“Sport horse breeders may have retired broodmares on their farms who could easily be given a second career as nurse mares for their own use, or to help others as part of a nurse mare business. ”

sustain the foal. The process takes approximately 21 days for the mare to be ready as a surrogate. Once the mare is introduced to the orphan foal, many

Last Chance Corral is a Lifesaver O

ne successful foal rescue is Last Chance Corral, located in South Athens, Ohio

and founded by Victoria Goss. For over ten years Victoria has provided safe harbor for orphan foals. The diligent care she provides the 150-200 foals she takes in every year has paid off with an astounding survival rate. Besides foals left behind from nurse mares, that number also includes PMU or Premarin by-product foals. Victoria opened Last Chance Corral forty

years ago as a horse rescue for a myriad of cases. Horses with behavioral issues and requiring re-homing were her specialty. When she recognized the need for orphan foal care, she switched her rescue to focus on these ‘throw away’ foals. Today, Last Chance Corral is one of the oldest and largest independent neo-natal facilities in the country, as it is not associ- ated with a teaching hospital. In addition to the aid that Victoria’s nonprofit has given so many foals, she has also become a valu- able resource and mentor to other rescues throughout the country. When Victoria began orphan foal care, she

mares will nicker and immediately begin bonding with the foal. If the mare requires convincing to allow the foal to nurse, she may be twitched or hobbled and vaginal-cervical stimulation (vigorous massage of the vaginal area for five minutes) can be performed. This stimulation allows the brain to release oxytocin and helps the mare accept the foal. The administration of the domperidone gel may be continued for a few weeks after the introduction of the foal to complete the process. In some cases the mare may be sedated and as she comes out from under the effects of the sedation, the vaginal-cervical stimulation combined with the presence of the foal will convince her that she herself has produced the foal and her maternal instincts will kick in. Laura advises that it is wise

Two examples of foals available for adoption this year at Last Chance Corral.

says equine medical professionals warned her to expect a survival success rate of just 40-50 percent. Her program has bucked the odds and boasts a 98 percent survival rate – a mammoth accomplishment that is a testament to her consistent efforts and true dedication to the cause. Saving these foals is truly a labor of love. “I spend at least $24,000 every year on milk powder and work around the clock. It is hard these days to find help and to raise funds to help run the facility. I do what I can. At present I am spend- ing $950 per day to take care of the foals in my care. The quality of mercy is not cheap—but we can’t afford to live without mercy,” she says. It would, however, be so much better if these foals were never produced in the

first place. Victoria refers to the production of these by-product foals in the tradi- tional nurse mare industry as “the dirty little secret of the racehorse industry.” “It is unlikely that the Kentucky Thoroughbred farms will change after three or

four generations of following this traditional nurse mare practice,” she explains. “It is the cheapest way for big business to produce the nurse mares and they aren’t going to change anytime soon.” v

not to leave the surrogate mare with the new foal until you are certain the pair have bonded. It is important to learn the signs to look for and to take certain precautions, she explains. “Sometimes the mare likes

the baby but isn’t quite sure it is hers. We pull out all the stops to convince her, even if it means taking the baby away and restarting the process. Most of my mares walk in and immediately take over. Some mares go crazy the minute they see the foal and can’t wait to lick and smell and love on them. The majority of our herd at Nursemares of the Northeast are like that. We call them our five-star mares,” she continues. “I generally ask that some-

one stays in the stall observing the new pair until the foal lays down to sleep and then gets

Warmbloods Today 23

Photos courtesy

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