WRANGLING ON THE RANGE #149
SLEEPING SICKNESS? - DON'T RISK IT - BOSAL QUERY - OVERDUE BIRTH
From "Northern Horse Review" - May 2005
How do I know if my mare's new foal is sleeping too much and may
Dr. Janice Soika is an Associate Professor of Veterinary Sciences
at Purdue University at West Lafayette, Indiana.
Newborn foals sleep most of the time. They typically go through
two to three hour cycles of sleep; wake; urination; nurse; some
activity, defecation; sleep. So it would be unusual for a foal to
sleep for longer than 2-3 hours at a stretch. If your foal is
unusually sleepy, or does not rouse easily when you approach the
stall, call your veterinarian immediately.
The general guidelines are that a foal should become active very
shortly after birth, within 5-10 minutes. It should be standing
and walking within 30-45 minutes (an hour at the latest), and
nurse for the first time 45-90 minutes after birth (two hours as
the outer limit of normal).
Foals typically consume 15-20% of their body weight per day. The
best way to monitor how a foal is doing is to weigh it daily. A
typical light breed foal gains a pound per day or more.
Unfortunately, this is not practical in most instances. Weight
tape can be a good substitute.
To determine whether or not a foal is getting enough to eat, a
horse owner can watch for these signs; Foal latches onto the
udder and can be seen swallowing milk vs. putting head in general
vicinity of the udder; Foal nurses and then goes off and does
other things (sleep, play, etc).
If a foal is constantly at a mare's udder then it is probably
hungry. If a foal is ill, often the first sign is the mare's
udder. It will be engorged and may be leaking milk.
DON'T RISK IT
I'm thinking about teaching lessons on my acreage, will this
affect my insurance?
Connie Begin has 30 years combined experience in the insurance
and equine industry. She works for the team of Canadian Farm
Insurance Services Inc as a broker for CFI Insurance Group.
Yes, this will affect your insurance. Unfortunately, most
insurers will not provide liability for this exposure. There are
various liability issues to address when giving riding lessons.
1. You will need instructor's liability for yourself. Your
students could sue you if they are injured while riding under
your instruction - whether they are riding lesson horses or their
2. Are you providing the lesson horses? If so, you must have
liability coverage for this exposure.
3. Have all your students/parents/ guardians sign a liability
waiver. This means everyone - one for the student, one for the
parent or guardian and anyone else on your property, ie:
grandparents, friends of the student (parents have to sign
waiver), spectators, etc. You may think this is overkill, but
believe me, it is not. Your insurer may want a copy of the waiver
you are using.
4. You should ensure students who are trailering their horses
into your facility have liability coverage on their equines.
5. Post warning signs where they are visible. All equine
activities involve inherent risks.
6. If you are boarding outside horses you will need liability
extended for that exposure and coverage for the horses in your
care, custody and control as well.
You should definitely contact an insurance agent to discuss a
comprehensive farm package that includes equine and/or non-equine
I want to start riding my three-year-old horse in a bosal, how do
I get one that fits him?
- Carrie Tell, Nova Scotia
Cyril Desjarlais hails from Millarville, Alberta, and has won
multiple Canadian championships in halter, trail and western
The main thing is to ensure is that the bosal is large enough and
does not pinch the cheek bones of your horse, as this will cause
discomfort. Discomfort can be exhibited by head tossing or
shaking. Adjusting the bosal to fit the nose can be achieved by
the way the mecate is tied. The mecate is the 'third' rein that
you will often see on a bosal which is longer and perhaps tied to
the saddle horn in a nonrestrictive way. The more wraps in your
mecate, the tighter the bosal will fit to your horse's head.
There should not be a lot of space between the mecate and your
horse's jaw, but just enough space so that when you are mounted
and pull directly back with a moderate amount of pressure, the
bosal comes in contact with the jaw bones. Otherwise, the bosal
will be very ineffective.
Find the half-way point between the eye and the nostril
(measuring with a string can help). The top band of your bosal
should rest just one inch below that point - make sure that the
bosal sits on the hard tissue of the nose and not the soft tissue
above the nostrils. The oneinch measurement is an approximation
as all horses have different shapes and sizes of heads.
I think my mare is overdue, what should I do?
Dr. Dirk Vanderwall works for the Northwest Equine Reproduction
Laboratory at the University of Idaho's Center for Reproductive
The first thing I do (as you might suspect), is try and double
check the breeding dates, since on several occasions, I have
found that what had been considered the last breeding date turns
out not to be the case.
As far as what constitutes being overdue, it has been well
documented that mares can go a full year (or more) and deliver
healthy foals, and it is important that it is the foal that
determines when foaling will occur. So in general, the pregnancy
will continue until the foal is fully mature and ready for life
outside the mare.
If the last breeding date is confirmed, and it does indicate the
mare is going longer than expected, then it is important to
confirm that she is still pregnant. For that, I suggest having a
veterinarian perform a transrectal palpation examination, which
will not only confirm the mare's pregnancy status, but also fetal
viability (movement, etc.) if she is pregnant. If a transrectal
ultrasound examination is performed, it can be used to provide an
assessment of placental health.
In addition to the actual assessment of the mare, just having the
veterinarian come and check the mare may provide the owner with a
little more comfort that everything is okay. If I check a mare
that is going longer than expected and everything is normal as
assessed with palpation/ultrasound, and the mare is not showing
any signs that she is in distress, then I recommend just giving
the mare more time (which can be difficult for an owner). If
however, the mare shows any signs that something is not right
(off feed, discomfort, fever, etc.), then further diagnostic
testing (blood samples, etc.) and/or intervention (e.g.,
induction of labor) may be warranted.
Send in your questions or a brief description of a problem you
have encountered. We'll pass your query on to the experts and
publish the answer. Write to us at:
Northern Horse Review
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