Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Life Lessons Interrupts Show Clipping

Foal Heat in the Arabian Mare

I planned on doing the final segment on clipping for the Arabian show circuit, but sometimes life jumps up and interrupts my plans. No only did one of my pictures for the post get lost, but the Bey Aana's new foal required my immediate attention.

Usually at the onset of what the experts call the foal heat (the first heat cycle after the mare has foaled) the foal will experience diarrhea. Newborn foals are highly susceptible to the ravages of the intestinal disorder and cam succumb to fatal dehydration in an extremely short amount of time. So diarrhea from any cause, and particularly the foal heat is not to be taken lightly.

Over the years I've heard different explanations for the occurrence of this disorder in newborns. Some say the change in hormone levels from the mare's heat cycle affect the milk in a manner that is difficult for the foal's system to tolerate.

Others believe that the timing is coincidence. The foal heat of the mare has no effect on the newborn. They believe the bacteria etc of the foal's new environment impacts it's digestive tract causing the diarrhea.

Regardless of which is correct, the upset of the balance of the newborn foal's intestinal tract must be monitored and, if possible, resolved as quickly as possible.

In some foals the diarrhea will be so severe the foal will experience burns along its butt checks and down its legs. Diarrhea this severe is dangerous for the foal. While the burns can be treated easily with Desitin, the possibility of the foal being dangerously dehydrated is great. A veterinarian should be consulted in such cases.

If you are new to caring for a newborn foal, contact your veterinarian at any signs of diarrhea in the foal. New foals can die from diarrhea in less than 24 hours. It's better to be safe that sorry.

To help ease the severity of the foal heat, I always make sure the mare's udder is washes thoroughly before the foal nurses the first time. I also administer pro-biotics to the foal at birth, day 4 and day 7. Normally, I use Probios at a 1/2 tube for each dose.

So today, Aana's newborn colt is beginning a bout of severe diarrhea. While the colt does not have burns yet, his back side was covered and his legs clear down past his hocks with thin acidy feces of the type that causes such burns.

I carefully washed his little bottom and legs with warm water and a very mild soap. Then rinsed it thoroughly. I also began administering BioSponge.

This product is an intestinal adsorbent that is formulated specifically to deal with diahrea in horses and particularly foals. It is administered orally with water. After the first dose or two is fairly easy to give the foal so it doesn't taste bad. The product is pro-biotics that help re-establish the delicate balance of the foal's gut. It can be administered for 2 - 4 times a day.

In my book, BioSponge is a lifesaver. It has taken the stress of dealing with diarrhea much easier. The product really turns even the most difficult cases in foals around quickly. While as a precautionary measure, I will apply a protective coating of Desitin to this foal's bottom to circumvent burning, with the BioSponge this event without that kind of damage. Even the worst cases will last a few days at most, where otherwise it might go on for a week to ten days sometimes longer.

Aana's foal has already gotten used to being administered the Bio-Sponge mixed with water in a large dose syringe. He has a smudge of the medication on the side of his mouth, but his tummy is already settling.


  1. Golly you are teaching us a lot of important stuff.
    The pregnant mare at our barn is still not willing to foal. Her tummy is pointing at the ground and can't possibly get any larger, her milk looks to be bountiful and we thought we saw the waxy tip, her rear has softened, but the telltale swelling has not occurred.

  2. Im glad your little ones tummy is settling!

    digestive upset is awful for new foals....

  3. Gosh, I never thought about this. What a wonder woman you are.

    Abraham Lincoln
    Remember "The World's Ugliest Cat?" He got a haircut!
    Brookville Daily Photo

  4. What challenges you face with these babies! I'm glad the little one is feeling better. Good luck! And give him an extra little hug from us :)

  5. Glad to hear baby is doing well. I was never part of much breeding, and I don't recall foal heat being an issue...glad for the education here, as always!