Newborns can’t tell you where they hurt, and they just don’t understand when you’re trying to help. Add some real size to the newborn and a mom who’s really protective, and you have a care giving challenge on your hands. If you have a sick foal, be careful of the mom!
Caring for sick animals is always a challenge. Their instincts are to protect themselves, especially when they’re wild. But even a gentle foal, or baby horse, can be hard to care for when they’re sick. And Mom often doesn’t make it any easier.
Only about three to seven out of every 100 foals need special medical attention when they’re born, according to an equine (horse) emergency care expert with the University of Illinois. That’s good news, because these can be challenging patients. First, horses–even newborn foals—are big animals. They’re also what experts call a “prey” species who are at danger from larger predators in the wild, so they can get on their feet and run for their lives fairly soon after birth. For the vet or pet owner trying to help, this can mean unintentional bruises from kicks or steps as a foal tries to find safety—from you!
And if you thought your mother was protective, watch how Momma Horse treats people who get too close to Baby. She’ll not only hover and pace, she might get downright rude as she uses her height and weight to prevent anyone from approaching her young. Mother horses get so distraught that vets often have to sedate them if their foal needs surgery!
If you have a sick horse that's still a baby and needs medical care, pay attention to Momma—so you can take care of everyone, including yourself!
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