She's still doing it...

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Well-Known Member
Mar 14, 2004
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Ontario, Canada
My mare just had her first baby and everything is great health wise. She started pawing at her colt when he would lie down to make him get up. She actually made contact with his ribcage. She still does it, and the foal is a week old now. She bullies him around a bit now, and she steps all over him when he's lying down in his stall! She's going to be put back on 24/7 turnout so they have more space to roam around, and less chance of her stepping on him, but is there anything else to do? At what point do you say enough is enough? We are worried that she is going to hurt her foal, he seems to be a tough little guy and had withstood her "tough love" so far.... I'm worried about her breaking his leg, we had a close call this morning when she stepped on him, he wouldnt put any weight on his leg, but was fine after a few minutes. I knwo maiden mares can be clumbsy, and it takes them while to get used to the idea, but I find this a little extreme. She rushes over him for her food, and when its turnout time, she forgets hes there. She lets the other mare in the field take care of him when they are outside with no issues. I thought after a week she would have gotten used to at least looking out for him, but its worse, not better....
Sorry, I should have mentioned that, yes, this is her first foal. She's been around then in the past (on turnout with other mares w/foals) but has never had one of her own.
I would seriously look into getting the Vet to but her on an antidepressant (NO I'm not kidding!!!) This is not normal behaviour. Is it important to you to breed from this mare again, because if it is not, I would not do so. I am not one to condemn on a single foal but we went through something similar with a big pony and she killed her foal, second time around.
My first thoughts are how big a stall are they in ?? Rabbitfizz has a good point that you should be looking into also. I would have them outside asap. The little guy will stay out of her way except at meal times given a chance. Confined in a small stall you might not be happy with the end result.
They are in a 20x10 stall. Mom is a big TB mare, but that size stall should be adequate for them. Here is my situation, she is out on a breeding lease about 8 hours from me to a very reputable breeder. I am extremely happy with the care she's gotten, and they keep me updated regularly. They are definitely breeding her again, although I did express my concerns about her behaviour, they REALLY want a foal from her. The vet has been out, but never suggested anit-depressants, so I will talk to them about that. If things don't get better outside, should I be considering taking baby away from mom? I really hate to do that, but I have been planning for this foal for years. I actually have a mare at here at home who will adopt anything with four legs, even if she already has her own baby at her side. I also have about 5 other mares that would literally kill for a baby of their own...I am so torn about this, I really thought that Zoey would be a fabulous mom....
I dont think she needs meds. how is she depresed?

we had a arab mare that would do the same thing. the minute the baby would lay down to sleep, she would paw at it to get it up. she just seemed to thing that there was something wromg with the baby when it was on the ground. it got soo bad that the baby was sleep deprived and would fall asleep standing up and than fall over and quickly get up. what we did, was tie her up in the pasture , so the baby could get out of reach and sleep. and in her stall, wich was 20x40 we devided it down the midle and avery fey hrs we sepaarated them so it could sleep.

at first she went nuts when the baby layed down, screeming at it and pacing. but after a day she relized tha after the baby sleeps, it still gets up and is fine. after a week of this we tried it without the tying up and separating and she was fine, and has been fine ever since.

just make shure that if you tie her up, you are there so supervise. better yet go in the pasture with a rope on her and let her graze while you are holding her, that way the baby can run or sleep.
We have a mare Daisy in her teens now that gave us some of the best foals for showing and she was a nightmare on hoofs. She would never let her foals lay down to nap from the time she foaled she thought they should be standing up at all times or else so we also had them seperate side by side from very early on and only together for nursing. Whenever the foals got around the age where they wanted to nibble food from her tub she would fly into a rage and scream and kick the poor things till they stood behind her while she ate. Needless to say her foals were all weaned early. She had 9 that she produced and the good thing was they never if fillies 7 of them and we kept them for breeding were like her thank god but rather having there own foals turned out to be great moms. But it is kind of sad to watch when they are like that as you worry for the foals health and life. lt didn't stop us from breeding her but we did do what was safer for the foals till weaning by keeping them out and feeding baby on it's own with her tied or on the other side of the fence so she couldn't get them during that period. When vet checked she was not depressed and in good health were told it was her nature and we were told at that time with more foals it would get better but it never did for her. l do have to say she was not protective and any mare could have run off with her babies but when her bag got full she'd go looking for them so all in all she also wasn't that dumb. We are always greatful the rest of our mares are not like that with foals.
I have had maiden mares act this seems to be a big adjustment for some of the more selfish ones that rush in to the feed dish without regard for junior lagging behind. And those also slam past junior on their way out of the seems to take a while before they realize they have a real live foal in tow, and must take care of it! I'd definitely give her more room or she could step on him such that he breaks a leg.

It takes some time, but she'll get the hang of it.
I think they need to be turned out and left out, or at least an option to go in and out as they pleased.

Most of the time these mares know way more than we do tho., I have seen mommas nearly through their babies across a stall with their noses only to discover that the baby was not doing well at all, so I figured that was natures way of keeping him going. It could very easily be that...........

If she wanted to hurt him she would have done it already. Does she let him nurse?

Good luck.

She seems to be getting worse and worse as days go on, but we are putting them out all the time now. We tried making up an area where only the foal could go in and lies down, but she did not like that a proceeded to tear that down and scare everyone (inlcuding her poor baby) half to death. She lets him nurse no problem, and sometimes he allowed to sleep, but sometimes he isnt...depends on how she feels I guess. We are going to see how the next few weeks progress, but if it stays like this, I think that baby will be coming home. We have a mare here who will accept another foal even while she's got one at her side. We haven't tried tying her, but having seen her behaviour when we set up the creep feeding area, I really don't want to risk it. She has been an absolute terror to handle since she foaled out. Thanks for all your suggestions!
Thank you so much for posting this. And forum members thank you too for responding. I am learning so this post has just helped me a lot. I am terribly sorry for your problem and hope the little foal will be ok and that the mare will settle down quickly for you too. I know what it's like dealing with an anxious thoroughbred.
Deary Deary me- mention the word anti depressants and everyone presumes depression!! Please allow me to be speaking from experience not just making a shot in the dark, people!! Antidepressants are for the most part, just mildly happy pills that take your mind off things and usually have a mild sedative side affect. If ever an animal needed her mind taken off things this mare does. It is better than a straight forward sedative as this can come through in the milk and affect the foal, and some TB foals react VERY badly to sedatives- like it has a reverse affect as with hyperactive children. I personally would never breed from a mare that was bad with her foals, sure you may be lucky, you may pass it on or you may get dead foals. Too much stress in foaling from mares that are excellent mothers to be messing around with mares that aren't, I'm afraid.
I have some more positive news this morning. We've stopped feeding her in her stall, she only eats outside, and this works much better, baby has more room to get out of the way. They had to come in last night because of thundershowers, but without getting food in her stall, Zoey was great. She has a mare outside with her who lost a foal earlier this year, and has adapted a bit of a babysitter role, and does get quite mad at Zoey when she bullies the foal. We still have a long way to go, but this solution seems to be working, and we are keeping our fingers crossed. Thanks so much for everyone's suggestions. This forum is awesome!! I will post pictures of him soon!!

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