Managing Foal Rejection

From physical restraint to pharmaceutical intervention, learn how veterinarians manage this uncommon phenomenon.
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Managing Foal Rejection
The stocks allow for interaction between the mare and foal while greatly reducing the risk of injury to the foal. Note the wooden door in the region of the mare’s udder. This sliding door allows attendants to control the frequency of nursing, as well as offer protection if the pair need to be left unattended for a short while. | Photo: Courtesy Mary Stewart White

Your long-awaited foal is almost here. You can’t wait to watch your mare lick her youngster dry, gently nuzzle his rump as he nurses, and graze next to him in the pasture. But when he makes his entrance into the world, your mare wants nothing to do with him. She pins her ears, tosses her head, and moves away as he wobbles towards her. She’s rejecting her foal, and it’s now up to you to manage the situation.

At the 2014 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 6-10 in Salt Lake City, Utah, Charles F. Scoggin, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACT, reviewed with veterinarians how to manage foal rejection. Scoggin is the resident veterinarian at Claiborne Farm, a Thoroughbred breeding and racing farm in Paris, Kentucky.

Scoggin said that while uncommon, foal rejection is a documented behavioral phenomenon that can have significant adverse effects on the foal, the dam, and the owner

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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