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Euthanizing a mare with a young foal

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  • Euthanizing a mare with a young foal

    My mare was diagnosed a couple of weeks ago with a malignant adenocarcinoma in her udder. Tests showed that the cancer has spread and there is nothing we can do for her.

    Her colt is 52 days today. I am hoping that we can keep her comfortable until he is three months but I will not let her suffer.

    Changes in her tumor this morning make me think we may not make it that far.

    So, what to do if I can't keep her comfortable?

    Do I wean the foal over the fence for a few days and then euth her?

    Do I just do it without weaning him and just let him see that she's gone (I know DO NOT let him try to nurse once she is gone).

    I'm lucky in that he already drinks milk replacer out of a bucket because Diva was not making enough off the one side to keep him happy. But then do I get him a buddy or do I continue to bring him in at night and out with the other mare and foal during the day? He's a bit of a wild child so I really don't want to raise him alone.

    So many scenarios. I hope none of you have gone through this before, but if you have, I would love to know what worked/didn't.


  • #2
    Does he has a buddy or another mare and foal to hang out with? At over seven weeks it sounds like you have nutrition covered, but could address socialization before you lose the mare. So sorry about your mare!
    "Where knowledge ends violence begins." B. Ljundquist


    • #3
      I would get something old and quiet to put him out with. Even if he's got another foal to play with, he needs something that will ignore his silliness and correct any rude behaviors. A pony gelding who is retired from a local riding program may be an option and wouldn't cost you much to feed. And I am so sorry for your loss.


      • #4
        Oh, Jenny, I am so terribly sorry. I can't imagine how hard this is for you.

        Do you remember when Paula lost her mare? Lucy was younger but she went into a terrible depression. Getting a nursemare foal who knew how to nurse is really what saved her since she wouldn't drink the milk replacer.

        In your case, maybe an adult babysitter might be better because he will be looking for that adult nurturing and teaching that he would get from his mother.

        You'll be in my thoughts and prayers.
        "The captive bolt is not a proper tool for slaughter of equids they regain consciousness 30 seconds after being struck fully aware they are being vivisected." Dr Friedlander DVM & frmr Chief USDA Insp


        • #5
          I would recommend finding an old/gentle pony or small horse to put with the foal. Foals really benefit from the companionship of adult horses when possible. Many quiet or older ponies have wonderful parental instincts and will bond with and watch out for a foal and keep them out of trouble. The other mare is a start, but her mind is focused on the welfare of her own foal and she may be unkind to the orphan. Better at this young age if the orphan has a special friend of his own. Personally, I wouldn't wean before euthing...why stress the mare and foal in their final days together. However, depending on how attached the baby is, the baby may not react well to being without mama, so I would treat it as a weaning at that point.


          • #6
            I'm so sorry

            I lost one of my mares to violet colic when the foal was 30 days old. The filly actually seemed to understand that the mare was gone..... she called a little bit, but it was not a huge scene once the mare was euthanized. She was partnered with a yearling filly, and they stayed together until the filly was about 6 months old, then they were introduced into the rest of the herd. Your ahead of the game with the baby drinking out of a bucket. I never could get this filly to do that, we used milk replacer pellets instead. She was depressed and eating was difficult for the first week, but she ended up just fine.

            On the flip side, I had to wean one around the same age to stop her nursing (aspirating- that's a whole other nightmare). I stuck the filly in with another weanling (who had just recently been weaned- on time), and that was FAR more of an "issue". Granted that filly had health problems, she was very frantic and stressed out for several days. It was MUCH harder on her. Because she was already on a bazillion meds, she was also getting GastroGard. That is something I might talk to your vet about, whichever way you decide to do it.

            I'm so sorry What a difficult thing to be dealing with.
            Making Your Ambitions a Reality at Secret Ambition Stables.
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            • #7
              So sorry! I'd do whatever you could to get the foal weaned and attached to some new buddies, so that you have as many options as possible with the mare. Even if she can't nurse, she can still mother him, of course, but if she can't be made comfortable then you do what you must. Good luck!
              Click here before you buy.


              • #8
                no real advice, just wanted to say sorry


                • #9
                  No advice just Jingles laced with patience and strength ~ ((hugs)) ~!

                  I am so sorry about your dear mare ~

                  Sending Jingles laced with patience and strength for all involved in this heart-breaking situation ~

                  Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


                  • #10
                    Ohmigosh, am so sorry. Unless your Vet thinks otherwise, my just 'common sense' idea would be to not allow the foal to nurse at all, anymore. (Two reasons come to mind, whether the cancer itself might transmit unhealthy byproducts of cellular destruction to the foal - which I lack the scientific knowledge to know is a real risk or not - and because the mare herself may be able to stick around longer to continue socializing the foal, if not also stressed by lactation's bodily drain upon her reserves. ) I have no idea how you would do it, to let them be together but foal not nursing, other than to perhaps fasten a large diaper like contraption around maresie's milk dispensers or put foal right next door to mare with creep feeder and milk replacer bucket, able to see, communicate with and touch mare through fence slats - but with boards across where foal's head would have to go through to reach the teats.

                    Good luck and keep us posted.
                    RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.


                    • #11
                      I have never gone though something like this but I have a mare that would take any baby as her own even though she is not in lactation. If you are near me (Western Washington) we could talk about borrowing her to help the baby transition or maybe you could find one in your area.
                      RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
                      May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
                      RIP San Lena Peppy
                      May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ptownevt View Post
                        Do you remember when Paula lost her mare? Lucy was younger but she went into a terrible depression. Getting a nursemare foal who knew how to nurse is really what saved her since she wouldn't drink the milk replacer.

                        Desi knew how to drink from a bucket and taught Lucy very quickly! I know of another example here in Ontario where one foal was orphaned very early and taught another orphan to drink from a bucket as well.

                        It is so sad though. Best of luck and hugs to you. Godspeed to your mare.


                        • #13
                          I am so sorry you are having to deal with this sad situation. Healing thoughts to the foal and you, and a peaceful crossing to your mare.


                          • #14
                            Where are you located?

                            Like another poster offered, if you are anywhere near me, I have a lovely, sweet, motherly 24 year old mare that I use as a companion with any of my horses that need one. She's raised many a foal in her life, and not all her own. We are in SE PA, or in another month will be just outside Lexington KY.



                            • #15
                              It's times like these I love the COTH forums. I hope this poor foal can get a nice "mommy mare" to help raise him. OP, this is such a sad situation for your mare and foal. I hope that when the time comes, the mare passes peacefully and the baby adapts quickly to life without her.
                              You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                              1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


                              • #16
                                Absent a surrogate dam, I would recommend a small pony companion. We weaned our filly with a small pony gelding as a babysitter/pasture mate and it worked well. Given the pony's small size (11.2 hands) we weren't worried about the pony injuring our filly.


                                • #17
                                  Where are you located? Like Chestnut Run, I've got a mare that could play 'mom'. My mare has raised (and nursed) several that weren't hers, and is currently just hanging out. We're in upstate NY.
                                  Different Times Equestrian Ventures at Hidden Spring Ranch


                                  • #18
                                    I am very sorry to read about your sad situation with your mare and foal. Such a heartbreaking decision for you to have to make.
                                    So sorry you have to go thru this.

                                    I have gone thru this only two times in over 20 years of breeding.
                                    I felt it was good decision to let the foals stand with their Mom's during the euthanizing.
                                    I did however, have our Vet heavily tranquilize the Mares in two stages, before the final injection of course. We did the entire process very slowly, and I had another pair of hands to hold onto the foal, as I held the mare( with carrot/apple treats too for Moms).
                                    We basically laid the mares down very quietly, and allowed the babies the be there, within a safe distance of course. The foals did not panic as Mom's layed down. We allowed babies and Mom's to touch again, once the Mom's were down safely.
                                    Both babies were okay with this, and once the final injections were done, babies were allowed to sniff their Mom's again.
                                    I feel it really helped these young foals accept that their Mom's were gone.
                                    There was not much crying/calling afterwards.

                                    I used a very old retired broodmare as a companion for each foal. The old broodmares accepted the foals, and there was less chance of each foal being injured. The foals were put in their stalls at night, with their new( old broodmare ) companion stalled beside them.
                                    I personally felt that each of the Mares went quietly, because their foals were allowed to be beside them for this process. It did not cause them undue stress with an early weaning from their foals.
                                    And the old broodmare companions were able to teach these foals the manners that are so important at this age, without the danger of the foals being bullied or injured.
                                    Both foals were eating out of creep feeders prior to loosing their Mom's, so milk replacement was not much of an issue.

                                    Sorry again that you have to go thru this with your mare and foal!


                                    • #19
                                      God speed for your mare. So very sorry for you and yours.


                                      • #20
                                        When I had to euthanize my mare, and her foal was abut 3 months old, he went in with my other mare with her foal of about the same age (the two mares and foals had always been out together) and after minimal scuffling she accepted him as her "other" kid and he even learned to sneak milk from her by standing on the far side of her own kid and stretching around. I am so terribly sorry for the situation you are in.