Saving mares and foals the aim of new online foaling course

Dr Iris van Gulik has created an online foaling course to help horse breeders around the world.
Dr Iris van Gulik has created an online foaling course to help horse breeders around the world.

A Dutch veterinarian has created an online course about foaling and foal care that aim to teach horse owners what to do and what not to do when their mare is foaling.

Iris van Gulik says foals have a special place in her heart. She hopes that by helping horse owners expand their knowledge, she can help more mares and foals.

One previous case sticks vividly in the mind of the Haarle-based veterinarian, who graduated from Utrecht in 2008.

“I remember it clearly. On a sunny day, I stood in a field watching a mare who had given birth to her foal three days previous. The foal was happily running around. But the mare was not well. She was so ill that she couldn’t take another step.

“I lifted her tail to take her temperature and I could smell it immediately. The afterbirth had not come off completely and was now rotting inside her uterus. She had a 40-degree fever and had laminitis on all four legs. The owner and I did everything we could to save the mare’s life. To no avail. Four weeks later we had to put her down, leaving behind a young foal.

“Was this preventable? Yes. If the owner had known how he could check the afterbirth himself, this would have been noticed immediately so we could have taken action and saved the mare’s life,” van Gulik says.

“After all the awful situations that I’ve seen in the last 15 years I’ve a big wish around the births of foals: to help horse owners prevent the problems or to recognise them at an earlier stage and thereby save lives,” she said.

Van Gulik has translated her knowledge as a horse vet into an educational online course about foaling and foal care with information useful to every breeder.

“Over the course of my 15-year career, I have witnessed the joy of healthy foal births as well as the challenges faced by breeders lacking in-depth knowledge about the process. It is my mission to bridge this knowledge gap and equip breeders with the tools they need to maximize the chances of healthy outcomes,” van Gulik says.

“As they follow the foaling course I will teach them how to look through the eyes of an equine vet so that they know exactly what to do, but also what not to do during the birth.”

More than 500 participants have already taken the course, which will take three to four hours in total. It has been featured in several Dutch magazines. Van Gulik also offers a free Foaling Checklist for horse owners so they have a good understanding of the preparation, the birth process, care of the newborn foal, and when to call a veterinarian

» The Online Foaling Course is €149, with a 30% discount offered to readers. Use the code HORSETALK at the checkout. 


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