Seeing how this is my first time of owning a mare and taking into consideration she may be in foal, I thought I better catch up on a whole lot of reading and researching. I had read a lot of stuff many years ago about foaling so this is pretty much a refresher for me. I do admit I'm getting somewhat a late start and I pray that if Cookie is pregnant all goes well without any hitches or glitches. I will admit I've never had to give mare care before because most of our mares were out in the pasture when they foaled and I was too young to "help" with any of the process.
One of the things I read was to prepare the mare for a sucking baby by handling her udder and teats to desensitize her. I began this about a month ago because I want to be able to handle her all over without getting kicked, bit or stepped on.
Today I was able to feel her udder and teats and what I found in between was this icky, sticky, waxy substance. This is actually not a part of pregnancy. It is normal build up that usually happens more often in winter than any other season. It's basically wax and dirt build up and can become quite itchy. I removed as much as I could with my fingertips and left it at that because Cookie kept looking at me as if to say, "What on earth are you doing back there?!" Not wanting to lose progress I left whatever was left for another day when the wind isn't blowing and it's not cold.
Some articles say you can begin to feel a foal kick at 5 months, others say 7. Other articles say you should see a huge belly, while others say the mare may not even show a belly at all because the mare is good at hiding it. Really the only true way to tell if a mare is pregnant is by palpation or a blood test by your vet. That will take all the guess work out.
When the time actually comes there are tell tale signs the baby is due fairly soon. The mares udder will "bag up" or begin to fill as will the teats. It is my understanding at the beginning of the bagging up there will be a waxy substance that comes from the teats and the milk will be a sort of yellowish color. As time progresses, the milk will become more opaque.
There is a lot of information on pregnant mares and it's a lot to take in all at once for a newbie. I suggest soaking in this information before your mare is bred and not waiting until the foal is on its way. lol Also note that most mares deliver between 10 pm and 4 am. They prefer quiet surroundings with dim lights as opposed to a lot of distractions and bright lights. Having your birthing stall ready ahead of time will save you time also. Bedding it with straw is safer for both mare and foal due to the possibility of a bacterial infection from shavings.
It's a good idea to be prepared by having a foaling kit and a charged up cell phone with your vets number on speed dial. Most foaling kits come with instructions and give a list of what each thing is used for. The sooner you know your mare is beginning the delivery process, giving your vet a call will allow them time to get there to make sure everything is going along well. Your vet will also walk you through most things if they aren't there in time and something isn't going quite right. Of course if you can tell the baby is coming before the mare is about to give birth, give your vet a heads up call so they can be better prepared.
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