Are Humans Threatening During Foaling?

Q. How does the presence of humans affect the mare just prior to giving birth? It is difficult to monitor a mare closely while remaining unnoticed.

Bill Bickert, DeWitt, Mich.

A. Mares tend to deliberately delay foaling until all is safe. Any disturbances or perceived threats can delay onset of parturition. While some domestic mares do not seem much affected by humans and other disturbances, for others the presence of humans, even trusted caretakers, can delay foaling. Once foaling commences, disturbances such as humans approaching, dogs, lights turned on or off, and countless others can easily interrupt the mare's productive laboring. A commonly used method to reduce human activity around the mare during foaling is to install a video monitoring system to observe foaling stalls or paddocks remotely using low-level lighting.


About the Author

Sue McDonnell, PhD, Certified AAB

Sue M. McDonnell, PhD, is a certified applied animal behaviorist and the founding head of the equine behavior program at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine. She is also the author of numerous books and articles about horse behavior and management.

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