What happens during and immediately after the birth can be critical to the normal development of the young foal. Normal foals are very precocious and the rule of thumb is that the foal should be standing by two hours after birth and nursing by three hours. The foal nursing stimulates oxytocin in the mare which helps her to pass the placenta (or cleanings). These should be passed by three hours.

Early attention to a foal that is too weak to stand by itself by two hours old will be important. Such foals may have bacteria in the blood stream that can seep out to joints, growth plates and other internal organs resulting in infections at those sites. Sources of infection for a newborn foal include the navel, the gut, the lungs and the placenta so hygiene in the foaling area is very important. The appearance of the placenta can give you one of the first clues that the new foal might not be normal.