A foal attains nearly 80% of its mature height and 50% of its mature weight in the first six months of life. During this time of extreme rapid growth the foal is building muscle and bone. As the young horse grows, minerals deposited in cartilage cause the bone to harden.
Proper nutrition is critical for your foal to achieve its genetic potential. A lack or imbalance of minerals can lead to improper development of the bones which can cause bone abnormalities. The foal needs sufficient energy, protein, minerals, vitamins and most importantly calcium and phosphorus to develop properly.
Implementing a totally integrated program of nutrition, good management, and proper health care will get your young horse off to a great start and form a solid foundation to carry it into maturity.
Keeping a foal's feet trimmed is important because of their rapid growth. Proper trimming encourages proper bone development. It is also important for your foal to learn to have it's feet checked as a youngster so that you have a cooperative adult horse when shoeing or trimming. Have your farrier check your foal every couple of months to shape the hoofs as needed.
Talk with your Veterinarian about the recommended vaccines for your foal. Be sure to ask about West Nile vaccine as well.
Common vaccines for foals include:
• Eastern & Western Encephalomyelitis
• Herpes Virus I, II, IV
Allowing the foal free-choice exercise on a daily basis is paramount to help build bone density, strong muscles and tendons, development of coordination, and expend energy. Work your foal sparingly - never work a foal to the point of fatigue. Confinement in a stall should never exceed 10 hours. Sunshine and romping through the pasture unfettered are great for your foal.
Check your horses daily. Do a visual check to see if you notice any changes which could be indicative of illness or lameness. Do a physical check. Look at the horse's feet, and check his eyes and teeth. Monitor the intake to be sure the horse is eating properly. Spending time with your horse and being aware of its habits will help you more readily pick up on a problem.