Fetal Development and Foal Growth

Foals born to mares which do not receive proper nourishment during gestation could be born weak.

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Procreation in any species borders on the miraculous. How else can one describe a phenomenon where two microscopic entities intersect, join forces, and grow into a living, breathing creature that, in the case of the horse, will weigh 1,000 pounds or more at maturity. Science, of course, does not deal in miracles. It involves itself in no-nonsense facts and observations that have unraveled some of life’s greatest mysteries. The matter of equine reproduction is a case in point. Science can take us step by step through the process from the time sperm meets egg until approximately 11 months later when the foal is born.

The placental membranes not only are a literal life support system for the growing fetus, but also provide clues after birth as to why problems occurred (if they did during pregnancy).

Photo: Barbara D

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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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