During the foaling season, it is always a pleasure to see foals running around in the fields. But not every foal has a healthy start. It may be that a newborn foal does not react normally, has a poor or no suckling reflex and shows no interest in its mother. They often stand quietly in a corner or walk around aimlessly in the stable and do not know how to find their mother's udder: they called dummy foals that get their name from the fact that they seem dumb.

This condition occurs in 1 to 2 percent of newborn foals. Esther Siegers, equine internist at the University Equine Clinic, explains: "A healthy foal will stand on its own legs within one to two hours and will immediately seek its mother's udder to drink. If this does not happen, it could be a dummy foal. The symptoms a dummy foal shows can have two causes: lack of oxygen during pregnancy or birth or the absence of a certain hormonal adaptation.

Rebirth, or swaddling, can work well for the second cause. Esther explains: "The fact is that foals are kept asleep during pregnancy by a certain hormone. This is to prevent them from moving too much in the womb and therefore damaging the mare. At the moment of birth, the hormone composition changes - probably due to the pressure in the birth canal - causing the foal to wake up, stand up and try to drink. In the case of a quick birth or a C-section, there may have been too little pressure on the foal and the hormone conversion may not take place, causing the foal to remain in the sleeping state. In recent years, people have become increasingly familiar with the phenomenon of rebirth or foalsqueezing, a kind of harnessing of the foal. This is a certain technique in which, with the help of ropes, the pressure of the birth is imitated, as it were. It does not work with all foals, but with some foals it works very well. First, the foal falls asleep, as it were, and thus imagines itself back in the belly of the mare. Then it wakes up, whereby the pressure is removed. If all goes well, the foal stands up and starts drinking. It then has very good chances of growing up healthy again."

Consult your vet
Do you have a dummy foal? Then don't go experimenting yourself but consult your vet. It is important to be sure that the foal does not have any underlying problems before using the squeeze technique.

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