What You Need in Your 2020 Foaling Kit (Complete with Hacks)

It’s that time folks — foaling season is here! With this excitement comes sleep deprivation, overthinking, and helicopter parenting of your pregnant mares. Don’t stress, we’ve got all the essential items and (even some hacks!) you’ll need for mare, foal, and self to ensure a smooth and successful experience this season. Lucky for you, we’ve got a list of things you must have in your 2020 foaling kit, check out these hacks:

  • The NIGHTWATCH® smart halter™

Foaling is a distress event and because most (>85%) mares foal at night (AAEP, Equine Reproduction from Conception to Birth) having the ability to be alerted to early signs of labor by the smart halter™ is huge. From sensors in the halter’s crown that collect biometric and behavior data to algorithms that analyze this data in real time, the smart halter™ removes the guesswork of understanding if your pregnant mare is in labor because her distress level is calculated and presented on a 10-point scale known as the Equine Distress Index® or EDI®. When your mare’s EDI® score is breached, NIGHTWATCH® will alert you via text, call, and email so you can get to them sooner.

  • Cell phone/clock

Don’t forget the charger! While the first stage of labor has a time variance, the second stage of labor should only last about 15-25 minutes so using a stopwatch can help keep track of time. If the foal isn’t visibly progressing, call the vet.

  • Flashlight/lantern

Since most mares foal at night, adequate light isn’t always guaranteed, even at the barn. Hack: Head lamps work too and provide a hands-free experience!

  • Thermometer
To keep records of both mare and foal temperatures.
  • Notebook/Pen
To keep note of temperatures, times and behaviors.
  • Clean Buckets

Have a few clean buckets on hand, and at least one with soapy water to help clean yourself before handling the foal and one to place the placenta in for vet evaluation.

  • Tail wrap

Once your mare’s labor starts progressing, help keep her tail clean (and out of the way!) by wrapping it, not too tight, just snug enough to stay out of the way. Hack: Vet wrap is great because it’s easy to apply and sticks to itself.

  • Scissors

Can be used to cut string, vet wrap, and the placental sac if the foal needs assistance.

  • Hand sanitizer
If water and soap aren’t options, have plenty of hand sanitizer on hand.
  • Towels

Clean towels on hand are a must for helping dry the foal if cold or if the mare is tired and needs assistance.

  • Palpation gloves

In an emergency, you may need to palpate your mare. Having sterile gloves on hand reduces the chance of infection to both the mare and unborn foal. Always consult your vet prior to palpating your mare!

  • Enema

Foals can sometimes have trouble passing their first manure, called meconium. If you see your foal straining, or if the foal hasn’t passed manure an enema may need to be administered. Have a vet show you how to place one if it’s your first time foaling.

  • Sterile lubricant
This will help place the enema if necessary.
  • Naval cleaner

The exposed umbilical stump provides an entry point for infection. Iodine or 2% chlorhexidine solution will do the trick! These solutions can also be used to wash your hands or clean the mare.

  • String

String or bailing twine can be used to tie off the foal’s umbilical cord after it naturally detaches. It is also used to tie up the placenta, tying it up will help the placenta detach from the uterus and prevent the mare from standing on it.

  • Phone Charger

Make sure your phone is charged at all times so you can call for help, if needed, and keep track of time.

  • Entertainment (Optional)

Favorite Netflix Shows or movies queued up. Our recommendations: anything with horses, of course!

While having a kit on-hand is handy and convenient, it’s important to have a plan in place with your vet. Researching and understanding the signs of labor and having a plan worked out with your vet is critical. Once you have your plan in place, a foaling kit in order and your smart halter™ set up, it’s time for the fun part to begin! Once labor actually progresses, it’ll be exciting, but it’s a waiting game until then. We suggest a charged iPad with your favorite shows downloaded. We’re open to recommendations.