Equine - Midwife For Your Foaling Mare


By Susan Davis

It’s that time of year again when we look forward to our foals being born: a time of anticipation and excitement. But occasionally it will be a time of heartbreak; when a mare and foal don’t make it. It is a sad reminder of the way things are. You spend a great deal of time and money to breed your mare to a quality stallion in hopes of raising the next world champion, or maybe a great trail horse.

We all want the best outcome for our
mare and foal, so the best way to insure that is by having high quality medical care for them. You make sure the mare has the most nutritious feed, is dewormed regularly, and has all of her current vaccinations. This has been a big investment for you! And with any big investment, you want to make sure you receive the best dividend. In today’s world we have the tools to make sure our horses have the very best care. And this includes the foaling of your broodmare. We all have that one goal: a live, healthy foal. This is where I come into the picture. I am an Equine Midwife.

An Equine Midwife is someone who has attended many births and has the knowledge to help you get that live, healthy foal. With the current medical knowledge, we can predict the birth and intervene when a foaling has gone wrong. 
I have been raising horses for 15 years and have delivered all of my foals. With encouragement from Mark Akin of Akin Equine, I began to study and learn everything I could about foaling. I have installed two foaling stalls in my barn complete with cameras, monitors and receivers that connect to my house just a short distance away. With this set up, I can watch the mare closely from home and when my beeper goes off, I can look at the television to see if the mare appears to be getting ready to foal. And I can be at the barn in a matter of minutes!

Many mare owners bring their broodmares to me to foal out. After spending so much time getting their mare to foaling time, rather than have something go wrong, they would bring the mare to me by recommendation from a veterinarian, or a friend, in hopes of getting a live foal. 
I recommend that the mare be at my barn at least three weeks before the foaling date so that the mare has time to adjust to her new surroundings and not be stressed. This also gives her time to bond with me so that she will allow me to be with her and assist in the delivery. And I always make sure a veterinarian is on call if needed.

My barn has a medical room where I keep all of my foaling equipment so that everything is close at hand. As the years pass, we make great strides in medical knowledge of horses, and what has worked on humans eventually makes its way into the equine medicine. So I have added something new to my foaling kit: a foal resuscitator to aid the foal in taking its first breath, if necessary. This has been one of the best innovations I have seen in years.

Horses are a great love in my life, and watching a new life come into this world is one of the greatest joys I experience! I get just as excited with every new foal as if it were my first time! With each birth, I see the joy and excitement of the owner as I tell them that their “baby” has arrived. If lucky, some owners are there to watch. But since most births happen at night, that doesn’t happen often. Mares seem to wait until they think we are asleep, or when we aren’t looking, to have their foal. In some cases, I have been seen that the mare has gone into labor and she does what I call “The Baby Dance.” I have had owners laugh at me when I say that, but it does give them a chance to be there for the birth. For those who have never seen the “dance,” it is where the mare paces, nips or kicks at her stomach and rubs her backside on the wall, indicating that the labor has started.

And I also make sure that every foal is imprinted. If the owner doesn’t know how to imprint, I teach them so that they can continue to teach their foal after getting him/her home. This insures that they have a well-started horse.

Oakland Stables is conveniently located just north of Oakland on Hwy 194. We provide boarding year round, and every spring, fall and in between, my barn is open to the expecting mares and their owners. I show them where the mare will be during her stay and the kind of care she will receive. I feel certain that the little ones I have brought into this world safely are glad that someone like me, an Equine Midwife, was there to help them. So when it’s time for your mare to have her foal, think about having an Equine Midwife available to help them into this new world.

Susan Davis is an Equine Midwife and co-owner with her husband Richard of Oakland Stables. For more information, call 901-331-3313.

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