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Birthing Process

Mares birthing process at bellgrove stud farm

The accepted gestation period in the horse is 340 days post conception. Generally, mares will give birth within one to two weeks either side of this date, although mares have been known to hold onto their foals for up to 400 days!

There are certain things you should look out for as indicators that the mare is going to foal soon.

These include:

  • Slackening of the muscles around the tail and pelvis
  • Lengthening and softening of the vulva
  • Udders starting to fill
  • Distension of the nipples
  • Waxing up of the nipples (usually 48-72 hours before birth)

It should be noted however that some mares, especially maiden mares, can show no signs of labour at all.

Once the mare’s waters break, the foal should be out and trying to stand within 30-45 minutes. The foal should present soles down, one leg slightly in front of the other with the head between. If it presents in any other fashion, then you must call the vet immediately, as intervention will be needed if the birth is to be successful.

This information gives only a small idea of the signs and process of labour and birth in the mare. If you are looking to foal down at home, we recommend you read plenty of books on the subject, and be in contact with your vet so that they are aware that a foaling may be taking place. Alternatively, use our professional foaling service at Bellgrove Stud Farm.

Waiting for a foal to arrive, can be a very stressful time for any owner, and involves staying awake to watch signs of labour for several days (or even weeks). Obviously, the most important and rewarding part of the breeding process is seeing the result of it all – the foal.