As foaling season approaches get ready for your new arrival with these simple tips! This is an important time of year; your mare may be coming into the last few months before she goes into labour. Preparing your field and stable/shelter is crucial before the big day.

If you decide that you want your mare to give birth within a stable or shelter you should firstly start to consider the size that you need. Horses will need larger than normal boxes to accommodate lying down, rolling around and getting comfortable during pregnancy, this would be a minimum of 12’x18’ however large 17hh horses may need a bigger space. Our stables can be adapted so that you have a removable partition or gate within a 12’x24’, this then can be used as a foaling box or swap to a large shelter if needed.

When deciding on the position of your foaling box ensure that the destination of installation is flat and there are not any undulations in the ground as the foal will find it difficult to stand up, all holes should be filled as this will avoid pooling of any urine/excess water from buckets later. The shelter should ideally be close to a water supply and have access to warm water at time of the birth. The field should be as close as possible to the stable/shelter so that the young foal does not have a long distance to walk. The walkway to the field should ideally be on a flat non-slip surface, this is to avoid any incidents at such an early stage and be clear of all obstructions along the way.

Getting the birthing area ready early is vital to let your mare adjust to her new surroundings. An early move-in date gives time for her to develop protective antibodies. Before the birth it is best to strip the stall of all bedding, remove all buckets, feeders and licks that may have been added. Clean all other areas which could harbour bacteria, wash down using a horse friendly detergent and water. Allow to air-dry after disinfecting.

Especially if the stable or shelter is installed onto concrete you should install a softer base such as rubber matting, this should be secure and fixed together. When setting up the area provide a bed which is foal safe such as clean straw, avoid dusty bedding such as saw dust as this may affect the foals breathing. Straw is the ideal bedding for a foaling box as it won’t stick to the wet, new-born foal or to the mare. Stable dust must be kept to a minimum. At this point you can assess the area for any potential hazards such as sharp edges, old buckets or low hanging hay nets and remove these accordingly.

Light is needed especially in the winter; most mares may decide to foal during the night when it is quiet, and they are not disturbed. A light source will help if there are any problems throughout the birth especially if a vet needs to intervene, if your stable/shelter is remote you can use a low light bulb from a solar or battery powered source. We recommend the solar hub – https://www.hunterstables.co.uk/product/solar-hub-16/ Installing a video monitor or using a birth alarm system may be useful if you are not on site for the birth and you can be alarmed if a problem should arise. It is advisable to have your veterinarian’s telephone number nearby in case of an emergency.

Following these steps will help you to prepare for the new arrival! Good luck!

If you are still confused about what shelter or stable to purchase ask our expert team who would be more than happy to offer advice.