Maiden Mares: Frustration, Anxiety and Absolute Joy
Updated: Apr 1
So let me get straight to the point: we are dealing with 3....yes THREE!!!...maiden mares this season. How long will they go? Will they show the normal signs? Will they know what to do? WILL THEY ENJOY MOTHERHOOD? WHEN WILL THEY FOAL?
Throw global pandemic COVID-19 in the mix with all of the uncertainty it brings (and the inability to enjoy evening cocktails, bc HELLO, FOALWATCH!), and you're really in trouble.
No sleep + constant monitoring + complete lack of control = MASSIVE ANXIETY.
But now, ladies and gentlemen, one of the maiden mares has foaled. Textbook delivery, everyone is doing well and we finally got a little bit of sleep. We thought we would share details from the final 10 days of her pregnancy, as she did exhibit many of the usual signs, albeit in a little different manner. We hope this helps those of you who might have misgivings about your own maiden mares. Who are we kidding, right? But maybe this will put your mind at ease just a bit, or at least gives you something to read to pass the time!
1. First of all, mare didn't do much bagging up in advance of her due date. Her "bag" (if you can even call it that) began forming around day 325, but was absolutely minimal until a day or two prior to her giving birth, and even then nowhere near that of a more experienced broodmare.
2. The mare's "due date" (day 340) came and went, with little to no change. Though there were no signs of impending labor, we still monitor via a camera overnight, doing a quick check every 2-3 hours.
3. Around day 341, the mare experienced an hour or two of pretty extreme discomfort. Pawing, biting at her flank, restlessness and going up and down (and there was not enough milk to test using PH strips). This repeated on day 344, though we were able to get a drop of milk to test. PH tested around a 7.5 (note that we tested milk 2x a day beginning day 340).
4. The mare did the usual softening around her tail, but did become noticeably "mushier" (including the hollows on either side of her tail) around day 347. Bag continued to increase somewhat and milk dropped to a 7 that evening, though was still yellow, slightly cloudy but much more of a serum than a milk.
5. Day 348, mare's milk dropped to a 6.5 when tested around 9am and was cloudier than the night before. No other impending signs, so she was turned out as usual but monitored closely. No signs other than the normal discomfort of a mare at this point in gestation.
6. Around 4pm, the mare came in for the night. Around 5pm, creamy white milk was streaming, she began sweating and the veins in her hind legs bulged. By 6pm, the foal had arrived. He was up within 10 minutes, nursing by 20 and trotting around the stall by 30 minutes! The mare was super-attentive and knew just what to do, proving for the millionth time that mother nature knows what she is doing.
Edelien aka Lyons Creek Tulamorka (Eurcommerce Washington x Lupicor x Goodtimes), moments after the birth of her Arezzo VDL (Chin Chin x Heartbreaker) colt. Seeing her meet this little one - her first foal - was an absolute joy.
So, as you can see, things really progressed quickly over the last couple of days - especially over the last 6-8 hours. With most of our seasoned broodmares, we see a more gradual bagging up, change in milk consistency and a slower progression towards that magic <6.4 PH. I see now how people miss the birth with maidens so often, though, at least in this situation, the mare did show the signs...just fast-forwarded through some of them. We will see if this holds true with the next two maiden mares. As a matter of fact, one *could* foal out tonight. We are on high alert!
So, what is your experience with maiden mares? Have you found them to be more trying than more experienced broodmares? Did your maiden give you the normal signs or did she catch you off-guard? Comment below - we would love to hear more about your maiden mare experiences!