Foaling can be incredibly stressful, but getting that healthy foal in return makes up for it. Despite the fact that the baby horse is healthy, his appearance might still be a frail one and the first couple of weeks after he’s born are potentially dangerous for him. There are plenty of things that could go wrong during that period of time.
A lot of issues that could affect a baby horse that is growing can influence him in the future as well, marking his health, so it’s important that you pay attention to him and you make sure he gets the kind of treatment he deserves.
Even though it might seem that he’s just a 60kg horse, the foal is actually a baby, which is still learning how to adapt to the life he’s been delivered into. While he’s still inside his mother, he has total protection against the world, but once he’s out, he needs to start moving fast, to feed himself and to be ready to run in case some sort of danger is nearby.
The veterinarian is the one that checks the foal and the mare, to see if they’re both OK after the birth, but once that’s done and everything is in order, the owner of the horses is once again responsible with their health. A number of things should be monitored by the breeder, including:
- Whether the baby horse breaths OK. The rate of breathing is faster for a short while after the foal is born, compared to what you’ll see in a full grown horse. - Whether the baby horse is aware of the area around him, and if he’s alert and bright. It should take only around 20-30 minutes for a foal that is healthy to get the sucking reflex. After half an hour he should be standing already, or at least trying to. - Suckling should be something he’s doing after a couple of hours once he’s born. If four hours pass and the baby horse is still not trying to feed, get in touch with the vet. - Passing urine and leaving droppings, these are things the foal does from the first day. - It should have pink gums, which are normal. If they’re yellow, the foal might have jaundice. - Whether the foal is rejected by the mare or not. - Whether the mare is healthy and the placenta was expelled (the normal time is within 6 hours after birth).
You should take all the precautions when it comes to the health of the foal. For example, talk with the vet about the shots he needs when he’s young, including the anti-tetanus treatment. You should ideally vaccinate the mare while she’s pregnant, so that the foal gets the immunity as well.