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During this time of year when mares are beginning to foal, many concerns are present regarding mare and foal health, and problems that may arise during the birth and rearing process. One problem horse owners can be faced with is a mare’s rejection of her foal. It is not known as to why a mare will reject her foal, but it can be seen in mares who are afraid of their foal, mares who will not permit their foal to suckle, and/or aggressive mares who attack their foal with or without suckling stimulation.
Horses that can be at a risk for rejecting their foal are first time (primiparous) mares, Arabian mares, mares who have a history of rejecting two or more foals, and/or a mare who was separated early on from her foal. Mares that are prone to rejecting their foals are more likely to avoid their foal, threaten, squeal, chase, bite, and/or kick versus normal behavior of defending their foal, licking, and nickering. Speculations have been made that multiple humans present at the foal’s birth, the presence of other horses, and artificial insemination are more likely to lead to foal rejection; however, these are not proven to be specific causes. Whatever the cause of the foal rejection, the main goal is to maintain the safety and health of the foal, improve maternal behavior in the dam, stimulate lactation in the dam (i.e. medications such as Domperidone), treat any possible medical causes for rejection (i.e. mastitis leading to pain and not allowing the foal to suckle or colic leading to abdominal pain and sensitivity), and keeping the horse handlers safe from an aggressive mare.
Foals that are rejected will require intense care regarding feeding as normally a foal will suckle several times per hour (2-3x/hour) in the first few weeks of life. Foals should be fed at 25% of their body weight and gain approximately 1-2 lbs per day. For example, an average 110 lb foal= 50 kg. 25% of a 50kg foal= 12.5 L which can be given at 1 L every 2 hours. This can be a difficult task to perform due to the time consuming nature of feeding and preparing milk replacer. This can lead to gastrointestinal distress in the foal, therefore the foal’s defecation, urination, and demeanor should be closely monitored. The foal will normally defecate 2-3 times per day and urinate at least 1 time per hour. Teaching the foal to suckle from a pan or small bucket is also a possibility and should be implemented as soon as possible. Nurse mares can be used if available, which is ideal but not always a feasible option. The most important component with initial feeding of a rejected foal, and any foal for that matter, is to ensure appropriate intake of colostrum. Colostrum is the antibody rich milk that is first produced from the mare’s udder which provides a newborn foal with immune protection. Your veterinarian should examine the foal at 12-24 hours of age at which point, a simple blood test can be performed to asses the antibody levels, otherwise known as IgG level. If the levels are below 400 mg/dl, the foal will require a plasma transfusion. Normal values are greater than 800 mg/dl. A foal that has been rejected will likely be below the normal range and at risk for sepsis, and thus require medical treatment.
If the mare is not too aggressive, she can be restrained while the foal suckles. Barriers can be placed between the mare and foal to decrease the risk of the mare kicking her foal (hay bales or shaving bales between the front and hind legs, 4x4 board or pole to hold the mare against a wall, etc). If the mare’s head is tied, it should be tied with a quick release knot and loose enough that she may eat and drink freely, but not be able to turn around to bite her foal. Some mares require sedation due to excessive aggression. Acepromazine is a good choice as it is a tranquilizer and stimulates lactation. It can be used alone or in combination with Xylazine if the mare requires more potent sedation.
The most important components of managing a foal that has been rejected are to keep the foal and handlers safe, ensure appropriate nutrition and health of the foal, and ensure the health of the dam. The mare should be examined fully by your veterinarian for any signs of health problems that may be contributing to rejection of her foal. Establishing an appropriate management plan and ensuring the health of the foal and mare will help facilitate the process of dealing with a rejected foal.
If you have any questions regarding foal rejection or foal health issues, please contact your veterinarian or any of the veterinarians at New England Equine Medical & Surgical Center.
Source: Current Therapy in Equine Medicine 6. Robinson and Sprayberry, Pp 116-118.
Kate Britton, DVM
Jacqueline Bartol, DVM, DACVIM
Your Horse Can Be A Star
DO YOU KNOW A SPECIAL HORSE? THAT HORSE CAN BE THE MAIN CHARACTER IN A NEW CHILDREN’S BOOK AS WELL AS RAISE MONEY FOR ANIMAL SHELTERS AND EQUINE RESCUE ORGANIZATIONS!
Animal shelters benefited greatly from author Kathy Brodsky’s two previous contests to find stars for her books Purrsnikitty and The Winner Is...
These contests raised almost $2,700 in total for animal shelters. Now, she is searching for a horse for her upcoming book, A Horse Named Special.
With every three pictures you submit, you are asked to make a minimum $5.00 donation to the equine rescue organization or animal shelter of your choice. You may submit as many photos as you like. The contest runs from March 1 through March 31, 2011. These organizations need our help!
The winning horse will be chosen by a panel of judges. For more details and announcement of contest results, visit Brodsky’s website www.kathybrodsky.com.
Brodsky’s other books include: Moments in Our Lives ISBN 972580867; My Bent Tree ISBN 9780615160665; The Inside Story ISBN 9780615235059; Just Sniffing Around ISBN 9780578036205; Purrsnikitty ISBN 9780578050591; The Winner Is... ISBN 9780982852903; Stover ISBN 9780982852910.
Click on this link to view the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KzTwHnoeT4
Please share this exciting contest with your horse-loving friends.
Best of luck to you and your special horse!!
“Triggers” Get Help: Introducing Equine Phobia Reversal Therapy
By Casey Sugarman, Equine Behaviorist
Every barn knows of at least one horse with a hang-up. “She’s a great horse, all except for this one weird thing…” “This horse is bullet proof as long as you don’t…” “Ever since it happened, that’s just the way he is.” Whether it’s a scary object, a scary activity, or a weird reaction… these “fear triggers” can make otherwise good horses unsafe.
There’s no mistaking a horse with a phobia. The obvious sign is when the horse turns into an animal possessed, stops breathing, goes to ‘Mars’, stops thinking, becomes extremely unsafe, bolts, or all of the above. Less obvious signs are when the horse is in a ‘frozen panic’. While absolutely still, the horse’s eyes start moving sideways with a dra-a-ag to them… a dangerous explosion is about to occur.
If you wish you could help your horse become more rational, if you’ve tried the medications and herbal calmers, the sacking out and months of repeat exposure, and are still in the same boat, your story is quite common.
Contrary to popular belief, even beliefs held by some behaviorists, phobia reversal in horses and other animals is not only possible, it is achievable, the process is predictable, and complete recovery is routine. But Equine Phobia Reversal Therapy is not an arena for recreational trainers.
A Phobia is a fear that has become something like an addiction. A phobia is an emotional abscess; it is analogous to a layered onion. At the core is a rotten center, a buried unconscious memory of un-processed ultra-negative experience that handlers may or may not have witnessed. Countless layers of evasive behaviors, excuses, and irrational beliefs surround the core, like the layers of the onion, to keep it hidden and walled off, in order to shield the brain from further trauma.
Phobia Therapy is based in positive reinforcement but does NOT utilize standard clicker training, standard habituation protocols, cowboy schooling, natural horsemanship, nor any psychic/energy approaches. Phobia Therapy rebuilds the horse’s experience through primal emotions, re-experiencing each layer of his memory and putting the horse in complete control of a new rational approach to the trigger. Equine Phobia Therapy also does NOT teach horses to tolerate; it teaches horses to seek out the once noxious stimulus.
The work is done by employing the horse’s breathing, center of gravity, curiosity, personality... In Equine Phobia Reversal Therapy, horses are not rewarded for doing a correct behavior, horses are rewarded for rationally taking charge of a situation, and then for sharing that authority with a handler. Horses who have gone through the therapy seem to say: “Go ahead, hit me with your best shot!”
Although each therapy is highly customized to each horse, learning curves go through multiple predictable stages of exponential improvement. Also, the horse will carry the new skills to new homes, new owners, and new jobs.
Horses who have multiple fears or phobias usually learn courage from phobia therapy, as they learn how to learn. Horses get very excited about their newfound abilities to control and even seek to play with triggers that used to evoke terror.
Following are some beginner tips for helping a horse through a common stable fear. But remember, your safety is always most important. Kicking, biting, striking, and rearing horses should be rehabbed by professionals only. Emotional recovery in dangerous horses should be directed by a professional phobia specialist to reduce risk of injury to people and animals.
Trigger’s Trigger Trigger: Fear of a Spray Bottle
For tackling “fear of a spray bottle”, fill a pocket with quarter sized treats. Bring the horse, on 10 foot lead into a large enclosed area with good footing, like a small paddock. The lead is only there to keep you and the horse in somewhat close proximity, but the horse is to always be on a slack line. Bring a reliable spray bottle, set to stream, filled with water.
Before you begin, you must promise the horse one very important thing: EVERY single time you hear the horse give a big exhale (ignore snorts), you will stop what you’re doing and give the horse three treats; exhaling is a jackpot. Invite a friend to watch and listen for those exhales to remind you of your promise.
Start with one spritz aimed in the opposite direction from the horse’s head, so he can see and hear the bottle. After each spray, give the horse one treat until the sound of the spray makes the horse’s ears perk up as if to say, “I heard the spray, here comes my treat!” That’s your cue to start working the sprayer closer to the horse. Every foot closer needs about 3 repetitions before you shorten the distance. Give a treat every 3-5 spritz or so, but don’t spray the horse yet.
The first aimed shot should be onto one hoof; the right front is usually the closest. Spray the hoof wall and then the hair just above the hoof. This is the part of the horse most experienced with weird sensation. The horse will stomp the foot as if it’s being bitten by a fly. This is great because the horse is dealing with the insult in a rational and purposeful manner.
Now it’s time to upgrade our approval criteria: now, every time the horse stands very still that will earn him one spritz and one treat. Now it’s time to start moving the spray with the same goal in mind. The first time each torso and neck area feels the water, it should be in mist form. The first time each leg and rump area feels the water, it should be in stream form; the reason is so that you can aim accurately from some distance and because these are the more insult-ready parts of the horse. Your main job is to keep exhaling yourself and to “take 5”often, and start again when the horse is focused on you.
In finishing off the project, aim to be very inconsistent with the spraying, but always give the horse a chance to find the big exhale in between every dousing. The horse’s exhales are what teach the horse’s brain that it’s all nothing to worry about. If the horse cocks the leg you are spraying or if horse bends away from the bottle those are great signs. This is the picture of a horse who is playing the part of the catcher behind home plate; kicking you or the spray bottle is the last thing on his mind.
By the end of this game, you should have a thoroughly wet horse, an empty pocket, and a buddy who can’t wait to play the spray bottle game again. After the horse “sleeps on it” a few times, and forgets why she was ever afraid of that fun toy, he’ll be an old pro, and you can save those treats for some other game about some other spook.
Casey Sugarman, Phobia Specialist/ Behaviorist
Horse Power Instructor Training School
Currently Accepting Applicants for Spring Semester
February 4, 2011
The Horse Power Instructor Training School is now accepting applications for its spring Instructor Certification Course. Horse Power is a NARHA (North American Riding for the Handicapped Association) Premier Accredited Center and offers and extensive twelve week course covering all aspects of therapeutic horsemanship instruction.
Individuals who take this course and pass the NARHA certification requirements are eligible for NARHA Instructor Certification at the Registered level. Horse Power's Instructor Training School specializes in Equine Experiential Learning. The first-of-its-kind program offers an unparalleled learning experience leading to national NARHA Instructor Certification. To date, 46 graduates, ranging from 18 to 63 years of age, have successfully completed the rigorous program of riding, teaching, training and coursework.
Saving Sierra Benefit
Sierra was headed to slaughter, if that isn’t heartbreaking enough she is pregnant and ready to give birth. However Sierra has not come without severe health issues. Medical bills have been extensive, which is why we need your help. We at Central New England Equine Rescue are hosting a fundraiser "Saving Sierra” with proceeds benefiting Sierra and her unborn foal. Two great rescues put it together to rescue a Momma and her unborn foal! Thanks to Charming Acres Farm & Central New England Equine Rescue Sierra is in a safe home!
Help us save Sierra & her unborn baby at our upcoming fundraiser “Saving Sierra”.
The fundraiser will include food, local musicians, and raffle prizes donated by local businesses.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
6:00pm - 10:00pm
Tickets can be purchased at the door for $10
The Upper Deck Sports Bar & Grille
377 Stetson Road, Barre, MA
Must be at least 21 years old to attend
Join Central New England Equine Rescue in celebrating Sierra’s new beginning.
For more information or to purchase tickets please contact Mary Whitelaw 774.239.6331
If you are unable to attend the fundraiser, but would still like to help please visit www.CNEER.com.
Under the “How to Help” tab you can make a donation. Please include a note that the donation is for “Saving Sierra”
Trick Training for Horses
Fun Ways to Engage, Challenge, and Bond with Your Horse
BEA BORELLE with Gudrun Braun
Trafalgar Square Books is pleased to announce the publication of Trick Training for Horses by Bea Borelle with Gudrun Braun. Tricks and games are not only fun for both horse and handler, they can also add variety to a serious training regimen, helping to keep a working horse interested in his job. Now, this fabulously illustrated book on trick training explains the best way to teach a horse tricks using positive reinforcement. Step-by-step instructions are provided for over 25 different tricks, including classics such as bowing, kneeling, sitting, and lying down. Throughout, Bea Borelle clarifies how including tricks in your general horse training program can help improve a horse’s outlook on life and willingness to perform, regardless of your chosen discipline.
“Using Bea Borelle’s methods you can rediscover some of the ‘magic’ of your childhood and how it can change the way you work with horses. Trick training is one of the best ways to make your horse your friend.” —Philippe Karl, Internationally Renowned Horse Trainer and Author
BEA BORELLE is trained in classical riding by Richard Hinrichs and her husband Philippe Karl. Her interest in preserving the horse’s emotional health and enthusiasm for work during the training process led her to integrate trick training into her general horse training program. She is a staunch advocate for encouraging horses to have “fun” with their handlers and riders, regardless of discipline and the rigors of competition.
152 pp • 6 ½ x 9 ½ • 152 color photos • 978 1 57076 462 2 • $22.95 pb • February
Note: Sections of this book may be appropriate for reprint as FREE excerpts in print and
online publications. High res jacket images are also available.
To order contact: Trafalgar Square Books, Box 257, Howe Hill Road, N. Pomfret, VT 05053
800.423.4525 ∙ www.horseandriderbooks.com