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My 4 month foal has a broken leg and requires stable rest for 3 months and we need to wean her.

It's impossible to keep her and mum in the same stable without risking mum getting cast. Mum had already been cast once when bub was a newborn foal. Now she is a 12 hh 4 month old, there would be little room for mum to navigate to get up from lying down.

Bub cannot be taken in and out of a stall, as it's vital in these days to rest her leg. So the decision was made to wean her.

How do we go about weaning?

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Logistics

We started by putting mum and foal in stalls next to each other. This way they could see each other through the bars, sniff each other and talk. Bub would poke her head through the bars of the gate to look at mum. during the day when people were around. Which may or may not be advisable, as there's a risk of injury. At night the bars were closed off with a horse rug.

The stall next to each other, with the gate bars open for bubby to look at mum. They could also see each other through the bars at the top of the stall divider. enter image description here

Bub did try to crawl under the stall dividers. She had her head in mum's stall. Luckily she and mum were calm and there were no injuries. The bottom of the stall divider was secured with bolted timber to stop her from repeating this.

After nearly a week, mum was moved to a stable diagonally opposite bub. So they could still talk, and see each other. This way they were getting used to being further apart. The foal was settled. At this point the front of bub's stable was secured with strong rubber, so she could not poke her head through the bars to try to get to mum and possibly cause an injury. She could see mum over the rubber.

Bubby trying to look out through the rug. The pic shows the rubber covering the stall gate and the timber bolted to prevent her from sticking her head under the stall divider. enter image description here

Some days later mum was put into a small paddock adjacent to the stables during the day and brought into the stable at night. The top of the stable gate was covered to stop bub from attempting to jump up to look for mum and further compound her injury. To put it into perspective, if she doesn't heal or the fractures displace, she will need to be put to sleep. So the motivation to keep her quiet is great.

A few days on, mum stayed in the paddock during the day and was put into a separate stable at night, not in the same stable block as bub. There were other horses stabled with bub overnight. (same building separate stalls)

A few days later mum was moved back home and bub remains at the stables. This transition went surprisingly smoothly. We continued to cover the top of the stall gate for some days to discourage bub from jumping up. This is gradually being left off for longer periods, as she is calm and less inclined to want to look for mum.

Foal feed

As bub had already been on hard feed and hay with mum, she would eat with mum from a few days old, picking at mum's feed, the feed continued, but increased in ration. A foal and calf milk replacer was gradually added into her feed and will continue until it's used up. This may not have been necessary at 4 months, we wanted her to have her full nutrition.

She is also given feed that has a higher protein ratio to adult feed.

She is always kept with a fresh water and hay supply.

The protein ratio in mum's feed and her rations have been gradually reduced. She is now on a similar feed to a non-lactating mare.

Udder

Mum's udder was and is still checked to ensure there is no mastitis. It was a little engorged the first day of weaning, but settled down surprisingly quickly. She still drips and will let down and stream milk. It's because of this her nutritional needs are taking into account that she is still using extra energy and nutrition and this needs to be replaced.

Emotional needs

Both mum and foal have needed to be closely watched for depression and to best minister to their emotional needs.

For bub it's also having company, being stalled for so long. Chickens will come into her stable to peck at her bedding. Other horses come and go from the shed during the day and there's always horses there at night.

Bubby with some chicken companionship. enter image description here

People come and go throughout the day and there's also children who pay her visits to pet her.

She is groomed everyday and the stall is kept clean of urine and faeces so her environment is as healthy as possible. There's plenty of air circulation, and daylight, as the stall is at one end of the shed.

Mum is back home with her herd. She is in a paddock on her own, next to the herd. Not ideal, but she is food aggressive from being starved and has kicked 3 of the other horses, injuring two, including her own foal. So until she is recovered from this, she needs to be paddocked separately. She is next to two other paddocks and the horses usually often hang out near each other.

She is managing better than I anticipated. I stayed with her for some hours when she first returned, until she was well settled.

I did notice she didn't eat her feed the following day. She would only eat it while I was standing with her. So I'm spending the time with her while she eats. Not demanding anything of her. Just hanging out. She gets scratches where's she's itchy and we hang stand together so she has company and can relax.

It's early days, so I will be keeping close watch on her.

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