The Birth of a Falabella foal
Despite having worked with horses for 25 years, I never experienced the birth of a foal. The suspense was immense! Talking to fellow breeders made me feel uncertain until today. Their advice: Be present at a Falabella birth!
There are often complications during birth. Causes can be the size of the foal or its genetic material. To determine the time of birth you need to observe the behavior and the physical symptoms of the mare. However, sometimes you will experience none whatsoever – This happened to us twice already.
First you have to determine the position of the foal in the uterus. If the position is correct, there is not much that can go wrong. However, in case of doubt you have to act fast so make sure, that at least two persons are present to call the veterinarian if there is an emergency.
I purchased “birth warning devices” for the watch, an American system: a small transmitter attached to the neck sends a signal within a radius of 100 meters to a beeper whenever the mare completely lies down horizontally. That is the position the mare will assume as soon as she begins to experience labor pains. Many mares lie down during the last period of their pregnancy while raising their head. That is why I purchased an additional camera that I attached to the TV for the last birth season, which saved me many unneeded runs to the stables. There are other more modern systems that can be attached to your smart phones or tablets as well.
The birth of our first foal went smoothly. We heard the anticipated beeper signal at 10:30pm. The mare completely lay down horizontally, the amniotic sac had fully emerged, a hoof could be detected inside that carefully moved in rhythm with her labor pains until we could see the second hoof. The water broke and within a couple of minutes the foal was lying next to his mother while we removed the mats. The umbilical cord still connected mother and foal and while I desperately tried to figure out whether to call a veterinarian, the mare stood up and broke the umbilical…just as it used to happen during birth for millions of years.
Within one hour the foal stood. Only finding that the essential breast milk posed a problem. The udder of the mare is hard to find, even for larger foals. The foal has to turn its head up under the mares flank. The foal searches until its tired and you begin to decide whether it is best to milk the mare yourself and bottlefeed the foal, call the veterinarian or wait until the foal has rested and can gives it another try. You should follow your own intuition and make a decision.
The searching foal has a sharp sense of smell. You can drip breast milk on your hand, let the foal smell on it and then move your hand slowly to the udder of the mare to direct it. By now we have experienced all of the scenarios mentioned above and recommend the natural way.