After working with horses for 25 years, but never seeing a foal being born, the tension was all the greater when our first foal was delivered. Inquiries with breeders gave me uncertainty that I still haven't gotten rid of.
Being present at a delivery was the most advised indication. Complications in giving birth to a Falabella foal occur more often than desired. The size of the horse and the genetic material you breed with can cause problems. Determining when the birth will start requires a keen eye for the mare's behavior and physical symptoms, but sometimes you can't see it coming, which has happened to us twice already.
Assessing a problem starts with determining the location of the foal. If you can judge this, and the position is correct, then the first battle has been won. For extra assistance, it is always nice if there are two of you. In case of doubt, quick action is required, and the intervention of an experienced veterinarian is necessary.
For wakefulness I have purchased birth alarms, an American system, in which a small "box" (transmitter) is hung under the halter, and which sends a signal to a beeper that does its job in a radius of approximately: 100 meters. signal goes off when the mare lays down completely horizontal, a position they usually adopt during contractions.
This can be restless, because many mares also lie completely horizontal for a few minutes during the last period of their pregnancy, after which they raise their heads again. This led me to the second breeding season to purchase a camera system which in our case is set to the television and has prevented us from many spurts to the barn. There are also advanced systems that display their images on smartphones and tablets.
Our 1st foal was a birth from the book, in the evening at 22.30 the beeper gave his well-known signal, and the two of us ran into the stable. The mare was fully stretched and the amniotic bladder was already out of her vulva, within which 1 foot shimmered through, I carefully grabbed the foot and started to move gently in the cadence of the contractions, whereby the 2nd foot very quickly became visible,
the amniotic sac ruptured, and in a few minutes the whole foal was lying next to the mare, the membrane removed from around it, and looking in amazement at this miracle, which may be very common and has been taking place for millions of years, but when it takes place under your hands one of the nicer experiences in life.
The umbilical cord was still attached, and in all my inexperience and excitement I was momentarily at a loss as to how to act. The telephone within reach, but before the answer was sent through the airwaves, the mare got up and broke off the umbilical cord, well…..as it has been done for millions of years. Within half an hour the foal was standing, only finding the source of life and the indispensable 1st colostrum (within a few hours) was another story. We have already experienced restless hours here a few times.
The mare's nipples are in a place that requires a little dexterity for a slightly larger foal for the first time. The foal should tilt its head and push it up, under the mare's flank. They will search and keep trying, until you see them get so tired you wonder if it's time to milk the mare and bottle-feed the colostrum, or call in the vet to probe, or to wait until the foal is rested and has enough vitality to make another attempt.
Make choices and follow your intuition, without taking unnecessary risks, because you want the start phase after birth to run smoothly. The foal is searching has a keen sense of smell, so drop a few drops of the 1st colostrum on your hand and let the foal absorb the scent, then patiently lead her to where she needs to go. In our case, all scenarios have been passed, all with a good outcome, but the natural way is obviously preferable.
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