What Is A Baby Horse Called? Facts About Foals

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Understanding more about baby horses, called foals, is crucial to broadening your knowledge about horses.

This article will explore foals, from their first wobbly steps to the intriguing differences between fillies and colts.

Short Summary

  • A pony is not a baby horse; it is a breed of horse characterized by its small stature.

  • Foals can be bought from breeders, online platforms, auctions, or rescue organizations. Ensuring the foal comes from a reputable source is crucial, promoting ethical horse breeding and care.

  • Foals are born with a protective layer on their hooves, known as the deciduous hoof capsule, or 'feathers' or 'caps.' This layer peels off within a week, revealing the foal's actual hooves.

Foals, Fillies, and Colts - What's The Difference?

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When it comes to the world of horses, understanding the terminology is crucial.

A baby horse, regardless of its gender, is referred to as a 'foal.' We classify these young creatures under this term until they reach the age of one year. However, as they grow, the terminology changes based on their gender.

A 'filly' is a young female horse under the age of four, while a 'colt' is a young male horse under the age of four. 

How Long Does a Horse Carry Her Baby

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The gestation period of a horse is quite lengthy compared to many other animals.

Typically, a mare (female horse) carries her foal for about 11 to 12 months, approximately 340 to 345 days on average. However, this period can slightly vary depending on various factors, including the mare's health, age, and breed. 

What Size is a Baby Horse When It Is Born?

When a baby horse, or a foal, is born, its size can be quite surprising to those new to the equine world. On average, foals weigh between 50 to 70 pounds (22 to 31 kilograms) at birth.

In terms of height, they are usually about 60% to 65% of the height of their full adult size.

So, if the mother measures around 16 hands high (1 hand = 4 inches), the foal will likely stand about 9.6 to 10.4 hands tall.

As they grow and mature into their first year, their size will increase rapidly, so enjoy their young, petite size while it lasts!

When Does a Foal Take Its First Steps?

A foal takes its first steps soon after birth, usually within the first hour. This quickness to mobilize is a survival trait inherited from their wild ancestors, where newborns needed to be able to flee from predators as soon as possible.

At first, their steps may be wobbly as they adjust to their long limbs, but you'll be amazed at how quickly they gain strength and coordination, trotting around with youthful energy and curiosity.

It's a remarkable sight to witness as a young horse begins its journey of growth and discovery.

What are a Newborn Foal Hooves Like?

Newborn foal hooves are pretty fascinating. At birth, they are covered with a soft, rubbery layer known as the 'foal's slipper' or 'golden slippers.' This special covering protects the mare's uterus and birth canal from the sharp edges of the foal's hooves during delivery.

This layer will wear off within a few hours to a few days as the foal starts moving and exploring its new world. Underneath this protective layer, the foal's hooves are surprisingly firm and durable, allowing the young horse to stand, walk, and eventually run as they begin their equine journey.

When is a Foal Weaned?

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Foals begin weaning around 4 to 6 months of age, although the exact timing can vary depending on the individual horse and circumstances.

Weaning is a critical transition period in a young horse's life, marking the shift from a milk-based diet to a primarily forage-based diet. It's a gradual process, with the mare naturally reducing her milk production over time as the foal begins consuming more solid foods like grasses and grains.

By the time weaning is complete, the foal should be able to sustain itself nutritionally without its mother's milk. However, it's important not to rush this process, as abrupt weaning can cause stress for both the mare and the foal.

The key is to ensure a smooth, gradual, and low-stress transition for the young horse.

Fun Foal Facts

Foals have a lot of intriguing characteristics that make them unique. Here are some fun foal facts to add to your knowledge bank:

  1. Foals can stand and run shortly after birth, a critical survival skill in the wild where predators pose a threat.

  2. A newborn foal's legs are almost as long as an adult horse's, giving them their adorable, disproportionate appearance.

  3. Foals can recognize their mother's calls and smells from the start, fostering a strong bond between mare and offspring.

  4. Foals have a rapid growth rate. In the first week of life, a foal can put on up to 6.5 pounds (3 kilograms) daily!

  5. Unlike humans, horses (including foals) usually sleep standing up. However, for deep REM sleep, they need to lie down.

​These interesting facts showcase a young horse's fascinating start to life and growth.


In conclusion, the journey of a baby horse, or foal, is a remarkable process filled with intriguing stages, from the gradual shift from a milk-based diet to solid foods to their incredible ability to stand and run shortly after birth.

Each stage of a foal's development is essential, underscoring the importance of a smooth and stress-free weaning process to ensure their health and well-being.

The fascinating characteristics of foals, such as their rapid growth and strong bond with their mother, further amplify our understanding and appreciation of these beautiful creatures.

Whether you're a horse enthusiast or novice, the world of young horses offers a wealth of knowledge waiting to be discovered.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a pony a baby horse?

No, a pony is not a baby horse. While it's a common misconception, the term 'pony' refers to a breed of horse characterized by its small stature. Ponies remain small even when they fully mature. A baby horse, on the other hand, is called a foal. Depending on physical maturity and breed, they can become a pony, a horse, or a draft horse.

Where do you find baby horses for sale?

Baby horses, or foals, can be found for sale in various places. Most commonly, they are sold through horse breeders, who specialize in breeding horses of a specific type or breed. There are also numerous online platforms, like Equine.com or HorseClicks, where breeders and private sellers list their horses for sale.

You can also find healthy foals for sale at horse auctions or through rescue organizations. However, it's essential to ensure that any foal you buy comes from a reputable source that prioritizes the health and well-being of their horses. This ensures you support ethical horse breeding, training, and care practices.

What do you call baby horse hooves?

Baby horse foals' hooves are often called 'feathers' or 'caps.' When a foal is born, its hooves are covered with a soft, rubbery layer known as the deciduous hoof capsule. This protective layer prevents the foal's sharp hooves from injuring the mother during birth. This layer will naturally peel off within a few days to a week as the foal moves around, revealing the hooves underneath.