New to Mini's, need advice have Foal on the way any day now

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Well-Known Member
Aug 9, 2013
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Calhoun, Ga
Hello All,

Just trying to see if I can get additional information other than what I have learned online and from my vet. I recently purchased my first miniature horses in March of this year. I ended up with a beautiful 5 year old blue roan appy stud who has the most charming personality for a stud. I had searched for a while and wanted too find the right stallion first and I have always loved roans. When he was delivered the people I bought him from brought along this mare to see if I would be interested in her. She was homely to say the least. The stallion I bought was in great body condition, looked very well cared for, this mare was extremely underweight. She apparently came with a herd dispersal they had recently purchased.

Moonpie, as she is now known to us, was caked with mud, had a winter coat that made her look more like a big shaggy dog, and is solid brown. She was also covered in horse lice and had some sort of fungil infection on her skin. I ended up having to shave her body so we could treat all of her issues better. I consulted my vet and we put her on a feed regiment to start putting weight on her and then we get to know. Up until a month ago she was still a bit on the skinny side, a little ribby and sunk in along the spine and hips still. Not as terrible as when we got her. Well in a months time she exploded in size. We were puzzled with her fast weight gain. Well after vet conformation, she is very pregnant. Within the past 2 weeks she has bagged slightly and formed several solid feeling lumps in her bag as well.

My vet has told me that she has little hope for the foaling surviving because when we first purchased moonpie, we were feeding her a fescue blend hay. We don't hay at all in the summer because we have plenty of green pasture they feed off, and other than her grain was only given fescue for a few months, we do not know what she was fed prior to us having her.

I am trying to remain optimistic that the foal with survive but am being cautious. The mare isn't nearly the size of other pregnant miniatures I have seen, so I know the foal is going to be small. I have been keeping her stalled in the evenings and putting her in a corral during the day to get some sun, and exercise. I am just wondering if anyone has experienced a situation like this, maybe help feed my optimism with happy endings. My vet told me that it may be good that she has't foaled yet so that we can get all the good stuff we can in her before then. We have discussed putting her on the medication to make her have more milk, but my vet is cautioning me that it may be a waste of my money as she is on the opposite side with the chance of the foal surviving.

I also would like to know what the 10-20 minutes before active labor look like as I have watched many mini foaling videos on youtube and it is always the active labor. This is going to be my first foal and I am very nervous. She has shown the signs of "first stage" I guess with laying down frequently, biting her sides, rubbing her head on her front legs, rubbing her butt on everything. We believe we have observed her mucus plug come out, that was about 5 days ago. I mostly deal with rehabilitation and retraining horses. Mares getting ready to foal is completely alien to me. My sister has tried to help as she breeds quarter horses and has told me she is suprised this mare hasn't foaled yet because her vulva is completely stretched or something like that. I love my vet, but I know she isn't 100% familiar with miniature horses. So if you all could offer something else I would appreciate it.

Sorry I have been so random, I guess I am in a constant state of panic lately with concern for this mare. As much as I didn't want her in the beginning I have fallen in love with her ten fold.
One thing you'll learn about minis is not to keep them on pasture 24-7 anyhow for risk of grass founder so you will be needing to keep hay on hand all year round. Right now in a pinch for hay go to Tractor Supply and pick up a compressed bagged hay of one of their hays that have no fescue in it at all. I think I saw one there that was straight orchard grass which would suffice and maybe one alfalfa you can spareingly mix in gently with it. . Also get out the mineral blocks fast. I keep two out, one red trace mineral and one salt. You can also get the vet to give you a tube Domperidome just in case the mare's milk doesn't come in. But most of all, do not leave this mare unattended at all. Heck, I couldn't even get a shower without having a babysitter. That's why its called "Mare Stare". Braid her tail so you can see whats going on and bed her nice and cozy in some clean hay. Best wishes for a safe delivery.
Welcome to LB, come join us on the Mare Stare forum, lots of great ladies and gents there to help you with all your impending birth questions. Many much more knowledgeable than I. Here's a direct link to the LB Mare Stare forum: Perhaps you can just copy/paste your first post to there and you'll get more advice than you know what to do with in no. And, in the meantime, you can read the pinned threads about what to expect.
Thank you marty. I have mineral blocks out currently. We keep those out, I have 7 other horses on top of having the mini's now so we have them everywhere, literally. I was keeping her in a pasture with my racking mare. I did not know that they founder that easily. this mare actually was foundered from last year and we have already done some extensive farrier work with her. My farrier and vet, however, did tell me it was ok for her to be on the pasture.I appreciate your input though and will make sure they both have hay on top of everything else.

We have slowly added some alfalfa pellets into her feed and been giving her bermuda hay since we discovered she was pregnant.This has all been per recommendation of the vet.

I am putting pictures on now that are her before pictures. Tomorrow I will take pictures of her bag and what she looks like now so you can see the difference, and how small she is compared to what the "norm" should be. I can say the foal is quite active, which gives me hope. It moves so hard it causes her to loose her balance. I think it's rather violent sometimes.

**Please no mean commments, she was really very skinny when we first got her, only reason I bought her is I felt terrible for her condition and the people really didn't want to keep her. They pretty much gave her away.*** There is a fuzzy photo, taken a week after she arrived, a shaved photo, and then the last is from 2 months ago, and yes there is a hole in the wall ( little stallion did it to get in with her, what made us think she wasn't pregnant, only pictures I have to give a good before) I wish I had better pictures but had to take all of these off my mother's cell phone because of computer crashing. Will have better current pictures of her tomorrow.

Can you give us an idea of how big this mare is? Height (If you don't already know, minis are measured to the last hair of the mane instead of top of the withers)? Weight? [Weight tapes are very accurate for minis, but would be a place to start.] So, we can better help you design a feed program for her; not that your vet probably isn't doing a fine job, but many don't know much about minis and their needs.

I don't leave my minis out 24/7 mostly for safety reasons, but also because I don't want them getting too fat, nor do I want to risk founder issues. My easy keeper mares are out for 4-6 hours in the morning, then come in to a drylot and go on hay. My geldings and yearling colts go out all day, as do my pregnant mare, hard keeper mare, and donkey jenny. [The stallions get limited turn-out only due to pasture constraints; I just don't have a pasture for the stallions, so their turn-out is very limited.]
Chanda..she was taped by vet when we first got her and came out at 220lbs, we taped her again when the vet came out to evalute her when we discovered she was pregnant and it came out around 275lbs. She is 38inches tall. I understand the safety issues. We have coyotes problems in my area but we put her in the "mare pasture" as we have dubbed it because we seperate our boys and girls and it is in a location where natural predators have to walk through our neighbors back yard which is wide open(no cover), or they have to cross through the other pasture and get past a 16h TW gelding and a 16H Saddledbred gelding who dislike anything that resembles a dog.

Since learning she is pregnant I keep her stalled through the night and then let her have the pasture for a few hours then put her in a dry corral with hay. I have been feeding her grain in the morning and in the evening in her stall.
I have 6 mini mares that range from 36-38" and from 305# (she has Cushing's and needs to gain weight) to 405# (she doesn't look too bad, but is probably 15# over weight). [Weights are from May 4/5 of this year, so all have changed a little since then.] Since my mares are pretty easy keepers, except the Cushing's mare (she's on a special diet), they are on just a vit/min supplement, a touch of oats and hay/pasture. When I'm measuring out their hay, they get a minimum of 7# daily, and closer to 10# daily in winter (more in extreme cold). How much feed are you giving her? [What and how much of each?]
I just wanted to jump in here and say, don't give up yet on that baby being born alive and healthy! But you REALLY need to be there for the birth! The fescue can cause the sack to be thick, and the foal won't be able to break it. Many mini foals are lost to not getting out of the sack. You may also have to give the mare Domperidone to bring her milk in. Bless you for taking that poor little neglected mare in and loving her enough to try to help her bring her baby into the world alive and healthy!
I agree with the poster who said to repost this over on the MareStare board. The "Aunties" are very knowledgeable and will walk you through it all and answer your questions. Best of luck with your rescue. I'm glad she found you.
You have been given good advice on here; you asked for signs that she is going to foal: first, her underbelly should develop a pointed look that says the foal has dropped lower in her abdomen, her tail should be loose if you move it around. Hopefully she will have a swollen udder with the teats pointing down; however she could only have a small one and still foal.

Most will foal at night, that said, I have had several born at noon, but in a stall at night you should be able to watch for stall walking, pacing around, standing, pacing again, sweating and acting colicky, looking at her flanks, maybe getting up and down.

Once she lays down and the water breaks, be sure to check the position of the foal, my first thought in foaling out is find that nose! sooner than later, you want those front feet first with the head on top . Since she was on fescue, tear that sack off the nose immediately once the head is out. It may be tougher than normal, you might have to use a pocket knife to start the tear. Get that baby out, don't stand waiting a half hour for her to do it if she is in a weak condition. Only pull when she pushes, hold onto the feet while waiting for her next push.

Get your foaling kit ready now, handy in a bucket: towels, k-y jelly, chlorhexidine solution mixed 5 to 1 for the navel (not iodine), empty clean syringe to apply the solution generously, banamine, vet phone number, exam gloves, a flashlight in case of power failure. A pocket knife that ideally should be in your pocket 24 hours a day until she foals, in case she decides to foal outside on grass in the daytime; you might have to run cut the sack open because of that fescue with no time to grab that kit.

You should be commended for your dedication to this little mare, you are a great horsey mom and I wish you all the best!

I hope I have given you some helpful hints, ask for more if necessary.
We're hoping you will join us on the Mare/Foal forum. We are dedicated to helping get these little ones safely on the ground, and would love for you to join us there. http://www.miniature...370&showforum=6

So glad you took this precious momma in, and we're here to help if you'd like us to.

And don't give up on having a live baby -- we've had mares who were on fescue for parts of their pregnancies bring foals safely to the ground and survive. But it is important you be there for her, as she's building strength from your care, but may need some help -- especially if labor is long -- as she may not have lots of reserve energy. And we've dealt with several rescue mares who were "discovered" pregnant and in poor shape. So we're here for you!

It sounds like her fescue exposure wasn't long -- and hopefully she'll have 60-90 days "clear" from the fescue. Do you have fescue growing in your pasture that she's on?
Ditto what Diane and the others are telling you. Whatever chances this foal and mare had before have greatly increased since you took her into your care. Wishing you a good outcome!
I am currently feeding her a mixture of TM12 solution with alfalfa pellets, she gets 2#s in the morning and 2#s in the evening.Plus vitamins for pregnant mares. She also goes on the pasture for 3-4 hours daily, then goes in a dry lot with 2 flakes of bermuda hay.When she goes up for the night I give put fresh hay in her bag which is usually about 2-3 flakes worth. I check on her almost every hour in the evenings(lots of sleep deprivation) even though I do not think that she is going to foal, I am trying to learn her patterns and normal behavior throughout the night so that it might be easier for me to notice if something were up.

I took pictures today of her now, and of her bag and her vulva. Forgot to add we had estimated her to be around 310-320 days gestation when the vet cam out, and that was 14 days ago.

I want to thank you all for your advice, I am going to move my post over to the mare stare area like having been suggested.
Oh this post makes me want to cry, thank you for taking her in and being a good horsey mom. Welcome from Southern Maryland, with that said. I agree with the others, From her pictures she could foal at any minute or in several weeks, as mini mares have their own rules! As others have said with her being on fescue she could have a hard time of it, and the sack could be thick, so you really must assist. Any problem needs to be taken care of ASAP. Is there any other mini owner near you that you can consult? And yes please join the marestare forum.
Riverrose thank you. I appreciate all of the commendation but really don't deserve it, I wouldn't have taken a second look at her if my mother wasn't over for the delivery of the stallion. I only wanted him, and had already been looking for a registered mare. My family and I have spent the last 5 years rescuing and rehabilitating neglected horses. Some of it was for the local shelter as they can not hold that many horses but a lot of it has been private. We seem to have a talent of finding horses that need help, plus we have gotten a name for ourselves in the area as taking in animals. We have more than we ever counted on. I didn't want another beaten up horse as I was taking a break from it because it wears on you after a while. My mother is the real savior, she insisted that little mare not leave our property but I have grown to love her which is why I am trying to pull on every resource i can find to try to save her baby.

Oh and chanda the pasture we have her on does not have fescue growing in it. I checked, and double checked.

There aren't any other mini owners in my area that I know of. It's mostly barrel racing quarter horses. I have been pretty diligent in my research, at least I think. I have read on the birthing process and things that may go wrong. I have watched numerous videos on regular live births as well as red bag deliveries. I check on her every hour in the evenings and pretty much have sight on her all day during daylight hours. I believe my behavior towards her has become slightly paranoid. I know it's good she keep the baby in as long as necessary but i can't help wanting it all to be over with already. and to have a healthy living little foal.
You can take this advice or leave it, it's up to you, but I live in an area that has NO high speed internet service, when I say NO I mean NO. We couldn't get on marestare to save our lives so what I did was go to walmart and buy a baby monitor system. We hung the camera and a night light in the mares stall and put the monitor in our bedroom. It has sound and a is a small tv so you can see the mare. It was well worth the $150 I paid for it, as it has saved a couple of foals, as mini mares can be sneaky

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