Foal Development

Foals are precocious newborns. They rise within an hour or so of birth and can walk and gallop shortly thereafter. They follow their mother, who threatens any other horse that approaches her foal, so they don't have the opportunity to follow another horse. Foals must find the udder and ingest colostrum within a few hours of birth in order to acquire passive immunity that will last until they can manufacture their own antibodies. Foals suckle every 15 minutes for the first week of life and the rate decreases slowly as they mature. By six months, they still suckle hourly, although they are now grazing almost half of the time. During the first few months, foals lie down and sleep frequently. Even as two-year-olds, they spend more time recumbent than adults. When the foal lies down, the mother stands beside it, although as the foal grows older, she will be farther and farther away. Both fillies and colts leave their mother's band when they are between two and three years old. The colts usually join a bachelor band, a group of other immature males (Fig. 1). They harass band stallions and their mares, and may eventually acquire mares, which are usually kept by the dominant bachelor as the nucleus of his own band. Occasionally more than one stallion will accompany mares; one stallion, the dominant one, breeds the mares while the other wards off other stallions. Fillies may join an established band or join other youngsters.

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