• Sara Lasseter

Development Phases of Foals and Young Horses

There are 4 factors to development in a horse:

1. Genetics

2. Environment

3. Management

4. Nutrition

We’ve listed this timeline of the development process so you can see how the 4 factors play a role during certain phases of development.


First 24 hours:

· Standing within 1-2 hours.

· Nursing within 2 hours after standing.

· Within 24 hours the gut “closes” to large molecules, which is what makes the need for colostrum so important during that time frame.

· Passes first manure (meconium) shortly after nursing.

· At birth, the coffin bone is the only bone fused, the remainder will take up to 6 years.

· Within 24 hours we recommend having your foal check done and dipping the umbilical stump in chlorhexidine at a 1:4 ratio. A vet check will usually include checking IgG levels to verify good colostrum intake, checking the mare for placenta passing, milk production, and checking the foal over for any abnormalities or deformities.


First week:

· Body is trying to regulate respiration, circulation, and digestion.

· Acclimating to fluctuations in light, temperature, and sound.

· Nurses two to three times per hour.

· Spends about 1/3 of the day resting usually on their sternum or side.

· Will start to wander further from mom, breaking into first canter around day 2 or 3.

· Should be gaining 1 to 3 lbs. per day

· Cannot regulate body temperature as well as an adult horse, in extreme weather make sure foal has shelter.


First Month (Dependence Period):

· Dependent on the mare for nourishment and protection.

· Has little to moderate interaction with other members of the herd.

· Most play is with the mare, playing with her tail, mane, ears, and halter.

· At 10-14 days will start to pick at mare’s