Help please! First EVER foal... and it's winter.... - Page 4 - The Horse Forum
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post #31 of 37 Old 11-16-2013, 11:41 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2013
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For everyone who disapproves of fire, sometimes a lot of heat is requiered to save a life. You may remember me mentioning a mammoth donkey who got weak last winter? We could call the vet over that time, and he said her temperature was dropping too quickly... he told us she would not survive the night and that he had no clue what was wrong with her.

He offered us the shot, but we refused and brought out blankets and built a fire (that donkey has always loved fires. If we built a brush pile and burned it anywhere in the pasture or near the fence line, she would find us and stand by it tl it burned down) to keep her warm and stayed with her the entire night. I have no doubt that extra warmth from the fire saved her life, because her own body temperature wasn't enough to keep her warm even with the blankets.

That being said, we NEVER leave a fire unattended, ESPECIALLY with equines around, and ONLY would use one if there were no other option.

Thankfully, from all the helpful info I've been getting, it seems a fire won't be necessary.... it would seem horses are much stronger than goats when it comes to winter babies.

Thank you so very much! That's exactly what I needed!

Rural area is right... the nearest vet lives over an hour away through winding mountain roads.

It normally doesn't get much colder than just below freezing... but an occasional ice storm will get to quite a bit below. Luckily we haven't had one in a long while, but it's being said that this will be a very bad winter.

We do have plenty of blankets we can convert to foal blankets if the need rises, and we have two different choices of shelters to use as well.

Are horse foals like donkey foals in that they normally don't need any help other than to be dried off? From what I've been reading, it seems as if they need a bit more help than a donkey...
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post #32 of 37 Old 11-16-2013, 02:18 PM
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Unless the mare is too weak I never dry any of my foals off. I do not imprint my foals and allow the mare and newborn to bond naturally.
Some mares get very protective of their new foals so unless you know what your doing the less interference the better.
One of my foals this year was born at night. early morning really and after seeing that all was well as I turned to go back to the house a thunderstorm unleashed 3 inches of rain. The mare led the foal into the trees. That foal and mare are ok and did quite well in the weather. Below freezing might concern me.
Starting a fire though is a bad idea. No matter how you look at it.
No experienced horseman would do such a dangerous thing. Or fireman for that matter.
You were lucky with the donkey. Sooner or later if you keep building fires at night to warm your animals something is going to happen.
Your young and if I were in your shoes I would listen to all the advice given you. Shalom
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post #33 of 37 Old 11-16-2013, 06:26 PM
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I live in the city (phoenix) and we have 3 vets to chose from. (I count one vet conglomeration as one vet) and all sadly are incompetent to some degree. One vet missed when giving vaccinations to m mare and killed her (same vet also gave a more 2 steroid shots within 2 months over hives that did not bother her, and foundered the mare). The mare was in foal too. Another vet was working with a farrier when the owner could not be there and put shoes on a foundered horse (when the owner said not to) and the horse had to me put down the next day (he sank BAD) and the other vet working with him did NOT give him enough to kill him and did not sedate him so they drooped him on his face only half dead. He only founders because the SAME vet did not give him antibiotics after he colliced on hay (the FIRST time in 18 years he ever coliced too). Another vet let an injury go to long without aggressively treating it and it got alot worst then it should have (and is not addressing the fact this horse CANT sweat and its gets up to 120 here in the summer). They all charge 80+ call out fees, and the Conglomeration WONT even come out during an emergency unless you can prove you can pay them! I will only call out a vet as a last resort as I: 1 don't trust them, and 2 don't have a bottomless bank account to deal with something I can fix myself. I give my own shots, I can clean any nasty gashes and I can deal with mild colic, anything that is basic. IF it REALLY NEEDS a vet I will call, but I have seen people call a vet out over the smallest thing.
I also used to like in a rural area on a horse ranch. getting one of the 2 vets (the only too for over 50 miles) out was near impossible. The foals did not see a vet until they needed shots after they where weened.

Life happens as well. Dont go jumping on people because they suddenly dont have all the money in the world. People lose jobs unexpectedly, something (or someone) somehow gets broken and needs to be fixed. Last night my BF and I where driving down the road and his rear drive shaft decided it wanted to take a nap on the pavement. The day before someone tossed a rock over a block wall and shattered his truck windshield. He DOSE NOT make enough to get both cars fixed now. He is fixing the drive shaft himself and the truck has to wait (his tags are up and he has to pay an arm and a leg to get them). He owns 4 horses with his dad and his dad broke his ankle in September. He has been paying his dad's bills and his own BY HIM SELF on a shoestring budget. Stuff happens so don't attack OP because LIFE happened.
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post #34 of 37 Old 11-16-2013, 07:32 PM
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Streamertail- how do you feed that many animals during the winter? Off of that small amount of income? Or is that the income after all bills are paid?

She definitely looks pregnant based on the pictures. I think you have another month to go at least. The hindquarters will get mushy- the bones will look more prominent and she will bag up before foaling. Check her udders and take pictures of them. It will help you guestimate when the baby is due.

When she starts producing milk before foaling, you can test the milk using ph shrips. They are about $10 online. Order some now. I would think they would be helpful with goats as well... Not sure on that though.

Using Milk Test Strips To Help Predict a Foaling Date

As for warmth, throw some towels in the dryer and heat them up, if you need extra heat that should help. As long as the mare and foal have a dry place (out of snow, ice or rain) you should not need extra heat. Foals can get up within 5 minutes of foaling and start moving around so a fire is a bad idea!

In general you need to check on the mare every 15 minutes if you hope to catch her foaling.

If you wish to learn more on foaling there is a free video/webcast on It should tell you everything you could possibly need to know including complications. I think it is about 30 minutes long. It is free to sign up and definitely worth watching.

If the foal is extremely sick and cannot get up, carry it to the house if it needs heat. Please do not put a fire in the barn... It is normal to take up to an hour for a foal to stand...

Usually horses don't have a problem foaling.
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post #35 of 37 Old 11-17-2013, 11:37 AM
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Mostly mares will foal with no problems and are best left alone to get on with it - you can keep a watchful eye from a distance but otherwise its best to not interfere unless something is going obviously wrong and then you need a vet on speed dial if you don't know how to get a foal out yourself without injuring it or the mare - and at times even with a top horse vet there's nothing that can be done other than spare the mare any more pain
You do need to find and check that the afterbirth is all intact - if its not you will need a vet out to deal with that or you'll lose the mare
If you have a problem with predators where you are they will be attracted to the smell of blood
I never wipe a foal over and mine used to give birth in often very chilly early spring UK weather - part of the bonding process with the mare and foal is her licking it all over to clean it, as long as its on its feet and suckling in good time all you need to do is treat the naval.
Again - no fires please. The risks of a wobbly legged foal falling into one are as worrying as it getting out of control and setting other things on fire
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post #36 of 37 Old 11-20-2013, 08:51 PM Thread Starter
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- Our bills are very low, we live off a well, and we heat our house strictly with firewood. And, for most of the winter, our horses and goats have plenty of forage/standing hay/winter rye grass in the pasture(s) we have them in. They don't need much feed to keep them fat and sassy.

Oh! Heh... perhaps I should have mentioned that their shelter is a large metal Port-a-Hut, and the ground all around is gravel, and there's a gate over the opening of the hut. The set up 'firepit' is about 10-15 feet away from the gate. There's no way anything could get into the flames with the way we have things set up... it's kinda like a fireplace in a house. The warmth gets blown where it's needed, but the coals (we keep the fire low, without high flames... embers and coal heat better than high flames anyhow) don't get where they're not supposed to be.

Also, we've been racking our brains trying to use logic and memory to figure out when she could have possibly been bred. As close as we can estimate, it was, at the latest, last March, and could be no earlier than middle to late February. So it seems we have a good while to prepare... luckily.

I'm not planning on interfering with momma, and hearing that I most likely won't have to is a weight off my shoulders. Goats need a LOT of work, and help. Not to mention they're dummer than a sack of hammers. And the dogs we have keep away all the predators, so we have no problems there.

One more thing... would anyone be willing to partake in a little research project of mine? It won't be hard, I promise. I heard something from a good friend that a good friend of hers swears by... and I'm curious.
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post #37 of 37 Old 11-21-2013, 02:28 PM
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I am reading this more than a little interested in knowing what part of the world you live in? Prickly Pear cactus.. says high desert some where!

I am reading all the responses and I have to say I did a little imprinting work with all my foals. Man does it make life easier later on.. but then I was there when they were born and the mares always seemed fine with everything I was doing anyway. Thoroughbred mares BTW.

I also did some toweling of the foals. They were born in January and February.. and while they were in a box stall it was a cold barn. We had a heat lamp in the barn.. but that was weak heat at best.

The mares usually were pretty hot after foaling (its large work!!) and I had a wool cooler I would put on the mare if it was a really cold night. I also had the cutest foal blanket.. in case. Rarely used it.

Yes, I had a foaling box stall but it was not a warm barn. Most foalings go off without a hitch. Percentage wise there are a lot more issues and dystocia with dairy cattle than with horses.

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~Winston Churchill
(or woman!!!! ) Dinosaur Horse Trainer
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foaling , mare , winter

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