Hi all, turning to this forum in a last ditch effort for any ideas we haven’t already covered.
My maiden mare gave birth to a healthy filly one week ago. The birth was uncomplicated, and the mare responded lovingly to the foal immediately after, cleaning her and nickering. The foal was slow to get up because of very lax hind flexor tendons. We milked the mare to get colostrum in the foal, and the foal took it via bottle no problem, fortunately. Once the foal was able to get up and nurse a few hours later, my mare had very little to no milk and resented nursing efforts. We started her on Dom immediately. Her maternal instincts seemed very minimal as well, so we fed her placenta and put her on an oxytocin regimen, all at the advice of the vet. We supplemented with milk replacer via bottle under the mare as needed for four days while waiting for milk to come in. The mare required constant supervision during that time because she’d run laps around her stall when the foal tried to nurse. We tried verbal corrections as well as praise and treats when she did allow nursing. Once her milk came in well on day 4, we hoped for substantial improvement but she still barely tolerates nursing in her stall and doesn’t allow it outside in the paddock at all. In her stall, she tries to move away, swishes her tail at the foal, lifts her hind legs before eventually allowing her to nurse. In a small paddock, she walks endlessly until a person intervenes and holds her to allow the foal to get to her.
The filly is lovely and is bright and happy despite the struggles with nursing. But they cannot be left unattended for fear that the foal won’t be able to nurse or the mare will escalate. She generally seems to like the foal but is not a very attentive or loving mother in other ways.
The mare is healthy and happy otherwise. Her udder and teats are normal and not sensitive - she actually likes people handling them, just not the foal. In terms of potential next steps, the mare does not tie well. The foal really prefers mom and does not want to take a bottle now. The foal has not taken to a bucket yet, since she will try for the mare for as long as it takes or until someone comes to hold the mare, but we admittedly haven’t tried super hard with a bucket setup. But at this point, we are very close to getting a nurse mare, as I’m worried about the foal’s health and safety in this stressful situation. I have very experienced breeders and vets helping, but I figured I’d throw this out there and see if there are any ideas that we’ve overlooked? Thank you!