Care of Newborn Foal..

Care of the Newborn Foal-Navel Ill Prevention

Nathan Voris, DVM
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After many months of hard (and expensive) work in the breeding shed, and countless hours on foal watch, you are greeted with the wonderful sounds of a mare gently nickering at her new foal. If you are like most of our clients, you didn’t get to witness the birth because the mare held out until she heard the back door close and the porch light turn off-signaling she has some time to herself. Try not to be too upset with yourself for missing the birth and try to forgive the mare for cheating you out of being a part of the event after many sleepless nights. Chances are, if the mare was fine 2 or 3 hours prior, and now has a new foal looking for its first meal, things went just fine.

A first priority in keeping our new foal from getting sick is navel care. During fetal development, the umbilical cord is the foal’s lifeline. Within the umbilical cord are two umbilical arteries, one umbilical vein, and the urachus-the extension of the urinary bladder which allows the fetus to void urine. Shortly after birth, the umbilical cord breaks. The umbilical stump remains, thus leaving a potential access point for environmental pathogens to gain access to our newborn foal. Navel ill, or omphalophlebitis, is the term given to an infection of any or all of the structures of the umbilical stump. Unfortunately, many umbilical infections do not self contain to the umbilical area. Because the umbilicus is made of a vein and two arteries, navel infections can travel up the stump and enter the bloodstream leading to septicemia, potential growth plate and joint infections and possibly death.

So what can we do to protect our new foal from such a horrible disease? The answer is simple-Keep things clean! The first thing we recommend to our clients is dipping the umbilicus with a dilute Nolvasan (generically known as 2% Chlorhexidine) solution as soon as possible after birth and then 3 times daily for the first 2-3 days of the foal’s life. A good dilution is 1 part Nolvasan in 4 parts water. This makes a fantastic disinfectant which is not irritating to the delicate umbilical tissues. Never dip the umbilicus in strong iodine! Current research shows that iodine can actually kill some of the tissues of the umbilicus, leading to delayed umbilical healing which can increase the risk of umbilical infection.

The second thing I recommend is cleaning the stall. Replacing wet bedding with fresh, dry bedding will greatly reduce the likelihood of the foal being exposed to environmental bacteria when it lies down.

Finally, contact your veterinarian. It may sound like a shameless plug for business, but the truth is, the vast majority of 3 day old foals with navel ill were foals who did not absorb adequate antibodies from their dam’s colostrum (failure or passive transfer) during the first 24 hours of life. A simple stall-side blood test when the foal is 12-24 hours old can tell your veterinarian if the foal’s immune system is weak, thus at increased risk for future infections. Prompt preventative action can then be taken which will strengthen the foal’s immune system and help reduce the risk of neonatal illness.

A new healthy foal can make all of the work done the previous breeding season worth while. A sick foal, on the other hand, can ruin your year. Getting off on the right foot with umbilical care and a simple antibody screening test will help prevent serious setbacks in your foal’s healthy development. If you have questions about your new foal or a concern regarding the health and well-being of any of your horses, do not hesitate to call our clinic. A veterinarian will be glad to assist you with all of your equine medicine, lameness, surgery or reproductive needs.

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Hobbs is one of two youngsters born in 2014.  He is the carbon copy to full sister, CHF ZEVA, now residing in Joplin.  Ironically they are the first to be born with this color pattern.  We have not run color dna on either at this point so I have no idea which one of the lovely terms apply.  I do know he is a real trooper, having participated in the 2015 Missouri State Fair as if he were much older and show seasoned.


CHF Hobbs is a Talbot’s Sparky son out of Lora of Martock, one of two five star mares here on the farm.

Show Time

Talbot’s Sparky

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Summer of 2016!

Several families celebrated birthdays with the Chocolate Horse Farm Gypsy Vanners again this year.  All horses were kind and willing participants in the festivities.  There are so many ways to introduce people to the animal world in positive ways.  This is just one.  The next for us will be the show at the state fair here in Missouri.  Show time will see two of our crew, CHF Traveler and CHF Hobbs…look for us!


What a way to celebrate a birthday~

Birthday Party

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A Word on Whoa

Throughout my riding career I’ve had a few coaches, all with a different stance on the use of vocal aids. I used to have a bad habit of “clucking” on takeoff whenever I got a deep spot to a fence. …

Source: A Word on Whoa

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“Gypsy blood” – an eviction of travellers at Blaxhall in Suffolk

Interesting article…and a bit of history!

Those Who Will Not Be Drowned

George Ewart Evans was born in South Wales in 1909 but moved to Suffolk and wrote several fascinating books about East Anglian folklore, including Ask the Fellows who Cut the Hay (1956) and The Horse in the Furrow (1960). In his books about the folklore of the horse and the horseman in Suffolk, he drew heavily on the local knowledge that he obtained by talking to the people of his village, Blaxhall, where folk culture appears to have remained alive right through the twentieth century and beyond. The local pub, the Ship, has long been a centre for traditonal folk song which deservedly received the attention of another scholar’s Ph.D. thesis (published as The Fellowship of Song : Popular Singing Traditions in East Suffolk by Ginette Dunn ca. 1980).

Evans believed that the strange combination of mysticism, folklore and practicality that imbued the role of the Suffolk horseman (think “horse…

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Often we are asked to take pictures for an internet shopper of horses.  Knowing how to take good and proper photos is important to your integrity as a breeder or seller.  However, it is always nice to include a fanciful one if available…by that I mean…flowing mane, animated movement, etc.

How to Take Photos for Analysis

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The Importance of Knowing Poop!

One day in March 2014, I was working with a 15 yr. old picking up poop. We raise horses, pick up our paddocks daily. So I was explaining why we do this to this young person and in a span of about forty minutes, was asked to explain the process three times. Training time is hard on me. The inexperienced do not understand why they do or are asked to do tasks. Poop for instance…..

Poop is not to be ignored! It just piles up and up! It tells the story of the horse’s health and so must be paid attention to. So, consider Lois Lerner. taking the 5th, her right and yet a perfect example of poor poop management. No matter what you call it…. it is a poop pile that is growing bigger and bigger and now contains an illness which we cannot remedy until we get a look at it. You never know;what you will find in the poop. Pieces of foreign matter, dead worms, live worms, bits of grain or other undigested bits. It may be firm of good poop color or loose and off color. It may have a healthy poop smell (in horses, this is typically earthy and pleasant to a knowledgeable horse person; however, it may be yellow greenish, have a strong acrid odor indicating some degree of intestinal upset. It may be hard little balls from too little water or mushy and green from moist spring grass.

Since the horse cannot take the 5th we examine the poop closely and we pick up every bit of it. Otherwise we have no way of knowing how to fix what isn’t healthy. Plus….if we do ignore the poop, it keeps piling up and up, getting larger and larger until one day the entire world is one big mountain of POOP! No one can move, let alone drive to the corner, because they are all stuck in poop! A good barn manager keeps everything clean and picked up. every thing has a place and a reason for being there. The Manager is ethical and responsible, his helpers know it and know the same is expected of them and their work. The horses thrive in this clean healthy environment.

Praise be to good poop management! ()Too bad those in Lois Lerner’s environment have followed her example of poor poop management.

Some thoughts to consider…..

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