Do Mares Have Foaling Location Preferences?

Why would a mare prefer to foal in a field versus in a foaling stall or in the barn?

Do mares have foaling location preferences
It’s easy to imagine that most mares would feel less secure in the relatively unfamiliar stall, away from the usual pasture companions, than out in their pasture with their usual social group and surroundings. | Photo: iStock
Q.I swear our mare is trying to drive us nuts. She is a 10-year-old Connemara that we have had since she was four. She is due to have a foal–actually, overdue. She has all the signs, and each night for the last week, just about dusk, she looked like she was starting to go into labor. As soon as we went out to put her in the barn she went back to normal. We stayed up with her every night for a week. She did the same thing with her first two foals. It went on for more than a week each time.

Finally, we decided to just leave her out with the gelding and not stay up all night with her. That night she did the same thing in the evening, looking like she was going into labor. But we just left her out in the pasture and went to bed. Next morning, bingo, there was a foal running around, too frisky to catch. So, we have never seen her give birth. We have never even used our foaling stall. Thank goodness everything was all right.

This is my question–why does she do this? Do mares have foaling location preferences? Could it be that she just likes it better outside, and maybe we should just let her go and take our chances?


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Written by:

Sue M. McDonnell, PhD, is a certified applied animal behaviorist and the founding head of the equine behavior program at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. She is also the author of numerous books and articles about horse behavior and management.

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