The Baby Horse – Everything About Foals!


Who can resist a baby horse? They’re tiny, cute, and wobbly. But there’s so much more to learn about their fascinating growth and development. Let’s get the answers to some of the most common questions about baby horses.

newborn baby horse

What is a baby horse called?

The term foal is used for any horse under one year of age. After that, they are referred to as a ‘yearling’ between their first and second years of life.

Foal‘ is an old English word that roughly means “animal young.” Makes sense!

Female foals are also referred to as fillies and males as colts.

What size is a baby horse?

On average, mares produce foals around 10% of their own weight after an 11-month gestation period. For a typical 1,000-pound horse, the baby’s size at birth would be approximately 100 pounds.

In Draft horses, the percentage is often slightly lower at 7%, and ponies can be as high as 13% (find out more about different types of horses).

The world’s smallest newborn Einstien Horse arrived at a mere 6 pounds and 14 inches tall.

In contrast, the world’s tallest horse, Big Jake, was born weighing an enormous 240 pounds!

After birth foals grow very quickly, gaining as much as 3 pounds per day.

What are newborn foal hooves like?

One of the most interesting things about baby horses is that they are born with protection on their feet, often referred to as ‘fairy fingers’.

In fact, we have a whole Newborn Horse Hooves post dedicated to this weird and wonderful phenomenon.

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When does a foal take its first steps?

Like other vulnerable prey animals, foals take their first steps just minutes after birth. While they may stumble and wobble at first, they can keep up to a full-grown horse within hours.

To keep up with their body’s energy demands, they begin eating solid food within the first 2 weeks and must be fed a nutritious diet to ensure proper growth.

When does a baby horse leave its mother?

Because their mother’s milk is not a sufficient source of nutrients after 4 months of age, foals can be weaned (removed from their mother) at that time. While baby horses can live independently, it’s still essential for them to socialize with other horses for a large majority of their day.

How do you name a foal?

You can call a foal whatever you’d like, but there may be some restrictions depending on the breed for registration purposes.

For example, when naming Thoroughbreds, you cannot use initials, brand names, or obscene meanings.

If you are looking for some inspiration, be sure to check out 1000+ Horse Names!

Can you ride a baby horse?

Nope! Because their bodies don’t mature until age 4 or 5, it’s crucial there is no unnecessary stress put on their growing joints. Training can begin as early as 2, but strenuous work is often delayed to allow for both mental and physical maturity.

Is a pony a baby horse?

No. Despite their small size, ponies are a separate type of horse that will always remain under 14.2 hands high.

Are baby horses born with teeth?

Not typically, but within the first week they develop two incisors in the upper jaw and two in the lower jaw. These are sometimes called ‘Milk Teeth”.

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Do foals change color when they get older?

Sometimes! Breeds that are grey (and appear white) as adults, such as Lipizzaners, are born a darker color and slowly lighten over the first few years.

Alternatively, the Palomino Horse can be born in a lighter shade that darkens into a deep copper color.

More Interesting Facts

  • Baby horses are born with 80% to 90% of the height they will have in their legs as adults.
  • Foals sleep for about half of the day.
  • Large foals are usually born by younger mothers (under 11 years of age).
  • Baby horses born with leg deformities can have orthopedic procedures that help them lead normal lives.
  • Thoroughbreds are all given the birthday of January 1st, regardless of when they were actually born.

Do you have more questions about baby horses? Leave a comment below!

newborn horse

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