View Full Version : When do horses foal?

05-19-2009, 02:09 PM
When do they foal? Is it normally in spring? Do they mate once a year? How long is the pregnancy?

(If I mis-use any terms here, don't worry, I don't write in English :) )

05-19-2009, 03:17 PM
If you speaking of scheduled breeding, anywhere from January 1st to beginning of June is when they foal, targeting for the period between Feb through April, gestation time is usually 330 to 350 days. and typically, anymore, since horses are breed by owners it only happens once a year, and not always every year. (Up to the owner) The only other odd thing I can think of is that they almost always only have one foal, but twins do occur, and it is very rare for both to survive.

05-19-2009, 03:40 PM
April is a big month for foaling - out of my four horses, 1 has a late Feb. bday, 1 late March, and 2 are April.

05-19-2009, 03:56 PM
What about wild horses? It is possible or impossible that a mare would foal say in late summer?

Tsu Dho Nimh
05-19-2009, 05:01 PM
What about wild horses? It is possible or impossible that a mare would foal say in late summer?

Possible for foaling to happen any time of year, but it's unlikely, because a late-born foal has a very difficult time surviving the first winter.

Horses are slightly seasonal - the increasing daylight time tends to trigger them into ovulating, so spring breeding and a foal the next year is the norm.

05-19-2009, 05:36 PM
Okay, so she's not a horse, but our BLM adopted burro foaled on Thanksgiving day. She's from the Nevada herd, I guess they must have mild winters. :Shrug:

05-19-2009, 06:14 PM
Normally, a mare is pregnant for 11 months. Most stories I have read (true ones, I guess I should point out) say that the foals come sometime in the spring. I don't know exactly when in spring, though.

05-19-2009, 07:03 PM
A domestic mare can drop a foal at any time of the year and have a reasonable expectation that it will survive if given nothing more than ordinary care.

I assume you ask this question for the sake of a plot? If so, then you can have your horse foal at anytime you wish. While it is true that most breeders would prefer to drop a foal in the spring, mares successfully give birth year-round.

05-19-2009, 08:09 PM
Right, domesticated horses can foal at any time of the year. After all, they will be well taken care of.

In the wild, the tendancy is to foal 'in the spring' - which can also vary depending on WHERE the horses live. (Spring up north, is different from spring 'down south'.)

I know a horse named "Solstice" - foaled on June 21.

05-19-2009, 11:51 PM
If I'm not mistaken, some registeries use one birthdate for all babies born that year, so one born in April and another in August might both be listed as March birthdates.

Where that messes you up is if you are in competition at some point where the age is part of determining criteria. When you have one 6 months older than another in real age, but both listed with same birth month/year, obviously the older one is most likely to be ahead.

Most horse owners will plan their horse breeding - if a mare isn't bred by a certain time, they'll wait until the following year rather than have a late baby.

I think you'd be safe to use spring as the time, whether wild or tame horses.

05-20-2009, 03:14 AM
Horses, like goats and most breeds of sheep are seasonal breeders. They are affected by the length of daylight. I believe the term is 'polyestrus', but all my livestock books are upstairs and I don't feel like running up to get them at the moment.

Anyhow, a mare will only cycle naturally in the spring/summer/fall months, and the first two or three heats and the last two or three are not regular, so it's not a good idea to breed your mare during those times. Gestation is roughly 11 months, so you breed your mare a month later than the month you want her to foal (you want a June foal, you breed in July).

The people who have foals born in January/February have usually had to put their mares under artificial light to keep them cycling throughout the winter. Racehorse people usually have the funds/facilities to do this, the normal horseperson does not.

Fern, you are correct, though again, this is usually with Racehorse people (and might be an outdated practice, but I don't know). At one point January 1st was the birthdate that all registered Thoroughbreds got. I believe it was the same with the Standardbreds.

05-20-2009, 06:29 AM
This covers alot of the issues. I only skimmed it so can't say how accurate but hope it helps :)


I grew up on a thoroughbred breeding farm but think folks answered the basics already, a good thing since I have to dig deep in the memory garden for specifics! The general idea was the mares would go to the stud farm a month or so (this is majorly tentative, may have been up to 3 months) after giving birth to be bred for the next year. Target for birthing months was between February - May, the earlier the better cause many were heading for racing and they could be ahead of the class by being a bit older. 11 month gestation period means when bred in March, they'd have a February foal. Rinse and repeat. (Though I am in the club of alternate years personally)

Only knew of one set of twins and it was at a neighboring farm, they are considered cursed or some such (Note: I live in Louisiana, we have these strange quirks) and generally not given a chance, Ie: destroyed at birth. (One of those foals lived and I tried saving her but that sadly didn't work out due to spinal meningitis)

Good luck! I'm pretty positive I typed something wrong, it's been ages!

05-21-2009, 11:15 AM
Thank you all so much! Yes, I did ask for the sake of a plot. The horses in question are kind of domesticated but not bred as deliberately as modern horses, so I think I will go with a general "spring". Which is great, because I need one foal to be born later than most of the others in the herd, and maybe need special attention to make it through the (harsh) fall and winter.

Again, thank you! AW rocks.