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Tips on Foaling Mares to Optimize the Birthing Process

Effectively foaling a pregnant mare is invaluable in ensuring a healthy birth. While there is no sure-fire, foolproof way to foal a mare, anyone with a little “horse sense” and access to an experienced veterinarian or animal hospital can make the process easier on the horse and the newborn.

A horse hanging with a little horse

Veterinarian in Bowling Green Offers Equine Vet Services, Breeding Advice

In addition to treating dogs, cats and small animals, your veterinarian in Bowling Green Snodgrass Veterinary Medical Center is also an equine vet. We can assist you with all aspects of animal breeding from our Bowling Green animal hospital and at your location.

Gestation time for horses is around 340 days; however, there can be as much as a three week variation. If a mare has had other foals, it can be helpful to refer to the gestation periods for her other births. The signs of foaling will also vary from one mare to another. Again, a bit of intuition is required here, but your veterinarian in Bowling Green can also advise and assist you.

Foaling Signs 

A Full Udder - A pregnant mare’s udder usually begins to fill with milk starting around three weeks before foaling. You might notice leaking days or hours before foaling. (Consult your Bowling Green veterinarian if an excessive amount of milk is lost.)

Waxing - A wax-like substance can also form on the mare’s teats from several days to a few hours before foaling. Around 50 to 60 percent of mares will experience this, so it is not an indicator in all cases.

Posterior Muscle Relaxation - You will likely notice the mare’s muscles around the pelvis and tail relaxing days or just hours before labor begins.

Restlessness - When foaling is getting close, the mare will start pacing and perspiring. Just before foaling, she will lay down. Note: Most mares foal during the overnight hours.

Before the Birth

Vaccines - Your mare should receive booster vaccines 30 days prior to her expected due date.

Suture removal - Her vulva should also be examined for any Caslic suturing. This should be removed at least two weeks before the expected foaling date.

First Milk

The colostrum, also called the “first milk,” is crucial to the newborn foal’s health. This milk is slightly thick and yellowish in color and it is full of antibodies that will help protect the foal from pathogens and infections. If the foal doesn’t receive enough colostrum within 12 hours after birth, it could be in danger of infection. Consult your veterinarian in Bowling Green if you have doubts.

The Foaling Process

Prepare a large, clean stall for your mare with extra straw (no shavings.) You will need:

  • Towels
  • A tail wrap
  • Disinfectant (for treating the umbilical cord)  
  • Fleet enema (in case the foal has having trouble expelling the meconium)


Foals are born front feet first, then head, shoulders and the rest. The sac should be removed from the foal’s head. Both the mare and foal should stand on their own within about an hour.

Contact Snodgrass Veterinary Medical Center Today

Your veterinarian in Bowling Green is an equine vet experienced in many aspects of horse breeding. Don’t hesitate to contact Snodgrass Veterinary Medical Center for assistance with foaling your mare. Call us today at 270-781-5041. We look forward to hearing from you!

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