In the Netherlands and in Belgium there are around 58 Falabella owners, of which 40 actively breed them. Falabellas are of a particularly honest, kind and clever nature.
Thus, every single Falabella horse has a very high status, when it comes to perserving this very special breed. The challenge for the breeders entails the guarantee of 100% purebred Falabellas and in the breeding of healthy horses with a proper, harmonious build. For this, particular care is needed. Odd combinations in the crossing of the breeds lead to grave damages that can linger through whole generations.
An own foal?
A Falabella mare may get pregnant at around 3 years; with some mares you will have to wait a year longer. Usually a mare will get into heat as soon as the temperatures rise in spring. As soon as a stallion comes close, the heat can be seen clearly. The mare will raise her leg and urinate. During the first few days, the urin will have a light colour, and as the heat grows stronger it will turn orange and grow more viscous. Often, this is the time of ovulation.
As soon as the mare is in heat, it is time for breeding, with one day rest each time. When the mare defends herself against the stallion with her legs, the heat is over.
After the first day’s mating, you wait for 21 days and watch whether or not the mare gets into heat again. If that isn’t the case, and if the mare repeatedly repels the stallion, it’s probable that she is pregnant. It is not always easy to tell for sure. An ultrasonic scan after about 5.5 months (half of the pregnancy) will give you security.
Advantages of knowing the date of mating: It is not advised to try and “feel” for the fetus yourself, as this can lead to damages. If you know the date of the mating, the mare can be given additional fodder and you can be present at birth. So-called “birth-alarms” are helpful to have in advance.
Time of birth
The exact time of birth is hard to predict, and the udders have to be closely watched. When the udders are full and display small, sticky cones hanging down, the birth is usually short at hand. But here, too, there are exceptions: With some mares, the udders only fill after birth.
Changes in behaviour can indicate the birth as well. The mare will run back and forth, drive her hooves across the ground as if she wanted to build a next, and defecate more frequently and thinner. Serenity and familiar surroundings have a positive effect on the birth process.
Sometimes, human help is needed for the birth to remove the surrounding fleece. This occurs regularly on mares’ first births. After removing the surrounding fleece, the foal’s respiration should start. This can be stimulated by removing the mucus and cleaning the nostrils. The position of the foal within the womb can be wrong as well. When in doubt, you should always call a veterinarian.
The foal, still connected to its mother through the umbilical cord, may stay where it is until the mother gets up. The umbilical cord will fall off spontaneously. It is important to desinfect the navel with iodine, to prevent bacteria from entering it.
The afterbirth has to proceed within few hours and is done when the placenta lies on the floor looking a bit like trousers. The foal will attempt to stand within one hour and will look for the udders to get its first crucial colostrum. The antigens contained therein are very important for the first few hours of this new life. The foal should also defacate for the first time rather shortly after birth.
The droppings will have black colour and are also called “bowel-pitch”. Nine days after birth, the mare will enter the so called “foal-heat”. It is controversial, whether or not the mare should be mated again at this time. We advise to wait until the next time of heat, or one year, to let the new foal drink its mothers’ milk for at least 5-6 months.