Tips to Predicting a Foal’s Arrival

Familiarity with the foaling process and your mare is crucial to predicting birth, but you also can employ sensors, alarms, and video monitoring systems.
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Tips to Predicting a Foal
Familiarity with the foaling process and your mare is crucial to predicting birth. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Familiarity with the foaling process and your mare is crucial to predicting birth, but you also can employ sensors, alarms, and video monitoring systems.

The act of foaling by a mare is nothing short of explosive. Contractions are fast and powerful. Within minutes, if all goes well, a confused-appearing little horse is lying on the floor of a stall and an exhausted mare is resting quietly. If things go awry during this explosive process, handlers and veterinarians normally have only minutes in which to resolve the problem.

As a result, there have been many efforts through the years to predict just when foaling will occur so that attendants can be ready and waiting.

Research has provided tools and approaches to help accurately determine the time of foaling. Some of them work well, but none is foolproof. Mares don’t read manuals and sets of instructions with specific directions. For them, foaling is an individual act. They don’t all have the same length of gestation. They don’t all give off the same signals when foaling is about to commence, and there are differences in the length of time involved in the act itself

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Les Sellnow was a prolific freelance writer based near Riverton, Wyoming. He specialized in articles on equine research, and operated a ranch where he raised horses and livestock. He authored several fiction and nonfiction books, including Understanding Equine Lameness and Understanding The Young Horse. He died in 2023.

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