A free interactive tool to help horse owners learn about reproduction and foaling in horses has been made available online by Equine Guelph.
The Mare & Foal Care Tool has been designed as a resource for horse owners and breeders in partnership with equine reproductive biotechnology company Pfera.
It takes users through the complete cycle of reproduction in the horse, from preparing to breed a mare to caring for the newborn foal. Users can start with The Pregnancy Wheel, where they’ll see how their foal will develop through pregnancy and learn what care their mare will need. That’s followed by the Mare & Foal E-Learning Checklist, an interactive module outlining the needs of the mare and foal before, during, and after pregnancy. Finally, users can watch the Foaling Time Video and print the Foaling Checklist Poster so they’re ready when it’s time to meet their new arrival.
There are many interesting fact to learn about foaling, including:
- The foal begins practicing their coordination with head nods and limb movements by days 40 and 46 of pregnancy, respectively. That’s only a month and half into the mare’s 11-month pregnancy.
- The foal is quite active by month 3, moving around in the allantoic sac and changing direction an average of 5 times/hour. The foal is also practicing neck arching (like a mini dressage horse!) and moving their limbs to prepare themselves for movements they’ll need in life, like nursing and chewing.
- There are three distinct stages of labour in horses, and the foal will make their grand appearance into the world during the second stage.
Tracey Chenier, equine reproductive specialist at the Ontario Veterinary College, provided her expertise in the development of the tool. In the Foaling Time Video, she covers the basics of predicting and monitoring foaling.
“Mare owners should know the signs that predict foaling is close, and what normal foaling looks like. That way you can be there when your mare is foaling to be sure everything is going well. It might make the difference in having a live foal,” Chenier said.