Miniature Ventures
Breeders of beautiful Miniature Horses with Action!
Quality Breeding  ~  Quality Transport

Larry, Maryann & Brianna Cerullo
5643 SW Minson Rd.
Powell Butte, OR 97753
Phone: 541-410-6222  

E-mail: miniv@coinet.com


Basic Foaling Instructions


This is for a HEALTHY FOALING.  In our opinion, it’s good to know what to expect for a normal birth FIRST, and the steps required.  Once you know that, you’ll recognize when something isn’t right and can immediately call your veterinarian.  

There are Birthing Problems that can occur (Dystocias) and we will share our experiences on another page.

The following are the steps that WE take. Both of us at Miniature Ventures highly advise people to read everything they can on this topic, and to research it online BEFORE the wonderful, crazy, magical miracle of their foal’s birth actually occurs.  We recommend, especially NEW owners and breeders to contact their vet when they know that a mare is about to foal.  That way, if there is a problem, the vet is on "standby" and knows what is going on. 

Here is the perfect birth for us:

1. The mare lays down and is observed on our monitor. The beeper goes off. (Mares often prefer the privacy of night to go into labor.)  We are up and out to the barn.

2. The mare is contracting.  She is on her side and her legs are sticking straight out and stiff. We can see her muscles pushing to get that baby out.

3. The bale of grass hay outside of her stall is quickly spread all around.  And if there is time, an old clean bed sheet is placed under her hind end (This is nice for helping to soak up fluids and for the foal to land on.), our "foaling kit" is right by the stalls door with any supplies we might need.

(If the mare has been pushing for more than five minutes with no sign of a white bubble, call your vet.)

4. The mare’s water will break and shortly after, a white bubble (birth sac) will emerge.

5. We either observe or feel for a nose and two feet inside the bubble (If things don’t seem right, call your vet.  We will share our experiences with simple birthing corrections on a page discussing Dystocias.)

6. As the foal’s nose and two front hooves begin to emerge, one of us will tear away the white sac and as the mare pushes, we will take hold of the baby’s legs and may assist with a tug.  It’s important to only pull in a DOWNWARD motion as the mare pushes.

7. Once the foal’s head and/or shoulders are out, things will happen rather quickly. The remainder of the birthing sac is cleared away. We gently squeeze the liquid out of the foal’s nose in a downward motion. And then the mare and foal are allowed to lay quietly, if possible, while they are still connected by the umbilical cord.

8. While the umbilical cord connection is still happening, one of us has the iodine squirt bottle in hand and ready (It’s nice to allow for that last blood flow to happen through the umbilical cord.).  The moment either the foal or the mare pulls away from the other, the cord will break, and the iodine is squirted on the baby’s navel stump.

9. The baby is then moved over onto the dry grass bedding and the wet, soiled sheet is removed.  We give the foal a Vitamin E and selenium  shot  (ESE) in its butt muscle.  Please check prior to having a foal to find out if you are in a low selenium region like we are. Veterinarians like to see the ESE given within the first 24 hours of the foal's life.  Some people give a tetanus shot as well, but this is something you should discuss with your vet. We towel off the foal at this point and also begin minor imprinting.  Foals will accept ANYTHING at this time of their lives and we try to teach them from the start that people are okay.
10. The mare is given both Ivermectin and Banamine orally, according to her weight (the banamine helps with the pain of contractions, the ivermectin wormer possibly helps prevent foal scours later).  Then, the two of them are allowed to spend a bit of time bonding.  It’s also during this time that the foal begins trying its “land-legs”. 

11. Once the foal is successfully standing, we blanket it, unless the weather is very warm (Newborns tend not be able to regulate their body temperature very well during their first 24 hours of life.).   We usually milk up to 15 or 20 cc’s of colostrum from mom and syringe it gently into the baby.  This gives it a nice “jump start” with energy and also gives it an idea of what to look for.  While milking the mare we will smear some of the liquid on and around her nipples to help the foal in its search.

12. Normally the newborn will locate its mother’s teats successfully within the first three hours from birth.  This is why it’s good to keep an eye on the clock.  A second “jump start” hand feeding may be necessary if the foal doesn’t latch on its mom within the three hours. It’s while the foal is stumbling and nosing around for its first meal that we give the mare a dish of grain or a warmed bran/grain mixture.  This often keeps her quiet and on her feet long enough for the foal to finally LATCH onto mom (She will probably want to lay down a bit as she’s still contracting to expel the placenta.)!

13. Should the foal not be nursing by the time it's 6 hours old, you may be looking at some regular hand feedings, but this can be discussed on another page……..and you should also be letting your vet know.

Two other activities should happen within those vital three hours after the birth:

*The mare will pass the placenta, which should be quickly scooped up, checked to be sure it is all there and put into a garbage bag.  If there has been any problem with the birth, the placenta should be saved for your vet to look at.

*The foal will pass its meconium which is its “first poop” and is dark and sticky.  We use the grass bedding to help scoop it up and dispose of it. A rubber glove is also helpful.  If the baby doesn’t pass it within an hour of beginning to nurse, we will give it an enema. (See our Foaling Kit List.)

Once the little one has nursed and pooped, and mom has passed her placenta and hopefully eating either some hay or more grain, it’s time for everyone to relax. We do continue to keep the new family under camera for their first 24 hours together. 

If the foaling was "textbook" and it isn't the middle of the night, it's nice to give a courtesy call to your vet to let him/her know everything is fine and to schedule a post-foaling check-up.


Back to Horse Health