A foal is a baby horse that is under the age of one. During its first year, a foal undergoes a lot of growing and development. Within hours of being born, foals are active.
Not only are foals cute, but they are playful, curious and quick learners.
Foals are loved by many and are constantly stealing our hearts with their sweet personalities. They are full of energy and are just downright cute.
When Born, a Foal’s Legs are 80% – 90% Fully Grown
When foals are born they have already 80 – 90% of the length of their adult legs. Long legs in foals give them the advantage they need to survive in the wild.
Wild horses are frequently on the move to find food, water and protection from prey. It is important for foals to be able to keep up with the rest of the herd. With such long legs, foals are able to stay with their herd and travel long distances.
Foals Can Stand and Walk Within Two Hours of Birth
Once a foal is born, they are able to stand within two hours. Sometimes, foals can stand as soon as 30 minutes after being born. Though they are wobbly at first, it is important that a foal is standing up quickly so it can nurse.
Shortly after standing a foal will be able to walk and then later, gallop. It is necessary that a foal is able to move shortly after being born, as they must be able to flee from predators and keep up with their herd in the wild.
Foals are Mostly Born at Night
It is most common for a mare to give birth to a foal during the night or early morning. Most foals are born sometime between midnight to 6 a.m. when it is still dark outside.
The common reason why mares give birth while it is dark is so that they can conceal their foals from predators. Domestic mares also tend to give birth when it is dark out because they feel more comfortable and safe during that time.
The First Milk Foals Drink is Vital to Their Health
The first milk a foal will drink from its mother is called colostrum. Colostrum is a thick, sticky yellow milk that is full of antibodies that protect a foal from infections while their immune systems are still developing.
Colostrum is only produced by mares for 24 hours after giving birth, so it is vital that a foal drinks it in order to be healthy. After a mare is done producing colostrum, the milk they produce is thinner and whittier in color.
Foals Start Eating Grass with Two Weeks
As soon as ten days, a foal may begin to nibble on grass or hay. Though they will still be nursing, foals will start to regularly consume forage. After around two to three months, a foal will not get enough nutrients from just its mother’s milk alone, so eating hay and grass is important.
Some people begin to introduce grain to foals at around two months old. Generally, foals are only given a handful of grain first which is then slowly increased in increments.
Foals are Weaned Around Four to Six Months old
A foal is typically weaned around four to six months, as this is the age where they can become fully independent from their mother. Though it varies for each foal, they are generally ready by six months to be away from their mother.
In order for a foal to be successfully weaned, it is important that they receive human interaction from a young age. This will help a foal gain confidence and make the weaning process less stressful on them.
Foals May Also be Referred to as a Filly or a Colt
A foal referred to as a colt is a male foal. A horse is considered a colt until it is around age three or four. However, if a colt is castrated during this time then it is often just referred to as a gelding.
A filly is a female foal. A horse is considered a filly until they are four, though in some places they are considered to be a filly until the age of five.
Foals do “Baby Talk”
When a foal is introduced to a new horse they do a thing called “baby talk”. This is when a foal communicates to another horse that they are only a baby and not a threat. It is their way of being submissive and a way for foals to say “don’t hurt me” to other horses.
A foal will make a chomping like movement, similar to eating. It is commonly seen in foals introduced to new horses for the first time.
Foals are Generally Born in Spring
Foals are normally born in spring or early summer. This naturally happens because spring and summer seasons are full of rich grass, which allows the mare to produce plenty of milk that is full of nutrients.
Being born in the spring or summer also means that a foal won’t have to endure a cold winter, which can be harsh on a baby horse. Even in captivity, horses are generally bred to have their foals in spring or summer.
Foals Grow Quickly After Birth
In its first year, a foal will do a lot of growing. Typically, a foal is born weighing 150 – 200 pounds, or 10% of the mother horse’s weight.
As we mentioned in our horse facts guide, a foal can put on up to three pounds of weight a day. By the time a foal is six months old, they have already done a significant amount of growth in height and weight.