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Springtime Foal Watch
 By Winniefield Park   •   5th May 2016   •   1,591 views   •   0 comments


It wasnít that long ago that if you had a mare nearing her foaling date, you slept on a cot in the tack room, or made a bed on some bales of hay and waited until you heard something suspicious. If you managed to go into a deep sleep, you might miss the event. Or, if youíre freezing out in the barn and decide to run to the house to warm up, the mare might pick that moment to have her foal. I know of one woman who after spending several dedicated nights sleeping beside a foaling box, dashed in for a cup of coffee, and came back to find a foal already born. A quick, easy birth is the hope of every breeder, so missing the actual event isnít a big deal if all goes well. But, there are foalings that donít go smoothly, and a quick sprint to grab a bite to eat might mean you arenít there when you are needed.

There are behaviors and signs that breeders watch for to tell if a mare is due to foal. But, these arenít always foolproof. Watching for udders to wax up, muscles to relax and the mare to get restless can give an indication that a foal will be born soon. But, not all mares do things by the book. Technology has given the breeder some tools to ensure they know when a foal is on the way with more accuracy.

Foaling monitors or alarms can be worn by mares. These devices transmit a signal to one or more pagers or phones, so that someone can be in attendance within minutes of the mare going into labour. Some devices are worn like a belly band and breast collar, others attach to a halter. Some monitors are placed internally. But, all send signals to either pagers or phones when the foal is about to make its entrance. Although there is no substitute for humans eyes, alarms can cut down the number of nervous trips from house to barn, or work.

Foal cams are another way breeders can keep a close eye on a mare due to foal. A few years ago, wiring a camera for use with a closed circuit television from house to barn was cumbersome. But, wireless cams make it easier to install this technology, as well as move it from stall to stall if necessary. I know one household where the screen is beside the TV allowing the owner to stay comfortable without missing anything. Foal cams have given non-breeders a way to get a glimpse at a live foaling too. There are several websites you can go to and perhaps see a live birth. Here are just a few online foal cams available to the public.

Marestare - One of the most well known foal cam websites is Marestare. Marestare is a cam host that livestreams foal cameras from across the country. Go to their foaling calendar and pick the current date to see where cameras are set up and streaming from.

Ustream - There are foal cams on Ustream.tv. Use the search to find foal cams. There are lots of different types of subjects on ustream.tv. There are live cams, and there are recordings as well.

Freeland Gypsys Horses - Some stables, like Freeland Gypsys Horses host their own livestreaming cams. You can also get text and email alerts so you donít miss a foaling.
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