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Katie Schuur

Orphaned Foal I Just Took In...

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Hi there - I recieved a call from a fellow down the street from me very early this morning, and I mean VERY early this morning. He told me his mare was killed while defending her 2 1/2 month old foal from a pack of wild dogs. Apparently the wild dogs chased the mare through a fence. He heard the commotion, and ran out there just in time to save the foal. He told me he "doesn't have time" for an orphaned foal, and he was contemplating euthanizing him. I told him I'd be there in 30 minutes to take the foal home.

He said the foal recieved all of his immunizations when he was born, which is a relief for me to hear. After I got the foal home I noticed immediately he has diarrhea. I also noticed he has somewhat of an umbilical hernia. The hernia is soft and not hard, however. The man gave me the foal feed that he was feeding the mare and the foal (Omolene 300) and he told me he had dewormed the foal about a week or so ago.

Today I am adding Calf Manna to his foal feed. I also gave him 10 grams of Probiotic in the hopes that it will help with the diarrhea. In my opinion, the foal seems a little underweight (kinda ribby). On a good note, the foal seems to have a vigorous appetite. I have observed him drinking regularly as well. I had the idea of feeding him some soaked alfalfa in between feedings, however he didn't want to touch it so I simply gave it to my other horses.

My vet is coming out for booster shots on my other two horses next week, and I will be sure to have him take a look at this new foal as well. I was just wondering if any experienced foal rescuers have any advice for me. Please no flaming or mean/rude comments - Thank you!

Here are the pictures I snapped today of the little guy:

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I agree, he will be a challenge but if you feel up to it - go for it. I can't see why anyone should flame or be rude to you about trying to give this little guy a chance.

You're already doing the right thing by having your vet look at him and by asking for advise and help.

He is very pretty. I wish you all the luck in the world. My now twelve year old TWH mare was weaned when she was his age. They sold her mom. He should do fine. Start early establishing your dominance and leadership with him. Spend lots of time with him but don't baby him. It will help him to feel safe and secure and keep YOU safe. Don't know how you feel about natural horsemanship, but I firmly believe in "love, language and leadership in equal doses.... not more one than the other."

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What a precious, beautiful foal! Thank you for giving him a chance. I haven't rescued foals, but at that age do they still need some sort of milk replacement? Good luck and I'm sure someone on here has more advice!

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OH MY GOODNESS! He's just adorable!

I really don't have any experience to speak of with orphaned foals. . . We did take on a colt once who was a shade over 3 months old who was orphaned (dam was mortally injured by a poacher's bullet). . . but he had already been pretty well transitioned to eating solid foods, with some foal supplements by the time we bought him. . . so we just continued on with what the previous owner had the boy on and consulted with our vet as he grew(very BIG) as far as his nutritional needs. . .

Keep us updated on how the cutie does! Does he have a name yet? Is he registered/registerable???

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Oh what a darling boy! How wonderful of you to take him in. It sounds like you already have a good plan. It's great that he is eating and drinking well for you.

You might see if you can find Andi. I know that they raise orphan mustangs for the BLM when needed.

I'm certainly not an expert, but I did help a friend with an orphan this year. Thankfully, she too was able to receive her dam's colostrum, but was orphaned at only a few days. I also dealt with a mare that didn't initially let her milk down (though she had a huge bag) and then did not have sufficient milk for her foal (my Fagan). Both these babies have done very well.

A few suggestions.

When you have your vet out, ask her if he/she feels the colt would benefit from Foal-Lac pellets. These are milk replacement pellets. While at 2 1/2 months he probably doesn't need them, they may well be a beneficial addition to his feed plan for awhile longer. The recent research I have read points to most foals not being able to get everything they need out of non-milk feeds until about the age of 4 months. I know lots of people wean earlier and their foals do OK, but that's just what I've read.

If he's going to be getting a lot of concentrates, I would also suggest trying to feed them in smaller meals, more than twice a day if possible. At that age, I would also provide free choice hay and/or grass. That is assuming that he is used to being on grass already. I'm sure you're vet can help you come up with a good plan. The probiotics were an excellent idea.

Both of my foals have had diarrhea for a little while after weaning. Hopefully your little guy's is only coming from the stress of losing Mom.

It would also be ideal if he can be out with another horse. It's so important for the development of their psyches that they spend time around horses and learn from them. My friend was able to find and borrow a surrogate dam for her orphan. Although the mare never provided much milk, she did provide the equine companionship that is so important at that age.

Good luck and please do keep us updated!

Edited by ExtraHannah

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I have some orphan foal experience; we have cared for 25 to date and only lost 4. One was lost due to injuries, one due to ingesting poison, one lost because it didn't get enough (or any) colostrum and one from pneumonia. Most of our orphans are wild, from the BLM. We have 2 at the house right now, actually, although they are out of danger.

The first thing we do is give them probiotics every other day for a week. We watch them close for depression and for scours. Maalox works well for scours. If you have to give antibiotics for anything, give them probiotics too to help combat the damage antibiotics does to the natural bacteria (the good stuff) in the gut. Watch for ulcers -- if they do a lot of grinding of their teeth or yawning, likely they have ulcers. We give them yogurt and tagament.

I take it you're not attempting milk for the foal? At 2 1/2 months old, it really doesn't need milk any longer but I would try to get it to eat Foal Lac (milk replacer) pellets, maybe mixed in with the baby grain, if he's eating grain. It just adds a little extra boost to the foal and may help with getting over losing mama. The scours he has now is likely from stress, which will also likely lead to ulcers.

I don't know why anyone would flame you? We take in orphaned Mustangs, which many people consider the "trash" of the horse world and have never gotten flamed. And we've been doing it for a few years now. Some people think it's a waste of time, since they are Mustangs, but most never voice any negativity about it. You can see photos of most of our orphans on our web site, under "Orphanage" ... see the link in my siggy ...

Good luck and don't hesitate to ask questions if you have a problem! Feel free to PM me as well, if you would rather.

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Thank you all soooo much for your wonderful and helpful replies. I knew I could turn here for some much-needed advice :)

It would also be ideal if he can be out with another horse. It's so important for the development of their psyches that they spend time around horses and learn from them. My friend was able to find and borrow a surrogate dam for her orphan. Although the mare never provided much milk, she did provide the equine companionship that is so important at that age.

Good luck and please do keep us updated!

I am planning on taking my time as far as introducing him to my other two horses, only because my gelding is soooo much bigger than he is and I'd hate to think of what one single kick could do - whether it's playful or not. But I am keeping them in adjacent pastures and they have already formally introduced themselves over the fences. I was extremely happy to see my gelding licking him in a rather "maternal" way. Maybe I was reading it wrong - but I thought of it as rather endearing. I found this picture in the bunch of pics I snapped earlier today - even though it's not the best picture of the foal, it can kind of give you an idea of how close he is to the other horses already:

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Edited by Rollin_after_a_bath

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I don't know why anyone would flame you? We take in orphaned Mustangs, which many people consider the "trash" of the horse world and have never gotten flamed. And we've been doing it for a few years now. Some people think it's a waste of time, since they are Mustangs, but most never voice any negativity about it. You can see photos of most of our orphans on our web site, under "Orphanage" ... see the link in my siggy ...

Good luck and don't hesitate to ask questions if you have a problem! Feel free to PM me as well, if you would rather.

Thank you Andi for being so kind! I went to my local feedstore and unfortunately the only thing I could find was the Foal-Lac powder. I went to the Foal-Lac website and ordered some pellets which should be here tomorrow (overnight delivery). Kinda expensive doing it that way - but it's worth the peace of mind.

As far as flaming goes - something was just telling me that I was going to get a response something like this at some point: "What are you doing taking in an orphaned foal when you have no experience with them whatsoever???" But you see, the fact is that sometimes there are circumstances that you just can't foresee, and I certainly wasn't going to allow that man to put him down.... But thank you for reminding me that I can always count on my Horsecity buddies for much-needed advice :)

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No flaming here, other than the poor little booger looks pretty tough for just losing his Mom this morning. What condition was his mom in...(yesterday?)? Does this guy have more mares & foals? Is this an APHA baby? He sure looks.... skinny...spindly. At 2 1/2 months, he should have more muscle tone, & at least SOME butt?

(Not picking on the OP... just... IDK, he just doesn't LOOK.....right?)

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No flaming here, other than the poor little booger looks pretty tough for just losing his Mom this morning. What condition was his mom in...(yesterday?)? Does this guy have more mares & foals? Is this an APHA baby? He sure looks.... skinny...spindly. At 2 1/2 months, he should have more muscle tone, & at least SOME butt?

(Not picking on the OP... just... IDK, he just doesn't LOOK.....right?)

I don't know what condition the mare was in... I only know what condition she is in right now. As far as him being skinny - all I can do is wonder if this mare was killed this morning or last week... I am only going on what I was told by the original owner.

But anyways - thanks for pointing all of those things out ;) By the way - did you happen to have any helpful advice?

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Yea. Don't leave the halter on him while he's loose. Or buy a breakaway or thinner leather type, if you need it on him to be able to catch him. It would be a shame for him to end up like his mom in a fence. No need to get snippy, I haven't even started. Wasn't planning on it, unless you insist.

Foal lac pellets are a good start.

I agree, he needs a "pet"- a goat, mini, cat or something, if he can't go in with your other horses yet.

You didn't say what breed he is? That will help, with my observation of his condition. Some breeds are "lighter" in their musculature than others.

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Yea. Don't leave the halter on him while he's loose. Or buy a breakaway or thinner leather type, if you need it on him to be able to catch him. It would be a shame for him to end up like his mom in a fence. No need to get snippy, I haven't even started. Wasn't planning on it, unless you insist.

Foal lac pellets are a good start.

I agree, he needs a "pet"- a goat, mini, cat or something, if he can't go in with your other horses yet.

You didn't say what breed he is? That will help, with my observation of his condition. Some breeds are "lighter" in their musculature than others.

I wasn't trying to be snippy and I'm sorry if you percieved it to be that way. I was told he's a Paint as far as his breed goes. My plan is to introduce the pony mare to him first and let him stay with her as a pasture buddy until he grows big enough to where I'm comfortable putting him in with my gelding. At night, he stays with some ducks. There's no doubt in my mind that he's skinny - but I'm hoping that some good 'ol TLC, vet care and proper feeding will remedy that in time.

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OK, it's all good.

[smiley Wavey]

Having seen a few orphans around, watch his tummy... seems like they get "Pot Bellied" very easily. (Hay belly maybe?) How big of an area will he have? Growing babies need lots of running room.

Just makes me sad to see them with tiny little butts, big fat belly & tiny little shoulders. He's not there...yet, just be careful, ok?

[bang Head] Brain fart... what is that supplement!!!! Grow Colt or something like that, in with the foal lac pellets?

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Speaking for my recent experiences, did you get all this in writing? You'd be amazed who will want their horse back after a while.

He's beeeeauuutiful!! Congrats!!!

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Yes.. Grow Colt works great!! My old stable owner a few years ago had a mare who JUST foaled & the way his pastures were they had hills.. Well the mare foaled on top of one of the hills IN THE RAIN & she tried to get up but fell down the hill & hit almost every tree on the way down, she had to be put down due to her injuries.. James went to the farmers market at "first light" & bought a momma goat who just weaned her babies & put her on top of a square bale of hay & the little filly nursed from the goat, which I found amazing! The little filly grew up just fine & turned out to be one of the best darn ropin' horses in east Tennessee! But, I agree with the Grow Colt, I used that a few times on my youngin's. Good luck, he's a cutie!! [Angel]

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Sometimes, orphan foals get the pot bellies because they gorge their food and are only getting fed 2-4 times per day, instead of little bits several times a day like they would with mama. Often they get that look because the stinkers taste EVERYTHING and in times of stress, often eat a LOT of poop. And get wormy.

Grow Colt is good -- we've used that before.

On the halter -- I put one on often times when we feed, leave it on while they are drinking their milk or eating their grain, and then remove it. If they are hard to catch, leave them in a small pen and once they figure out you mean food, they get easier to catch. With completely wild foals we've dealt with, only a handful have been difficult to get to come around.

As far as another horse or companion -- be careful! He will try to nurse and some horses are VERY touchy about such things and will hurt the foal. Our stallion licks Red, our youngest orphan, over the fence and Red has free run of the place when we're home, so he often will be found sleeping next to the studs pen. But the mares pin their ears at him, the geldings don't like his "clacking" and our other orphan, who is a yearling now, is just too big and gets too rough. So Red has us, cats, dogs, goats and turkeys for company, plus he can see and "visit" every horse here, thru the fence.

One word of advice ... be sure to discipline him like another horse would. Oh, it is SO easy to spoil them cute little babies! (Voice of experience here! [Duh] ) Teach him to respect your space immediately but don't hold back on hugs -- on YOUR terms. Don't let him rear, bite, whatever in "play" ... he will come to think of you as his "mama" figure and part of his herd, so you need to make sure he knows you are the TOP of the pecking order. Oh, spanking an orphan the first time is sooooo hard! [Me Cry] But necessary. <sigh>

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Cute lil bugger! You have a good plan to get him where he needs to be and I can't wait to watch him grow into a nice healthy horse in the upcoming years. I love his color and pattern, he is so gorgeous!

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Cute lil bugger! You have a good plan to get him where he needs to be and I can't wait to watch him grow into a nice healthy horse in the upcoming years. I love his color and pattern, he is so gorgeous!
Thank you! I can't wait to see how he grows up as well :)

Andi - I'm definitely not looking forward to having to give that "first spanking", LOL - but I know how necessary it will be. I've gotta say though that I'm kind of excited. This is uncharted territory for me, but I am going to implement many, many things that can only help this colt in the future. I am going to be handling his feet daily, leading him daily and I've already started messing with his ears, girth area, etc. I even sprayed him with flyspray today and of course since he's so young he didn't even flinch. I can't tell you how many times I've been stomped on, kicked at etc.. from a yearling who "hasn't been handled a whole lot yet". I've always wanted to raise a well-mannered horse from day ONE, and it seems now I'll get my chance! I am a firm believer that a horse's training begins the minute he's born.

Now as far as these milk replacer pellets go - I ordered some online but I think I am going to take a drive tomorrow to the Tractor Supply Company that's located about 40 miles North of here. It's the only place in my vicinity that I haven't looked at yet. (Today I drove to three different feed stores, and all of them only had the powder). I saw the Grow Colt supplement and it wasn't priced outrageously at all. I've decided after hearing such wonderful things about it that I'll definitely pick some up tomorrow as well. This was a thought I had - should I perhaps add some electrolytes to his drinking water since he's having this bout of diarrhea? I am seriously considering picking up a couple gallons of Gatorade :)

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He's so cute!! You may want to contact some of the rescues out there that work with Nurse Mare Foals. One I know of is Last Chance Corral and I've seen some of the babies when they grow up... they're nice. They will have some tips and advice for orphan foals as well.

Good luck and enjoy the learning experience!

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I've used Gatorade and Pedialyte in their water and it works well. Actually, most anything, even Kool Aid, added to the water helps if it makes them drink it better!

Be glad it's fall, he's as old as he is, and apparantly healthy ... I've slept in a stall/shed with an orphan in December in single digit temps before. For 2 weeks. But she lived and she's 3 years old now, so it was worth it. Just not something I really 'want' to repeat! [shocked] We've had orphans in the house (what fun!) ... did you know they grow REALLY FAST from about 36 hours old to 4 days old? As in, becoming very ummm ... rambunctious to have inside a house at that point! :happy0203:

You will have fun and it will be a HUGE learning experience all the way around! Every single one of our orphans has taught us something new about raising orphans. And I have a friend in NV who has raised way more than I have that I can call on for serious issues.

Be sure to keep us updated!

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I like his color, I like his build, and he seems to have a good personality, and healthy appetite considering he is eating in most of the pics.. he sure is a doll.. at his age you have the advantage of the mare having nursed this long.. a lot of people round here wean their foals at 3 months, so i think he will do fine.. he looks a little underweight for now, but I have no doubt he will fill out soon.. I would also redo his worming as soon as you can.. he may not have been wormed when it was said he was.. so you want to make sure.. also check into west nile shots, with the fall the way it is we have a LOT of mosquitoes around here, so not sure bout your area, but mine is pretty bad.. and also check on getting some vitamin boosters, that will help a lot.. your doing awesome by already starting on the probiotics, that stuff is the bomb.. you can also check into getting some futurity precise hoof and health protein tubs, they will help a lot, and also will help to provide that extra nutrients.. i found with my foals that it really helped a lot and man did they fill out, but they didn't get the pot belly that a filly i was given who hadn't gotten it..

it is awesome your doing this, but like someone else said you make sure you get the ownership and bill of sale paperwork dealt with ASAP as that can come back to bite ya if you don't.. he is a good looking foal, and the original owner might decide he wants him back later after you have done all this work!! also keep a receipt book of EVERYTHING you do or buy for this foal, that way if the guy ever does the Indian giver nonsense, you have a bill of lading to give him for services rendered..

good luck and have fun with him!! he is a cutie!!

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We've had orphans in the house (what fun!) ... did you know they grow REALLY FAST from about 36 hours old to 4 days old? As in, becoming very ummm ... rambunctious to have inside a house at that point! :happy0203:

My husband would KILL ME!!!! LOL! It was all I could do to persuade him to allow me to keep my cat inside, LOL!! But then again.... Now you've given me some nice, wicked ideas on what I can do whenever he gets on my bad side.... :happy0203:

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Kittenkat - I am definitely, definitely keeping all of the reciepts on everything I have spent so far. I also have many friends who are aware of exactly what "went down" first-hand, so I just hope this guy knows what he's up against if he tries to reclaim the foal after all is said and done. Thanks for the heads up though - I sometimes need a reminder that I can be FAR too trusting sometimes.

***UPDATE*** My son and I just went out to the barn to feed the foal and check up on him. I gave him a dose of Pepto Bismol (A grown human dosage as I'm estimating his weight to be about 150 - 200) so that should help with the diarrhea. He hated me for it, even though it was cherry flavored. He was going nuts for his food which is great. This would be his 5th and last feeding until sunrise when we get to do it all over again. But BOY was he ACTIVE!! I don't know if it's because it's colder out there right now, but I'm going to take this as a great sign. While I was holding the feed bucket, I asked my son to pick up his front feet and clean them out. He was squirming around and couldn't find his footing/balance, but after patiently letting him work it out for himself he allowed my son to clean his feet out. Again I told myself how great it is to be able to work on these things while the horse is a BABY rather than a yearling or full grown horse who wants to kick your head off. Okay I'm going to sound really, really dumb here...... but is he supposed to have a frog??? I thought we cleaned his feet out pretty well, but perhaps not well enough because I didn't see a frog..... Please tell me this is normal, or that we just didn't clean it good enough.

We also decided on a name. We are going to call him "Lightning" because of the white lightning bolt he has on his rump :)

Edited by Rollin_after_a_bath

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He is beautiful. I wouldn't add the soaked alfalfa yet. You don't want to add alot of different things to their diet at one time. He sounds like he is eating and active all good signs! I donb't have any other advice except to make some phone calls to your vet to ask specific questions and wait on worming until after your vet has examined him.

Good luck and keep us posted! Enjoy the little guy.

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On the frog -- babies frogs grow in pretty slow. I assume he has the "V" where the frog should be, right? That really *is* the frog, it just hasn't grown yet.

We've used Pepto and Maalox but if the foal is stressing or has ulcers, go to Maalox instead of Pepto as Pepto has aspirin in it and that can upset the ulcers. We generally give about 60 cc's for an average sized foal 1-2 months old and give 30 cc's for the tiny babies.

Orphans are a lot of work, but they can also be a lot of fun! I've not ever regretted a single one, even the ones we've lost. We had one a few years back that was absolutely gorgeous and just the sweetest thing. She got knocked down over a pile of rocks and was trampled by a herd of horses and we lost her to internal injuries. She was one that was in the house. We laid a horse blanket on the floor and laid her on top of it with an IV hanging from a book shelf on the wall giving her fluids. We put a pillow under her head and another horse blanket over her and I laid down with her. It was hard losing that one ... Trixie was so sweet! We had little Buck in the house; he didn't get his colostrum, we think. He lived 3 days before I had to put him down as he was so sick and not getting better.

You're so fortunate to have a domestic raised one that was on mama for so long; getting the wild ones at 1-2 days old is pretty tough sometimes but we've gotten better at seeing things before they become an issue. The hardest things with the tiny babies is making sure they don't get pneumonia from drinking the milk and getting it in their lungs. We've bottle fed a lot and switch them to a bucket as soon as possible. We even have one of those "My Mama is an Igloo" things ... works well!

Keep up the good work! Doing lots of stuff with him now sure pays off in the long run! Get a baby blanket for him too ... makes saddling later in life so much easier! They get used to the straps around their belly and legs and something on their body. I have 3 different sizes of foal blankets since we get such a variety of orphans here and get them at all times of the year as well. And the BLM will be gathering again in the coming month ... hopefully there are no late babies that get separated from their mamas!

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Aww he's SO cute! We took in an orphaned foal at the barn I used to work at. His mama was struck by lightning. He was born in February I believe, and we took him in April? He didn't make it, he was looking a lot better, but was just to young to survive alone. The BO wanted to give him a chance but alas, didn't work out. That was my only experience with orphaned foals. Not a good one, lol. Seems like your getting great advice, and the vet is coming out, always a plus. Good luck!

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