1. Accurate records are worth keeping!
- Gestation in the mare tends to be around 342 - 345 days after the last service by the stallion but can vary from 315 - 370 days.
- Mares do tend to follow a pattern so if your mare foaled a fortnight late last year, there is a strong possibility she will do the same this year.
2. Bagging up
- During the last 5 - 6 weeks of pregnancy, the mare's udder will start to swell.
- In a maiden mare, this is likely to be less obvious.
3. Softening of the bones
- About 3 weeks before foaling you will start to notice a relaxation of the pelvic ligaments, evidenced by a loose area around the coupling and the hindquarters. The muscles appear softer than usual.
- There is an accompanying swelling or filling, as well as relaxation, of the external genital organs.
- Between 6 to 48 hours before foaling, a small amount of clear, thick, serum-like matter oozes from each teat canal and on contact with the air, it hardens into a little bead or string of wax-like material.
- This 'wax' sometimes drops off the teat and adheres to the inside of the hock or hind cannon.
5. Indications foaling may be imminent (but be prepared for false alarms)
- A preference for leaving the herd and perhaps acting in an unfriendly manner.
- Raising her tail.
- Frequent small bowel evacuations
- Repeatedly stretching or assuming a urinating position without actually passing urine.
- Lying down and getting up at short intervals as if having great difficulty in getting comfortable.
- If stabled, pawing in different places as if looking for something in the bedding.
- If stabled, nervousness is indicated by frequent interruptions in eating to walk around the stable a few times.
- Kicking lightly at the abdomen, or lifting a hind leg as if she is going to kick.
- A tendency to stop eating suddenly, to stop chewing the food already in her mouth, and to stand quietly for several minutes before resuming eating.
- Breaking out in a sweat.
- A little bag of amniotic fluid is likely to appear out of the vulva.
- The mare is showing all the signs of cramp
- The fluid and membranes around the foal have been pressed against the opening of the cervix which has relaxed while the muscles of the uterine wall have contracted. FOALING HAS STARTED...