Mare Foaling Prediction Signs

Please Note: The Mare Foaling Prediction signs discussed on this page are intended for use only as a foaling date estimation tool for horses. Each horse and each pregnancy will be different.

I have been breeding miniature horses for many years.  The main difference between a miniature horse foaling and a full-size pony or horse foaling is that miniature horses could have problems that other size horses do not have.  I do not suggest attempting to foal out a miniature horse without studying the problems that could happen and being prepared.

Mare Foaling Prediction Signs

It is always best to contact your veterinarian for any foaling questions.

Please remember that it is an approximate date, and may not be the date that your mare will give birth, as all pregnancies are different.

This calculator will give the first date of 320 days and the second date of 343 days.

If you live in the south and have Fescue grass, it is essential to pull your mare off of Fescue and onto another type of grass or hay a minimum of 30 to 45 days before foaling.  I pull my horses off Fescue hay 3 to 4 months before foaling.  It is also deficient in Selenium where I live.  So I boost my mares that are pregnant with a Selenium supplement around the same time I change their hay.

When a mare ingests fescue infected with the fungus Acremonium coenophialum, then dystocia (difficult birth) and other problems associated with milk production and the placenta are more common.   (I will write more about this another day)  So knowing your mare’s approximate due date is very important if you are on Fescue Pasture or hay.

Normal Gestation Timeframes

Full-size Horse: 320 to 362 days with an average of 342 days.

Miniature Horse: 320 days. Miniature horses can foal anytime after 300 days.

Donkey:  360 to 375 days with 368 as an average date.

Find My Horses is not responsible for problems or injuries arising from the use/misuse of this tool or for any inaccuracy in the foaling date estimate of an individual horse.

Mare Foaling Prediction Signs

Mare Foaling Prediction Signs can be any of the following.  Each mare is different and will show varying degrees of these changes.  Some you may never physically see at all.

  1. Possible Behavior Changes – Several weeks before foaling your mare may show signs of irritability, mood changes, or even maybe more affectionate towards you or another horse.
  2. The shape of her Body – Mares close to foaling will have their belly very pointed and look similar to a V where the baby has moved into position, and you are seeing the baby’s butt at the bottom of the mare’s belly.
  3. The Udder will Fill  – The udder will start to fill during the last month of gestation.  Some horses may not bag up (another term for horse people) until after the birth of the foal.  Typically, your mare’s udder will fill at night and shrink during the day. When the udder remains full, foaling may be days or only hours away.
  1. The Teats will Enlarge  – The teats enlarge close to foaling.  They are starting to fill up with milk for the new foal.  Some mares teats stick out to one side while others point inwards.
  2. The Pelvis will Relax – About three weeks before foaling the muscles around the pelvic area will begin to relax.  This relaxation will allow the foal to be able to pass through the birth canal.  Most mares will look hollow on either side of the base of the tail head.  I call this Jello Butt.  (such a technical term)  If I slightly pat the horse near the tail head and I get wiggles like Jello, then the mare is closer to foaling.
  3. The Teats will Wax – Not all mares will get was on their teats.  I only have a couple of horses that do this.  Wax-like beads will occur shortly before foaling.  Some fill within a few hours and some a few days.  These wax drops hold in the very important colostrum that every foal needs within the first few hours of life.
  4. The Vulva will Relax – One to two days before your mare is ready to foal her Vulva will noticeably swell and lengthen.  Just on the inside of the Vulva, the color will change to a dark pink or almost red color.
  5. The Milk may start to Flow – Some mares will begin to secrete milk before foaling.  It is imperative to watch these horses closely.  Mares that stream milk for several days may lose the colostrum before the foal gets to drink it.   You may also use test strips to help determine the Ph of your mare’s milk.  This number can help you decide how soon your mare will foal.  Most mares foal within 24 hours when the Ph of their milk is below 6.5.


(The mare in this video foaled 2 hours later)

  1. Possible Sweating – It is possible that your mare will start to sweat across her neck, around her flanks, and possibly under her chest leading up to delivery.  She may feel warm and damp.  Sweating is usually the first “noticeable” signs that a foal is coming.
  2. Is it Colic? – Many new horse owners think a mare may be colicy when they are actually in labor.  Mares in labor will be restless and swish their tail.  They may look at their sides and even kick at her abdomen.  Some mares continue to eat and drink normally.  Some horses will defecate and urinate more often, and the manure may be loose and almost watery.

Many mares will keep you guessing even though they show all the signs of being in labor.  If they can see or hear you, they may hold off delivery until that one moment that you go inside to use the restroom or grab a bite to eat.  Consider getting a camera system set up in your barn so you can watch from inside your home and go out once you see your mare starting to foal.  The great thing about camera services is that you can even use a service that streams your camera online and others can help you watch, so you don’t have many sleepless nights while waiting for the foal to be born.

Here is a video of one of my Miniature Mares foaling.  As you see, she foaled very quickly from start to finish.  This mare is a great mare and has foaled twice during the day.  She follows the above guidelines and is easy to predict when she will foal.  She foals quickly, so we are on the alert to make sure we are there.


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