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First few days.....

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  • First few days.....

    Hey guys,

    I am close to a week for my mare to give birth. I have her at a boarding facility and even though the owner has no experience with foaling, she is a good horsewoman and the vet is just down the road. My question is after the birth, how long do you keep baby and mama in a stall? Then what do you do for turnout? She has her own private pasture close to the barn. Do you limit turnout the first few weeks to a couple of hours or can they go on a normal schedule with the rest of the barn, depending on the weather? The barn is going on night turnout soon, can mom and baby do the same? And halter on/off on baby during turnout? I bought one with a grab strap. Thanks!

  • #2
    The turnout is going to depend on the condition of the foal-are there any leg issues like lax tendons, windswept, etc? Some of these conditions limit turnout until the legs correct themselves over time. After 24 hours from birth, with a high IgG count and all seeming to be healthy, usually they can start to go outside. But you have to watch the baby and keep it in short durations-if he gets too tired, mama starts running (happy to finally be out), these are things you need to watch for. My guy had lax tendons behind, once he got some corrective shoes on, he was allowed out for a couple hours a day for the first 2 weeks, slowly working up to a full day outside. Now he also had access to their stall (the Taj MaStall as we called it), so depending on the layout scenario of turnout this may work well. we did not turn out at night until he was at least 2 months old-you have to think about how able he is to flee a potential predator. Also, we left the foal halter on while he was turned out.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that if this facility is not a foaling farm, it might be a good idea to scrub down her stall and buckets. Babies will lick and bite just about everything, and a newborn licking a dirty wall could spell infection and vet bills.


    • #3
      As Silinac stated, if everything is OK turnout about 24 hours after birth.
      My foals are very carefully monitored on their turnouts for any signs of heat exhaustion or problems. Foals can't regulate their body temperatures, so I am very careful not to leave them in the hot sun for very long. Babies want to nurse and sleep a lot their first few weeks which means I usually leave baby out starting with 1/2 hour or so the first day and gradually increase it as they grow stronger. I never turn my foals out without someone monitoring them non-stop for the first few weeks. This allows me to be able to assess their health to keep ahead of any issues that may be brewing.


      • Original Poster

        ok thanks for the suggestions. I have another question. Leading and turnout. Would it be better to have them led in and out of the pasture on a daily basis or I have the option of a stall that is inside the pasture. I'm just worried about getting help to actually lead the foal in and out of the main barn while the smaller barn is attached to the pasture. Basically the owner would just have to lead the mare in the stall that is attached to the pasture and hopefully the little one would follow. My concern with this is that the lack of handling at such an early age could be a detriment later on? Also is the butt rope leading method the best way to start leading?


        • #5
          As long as the mare leads well simply halter her...halter baby with a well fittling halter and solt cotton lead rope....do a figure 8 around babies butt...hold lead rope just under halter, with of course the other end of lead rope firm around babies butt...place foal between mare and you and off you go....I put my hand behind babies butt to 'encourage' it along if necessary.
          I don't do a big area for turn out for about a week tho...just a small paddock where momma and baby can be safely cought and brought back in for the night.
          Do not leave halter on baby...they can get caught up and damage their necks easily or even kill themselves.....if momma is in a smaller area you can leave a well fitting halter on the mare for awhile if she is difficult to catch ...with a **break away crown piece only**.
          Mine come for a bucket of grain ...then baby can be caught and all can go back for the night.
          Just they way I do it.
          Breeder of Quality and Colour
          Tobiano Pinto Sporthorses


          • #6
            Healthy mare/healthy foal should be out 24/7 on clean grass with shelter/shade available. Way horses are meant to be.

            I have had numerous mares foal outside in their own grass fields and under supervision - more work? Yes, healthier for the horses - YES!

            Medical issues may indicate deviation from "normal" (ie full field turn out) - your veterinarian should be able to help you determine that at the well baby visit.
            Horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
            ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.


            • #7
              After the first few days mine go out all day (weather permitting) on grass with access to a shelter. Fresh air, sunshine and grass are healthy for the baby and it is important for the mare to move around to get rid of any fluid ect. Obviously, as others have said, medical issues may prevent this but in terms of a healthy momma and baby...

              "Simple: Breeding,Training, Riding". Wolfram Wittig.


              • #8
                Originally posted by kiwifruit View Post
                ok thanks for the suggestions. I have another question. Leading and turnout. Would it be better to have them led in and out of the pasture on a daily basis or I have the option of a stall that is inside the pasture. I'm just worried about getting help to actually lead the foal in and out of the main barn while the smaller barn is attached to the pasture. Basically the owner would just have to lead the mare in the stall that is attached to the pasture and hopefully the little one would follow. My concern with this is that the lack of handling at such an early age could be a detriment later on? Also is the butt rope leading method the best way to start leading?
                Yes, the first time mama and baby go out can be challenging. I would not try it alone. Foals don't drop out of mama knowing how to follow her, at least that has been my experience. New moms can get very aggressive if she isn't close enough....the distance baby can be from mom depends on what she will allow. 1200 lbs of angry mama is not what you want. I had a vet tell me once that he was more afraid of a new mom than a rank stallion.
                During the first few turnouts, mom will teach her foal to follow....can't always depend on mom being successful with that, meaning if you are leading mom and baby takes off down the driveway...well good luck with that one. Happened to me more than once...now we always use 2 people...one for mom and one for baby.
                I have found that the sooner baby learns to lead/follow, whatever method is used, the better it is for everyone. I don't know what to tell you about the lack of handling, it seems easier to me to make sure they are gently educated on a daily basis.


                • #9
                  Weather permitting, and assuming the foal is fine with no issues, I get them out the first day after it has cooled down a little, for a short period of time. After that, it all depends on how the foal and mare do. If they are relaxed and not running all over, they get to stay out longer. If the foal is overdoing it, they don't stay out as long. Eventually I get them out 24/7 during the summer, but I do bring them in at night for the first month or two, so the foals get lots of handling. I don't leave halters on mares or foals.

                  I'm a one-woman operation. (Imagine how I must looking administering an enigma to an unwilling foal by myself!) :-) I let the foals follow the mares for the first couple of days, but by the end of the first week they are leadind outside separately. (Mare goes out first, then foal; foal comes in first, then mare.) I use the butt-rope method. They learn pretty quickly with that, plus, it seems the safest for them and easiest for the handler. I learned not to let them follow behind any longer than necessary a couple of years ago, when a foal following the mare took a u-turn, ran up a manure pile (which now has a removable wall/gate to prevent another incident), and kept going, sailing over the five-foot fence into the round pen. He was fine, but I thought I would have a heart attack, imagining that he had broken a leg or something. (He was sold in-utero.) He was fine, and I do have to say that the look on his face was hilarious.

                  Of course, there are several ways to do things, and much of it depends on the comfort level of the mare and foal, and sometimes that of the handler! ;-)

                  Let us know how everything goes, and good luck with her foaling!
                  Mary/New Horizons Haflinger Sport Horses
                  Standing Stellar TVR, 2013 N.A. Stallion Testing/lifetime licensed WE, RPSI, AWS, AHR