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!

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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!

Tuesdays with Tony

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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!

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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!

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Let’s Get Ready For Foals!

Let’s Get Ready For Foals!

Tuesdays with Tony

Foal season is almost here!!! There, I pretended baby horses excite me. They don’t. Everyone brings in pictures of the babies after their Well Baby Checks. Then there is oohh-ing and ahh-ing over them. And “Oh look at the chrome!” and “Wowza, that hip!!” and I’m left wondering why my chin isn’t getting scratched. However, if the babies are going to come anyway, I may as well do my best to get you humans ready.

The Best Offense is a Good Defense

You might think I said that wrong, but I got it right. Start your foal off on the right foot. Vaccinations for Encephalitis, Tetanus, West Nile, Flu, and Rabies should be given to mares about 4-6 weeks before they are due to foal. This gets their immune system churning out protective antibodies. Those antibodies are then dumped into the all-important first milk, colostrum. The foal’s intestines absorb the antibodies and Viola! we have our immune system for the first few weeks of life. Without those all-important antibodies, foals can’t fight off pathogens like bacteria and viruses until their own immune system kicks in at about 3 months of age. In other words, colostrum is your foal’s best defense against the harsh world.

Scissors and Towels

These are the two most important things to have on hand for the actual foaling. There are a few other things: thermometer, Fleet Enema, hay string (because really, when isn’t hay string necessary?), Bute or Banamine for mom, and a small notebook and a pen. An extra human is a nice thing to have on had as well if you have one available.

Let’s discuss the use of each of these items.

Scissors: A very clean, very sharp pair of scissors should be near your foaling area. These will be used if a red bag delivery happens. A red bag is just what it sounds like: a red bag-looking thing comes out the vulva instead of the normal white. If that happens, it is an absolute emergency! You don’t have time for one of my Docs to come to you. You must cut the bag open and help delivery the foal. The red bag is the placenta separating from the uterus before it should. The foal can’t break through the placenta like it can the amnion (the normal white tissue), so you have to cut it for foaling to continue. This is where the extra human comes in handy. They can call 352-474-5007 and talk with one of my fine Docs while you are cutting the placenta.

Towels: Just plain useful to have around. If it’s chilly out when your foal decides to be born, you can dry them off. After she has bonding time with the foal, you can use them to start cleaning up your mare’s legs. You can use them to wipe the tears of joy from your eyes, or the sweat off your brow.

Thermometer: Used for the obvious thing: to get a temperature. This can be very important information on both mom and baby if things aren’t going quite as expected. An extra human is also useful here since foals can be incredibly squirmy about getting their temperatures taken.

Fleet Enema: Foals should have a dark, tarry first stool called meconium within about an hour or two following birth. If they don’t or they are experiencing constipation, we recommend 1 (ONE ONLY) Fleet Enema. If that doesn’t fix it, call 352-474-5007. You’re going to want to at least talk with one of my docs. Oh, and if you thought they squirmed for their temperature, you’re really going to want that extra human for enema administration.

Hay String: Extremely useful for tying up the placenta while you are waiting for it to drop. DON’T EVER EVEN THINK ABOUT PULLING ON THE PLACENTA! Ideally, mom shouldn’t step on it, either. As an aside, the placenta should be fully passed by three hours post-foaling. Once it passes, put it in a bucket of water so my Docs can check it later. If it doesn’t pass by three hours, guess what number you should call? Yep 352-474-5007. Not necessarily an OMG emergency, but the Docs are going to want to know.

Bute or Banamine for mom: Good to have on hand. DO NOT give without talking with one of the Docs first. If foaling was rough, or your mare is not handling full, painful udders well, these anti-inflammatories can help. They can also mask important pain signs, which is why my Docs like to know if you’re giving it.

Notebook and pen: Once foaling starts you will be sure it is taking approximately 7,382 hours to happen. By writing down the times things start to happen, you can keep yourself honest about how long things are actually taking. Also useful for writing down questions to ask the Docs later.

OMG It’s time!!

Once it’s time, things happen fast in horses. Things should be progressing very quickly from the moment you see water break, until the entire foal is out. Foaling in horses often takes as little as 15 minutes. Longer than 30 and you better call (you know the number now) 352-474-5007. Because things happen so fast in horses, there is little room for error. If you have any questions about how foaling is going, call us. My Docs would rather talk to you 100 times for something that isn’t a big deal, than have you not call for the time it is.

1-2-3 Rule

There is now a foal laying down, having just been born, and a mare laying down thinking Whew that was a lot of work! and you watching it all thinking What now? Never fear: we have a rule for this. By 1 hour after foaling, your foal should be standing, by 2 hours the foal should be nursing, and by 3 hours the placenta should be passed. If any of these things don’t happen, guess what? Call 352-474-5007. While waiting for the standing, the nursing, and placenta passing, I recommend posting lots of pictures on Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat or whatever new fun thing you humans are doing these days.

Last step?

Call the Clinic in the morning to schedule your Well Baby Check. If you haven’t done it by now, take a minute and put the number in your phone so you’ll have it when you need it: 352-472-1620. On the second phone number line, put in the emergency number so you can get the doc in the middle of the night: 352-474-5007. Oh, and you’ll also want a phone charger in the barn. Trust me.

Until next week,


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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!

Tuesdays with Tony – PreTeen Foal Care

Tuesdays with Tony – PreTeen Foal Care

Earlier this year, you all got to see picture after picture of cute baby horses. Around now, the first of those adorable foals is coming due for their first vaccines. And that’s where the fun begins! A  3-9 month foal is a whole lot like a 10 year old kid. Still pretty cute, but beginning to assert their opinions on the world.


Foals and Germs


When your foal was born, my Docs came out to do a Well Baby check in the first 24 hours. Part of that check was a blood draw to test for something called IgG. This test told them if they got enough of that very important first milk, or colostrum, to provide them with germ-fighting immunity. That IgG works for about 4-5 months, at which time those foals need vaccines to prepare them to fight the bugs of the world on their own.


Encephalitis vaccines are INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT at this age! Be a smart human, and get those foals vaccinated! We see West Nile and Eastern Encephalitis every month of the year in Florida. Un-vaccinated foals (and yearlings) are the most vulnerable to these deadly viruses. Beginning at 5 months of age if mom was well-vaccinated, or 3-4 months if she wasn’t, foals get a two to three shot series of the encephalitis vaccines. If your mom wasn’t well-vaccinated, you get an extra booster in there. Along with the encephalitis vaccines, foals also get rhinopneumonitis, influenza, and rabies.  For a whole lot of very complicated reasons, the 3-9 month age is the most important time to vaccinate for rhinopneumonitis.


Foals and Worms


foal wormsWorms love foals more than encephalitis. The good news is this is a relatively easy problem to solve. Foals get all the same worms as adults, along with a special young horse bonus one called an ascarid. Ascarids are the grossest, nastiest worms you’ve ever seen. I included a picture just because I can, and they’re pretty gross. Ascarids also think Ivermectin is candy. So here’s our recommended foal deworming schedule for your convenience:  

  • 90 days old- use pyrantel pamoate
  • 5 months old- use ivermectin
  • 7 months old- use fenbendazole or oxibendazole
  • 9 months old-use  ivermectin
  • 11 months old-use  pyrantel pamoate
  • 13 months old- use ivermectin
  • 15 months old- use fenbendazole
  • 17 months old- get a fecal egg count, they’re old enough to start fighting those worms themselves

Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be not halter broke!


This baby knows how it’s done!

All that discussion about vaccines and deworming was a lengthy preamble for this section.  Teach your foal how to be a good citizen starting the day after they’re born! Put a halter on, take it off, repeat about a bajillion times. Teach them how to lead. Teach them about boundaries. Just like pre-teen humans, pre-teen foals test the boundaries of what’s allowed (and your patience). Teaching them that the crazy humans are going to ask you to do some weird stuff, but are never going to hurt you, makes adulting easier.


Foals at 4-5 months of age are usually too big for my techs and Docs to hold up off the ground like they can the newborns. However, if they are halter broke, they can start to train them that while shots are a moment of needle prick, they come with scratches, a treat, and a whole lot of rewards. You see, my whole team of Springhill Equine minions, I mean staff, work hard to teach horses that visits from the veterinarian are fun. They start that process from the very beginning. Having a halter broke baby makes it easy-peazy. Having to start by introducing the 500 pound foal to a halter does not make it easy!


With a little help, we can all make those tough pre-teen months a little easier. Now the teenage years….That’s an exercise in patience, just like it is with the humans. Until next week, may your litter box be clean and your food bowl full!