've thought you were stealing her own baby. The foal was calling the alpha mare, and took some time to bond with her own mother.

                                I give mares a week of turn out with their foal by themselves, and then introduce one non-dominant mare to them. If that goes smoothly they're out with the whole herd with two weeks.
                                Fade to Grey Farm
                                Eventing, Foxhunting & Connemaras
                                *NEW* website:www.fadetogreyfarm.com

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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by LisaO View Post
                                  I understand prudence, but for goodness sakes, mares have been foaling in herds for many many thousands of years. It's sort of a shame that we take nature and biology out of the picture as much as we do. Don't get me wrong, I foal separately from other horses and give appropriate time for mom and baby bonding and am definitely way more cautious than probably needed, but it just strikes me as sort of sad about how controlling we humans really are. In my experience, once mare and foal are turned out with others the ugly mean mamma mare face threat is usually enough to remind everyone to keep their distance :-).
                                  I am on a biology rant today because of how many people erroneously thought a FB picture of fledging goldeneye ducks was photoshopped (it may have been, but not for the reasons cited). OK - I think it's time to go out and see my first two mares and foals (2 and 5 days old) who are happily sharing a nice, grassy barnyard. And yes I agree - size matters!
                                  I'm guessing nature has a lot more room than this shared paddock at a boarding facility. I get your point of course, but also the maiden is the OP's show horse, and I assume somewhat valuable.

                                  My experience: my submissive momma mare turned into a fire-breathing over-protective dragon for almost two weeks after foaling. Would double barrel kick through the fence at the other mares she had been living by for a month. Then one day it's like a switch gets flipped and she is calm and cool and back to normal. For her previous foal, the owner kept mare and foal isolated for a week or so in a small pen with stall attached, and then turned out with mares and foals, but it was over a 5 acre pasture for 3 mares and 3 foals.

                                  Is there a double stall, or little run you can keep them in for a couple days and then switch (put your maiden mare in) just to give mom and foal a chance to bond for a few days? I would give them time alone in the pasture first, so mom can show the baby the boundaries without the stress of another horse. Is the fenceline shared? Hot? Do you have a plan if the baby has wonky leg stuff going on and can't be turned out right away or needs to be confined to a smaller turnout? I had a pretty great set-up when I boarded and had a foal, but it wasn't the normal type of boarding barn. Worst case scenario, they could have stayed at the vet clinic (I had the vet foal out my mare).

                                  Foals while boarding are tricky. I won't even get started on all the other stuff. Been there, done that.
                                  DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by PiedmontSporthorses View Post
                                    Thanks Clint!
                                    Will you separate them when the second mare foals? and then reintroduce them after some time has passed?
                                    The mare due to foal will have access to my foaling area in the barn, and the other mare and foal will be shut out when she gets really close to foaling. She will have a few days before they are out together, but if all is well with both of mare and foal, I plan on letting them be together within a week. They get along exceptionally well.
                                    Mystic Owl Sporthorses
                                    www.mysticowlsporthorses.com

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by PiedmontSporthorses View Post
                                      Okay... newbie here...

                                      My mare just hit day 300 (YAHOO)! And I'm hoping she makes it to day 320 (she's looking ahead of schedule and according to the vet based on u/s, he think she'll go early too).

                                      So one of my biggest concerns right now is the turnout situation for my horses. My two mares (momma-to-be and my 5-year old) are turned out together where I board right now. They are the best of friends... and my younger mare is miss protector for my broodmare. My broodie is okay when turned out alone, but my younger mare goes crazy when she can't see her (although I can ride her and take her off property to shows/lessons without any issue - it's just during turnout). The other issue with my younger mare is she is a dominant mare, and she doesn't take kindly to strangers. She is also my show horse, so the turnout situation with my broodie is perfect because my broodie is so mellow and docile, so I don't have to worry about any injuries to my young one.

                                      BUT... my broodie will foal at some point... and that becomes the issue. Because I board, I don't have complete control over turnout (ie. the setup of the pastures/paddocks), so without making any changes to the facility, I am limited with what my options are. If it was up to me, I would split their paddock and turn them out next to each other... but that can't happen.

                                      SO... does anyone have any experience turning out mare and foal with another mare who has never foaled??? If so, how and when did you introduce them? Any other turnout recommendations (either way)???

                                      As a side, they are stalled next to each other as well, so my young one will see/smell/hear the foal every night.
                                      we do a mixed herd but momma is in solo turnout for 2 to 3 weeks on average. This years foal was 4 weeks: at that point he was running around like a nut in the small paddock and definitely needed room to run. 1 new horse at a time was put in with mom and baby before we turned her out with the herd.
                                      Providence Farm
                                      http://providencefarmpintos.blogspot.com/

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by camohn View Post
                                        we do a mixed herd but momma is in solo turnout for 2 to 3 weeks on average. This years foal was 4 weeks: at that point he was running around like a nut in the small paddock and definitely needed room to run. 1 new horse at a time was put in with mom and baby before we turned her out with the herd.
                                        I also do something similar. My pasture or paddock where I put the mare and foal shares a fence line with the full herd. I watch closely to see how the mare is reacting to the herd. Some mares I incorporate at 2-3 weeks, some at 4-5 weeks (avg, 3-4 wks), all depending on how the mother is reacting to the herd. I had one mare, even at 5 weeks, who was still pretty upset and chased the others away from the foal even though they were FAR away and not all that interested in the foal.

                                        I also usually do a mixed herd too (no boys) of an older (babysitter) open mare and my young mares (eg, yearlings, 2 year olds, 3 year olds). It has always worked well and they got along fine.

                                        But I do sometimes worry at the first introduction of a mare kick to the foal (accidental), that is why I wait till the mare seems confident and comfortable with the others across the fence.
                                        Kris
                                        www.edgewoodmeadowfarm.com
                                        Like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/edgewoodmeadowfarm

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