Foals and Ascarids

Foals and Ascarids

Whinny’s Wisdoms

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Spring is moving into summer, the rains are coming, and lots of new foals are running around fields. Some of these frolicking fillies are harboring some extra passengers though…

Let’s wriggle into the world of roundworms, known to smart medically-minded mice like me as ascarids!

What are Ascarids?

Ascarids are small parasitic worms that live in the intestines of horses. They are called roundworms because, well, they have a round shape. These worms can grow to be several inches long and can cause health problems for foals. However, it’s not like foals are out there gobbling up full-sized worms in the grass (though I wouldn’t put it past them!). So let’s go over the lifecycle of these pesky parasites, and how they wind up in our horses.

  1. Egg Production: The life cycle of equine ascarids begins with adult female worms residing in the small intestine of the horse. These fecund females produce large numbers of eggs, which are then shed into the horse’s feces. 
  1. Environmental Contamination: Once the eggs are passed in the feces, they contaminate the environment where the horse lives. This can include pastures, paddocks, or stalls where horses graze or spend time.
  1. Egg Development: In the environment, under suitable conditions of temperature and humidity, the eggs develop and mature over a period of several weeks to become infective larvae. This is dependent on temperature and humidity, but these eggs are quite robust and can often overwinter and remain infective on a pasture into the next foaling season. 
  1. Ingestion: Foals become infected when they inadvertently ingest the infective larvae while grazing, eating contaminated feed or water, or through grooming behaviors where they ingest soil or other environmental material containing the larvae. We all know foals put their mouths on everything, so this part isn’t very hard!
  1. Larval Migration: Once ingested, the eggs hatch and larvae begin hepato-tracheal migration, arriving in the lungs about 1 week post infection. Here, they penetrate the alveoli and bronchioles, where they remain for another 2 weeks before they are coughed up into the pharynx and swallowed to return to the small intestine as more mature larvae. The first intestinal stages appear 3–4 weeks post infection.
  1. Maturation to Adult Worms: Inside the intestines, the immature worms continue to grow and develop into adult worms over the course of several weeks to months. Once mature, they begin producing eggs, completing this crazy, complicated lifecycle and perpetuating the infection.
  1. Egg Shedding: Adult female worms release eggs into the horse’s feces, restarting the cycle by contaminating the environment with new infective eggs.

Symptoms of Ascarid Impactions

 When foals have a lot of ascarids in their intestines, they can actually lead to obstructions. Literally, a road block of worms! This can actually happen with live worms OR with dead worms after the foal has been given a dewormer. This is one of those (many) times when consulting with that veterinarian that you have a great relationship with about the best deworming protocol gives you the best shot at getting things right.

Sometimes even when we do everything right, those poor babies still end up with ascarid impaction. Here’s what that might look like:

– Swollen belly

– Not eating well

– Diarrhea

– Weight loss

– Lethargy

– High heart rate

Preventing The Impaction

There are some things that can be done to help prevent foals from getting infected with ascarids:

– Keep the environment clean: Regularly clean up manure and bedding to reduce the number of worm eggs in the environment.

– Deworming: discuss the protocol with our doctors, but often times they’re going to have you give dewormers every few months in a specific order and dose

– Fecal Egg Counts: if there is any question, just like with adult horses, we take a sample of poop and put it in our fancy machine to tell us how many and what type of parasites we have

– Quarantine new foals: Keep any new animals separate from others until they can be dewormed and checked for worms or other issues by our doctors.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Treating Ascarid Impactions

Here’s the scoop: these worms, when they get stuck, often have to be surgically removed. The surgery works a lot like other colic surgeries. Following surgery, the foal will be monitored closely at the hospital. It’s important for the referral docs to slowly reintroduce the foal to food and watch for signs of infection. This can often be a time and money-intensive process, but foals typically recover well from this surgery and go on to live happy, normal, lives.

Whinny’s Wisdom: Ensuring access to transportation for horses is paramount for all horse owners, but particularly crucial for those with higher-risk animals such as foals. Transportation facilitates timely access to veterinary care in case of emergencies, ensuring prompt treatment for any health issues that may arise.

Remember, failure to plan is planning to fail! If you are raising a foal, make sure you have a plan and a schedule worked out with your veterinarian to minimize risk on all health fronts. Foals are hard enough as it is, so don’t miss out on an opportunity to set yourself and your foal up for success!

Love and cheese,


P.S. If you want to learn way more about parasites and deworming than this mouse can tell you, check out our podcast, Straight from the Horse Doctor’s Mouth! It’s free, and you can learn more than you ever knew you didn’t know by listening! Just click on the link to visit the Podcast Page of my website, or subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts!

Whinny’s Wisdoms is the official blog of Whinny the Clinic Mouse at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at, or follow us on Facebook!

[jetpack_subscription_form title="Subscribe to Whinny's Wisdoms"]

More Adventures of the Horse Doctor's Husband
New Foal Care Basics

New Foal Care Basics

Whinny’s Wisdoms

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Hey everybody, it’s Whinny, your favorite vet clinic mouse here with some nuggets of wisdom for you! Hopefully the majority of you have heeded my sage advice and bought a horse that’s already grown and trained. But for those of you who were determined to do it the hard [expensive, painful] way and breed your own, then it’s time to start planning out the things your new foal will need.

First, I want to acknowledge the hard work you’ve done to get to this point! After the trials and tribulations of successfully breeding your mare and enduring the long nights on foal watch, the eagerly anticipated foal has arrived. Congratulations on the hard work it takes to get a new foal on the ground! With all that hard work, we are determined to implement the best protocols to ensure a long life and successful career for the new foal. In this guide, I’ll walk you through my guidelines for vaccines, deworming, nutrition, and farrier care to give your new foal the best start in life.


Vaccinations are a cornerstone of equine health and are essential in providing a young horse protection in their first year of life. The antibodies from the vaccines help prevent these common, yet devastating diseases as well as reduce the death rate, depending on the disease. Here’s a recommended vaccination schedule for your new foal:

-Combination vaccine including: Eastern Encephalitis, Western Encephalitis,Tetanus, West Nile, Equine Influenza Virus and Equine Herpes Virus. This combo is typically given in a 3 booster series.

  – 1st Booster: 4-5 months of age

  – 2nd Booster: 4-6 weeks after the 1st dose

  – 3rd Booster: 10 months of age

  – Follow-up: Biannual/every 6-month revaccination

– Rabies

  – 1st Booster: 6 months of age

  – 2nd Booster: 4-6 weeks after the 1st dose

  – Annual revaccination


Proper deworming is essential to prevent internal parasites from getting out of control. Here’s a deworming schedule based on your foal’s age. It is always important to dose deworming medications based on weight:

– 2-3 months of age: Panacur (fenbendazole)

– 4-6 months of age: Ivermectin

– 6-8 months of age: Strongid (pyrantel)

– 12 months of age: Perform Fecal Egg Counts to develop a strategic deworming plan moving forward.


A foal’s nutritional needs evolve as they grow. It is always best to connect with an expert, such as your veterinarian or an equine nutritionist, about which diet is best for your foal. Nutrition plays a large role in growth and development. It can also impact health and orthopedic developmental conditions, such as OCDs (Osteochondrosis). A general guideline may be:

-2 weeks of age: Start introducing grass and forage (hay and grass). Coprophagy (eating manure) is normal and aids in the development of healthy gut bacteria. Foal Heat Diarrhea might occur due to GI tract changes from adjustments in the diet around this age.

-2 months until weaning: Gradually introduce high-quality feed designed for growing foals based on weight and Body Condition Score. Offer free-choice quality forage during this period.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Farrier Care

Taking care of your foal’s hooves is vital for their overall well-being:

– Begin farrier care at around 2 weeks of age.

– Follow-up appointments every 4-6 weeks, unless otherwise directed for orthopedic or developmental reasons.

Whinny’s Wisdoms: Teaching your foal to be comfortable having their feet picked up right from the very beginning will make life much easier on them, as well as the horse care professionals who keep them happy and healthy. Take the time to acclimate your foal to regular handling, and it will save you a lot of money and heartache in the long run.

 Caring for a new foal involves a combination of veterinary care, nutrition, and regular attention to their health and growth. By following these guidelines for vaccines, deworming, nutrition, and farrier care, you can provide your young equine companion with the best possible start in life. Remember that every foal is unique, so consulting with your veterinarian and other equine professionals will help tailor these guidelines to your foal’s specific needs. With proper care and attention, you’ll be setting the foundation for a healthy and thriving future for your new foal.

Do you have questions about your foal care plan? Schedule a telemedicine appointment with one of my docs, and they’ll be happy to talk it over with you! Just call the clinic at 352-472-1620.

Until next week,


P.S. Have you subscribed to my blog? Don’t rely on Facebook to let you know when a new blog gets posted, have it come right to your email! Subscribers get the blog 1-2 days before it goes out on Facebook, and they never miss one. Just scroll down to the purple box and enter your email address. Thanks! – W.

Whinny’s Wisdoms is the official blog of Whinny the Clinic Mouse at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at, or follow us on Facebook!

[jetpack_subscription_form title="Subscribe to Whinny's Wisdoms"]

More Adventures of the Horse Doctor's Husband
Foal Abnormalities

Foal Abnormalities

Tuesdays with Tony

Boy oh boy, or maybe I should say girl oh girl… Nope that’s not it either. Foal oh foal, that’s it! I swear it’s been raining foals at the clinic. We’ve had at least one foal a week in and out of the clinic, and that doesn’t count the ones that are just here with their dam while the dam is getting re-bred. It also doesn’t include the ones we have seen on the farm. It’s been foal madness. And we love foals! They remind me of my kitten days when I was full of life, bouncing around all the time, causing trouble for everyone. Gosh, those were the good old days. Foals, as you all know, are usually feisty little boogers with the energy we all wish we had. However, as always with horses, foals have their own set of problems that can end up in life-long issues and may even be life threatening if not addressed quickly.

Angular Limb Deformity

Angular Limb Deformity (ALD) in foals is a relatively common problem that occurs within the first few months after birth. ALD causes a foal’s leg or legs to deviate from midline. They may angle in or out, or in some cases, both in and out. Most frequently affected joints are the carpus (knee), fetlock, and hock joints.

ALD is most commonly caused by incomplete ossification of the cuboidal bones of these joints. This means the small bones that make up the joints have not developed completely prior to birth. Incomplete ossification can be caused by placentitis, colic, metabolic disease, and/or premature birth. Similarly, after birth, if a foal has tendon and/or ligament laxity, they are prone to developing ALD.

I’m sure you’ve seen your fair share of fancy performance horses with crooked legs, and trust me, so have I. However, it’s important to address ALD in a foal while the opportunity exists. There’s a small window of time that ALD can be addressed and potentially fixed, resulting in “normal” limb conformation. This is extremely important because any deviation from “normal” conformation can result in a lifetime of joint pain and arthritis, starting at a very young age.

Mild ALD can be managed early on with bandaging, corrective shoeing, exercise, or in some cases, restricted exercise. Each case is different, and your veterinarian will definitely want to assess the foal and take radiographs to determine the best course of action. If conservative treatment is not effective, it’s possible that surgical intervention may be necessary. Surgery is not without risk, and it’s essential that you, your veterinarian, and your farrier are all working together on your foal. Really, that 3-way team should exist for every horse all the time, but that’s a different blog.

Once ALD has been diagnosed and treatment started, frequent check-ups from your veterinarian will be imperative. It can be a long, tiring, expensive road, but it’s worth it to end up with an as close to “normal” foal as possible.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Wry Nose

Wry nose, what a funny term! What the heck is a wry nose? Basically, wry nose is the most extreme deviated septum you’ve ever seen, and multiply that times about a million, and then put it on a horse’s face. Horses are born with wry nose; it’s not something that develops over time, or shows up later in life. It’s a rare condition, and the cause of wry nose is unknown.

Cases of wry nose can be mild to severe. Mild cases in foals typically do okay, but may struggle to nurse, and occasionally these can grow out of it. Severe cases risk the inability to nurse at all, difficulty breathing (these can both be fatal), and failure to thrive. It’s recommended that foals be examined within the first 24 hours after birth. During this examination the veterinarian will be able to establish if a foal has a wry nose and what the best course of action will be to fix it. They will also be able to ensure the foal is nursing well and received appropriate colostrum after birth.

If you want to read more about wry nose, and see some crazy cool pictures and radiographs of the malformed bone structures, check out this paper


When your veterinarian comes out to examine your new foal, they’ll stick their fingers in the foal’s mouth. This is important, as it allows your veterinarian to recognize any abnormalities with the foal’s mouth. Occasionally a foal will develop a cleft lip or cleft palate during embryonic development. It’s necessary for your veterinarian to find this as it can cause difficulty nursing.

A cleft palate is dangerous in foals, as it allows for an open passage from the mouth to the nostrils which puts the foal at risk of inhaling milk as it nurses. Inhaled milk will result in aspiration pneumonia which is life threatening to the foal. Mild cases of cleft palate and lip can be managed with surgical correction, but severe cases do not do well with or without surgery and humane euthanasia should be considered.

Cases of parrot mouth and sow mouth are seen more frequently in ponies and miniature horses than in regular horses. That being said, both parrot mouth and sow mouth can and do occur in horses of all breeds and sizes. A horse with a parrot mouth has a lower jaw that is shorter than the upper jaw and is known as brachygnathia. Correction can be attempted when the foal is young. Whether the abnormality is corrected or not, a horse with parrot mouth will absolutely require regular dental care by your veterinarian.

Similarly, a horse with sow mouth will need frequent dental assessments and treatments by your veterinarian throughout its entire life. Sow mouth, or prognathia, is an undershot jaw. This is commonly seen in dwarf miniature horses and Arabians. It can lead to severe dental problems if left unaddressed. Foals can have difficulty nursing, and as horses get older they can have difficulty grazing. However, with appropriate supportive care, foals with either parrot mouth or sow mouth can go on to live very normal healthy lives.

If I’ve learned nothing else, I’ve learned that foals are delicate little flowers and require immediate attention if anything appears to be abnormal. Skeletal abnormalities such as we have discussed just barely scrapes the surface of problems that foals can have or develop. Here is my friendly reminder to always have a good relationship with your veterinarian, and rely on them for directions on what is best for your mare and foal.

Until next week,


P.S. Now that you’ve absorbed my cat wisdoms for this week, take a minute to poke around the rest of my website. Aside from my amazing blog, there’s a lot of other really useful stuff on here. Videos, the podcast, books, our Wellness Plans, all kinds of good stuff. This is my gift to you.


Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at, or follow us on Facebook!

[jetpack_subscription_form title="Subscribe to Whinny's Wisdoms"]

More Adventures of the Horse Doctor's Husband
Should I Breed My Horse?

Should I Breed My Horse?

Tuesdays with Tony

As a cat, one of my many, many tasks is to humble humans daily. With breeding season coming up, I feel it’s my duty to have a heart-to-heart with you about what breeding actually means. I have come to this subject today because our 10th Annual Castration Clinic (where Springhill Equine has a ball… or two) is coming up soon. It’s important when thinking about your horse as a stallion, that good stallions make great geldings! Anyway, moving on to the topic at hand.


Should you?


Got a mare? Got a stallion? Make a baby. Sell the baby. It’ll be great.

Let’s start with the mare. I hear from humans all the time that they have a great horse, and they’re not wrong. However, look at your mare with a critical eye to determine if she should be bred. Sure, she does what you love doing, and she does it well (if she doesn’t, why would you breed her?), but do you want to pass on her conformation? Does she have personality quirks you have come to love, but would never, ever want in a horse you were looking at to buy? For many breeds, you should also have genetic testing done to see if she carries things like PSSM, OLWS, or other potentially life-threatening genes. If she does, you really want to make breeding decisions carefully. Need help deciding if you should breed your mare? Talk to someone you trust in your discipline. [This person should not own a stallion you may breed your mare to.]

For stallions, I have two words: perfect and money. If you’re going to keep your horse a stallion, he should have it all.  He should have the conformation your discipline is looking for, the personality, bloodlines, genetic testing, and a track record. That last part is the beginning of the money. If you don’t have the funds to campaign a stallion so that he can prove his value in your discipline, geld him. And after you campaign him, if you don’t have the funds to promote him, and his offspring, geld him. The sad truth is no one will promote your stallion and his offspring like you do. Don’t expect others to do that for you. This means advertisements, stallion auctions, showing babies, training fees for those babies. All of it. This often means stallions don’t even begin to pay for themselves for 10 to 15 years! All things to think about before leaving those testicles on.




Your mare is amazing, so is your stallion. Let’s make a baby! Whoa, whoa, whoa! I have siblings. Maybe some of you humans have siblings, too. I don’t know about your family, but I’m the only one to turn out decent in my family. I have a job, a blog, a warm lap to sleep on, and minions to deliver me food and beverages. Just because you have genetic potential, doesn’t mean the kid is going to get those good genes. It’s still a roll of the dice. Do you have a plan for those 1D barrel horses you cross, and end up with a something that couldn’t win the 7D if that was a division? A better question is, do you have a plan for getting this foal raised and trained to its potential? This can work out well if you can do all the training, but if you need to send baby off for lots of training, or you do a discipline that takes years to master (I’m talking to you, Dressage), it can add up to a lot of dollars!

Eyes wide open


I’m not saying don’t breed your horse, I’m just reminding you to think about the entire process. I’m also going to ask that you visit a local horse rescue, and talk with them about the horses they have. Someone bred every one of those horses.

And now I’m off to prepare for the Castration Clinic. This year’s motto is Geldings: Ball-less and Flawless!

Until next week,


P.S. I’m sure that by now you’ve subscribed to my blog, so I’ll skip that part. Have you tried out the podcast that the humans do yet? It’s called Straight From the Horse Doctor’s Mouth, and it’s a half hour of amazing, free information about horse stuff that you can listen to while you drive, while you wash your horse, while you jog (you humans and your crazy exercise stuff), or even while you’re pretending to work. Hey, I’m a cat. We’re all about slacking. Don’t judge. You can listen right from our website by clicking the link, or you can download it on Spotify, Stitcher, Castbox, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic


Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at, or follow us on Facebook!

[jetpack_subscription_form title="Tuesdays with Tony"]

Foaling and Due Dates

Foaling and Due Dates

Tuesdays with Tony

Foaling and Due Dates

We had a foal on Monday. The humans went all gaga over it. I was more like, “Hey, can a cat get some attention over here?” I guess she’s cute. There is some debate over what color she is. Even odds right now on buckskin vs. bay. What’s really exciting about this foal is that she’s finally here. May, the mom,  went 378 days from ovulation to foaling. That’s way over the normal gestation of 340 days, but mares are mares and will do what they please, including ignoring due dates. And on that note, let’s talk about why it was okay that May went 378 days, and why that’s often better than foaling too soon.

Let’s talk placentas

Horses have what’s known as diffuse placentation. When you look at a horse placenta, it looks almost like velvet (red, gooey velvet, but velvety nonetheless). That velvet forms a connection at a microscopic level with mom’s blood vessels. Humans do sort of the same thing, but only in one spot on the placenta. Cows make these connections in a bunch of big knots called cotyledons. This matters because horses need every bit of the placental connection they’ve got to grow that big ol’ foal in there. It’s why twins in horses are usually a bad idea. Where the twins touch, there’s no connection to mom, which means not enough nutrition to grow into a healthy, happy foal.

When placentas go bad

It goes without saying (but I’m going to say it anyway) that bacteria in the uterus with a baby is bad. The cervix does its part to keep the outside out, and the immune system works hard to keep things from the blood stream out of the placenta. However, life being what it is, sometimes stuff happens. In this case that thing is called placentitis. Placentitis occurs when bacteria get into a pregnant uterus and start attacking the placenta. The most common place for this to happen is at the cervix. In some ways, that’s a good thing.

My Docs recommend ultrasound exams throughout those long 11 months (or sometimes 12 months +) of pregnancy. One of the things they are evaluating is the placenta at the cervix. They know it should normally measure less than 1cm and should be tight against the cervix. If they see anything even a little bit off they can start treatment right away. My Docs ultrasounded May at 5, 7, and 9 months gestation and everything was good, so placentitis was unlikely. To be fair, May got ultrasounded a few more times when she started going past her due date, but that’s because the Docs wanted to be doubly and triply sure. And who doesn’t get a little antsy waiting 378 days for a foal???

Uh Oh! There’s an udder!

To be honest though, the Docs weren’t worried about May because her udder wasn’t growing. The udder is an excellent way to tell how the foal/uterus/placenta are doing. Udders should start developing around Day 330 of gestation. If the udder is growing any sooner than that, Call My Docs IMMEDIATELY. Was I clear enough there? Milk coming in before day 330 is not good!!!

May’s udder showed absolutely no changes until about 10 days ago. It then grew at glacial speeds, despite twice daily checks from the techs, Docs, and everyone else around here. (Glacial means really, really slow, for all you native Floridians who avoid all things cold-weather related.)

Antibiotics to the rescue

It’s 290 days of gestation for your mare, every check-up until now has been normal, but suddenly this morning she has a huge udder and you can express milk. My Docs ultrasound her and find some separation of the placenta at the cervix. What now? Antibiotics! And Regumate, and Banamine. But mostly antibiotics. The good news about placentitis is we can generally get it treated with SMZ antibiotics. A little Regumate is added in to quiet the uterus down, and Banamine reduces inflammation. The sooner placentitis is caught, the better the chances things will go well.

May’s placenta was normal, her cervix was tight, and she had no udder. That means no placentitis. My Docs did a couple extra things to make sure everything was OK in there. They did a serum amyloid A test. This looks for inflammation from infection. May’s was normal. They also used the ultrasound from outside that enormous belly to be sure the foal was moving. She was. That left my impatient humans with sitting and waiting. Which they did very, very reluctantly. Lo and behold, we had milk early on Monday morning with a pH of 6.2 (read here about why that’s important), and later in the morning we had a bouncing baby girl!

foal due date

Can’t you induce like they do in humans?

NO!! is the definitive, emphatic answer. Foals develop their lungs in the last 36 hours of gestation. We don’t have a way to know when that is. Take May as an example: if she had been induced at day 340 of gestation (her technical due date), her baby would have still needed 36 days more for her lungs to mature. I may be a cat, but I’m guessing no lungs doesn’t go well with the outside world.

As I said earlier, mares are mares and they will do as they please. It’s a philosophy I can really get behind. Got questions about your mare or due dates? Want to breed? Go check out my blog page for tons of wisdom. Want the wisdom every week? Scroll down a little farther and subscribe to my blog. So easy, even a human can do it!

Until next week,

~ Tony

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Office Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at, or follow us on Facebook!

[jetpack_subscription_form title="Subscribe to Whinny's Wisdoms"]

Breeding and Foaling

Breeding and Foaling

Tuesdays with Tony

Breeding & Foaling

Thank you to everyone who came out to my Breeding Seminar last Thursday. You didn’t see me because I was inside. In my bed. Where it was warm. Obviously. Why would I go out in the freezing cold to huddle around a space heater just to learn about how baby horses are made? I did, however, lay on the computer while the docs were working on their powerpoint presentation, so I am intimately familiar with the information they presented. Oh, you want a recap you say? Well, I’m happy to oblige!

Where do baby horses come from?

Well kids, when a daddy horse and a mommy horse love each other very much…their owners run genetic tests to make sure they don’t have any heritable diseases, pay lots of money to have semen collected, ship it cross-country, time the mare’s ovulation, artificially inseminate the mare, patiently wait 14 days, confirm the presence of ONE embryo, monitor the pregnancy with at least 4 more ultrasounds and Rhinopneumonitis vaccines, measure the mare’s milk pH to determine when she’s going to foal, and voila! That’s where baby horses come from.

It may sound simple, but a problem at any of these steps has the potential to create a roadblock to your hopes and dreams of having the perfect foal. Let’s start at the beginning: choosing the parents. Stallions may look sexy in their ads, but remember to look at their offspring’s conformation and performance records, their First Heat Conception Rate (a marker of fertility), and make sure they are free from any breed-associated genetic disorders, such as HYPP, PSSM, HERDA, OLWS, or SCID. If you want to know what these letters stand for, or if your breed of horse is at risk for them, ask one of the docs. I’m just a cat; you’re lucky I know the letters. If you are the stallion owner, it’s time to think about training him to the phantom, and scheduling a blow-out collection and semen evaluation prior to breeding season.

The next roadblock usually comes from FedEx. We here at Springhill have a love/hate relationship with FedEx. Most stallions are collected on Monday/Wednesday/Friday. Unfortunately, those Friday collections require overnight shipping on a weekend. Semen doesn’t live very long in a box with an ice pack. That means any shipping delays on the stallion end translate to a missed breeding opportunity on the mare end, and we have to wait another 2-3 weeks before trying again on her next heat cycle.

Even once the docs have gotten the semen into the mare, there is a chance her body will have an inflammatory reaction to the semen and excrete fluid in her uterus (really, it is a wonder these things ever successfully reproduce in the wild). Barring that scenario, you still have to make sure there is one and ONLY one embryo at the 14-day check. If there are twins, the docs have between Day 14 and Day 16 to pinch one of them while keeping the other alive (this is much easier said than done).

What do I do with my preggo mare?

Now that you have worked so hard to get that beautiful 14-day-old baby embryo, you may as well put in the work to make sure she keeps it. On your part, that means making sure to schedule her 30-day, 60-day, 90-day, and 7-month ultrasounds, as well as Rhinopneumonitis (a.k.a. Pneumabort) vaccines at 3, 5, 7, and 9 months of pregnancy. You may think this is just my way of seeing you more often in the hopes that you might give me snacks; but in actuality these are all aimed at making sure your mare doesn’t drop/slip/abort/lose or otherwise spit out her foal before it’s due date!

Even if you ate a tub of Ben & Jerry’s single-handedly every night of your pregnancy, this does NOT mean you need to fatten up your mare just because she has a baby on board. In fact, depending on her weight and body condition score when she became pregnant, you may not need to increase her plane of nutrition at all until the last few months of her pregnancy. The true calorie demand will come while she is nursing her foal, but that’s a topic for another day.

When is the stork coming?

When the docs tell you your mare’s ESTIMATED due date, that’s exactly what it is- an estimate based on 340 days past her date of conception. In real life, she can foal anywhere from 320-360 days of gestation, and it’s not unusual for a mare to carry over a year! So, how do you know when your cute little bundle of joy is going to hit the ground?

In our opinion, the best way to tell when your mare is going to foal is by measuring the pH of her milk once a day until it reaches a magic number. Here’s what you need to know: If her pH is >6.4, there is a 99% chance she is NOT going to foal that night. If her pH is <6.4, there is a 97% chance she WILL foal within the next 3 nights. And now you know when to start sleeping in the barn aisle/watching cameras/checking your mare every hour, or whatever it is you are doing to make sure you don’t miss the big event.

If I haven’t talked you out of breeding your horse yet, remember that I offer Breeding Packages at a very reasonable set price per cycle. And if you buy your package before Valentine’s Day, you will receive 1 free night of board for your mare…our little secret! We also perform stallion collection, semen evaluation, phantom training, and semen shipment right here at the clinic. I quite enjoy the extra company around breeding season.

Happy baby making!



Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Office Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at, or follow us on Facebook!

[jetpack_subscription_form title="Subscribe to Whinny's Wisdoms"]