Hi Jos, In 2010, my then maiden mare gave birth to a colt, perfectly normal delivery, as I was there. Within a few minutes she was attacking the foal. We tried for eight hours to get her to nurse the foal, eventually gave her sedation, started dom peridone. We were able to bottle feed the foal enough colostrum, but after eight hours of trying and being kicked twice myself by the mare, we separated them. The foal is doing fine and is now six months old. This is a valuable mare and we decided to put her back in foal and try again for 2011. She will foal the end of June. I have read about mares who rejected first foals being given anti-depressant injections prior to foaling, the use of dom peridone in advance of foaling, etc. Do you have any suggestions for this mare? What are the statistics that she will reject the foal a second time?
Here is a bit more background on the mare. She is a very spoiled girl and has spent a lot of the last two years being very independent outdoors with her own private building and being the herd boss for a few other mares. I am planning on bringing her into a barn stall next month and keeping her in there on a turnout basis with hopes of her settling in to a routine well in advance of foaling. With the last foaling, we puther in her own private field a month before and then brought her into the barn stall a week prior to foaling and she was very agitated about being confined. I don't let my mares foal in the field, only in a stall. She is now five years old and is in great physical condition. Her mare motel is surrounded by horse turnout on two sides and she has never been cruel to another mares foal. She does not bite people, etc. If you were to meet this mare, she comes across as very sweet and mellow. Lastly, we are planning to have our trainer put some more hours into this mare. She handles okay on the ground, but can be defiant about working on the long line, etc. I was thinking of using the carrot stick to get her used to having her udder handled, as she will kick if I just place my hand on her udder. Is there any other training that you would recommend to help this mare mentally prepare to being a mom. Many thanks for your help, Autumn
Foal rejection is a difficult matter to deal with, as there are so many variables and potentially unexplained aspects that it can be difficult or impossible to predict likelihood of recurrence.
Too much interference with some mares can be an issue that precipitates the problem, so be cautions about that. OTOH, you obviously need to be there as if she does reject it, you need to be prepared to intercede before it's too late.
You can discuss the use of Reserpine with your veterinarian, which may help. Domperidone is used to stimulate milk production and will do nothing to assist a rejection situation.
If you think your foal will be able to handle a "carrot stick", then go ahead and use it before foaling. OTOH if you think the foal may not be able to use one, make the mare behave properly with respect for you by other means... If the mare is kicking at you, that is unacceptable under any circumstances and she needs to be made aware of that before you get into a dangerous situation when foaling...
Interestingly, Arabians are more prone to foal rejection, if you happen to have an Arabian, and furthermore, some bloodlines within that breed are more prone to it.
Sorry not to be of much assistance, but as there are so many variables, it really is impossible to guide you with any safety in the right direction. You might have a lengthy consult with your veterinarian if they are good at equine reproduction, or alternatively consider sending the mare to foal at a Veterinary Teaching University where there will be access to immediate medical/chemical intervention if required.
As you say she is a valuable mare and therefore must have valuable bloodlines for your program, this is a mare that may be an ET candidate.
My auntie bred horses for 65 years. She always pulled a mare out of her breeding program after rejection because she said the incidences of it happening again were higher. I hope in your case this is not what happens. She also said that fillies born of mares who were rejectors were also more likely to reject foals. This is just what she said, I have no scientific proof of same, but this may correlate to the heritable predisposition that Jos mentioned.
There are many breeders that have this problem. Many are breeding these valuable mares that produce winners over and over again. They put the foal on a nursemare as soon as it is born. Some mares are repete rejectors or are over protective. Sandy has one client that has an over protective mare that will kill anyone that goes in the stall after she foals. They have to use a trank gun to retrieve the foal. Rejectors and OP mares can be very dangerious to the foal and your person. Another thought comes to mind, an Aradian Farm. Sandy used to bring up to eight nursemares per season to this farm to replace rejectors. Most all were related.
I breed partbred arabians and I worked on an arabian stud for years. I have seen foal rejection but, the mares I worked with werent too severe and they seemed to only reject SOME foals.
My mare needed tons of work in the first five minutes of having her first foal. She seemed happy about having the foal with her but he wasnt allowed to touch her. We rubbed her down and settled her and once he fed (her ears flat back the whole time) she was better. She hated him more and more every day and finally had to be weaned at 4 months. She was great with her next two and never had an issue.
Mare and foal problems seemed to happen more at our place with the spoiled, intelligent mares. The ones who ran with other mares in big pastures just got on with it, the coddled show mares made a big deal out of everything. I hope you can work things out with her - hopefully like my mare she just falls in love with her second baby and it all clicks into place.
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