Any day now… after almost 11 months of conceptualising, cultivating and anticipating their arrival, the time to welcome this Spring’s foals is finally here! Without fail, it’s the sign that signals the start of the new year here at Chateau de Fontaine and we can’t wait to say ‘Hi!’ to each new member of the family.
That said, a year can feel like a very long time to wait, especially if you’re carrying a frisky foal inside your belly. The first 6 months might seem fine, but once the unborn baby horse starts to grow rapidly and the mare’s pregnant belly begins to take on the form of a barrel, time must almost certainly seem to slow down for our steadfast surrogate mares.
Therefore, we are going to be taking a look at what a day in the life of a (very) pregnant surrogate mare looks like, before they all get too busy looking after their baby foals.
Up to about two weeks before giving birth, the mares’ teats will start to produce a sticky, yellowish fluid called colostrum, which is considered the mother’s first milk. So when we see this milk begin to seep from the mother’s udder, we know the time is near. Foals are born with almost no immune protection, so the colostrum is vital in providing newly-born foals with the necessary antibodies to stay healthy, and they need around two litres of this milk within their first 24 hours of being born.
As you can imagine, the Surrogate mares don’t have too much of a routine schedule apart from regular meals and nap times. When you’re carrying around a 150-pound barrel of a belly, getting up from a nap takes a lot of effort and the reason therefore has to be very good - such as for a meal for example. And understandably, after a good, well-deserved meal is the best time for a nap. As such, a day for a surrogate mare may seem a little circular, but that’s only natural when most of it is filled with waiting.
However, waiting often breeds boredom, and another good reason to pull oneself up from a nap is therefore to take part in some of the haphazard mothers’ groups that occur during the day. Here the expecting mothers can go to take their minds somewhat off the gymnastics happening in their bellies and it works both as a way for them to socialise with their fellow mothers-to-be, but also as a way to blow off some necessary steam.
Of course, with the due date right around the corner, comfy boxes bedded with straw are being prepared for the surrogate mares to foal in. Despite the foals usually being able to stand within two hours and gallop after just a day, a nice, roomy box is necessary to give the mare some privacy and to make her as comfortable as possible, with as little risk to the birth as possible. As you might have guessed, we can’t wait for the new foals to join us. The pregnant surrogate mares too, while it may not bring much of a respice, are eagerly awaiting their first official meeting with their lovable foals.
Bayeux de Fontaine - S: Bonjour DS: Franklin (Fiorina)