Foaling Season is in our midst and like any horse owner who is expecting a mare to foal, you have to be prepared! Knowing when your mare is expected to foal and what you need on hand in order to make the process go a lot smoother is very important.
While the average gestation length for a mare is around 340 days, be aware that this stage can also be anywhere from 320 to 360 days for a mare. Labor is no joke! This stage is usually the longest process and can take anywhere from one to four hours, depending on the mare. During this time you will begin to see what Dr. Brad Gordon of Equine Referral Clinic in Runnels, Iowa describes as a “personality change” and you can expect the mare to become “mildly colic, antsy, anxious and even pace the stall.”
Once the mare’s water breaks, the foal is ready to be delivered and this process is actually the rupture of the chorioallantoic membrane, which releases allantoic fluid and can take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes. Before being pushed through the cervix, the membrane is usually ruptured and the allantoic fluid is released. The mare will lay down if she hasn’t already and it is during this process that the foal’s feet and head should start to emerge. The foal will be in a white-like membrane called the amniotic sack which will rupture during labor or is torn open out of the foal’s face to allow the foal to breathe.
Dr. Gordon recommends having “clamps for the umbilicus, Vetericyn Navel Gel, and having towels handy to rub the foal vigorously to stimulate breathing.” The foaling of a mare doesn’t have to be difficult, just relax and let nature take its course!
Source: Colorado State University-Equine Reproduction Laboratory; Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences