Education Blog

Welcome to the Foal Patrol Education Blog! Please check back regularly as we will be constantly posting new content. Thank you to veterinarians Dr. Ted Hill and Dr. Stuart Brown for help with this project. Questions or comments? Contact us at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame:

Nutrition for mares, foals and beyond

March 14th, 2019

Chris Baker from Three Chimneys Farm shares some comprehensive information on equine nutrition for foals, weanlings, mares and stallions. For the first several months, foals receive their basic nutrients from milk. This means that the mare or nursing mare needs to be consuming high quality feed to maintain their milk production and health. The nutritional needs of a lactating mare are greater than any other horse type. Watch below to learn more....

First meal: Colostrum

February 7th, 2019

Post delivery, the foal and mare take time to bond. The foal will attempt its first steps and eventually build enough stability to stand on its' own. Once standing, the foal will have its first meal of colostrum. Colostrum is the first milk produced by the mare just before she foals, and for not more than 24 hours after giving birth. Colostrum contains antibodies that are essential in building the immune system of the foal.

Watch this video from Chanteclair farm from Season 1 of Foal Patrol to learn how the farm staff ensures enough antibodies are present. 


Post Delivery

February 5th, 2019

With Honors, a 5-year-old mare owned by LNJ Foxwoods, delivered a filly by Tapit at 9:10 p.m. on Feb. 4, 2019 at Claiborne Farm as part of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame’s Foal Patrol Season 2. 

It’s such an exciting time when a foal is born! To ensure the foal’s health, farms may take different steps to care for the newborn. The farm manager and staff work hard to ensure it is a smooth delivery for the mare with thorough check-ups leading up to the delivery. Six weeks prior to the due date, the mother’s immunity is boosted by giving her prenatal vaccination to ensure that her colostrum is rich with antibodies to prevent disease in the foal. Great care and attention are paid to the mare during labor and delivery then care is provided to the foal.

Following the delivery, each farm goes through a few steps to ensure the foal and mare are healthy. The first step is when the umbilical cord breaks, it is dipped in iodine to sterilize it and prevent infection. A healthy foal should stand within an hour of delivery and nurse within a few hours. In the first 18-24 hours, the newborn foal will gain immunity from the colostrum in the mother’s milk. Most farms will have a veterinarian do a post foaling exam of the newborn to make sure the baby is healthy and adequately bonded to facilitate nursing (i.e. good suckle and latching to the mare’s udder). The veterinarian will draw a blood sample to measure the level of absorbed antibody in the first 12-24 hours of life.

Colostrum – The first milk produced by the mare just before she foals, and for not more than 24 hours after giving birth. Colostrum contains antibodies that are essential in building the immune system of the foal.

Basic Nutrition

January 15th, 2019

Horses need to eat a variety of foods to stay healthy. The needs of the horse can vary by age as well as activity. Pregnant mares usually need more nutrients to support their growing foal. Racehorses usually need more food to build their muscles and strength for racing. It’s a balance of having the horse eat enough to grow but not gain too much weight.

A balanced diet for horses should consist of grass or hay, grain mix, and water with occasional salt and treats. Grass or hay make up a majority of the horses’ diet. A full-grown horse (1,000 pounds) will eat 15-20 pounds of hay each day.

Each of the mares participating in Foal Patrol Season 2 have slightly different diets which will also change and adjust as they deliver and start lactating. Explore the pages under the daily routine section to learn more. 

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Photo courtesy of Kathy Landman