The foaling process is the culmination of a lot of time, work and money. Being properly prepared and knowing what to expect is vital for a successful outcome.

The horse’s gestation length ranges from 320 to 380 days with an average of 338 to 345. Any foals born before day 320 are considered premature.

Signs foaling is approaching:

>Udder fills with milk (2-4 weeks prior)
>Tail head relaxes and abdominal area drops (1 month to 1 week prior)
>Teats fill with milk (1 week to 2 days prior)
>Dripping of milk (1 week to 1 day prior)
>External genitalia relaxes (1 day prior)

The actual foaling process takes place in several stages.

Stage 1:

Contractions begin this stage and it ends when the amniotic sac breaks. During this stage the mare may seem agitated and lay down and stand up repeatedly. The mare may appear to have colic because she may try to kick at her belly.

Stage 2:

This stage is the expulsion of the foal. It should take place within 20 minutes of the amniotic sac breaking, if it takes longer than 30 minutes consult your veterinarian.

Stage 3:

This stage begins after delivery. During this stage the placenta (or afterbirth) is expelled, this normally happens within three hours. If it remains in the mare is prone to infection and laminitis.

Foals should try to stand within 30 minutes. The newborn foal should have colostrum given within a few hours of birth to allow absorption of maternal antibodies to ensure a healthy immune system.

Preparation is key to a successful foaling process. Be prepared for emergencies and know what to expect and when to expect it so you can react quickly if needed.

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