With long, spindly legs and a curious demeanor, foals -- the term for horses and ponies less than a year old -- are adorable by anyone's standards. Watch the video below to see just how friendly and snuggly these babies can be as a foal discovers a new friend that stopped by to say hello.
Female horses -- called mares -- are pregnant for about 11 months. After giving birth, the mare (now called a dam) cleans the foal and bonds with it as they get to know each other.
Dr. Gary Magdesian, professor at the University of California at Davis and consultant to The Horse, has a guideline that he calls the "1-2-3 Rule" for healthy foaling: if the foal is standing within one hour of birth and nursing within two hours, and the mare passes the placenta within three hours, both are probably healthy. A veterinarian should examine both animals 12-24 hours after foaling to ensure that all is well.
A foal can trot and canter within hours of birth, and usually, figures out how to gallop within a day. Foals will usually experiment with solid food within a few weeks, and be comfortable with them by 2-3 months of age, as mare's milk is no longer sufficient to meet its nutritional needs. Weaning can occur when the foal is eating plenty of solid food and seems socially prepared for independence.
A healthy foal is a curious foal! From the very first day of life, foals will investigate everything in their environment, especially if it is an unfamiliar object. With or without playmates, foals will chase butterflies, birds and blowing leaves, says Dr. Sue McDonnell in The Horse.
Have you ever seen a foal at play, or had the opportunity to snuggle with one, like in the video below? Please SHARE this article and tell us your story in the comments below!