Foaling Stalls

​​QUESTION: Starting a project pretty soon.  Building a couple of stalls.  I have a 16 foot wall, and wondering if two stalls 8 feet wide would be adequate for foaling stalls, 8 x 12.  What do you think?  - Mike


Our foaling stalls are 10 x 10's and we didn't feel they gave the mares enough room.  I would consider a 12 x 12 would be more suitable for the mares.  We remedied our problem by taking out the wall between 2 stalls and ended up with a 10 x 20 for birthing season, and replaced the wall for the rest of the year.  This really helped the situation - Kathy K

All of the foaling stalls I've seen have been two regular sized stalls (usually 10 x 10 or a bit bigger) with a removable common wall so that it makes a 10 x 20 stall.  An 8 x 12 is very often a recipe for disaster, as it's too much opportunity for a mare to foal too close to the wall or for a foal to slam into a wall when he/she is learning how to stand. - Megan

When I had a barn with foaling stalls, they were 12 x  16.  A lot can happen in that space and there needs to be plenty of room for a mama, a baby and at least one person to be safe.  At another place I worked the stalls were 16 x 16.  If possible, the more room you can give the mama, the better, I think.  - Kaite

My personal preference is 12 x 12 - Belinda

I have some stalls that are 8 x 12 in my barn.  They are big enough to keep a full size horse, but I wouldn't attempt to use them for a pregnant mare.  When my horses stand sideways in those stalls they take up the entire width.  I have used 12 x 12 for foaling without problems.  Remember that even after they are born, those foals like to run and jump around in the stall.  Give them as much room as possible. - Barbara

With very few exceptions, our mares foaled in the pasture, avoiding the stalls, although leanto's were always available.  A mare will frequently circle and pace during labor, making a standard 12 x 12 stall too small.  A mare experiencing complications that requires human assistance needs at least a 24 x 10 space.  If the foal is not positioned correctly, the mare will repeatedly circle, throw herself to the ground, rise, circle, throw herself to the ground to reposition the foal.  We had this happen twice.  Both times, only one leg/foot emerged, indicating the other leg was crossed over, preventing the birth.  The first time, the older mare succeeded in repositioning the foal and delivering before the vet arrived, although she was too exhausted to get up and clean the foal, watching while we did that.

The 2nd time, I had a vet on the phone giving me instructions while he was enroute:  with one arm, reach in and find the folded leg; gently pull it into position next to the forward leg so that both emerge together.  Then working with the contractions, gently pull the foal out and down in a curve motion (like a diver going into the water).  You will think the contractions are going to break your arm while you are repositioning the legs.  As soon as the head emerges get the membrane off of the nose and clean the nostrils.  You probably will not have to cut the cord as it will break when either the mare or foal begin to get up.  You can clean the foal with a soft cloth - or as we did with the first mare - the shirt off my husband's back.

 We have both of these births on video, and I still ask myself why I was the one rearranging the feet and my husband was the one taking the video; the obvious answer is that my arms are smaller - Carolyn B

12 x 12 would be about minimum, I think, but I really like a clean pasture for foaling, when at all possible.  It seems to me that when a horse gets into trouble, it is often due to lack of space.  Big animals that have evolved on the wide open grasslands of the world.  - Milton

      Here in FL my Appaloosas always foaled outside in a large paddock, even when I had access to a 
      sizeable stall.  The only time I put them inside was if it was really cold or wet, which just doesn't 
      happen much around here, at least not at foaling time. - Katie

      I too like natural.  Having seen my stallions in with their foals during birthing and so on is pretty 
      majestic in itself.  The more the merrier when it comes to have enough space.  - Terry

     All of our foals were born in the pasture as we did not have a foaling stall.  However, they all
     made it just fine and the one I had recently here in Mississippi was born in a paddock with no
    problems.  I then left mom and baby in the paddock for several days to get bonded before I 
     turned them out with the main mare herd. - Sandy

I turned a 16 x 36 area into two foaling stalls; each 16 x 18.  They worked perfect last year.  There was enough room for mom and baby to be in, and I felt comfortable locking them in for a few days after birth while I was at work.  We had a big black bear visit our fence line after Libby was born and before Bear's birth.  The first visit was when Grace and Libby were in a confined area to stretch legs.  Mom chased the bear away with her Tahoe.  I would have loved to see that on video!  Moms and foals had room to move and stretch.  Good luck with your plan - Allison

The 8 x 12 stalls I have were originally 16 x 12.  We cut them in two to accommodate more horses in our barn. - Barbara

Jaz and Stormy had a 25 x 25 stall and it was awesome!  After seeing how well Stormy developed in that large are, I don't know how I can ever settle for less again.  He learned to run full tilt, full gallop!  There was a support beam right in the middle, around which he learned to cut barrels, and to corner.  He learned that Momma could be on the other side of the stall and he could live without her, developing his own feelings of security.  It made it fully possible for me to handle him, imprint him, and wallow all over him, and Jazzie just went about her business elsewhere, and didn't give a rip.  I no longer even think 12 x 12 is big enough for regular stalls - Jan

Our current stalls are 30 x 30, but before we were able to build such nice stalls, our foaling stalls were 16 x 16 and they worked fine.  I wouldn't consider anything smaller as there just isn't enough room for the mare and baby.  I think your plan of 16 x 20 is perfect.  Remember not to re-divide too early.  Babies have a way of sleeping in such a way that they can easily roll under a tight fence.  Despite wire to the ground, we've had to help many babies back "home" if Mama has been pawing at the wire or ground.  We found this happened more often in our 10 x 20s and 12 x 20s than our larger stalls. - Maryeileen

I have two 12 x 12 stalls that we have taken the divider out of so my mare that is due any day is in a 12 x 24.  She has plenty of room to lay and roll and she's been doing plenty of that.  I think a lot of folks have two stalls they take the divider out of for their mares.  Makes it handy during foaling season, and then you can put it back up for later and have more stalls for your horses.  - Kate W

Agree outdoor on clean grass is ideal for birthing, but those of us in northern climates, really need the big stalls.  One think no one has mentioned is cameras above the foaling stall with wide lens and a soft light.  Small ones run about $150 and have saved several through the years for us.  Run a line from the stall to the small TV in your bedroom and no unneeded and annoying trips to the barn.  It worked for us and did save a couple of foals.  One of our mares would not foal until someone was outside in the daytime to be with her.  She had large tall foals and usually needed help in turning them when the legs were out.  Those lovely smart mares.  - Sally