During our trip to the horse farm for mare palpations the other day, our teacher gave us a hands-on task to complete. For the remainder of the semester, my friends and I must visit our mare and follow her throughout her later portion of gestation. As the due date gets closer, different things happen. For example, the abdomen starts to distend and get bigger, ligaments on the rear end of the horse start to loosen, the vulva starts to droop and get wider, and the udder swells and may drip colostrum right before parturition. When we check on our mare, the main reason we are doing it is to be able to see these kinds of changes so that we can recognize impending parturition in the future.
As someone who has worked extensively with dairy cows and seen many calves born, this part of the class is familiar to me but still exciting. Constantly having to check on a soon-to-be mother and taking care of mother and baby after birth used to be one of the best parts of the job for me but unfortunately, since starting vet school I haven’t done any of that kind of stuff in almost 3 years.
So until mid-April (when our mare is supposed to foal) or whenever she actually foals, we must check in on her and keep note of any progress she makes. While this only includes haltering our mare, giving her a quick physical exam, feeling ligaments and measuring her vulva, this is still an exciting project. We are finally being trusted to interact with animals and I think that this will be good practice for my theriogenology block during clinics in a few months.