About HorsesHorse Facts

What Are Young Horses Called? 50 Facts About Baby Horses

In this article...

Ever wondered how long foals take to stand after birth? Or when they start eating solid food? Explore this comprehensive guide for detailed insights into the life of a foal. From birth, nutrition, growth, behavior and much more, Learn it all about baby horses.

Baby horses are so adorable with their gangly legs, fuzzy coats and tiny kissable muzzles.

Baby horses whether male or female are called foals. A young horse that’s a male is called a colt. A young horse that’s a female foal is called a filly. A baby horse stays a foal until 1 year old which is when they are called a yearling. As a yearling, a female is still a filly and a male is still a colt. 

If you’re interested in learning more about age and gender terms used about horses head over real quick to my post, Horse Genders 101: What Is A Mare, Gelding, Stallion, Colt, Filly? It will open in a new tab so you won’t lose this post.

Have you ever dreamed of owning your own foal by breeding two amazing horses together to create your dream horse.

Being able to raise and train your own foal would be amazingly rewarding, but it is no easy task. It takes an incredible amount of time, responsibility, training, consistency, patience, the right place and money to raise and train a baby horse well. 

Horse, Foal, Horses, Animal, Mare, Nature, Mammal, Pony

Maybe you just love foals, think they’re super cute and want to know more about them. 

Whichever one you are, by the end of this post you will have a lot more knowledge about our adorable fuzzy friends.

 Also at the end of this post I have included a couple videos of some playful really cute foals, just because I had to share the cuteness.

50 Facts About Foals

  1. Many non horse folk confuse ponies with foals. Ponies are not a baby horse but basically a small horse, with slightly different characteristics from the light riding horse and are 14.2 hands or smaller. If you want more information on the difference between ponies and horses check out my blog post The Difference Between Horses And Ponies it will open up into a new window.
  2. Foals are developing in the mare’s belly for about 11 months before they are born.
Wild Horse, Mare, Pregnant, Dülmen Germany, Horse
  1. A study determined that 80% of foals are born at night when it was dark.
  2. Same study discovered that newborn fillies stood faster than colts.
  3. On average it takes a newborn foal about an hour give or take to stand up after birth.
Dartmoor Foal, Foal, Horse, Newborn, Mare, Infant Foal
  1. The actual birth is often fairly quick like many prey animals who need to be able to move quickly in case of a predator.
  2. If a foal takes too long to be born there can be serious complications.
  3. Once the mares water breaks while giving birth, the foals feet should appear 10-20 minutes after.
  4. During birth if you see the red placenta instead of the white amniotic sac the foal’s life is in danger.
  5. A foal will take its first breaths 30 sec- 2minutes after being born.
Horse, Foal, Thoroughbred Arabian, Animal, Nature, Mare
  1. Persistent head tilting, swollen legs are not normal and you should call the vet.
  2. The mare’s milk in the first 24 hours has colostrum. When the foal nurses and gets the colostrum in their system it helps them poop for the first time. The colostrum also helps to protect the foal with antibodies which boosts the foal’s immune system.
  3. Foal should be up and nursing within 2 hours after that it is best to call the veterinarian for opinion.
Foal, Mare, Drink, Suckle, Animal, Mother, Child, Fuchs
  1. A newborn foal should poop for the first time by 3 hours after birth.
  2. The “1-2-3 Rule” is used among horse breeders for after the foal is born. It means in one hour the foal should be standing. In 2 hours the foal should be nursing and in 3 hours the foal should poop for the first time.
  3. The foal should pee for the first time within 12 hours of birth.
  4. Foals are able to gallop around within 24 hours. An important ability when you are a prey animal and need to be able to run away from predators.
Horse, Foal, Brown Mold, Thoroughbred Arabian, Meadow
  1. A mare and foal need to bond after birth. This often happens very quickly. Sometimes however a mare can reject it’s foal.
  2. Foals sleep up to 12 hours a day in the first three months of their life.
Foal, Horse, Thoroughbred Arabian, Suckling, Sleep
  1. If a foal seems very sleepy and is sleeping all the time that is a problem and you should call the vet.
  2. Foals born bow legged are called “windswept.” This is common with large foals that were born out of smaller mares. Luckily the bones, tendons and ligaments are fairly pliable at birth and more often than not begin to straighten up a few days later as the foal gets stronger. If they do not then it is best to all the vet.
Horse, Thoroughbred Arabian, Foal, Brown, Meadow
  1. When a foal is first born they solely nurse and drink their mother’s milk. If they are orphaned or rejected they will need to be bottle fed an appropriate replacement milk.
Foal, Horse, Gypsy, Young, Equine, Animal, Nature, Dam
  1. By about day 7 the foal is drinking about 25% of their body weight in milk.
  2. In order to produce sufficient amounts of milk the mare needs to be drinking extra water, from what she normally would drink.
Foal, Mare, Colt, Equine, Horse, Animal, Nature, Farm
  1. A foal begins grass tasting with their mum at about a week old, but the main diet remains mare’s milk for months.
  2. Foals have trouble trying to reach down and eat grass because their legs are so long in proportion to their necks which are a lot shorter.
Foal, Young, Small, Sweet, Animal, Horse, Pony, Ride
  1. There are 3 main ways a foal reaches the food on the ground to eat. They can lie down and nibble at the food, go on their tippy toes and bend their knees or spread their front legs out side ways. Any of these methods a foal chooses looks a little silly and oh so adorable.
Horse, Foal, Suckling, Brown Mold, Thoroughbred Arabian
  1. At almost two weeks the foal may start to nibble at hay.
  2. After 4 months the mare’s milk is no longer a significant source of nutrition and becomes more of a psychological benefit than a nutritional benefit.
  3. Foals must be on a careful diet, not overfed or underfed in order to avoid triggering a growth disorder that can cause soundness problems for the rest of the horse’s life. Insufficient nutrition can cause stunted growth and other health problems as the foal grows.
Foal, Mare, Mother, Paint Horse, Brown, Small, Young
  1. If the foal is getting grain a creep feeder should be used so the foal can eat their ration of grain without mama eating it for them.
  2. A foal’s legs are about 90% the length they will be as an adult already and by 6 months of age they reach roughly 80% of there full mature height.
Foal, Horses, Animal, Pasture, Mammal, Young Animal
  1. Newborn foals are 10% of the weight they will be when they are full grown. They reach 50% of their mature weight when they are 6 months.
  2. There are two common ways breeder’s estimate a foal’s height for when they become an adult though they are not totally accurate.
    1. Method one- you use a string and measure from the elbow to mid fetlock, then flip the string up from the point of elbow. The top is an estimate of how tall the foal will get. 
    2. Method two- you measure with a measuring tape from the center of the knee to the coronet band which is the hairline above the foal’s foot. The measurement in inches is considered what height the horse will be in hands. 15 inches and the foal will be 15 hands as an adult. 16.75 inches and the horse will be 16.3 hands.  
  3. Foals are able to be weaned from their mother as early at 3 months. Average weaning time is 4-7 months.
Horse, Foal, Pasture, Young Animal, Meadow, Mare, Grass
  1. Foals that are weaned from their mums are called weanlings.
  2. During the weaning process foals are either abruptly separated for at least a month or the separation may be gradual.
  3. Weaning is a very stressful time for a mare and foal.
  4. Stallions can produce around 200 foals a year, whereas a mare can only have 1 foal per year.
Foal, Horse, Animal, Mare, Stallion, Meadow, Brown
  1. Foals should start learning good manners as soon as possible. Leading and picking feet are some of the first things a foal should learn.
  2. Foals usually are born with no teeth but within the first year grow 24 teeth which are temporary teeth.
  3. Foals can gain as much as 3 lbs per day.
Animal, Horse, Foal, Young, Small, Pinto, Mare
  1. Once a foal is no longer nursing they should be eating about 2-3% of their body weight in food, mostly grass or hay. Grain can be fed as well as long as it is a balanced diet and the horse is getting the right amount of nutrients.
  2. Eating poop is common among foals. It is said that when the foal eats it’s mother’s poop it adds the mother’s bacteria to the foals gut which aids in digestion.
Foal, Horse, Quarterhorse, Pasture, Animal
  1. Foals can’t be worked on the lunge, or ridden because they are too young and it could injure them, but they can be trained to accept, touch, grooming, haltering, leading, going in and out of a trailer, wearing a blanket.
Foal, Brown, Baby, Portrait, Horse, Animal, Equine
  1. Anything undesirable a foal does now can lead into adulthood so you want the foal to begin to understand what is acceptable and what is not. Many foal owners can create a dangerous horse if they allow the foal to do cute behaviors which would be dangerous as an adult.
  1. Foals should have ample opportunity to exercise, build muscle, strengthen legs and develop.
Horse, Suckling, Foal, Thoroughbred Arabian, Pasture
  1. Foals should not be confined more than 10 hours a day. The less time confined the better.
  2. Problematic conditions from a foal growing to fast include: contracted tendons, epiphysitis, angular limb deformities and osteochondrosis
  3. Foals should have access to free choice hay, to eat whenever they are hungry and which is good for digestion.
Horse, Fuchs, Foal, Thoroughbred Arabian, Mare

Videos Of Cute Foals

Here are some videos of foals I found were exceptionally cute and playful. Something to make your day a little brighter.

Now you know more about foals whether you were just curious or someday want a foal of your own. Plus you got to enjoy some cute foal footage.

Hope your day is brightened by the animal we love.

Cheers, Kacey

Join The Joyful Equestrian Newsletter

If you're intrigued by the equestrian lifestyle and eager to learn more, join our newsletter! You'll receive updates on new blog posts, journal entries, free printables, and much more.

Disclaimer Notice: Please be aware that horseback riding and related equestrian activities carry inherent risks. The advice and experiences shared on this blog are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional training or advice. Ensure your safety and that of your horse by wearing appropriate gear, practicing safe horse handling, and consulting with certified equestrian professionals. Remember, each horse is unique, and techniques may vary accordingly. Always prioritize safety, respect, and patience in your equestrian endeavors.

Kacey Cleary Administrator
Kacey has been an equestrian since 1998. She was a working student at several eventing and dressage barns. She has owned horses, leased horses, and trained horses. Kacey received an A.S. in Equine Industries from UMass Amherst, where she rode on the dressage team. She was certified with the ARIA and is licensed to teach riding in MA. She has been a barn manager and has run her own horse farm.
follow me