I Am New to Horses and have Three Rescued, Two may be Pregnant, not sure what to do - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 09-02-2014, 10:56 AM Thread Starter
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Question I Am New to Horses and have Three Rescued, Two may be Pregnant, not sure what to do

Hello! First, I would like to say thank you to everyone who is reading this. Please do not think that I am completely stupid, but I have a ton of questions that I need answered as quickly as possible. First, I would like to explain that my husband and I rescued a starving Tennessee walker, a shetland and a mini.

The Tennessee (Speedy) is about halfway to where he needs to be weight-wise, and we have only had him for about 1 1/2 month- 2 months. He is a wonderful horse with quite a few problems. We have had his coggins test done, had his hooves trimmed, are providing him with senior 14% protein feed, and we are constantly showing him love and attention. :)

The shetland (twilight) and the mini (stud)were ALSO rescue horses from TERRIBLE conditions. They were both tied to trees (within reach of each other) for over 2 years. There was no grass left in the circle that the rope allotted them. They were allowed to breed whenever they wanted, they were NEVER handled and never taken off of the ropes. The excuse was that the owner didn't have a fence and had meant to put one up, but she never got around to it. Imagine our want to give these ponies a good home.

The two of them ended up mating, but we are unsure when. Since we really cannot rely on anything the previous owners told us, we are having to play this by ear and I have been doing research CONSTANTLY.

We ended up having to send the stud to another home. A good home! But another home. He was extremely mean and aggressive to our gelding Tennessee and he would keep the shetland cornered in one section of the pasture. Bit was beautiful, but he was too mean and aggressive, so we ended up trading him for another mini-mare (sparkle).

Well, the owner of sparkle told us that he had JUST bred her a couple of days before, and she may be pregnant. No big deal, we are learning everything that we can in preparation. I have started contacting the local SPCA for advice, but I am by no means an expert or comfortable with what lie ahead.

My biggest issue right now is that we are spending quite a bit on Speedy, trying to get him out of harms way. He literally looked like a walking skeleton when we got him. Twilight, the shetland, however, is further along than we were told that she is (we think)....

The issue is... We don't know how she was pre-pregnancy. We know that we were told that she is scared of men (we have our own beliefs on that matter). She is moody. One day, she will let me touch her, brush her, love on her.. The next, she won't let me near her. Lately, she has really distanced herself from me (and everyone and everything else), and I am worried about it. Also, I don't know if she has foaled before. She has slight udders. They aren't just the teats (nipples??), but they hang about 2-3 inches low, but are completely dry (look like large, elongated raisins with nipples on the end). I have not noticed ANY beading. After a mare foals for the first time, will she always have udders that hang? Also, her vulva is elongated (in my opinion), but I don't know what it looks like when they are not pregnant whether they have or have not foaled. Hers appears to be approximately 7-8 inches long, but she will not let me near her udders or lift her tail to check. She FINALLY let me feel her belly, but that's it. I also notice her stomach "twitching". The only thing is, she twitches a lot, so I don't know if it is a foal or if it is her!! She is so difficult! But I love her.

I guess, my post is basically asking for advice on what to do, how to know, and what my next step should be. We do not have a local vet who does house calls, and we have not been able to purchase a trailer yet. She will not let anyone near her rear end, so we can't administer a pregnancy test, and the information that we have on her history is little and mostly unbelievable. ANY help will be greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance!

PS. We are planning on putting straw in her stall this coming weekend, just in case!

PPS. I am not sure if I can post pictures on this forum, but I will try to get some later, just in case I can.

PPS. I live in south Texas, it is now September, and I am worried about having a winter baby!
caressadawn is offline  
post #2 of 12 Old 09-02-2014, 11:04 AM
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South Texas doesn't have enough winter to bother a foal much as long as they have shelter. I'm in N Arkansas and have dealt with a winter foal or two. But unless you KNOW what you are doing with pregnant mares, get a vet involved or you can lose both mother and foal. A vet can also give you a fair idea when to expect a foal. There is no internet crash course that can tell you all you need to know, or I would give it a try.
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post #3 of 12 Old 09-02-2014, 11:13 AM Thread Starter
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I understand that there is no internet crash course. As I said, I have been speaking to the SPCA here, but I am wondering if I could get advice from actual horse owners. I KNOW that it is necessary to see a vet, and we are working on that. I was just looking for helpful advice, other than see a vet. Like... you know... Whether a mare's udders hang after she has foaled once, if there is a way to TELL if a mare has foaled before, whether or not the moodiness is related or if it sounds like something else, whether or not anyone else has dealt with a Shetland being pregnant... You know.. Stuff like that. I have been doing EVERYTHING in my power to insure that all three of the horses stay healthy, have everything that they need, and research, research, research, research. I know that the starving horse was my top priority until I noticed the udders on Friday evening (Labor day weekend). I am currently waiting for an equine vet to call me back, hoping he will be able to answer a couple of questions, but I joined here thinking that it would be a good place to be for now and later. I mean, parents get advice on how to raise their children from friends AND pediatricians.
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post #4 of 12 Old 09-02-2014, 11:54 AM
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Because the answers to all your questions is "maybe" or "that depends on a lot of things". The only hard and fast rule for a pregnant mare is there are NO hard and fast rules, so it would only be misleading. SOME mares that have foaled before show no increase in udders. Some mares about to foal have no change in udder size. I've been dealing with several pregnant mares every year since 1981, and the only rule is, there are no real rules. When you think yo know, a mare will make a liar out of you. Anyone who says different is just showing off. If I could actually SEE the mare, I could make decent guesses.
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squirrelfood is offline  
post #5 of 12 Old 09-02-2014, 11:35 PM
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Hi & welcome,

I can well understand your reasoning for taking on the rescues, even though you know you are inexperienced & unprepared, even though one may be pregnant. I don't understand why you'd then choose to take on another pregnant mini though.

If you can't get a vet for 'housecalls', then I'd make buying a trailer a top priority. I'd also be on the lookout for any experienced people in your area, pref exp'd in breeding, but at least knowledgeable horse people. I don't have near enough exp with breeding to give you even a guess on your questions, but from the sounds of Squirrel's exp, it'd be pointless anyway

I'm *assuming*(so appreciate it could be wrong) from what you have written, that you don't know much at all about horses. Therefore I'd suggest you do all the reading on general care, diet, behaviour, etc you can, and also learn first hand from the people you can find in your area... or even if you have to travel for lessons. **And get used to the idea that whatever anyone says in the horse industry, seems to be some other 'expert' that contradicts it :-/ So, take whatever you read/hear/see with a bit of the proverbial & don't take anything on blind faith

So... bearing all that in mind, if you'd like more specific opinions, you can post pics, provide more info on diet, nutrition, living, etc and there are many knowledgeable people here who can give you theirs! In the meantime, while it's largely geared towards hoof related info, the thread link in my signature will give you some good sources to start with.
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post #6 of 12 Old 09-02-2014, 11:44 PM
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I agree with Squirrelfood. There are no hard and fast rules about mares and foaling. I had one mare that could fool the best horse vets into thinking she was not anywhere near foaling. She never dropped her milk until she was ready to foal. Also after the foal was weaned and she dried up her teats went back to being practically invisible. For lack of any better way to describe it they would turn inward and hide in her cleavage I have another mare who hasn't had a foal in 9 years and she still has big teats.

They say waxing is a good sign of impending birth but of all the mares that have foaled here over the years I've only had 1 that waxed. Some mares are calmer and more easy going when they're pregnant, some are witches. Some like to seek out company others prefer their own company.

You are in the unfortunate position of not knowing what this mare's personality and physique was before so you can't tell if she's going through any changes. About the best you can do is educating yourself the best you can (which you're already working on), finding a vet that will make farm calls is a must because if she has a complicated birth you're not going to be able to load her up and take her to one, and keep a close eye on the mare. Maybe you can find a person near you who is knowledgeable about mares/foaling and ask them to come and take a look at the mare every so often who will also let you pick their brain.
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post #7 of 12 Old 09-03-2014, 01:48 AM
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I just wanted to say thank you for taking your time, money, and energy (not to mention space in your heart and home) and spending it on these precious animals! I'm glad people who don't know much about horses don't look at horses and say it's not worth rescuing them. Without good people like you, they would suffer in silence.

Anyone can learn enough to be a great caretaker. It just takes time and dedication, and I can tell you have at least the dedication!! If anyone comes on this thread and comes off as cranky, don't take it personally. Everyone here loves horses and just wants them to have great lives and they worry about people who take on more than they can handle because it's the horses who suffer. That won't be the case with you, I'm sure!!

Best of luck to you and your new babies, all of them. :) Can't wait to see pictures!!!

“When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes. ” ~ William Shakespeare
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post #8 of 12 Old 09-03-2014, 02:18 AM
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What ecasey said! Unfortunately my experience with breeding horses is limited to petting a few cute foals. I'm better at the training aspect, and that limited to mares and geldings.

Anyway, I really like the attitude you have with the situation. It was wonderful of you to take in these animals, especially considering the expense difference of nursing a horse back to health vs. a cat or dog. Perhaps bringing in another mini wasn't the greatest choice, but what is done is done and if we are going to look at the positive side of things, at least the foals will be able to receive the much needed socialization from each other that babies need very much (think of a puppy being pulled from the litter too early-they never learn how to correctly interact with other dogs and this often leads to behavioral problems).

But yes most definitely you need a vet. Make that top priority, and a horse trailer or someone who would let you borrow their trailer or trailer for you second priority. Transportation for emergencies is important.

What nobody has mentioned and I'm a little concerned about is whether you have the TW and the minis separated? A full size horse like the walker could seriously injure the mini, without even having the intentions to do so. Especially a moody pregnant mini. No matter how sweet tempered the TW is or how well they get along, accidents can always happen. Its best not to take the chance.
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post #9 of 12 Old 09-03-2014, 02:49 AM
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welcome to the forum, and so thankful that you took these babies from a terrible live tied to a tree, and one starving. And also in knowing that the stud was too much for you to handle. I have only raised one foal, before time to foal you may see these glands getting bigger under the belly toward the teats, you will also see movement, in the flank area of the mom. Horses are pregnant for 11 months. they sell special grain for mom and foal, get some of that, start to give it too her to make sure she is getting what she needs for herself, being a shetland, dont let her get too fat on this grain though. not sure about the small breeds, have heard not to give alfalfa to minis, (but not absolutely sure about that). If there is a barn near you, maybe go over there and ask the manager or owner, what vet they use, you do need to find a vet, as soon as you can., again been years since I had a mare and foal, so dont remember about the teats , if she was tied by a stud and they were left to breed < I am sure if it was two years she has had a foal in the past. they also will wait till nothing is going on and probably while you are not looking, and then they foal, good luck, read alot of books and internet and keep asking questions. when the foal is born, put, iodine on the umbilical cord , or belly button
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post #10 of 12 Old 09-05-2014, 01:30 PM
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Well.. the first thing is to know the length of gestation for a horse. That would be 11 months or so. The next thing is to get a vet to do an ultrasound and/or rectal palpation to see if the mares are even pregnant. Since you have a breeding date on one mare, then you want to check her with a vet at about 60 days. If you are lucky the Mini will be "empty." Mini's are notorious for having issues at foaling.

Soo.. before you go any further forward, get a vet and ascertain if the mare is pregnant. After that you can learn quite a bit about foaling, what to look for, what is normal, what is not normal.

I have foaled a lot of horses and calved even more cows.

See if they are pregnant. If they are, come back for more lessons/advice. There are some critical things you need to know and some other things that are just FYI type stuff.

Oh.. and photos of the Shetland's udder would help.

Last but not least it is very commendable of you to take this all on. That being said, be very aware that horses are not like dogs. They are not up so much for "being loved on" (tho most like a good grooming). Horses are NOTHING like the ones you see on TV such as in Disney Movies like "The Black Stallion" and so forth.

You may know that last bit, but in case you did not, keep it in mind. Horses are not IMO, "pets." They are wonderful animals.
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foaling , foaling mare foal , pony pregnancy , pregnant mare

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