Sunday, 12 July 2020

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Foaling Observations

We are not medically trained but have pooled our experiences as gained over the years. On these pages we put to paper some of these experiences when running the Stud. They  may be of help to you but do not hold us to it, it is a guide to aid in all aspects of the stud. If you are concerned with a medical issue then we advise to ring the vet every time.

BREEDING - Foaling down

Some books would advise to notify your vet around the time of foaling, it may reduce the impact when you call them at 3 am.

I would like to have a mare in the stable 3-4 weeks prior to birth in order that it gains immunity to the bugs in its surroundings. I do though have one or two mares that refuse to stable and for that reason each year are left to foal in the field, it is a higher risk but more often than not the mare is the better judge. I am told that eighty per cent of foals are born between 10pm and 1am. That seems to be about right.

I have a medical box with the things I think maybe necessary on the night, I also wash thoroughly on leaving the house and will wash again in hot water if I think necessary. Many vets carry medical gloves for exploring and in my opinion if things have reached that stage then it should be the vet that carries this out.

Your mare will need one clean stable with Barley straw and clean water if possible. Mare as clean around her back end as possible and if you wish you can bandage up the tail.

Water buckets should not be too big, to avoid drowning foals, the mare will be thirsty immediately after giving birth.

CCTV always useful and can reduce mileage on foot from bed to stable. Clock watching the CCTV is never good but if the mare is signaling to you, you may have no choice.

I have always found that if you can observe the daily patterns of a mare pre birthing, on the whole within 48 hrs of birth it is possible to note change; i.e. restlessness, listlessness, pawing of the ground reduction in appetite on the night. I will pop into the stable every couple of hours in an evening, clear droppings talk to the mare at 10 pm or midnight if nothing is occurring I will watch the CCTV a few times and then call it a day, habit wakes me later in the night or early morning and I will check the camera.

My Belgian friends would say that no one mare will behave or react the same as the next when ready to foal, but if you know your mare you should be able to observe some of its changing condition be it mental or physical. Often a mare that foals in secret does so because it can. We have a 15 year old mare Altea Z she is on the site, who was happily eating hay and I returned by chance twenty minutes later to find Massini UK (Minky) already trying to stand, she was a huge foal , the mare looked un phased and back at the hay, Altea Z was a natural mum.

Maidens are a different story.

Foaling belts are very good; by this I mean one that tells you when the mare is horizontal. I am not so convinced by the belts that measure heat or sweat they can create increased false alarms, many will say they are fantastic.

Caroline swears by wax droplets on the teats 36-24 hrs prior to birth. Wax droplets are droplets not dots which can occur up to two weeks prior to birth. Normally the teat will look stretched to bursting and there are a number of websites with photos of the teat at various stages before birth, I think the time is still dependent on the mare itself. For example cold wet weather can hold a foaling up altogether. In the wild the mare will want the best conditions for its off spring; I have seen a strong foal on its feet in 10 minutes ready for flight. Having said that I would keep a mare in, if I thought the foal at all weak, in order that it can strengthen and gain good balance, stress in the first days of life can create on going problems to both body and mind.

On average mares do exactly what it says in the books? Restless followed by up and down a few times. The waters push out and break, then clock starts running 20-30 minutes later the feet should be poking out and part of the head, the mare will look like she really working and on occasion some of the older ones get up again and flop down almost harshly this I think may help move the foal along, it does not look particularly elegant. By 40 minutes the foal are either out or head and chest are apparent and the foal slips out. A Maiden mare may be very tired and not move for sometime, I would check that the foal is not covered with its cowl and unable to breath, if so tear the cowl open and witness first breath. It’s best not to get too involved if possible the foal mare bond is of paramount importance and will not be forced by you. It is quite alright to leave the umbilical attached for awhile and the mare to rest. Check for post birth colic make up a small bucket of warm bran mash and then go and have a cup of tea.

On return I would dowse the foals umbilical with iodine, check the sex and then allow nature its course.

The foal will flop about a bit in attempts to get up, the mare should be on her feet and at this a stage the umbilical should have broken (I have seen a strong colt with a wide umbilical, stand and pull all the after birth out still attached) the mare may want water, she should see and move to the foal swiftly and she will want to lick or even nibble at after birth and the foal, this stimulation helps the foal to warm and cleans it too.

The foal is up but wobbly and this can take up to and hour and half. Some very large foals are so big they really struggle to stand. Aid at this time can help but make sure they do not immediately accept you as a crutch this can hinder their balance over the next few hours and you can spend much wasted time just holding the youngster up, they are reasonably robust and will fall over but it allows them to gain awareness of them selves and the extraordinarily long legs.

Once standing a good foal will soon walk or totter about in search of food, a maiden mare should be drawn to the foals rear by its production of the me conium this being waste that was stored whilst the foal was in the womb and which should be excreted shortly after birth. If not excreted the foal will become agitated and can hold this in for some time unless helped (it is extremely sticky and can harden around the anus) you can a little jell to allow through and open syringe very gently introduced to move it. The mare will lick the rear end and stimulate movement also, this nuzzling from behind also nudges the foal towards the teats. Like a jigsaw if all is going well the foal with slot in under mare and a few drops from the teats will draw it to them where it will naturally suck. If the mare has discharged its afterbirth then wrap up and head for bed. Colostrum in the first few hours is though imperative and to leave the seen without witnessing intake can lead to long term problems such as joint ill due to reduced strength in its immune system that should have passé from Mare to foal.

Without suckling a long night can ensue, my judgment is that if the foal has taken up to 20 good long sucks from the mare then he will know where to return, he will have enough inside to immediately encourage and strengthen his resolve.

If not then gentle persuasion from behind can help although the foal will react to pushing by leaning on you which tends to draw him from the teat. Taking a little colostrum from the teats and drawing the foal to your fingers it will may be encourage to follow them to the teat. You have to careful that the foal does not associate you with food rather than the mare.

If you are really struggling and the foal is becoming lethargic then good advice is to milk the mare, anything you get to start with will do, but you want something in side the foal before 12 hours has passed, only colostrum strength will by this time begin to be very weak. I have milked an aggressive mare and gained 200 ml to start with and fed this by bottle to the foal also not that easy, this at the 11th hour has immediately brought strength to the foal ideally 500 ml is better or even a litre, some vets hold colostrum others can use the blood of the mare to introduce anti bodies. Foals can be fed using bottles and pipes directly to the stomach. You need to know what you are doing, you could drown a foal with ease if the pipe went down the wrong tube.

I would expect to put a strong mare and foal out to grass by day 2 if only for a few hours and out grass permanently by day 4. Mare’s foals and fresh grass are the real thing.

I am happy to answer questions on foaling by email, preferably not by phone at 3 in the morning, the vets get paid to do that.

One last thing! There is more to it, and more to it. One foaling differs from the next, every time the excitement remains the same, a new life in the early hours. They say its one of the things everyone should see in their life time for sure. You learn something new from every birth.


Our team members

Sales and Schooling Enquiries
Caroline Phillips
07802 371 548

Stud Husbandry, Contract Work & AI
Rupert Phillips
07802 371 547

Office Administration & Livery Enquiries
Katie Phillips
01303 844000

Farm Staff
Will Greenwood (Scaf)

Meet the team

Caroline Training at Stud Ukeuro

Caroline Phillips

Caroline Phillips, is the full time working partner within Stud Ukeuro. Main decision maker and source of all knowledge. Her experience spans 35 years of handling horses and her natural talent and instincts when handling, schooling and nursing Horses is second to none. Caroline is Stud UKeuro.

T: 01303 844000   M: 07802 371548   E:


Rupert Phillips

Caroline's Husband & Business Partner. Enjoys the stock husbandry, breeding, Foaling and Stud Farm management. He is mainly office based but It is rumoured that he will ride if absolutely necessary and with out question on Christmas day.

T: 01303 844000   M: 07802 371547   E:

Scaf with John Deere

Will Greenwood alias "Scaf"

Will Greenwood.

Affectionately known as "Scaf" he has worked here since he left school 16 years ago. Living on the Farm in his teens and early twenties he has now settled down with a beautiful partner Claire in the village of Elham and has two growing sons Archie and Wilfred. Both of whom are very keen to jump on the Tractors and JCB.
He handles all  haylage, hay and straw enquiries and deliveries. Other work includes contract baling, hedge cutting, hay and haylage making, deliveries, lcal dung collections, maintainance and husbandry of paddocks and general agricultural work associated with a 120 horse stud farm.

He is developing our log trade locally and a keen designer of wine racks made from horse shoes, Oak and other hard wood. Please enquire if you ar interested in a horse shoe wine rack.

Call 07725 832447  for details of the above.

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Bridie Passmore

Bridie is Group Head of Finance handling the accounts for a number of other associate companies including Stud UK Euro LLP. She has been with us for 12 years, and is vital with regards to the back office and consequently the smooth running of the Stud and the Farm. She is very patient and has a cool head in times of chaos. A very valued member of the team.

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