What Are Baby Horses Called – Foals, Fillys, Colts What’s The Difference

There are different names for every farm animal and sometimes the names change with the age or gender. And a young horse is no exception.

The correct word for a baby horse is the word foal. But don’t stop there. That is the general term for a baby horse. There are also special terms for a female foal and a male foal. 

I will explore the proper term for baby horses, their unique characteristics, and essential information you need to know about these young equines. So whether you are a horse owner, an aspiring equestrian, or simply have a fascination for baby animals, you will be well on your way to learning the specific terms used for a newborn horse.

What is a young male horse called?

A young male horse is called a colt. This is a specific term used to describe a male horse that is less than four years old. Once adult male horses become old enough they are then called a stalion IF they are not castrated. In which case they would be called a gelding.  

The naming convention for young male horses is important in the horse world because it helps differentiate them from other categories of horses and also helps indicate the years of age the horse is.

It’s worth noting that a colt is different from a proper baby horse, which is called a foal. Like I said a foal can refer to both male and female horses that are still in their early stages of life, usually up to a year old. However, once a male foal reaches the age of four, it is then referred to as a colt.

young foal laying in the grass

What is a young female horse called

A young female horse is called a filly. The term “filly” has a charming history in horse terminology. It originates from the Old Norse word “fylja,” which means “little girl.” This term perfectly captures the youthful nature and femininity of these young horses. — Personally, I think this is why you will hear in older western movies young women be called a filly. 

Just like colts, fillies eventually grow up and become mares. They are considered an adult female horse when they reach the age of four turning a female baby horse into a mare.

Physical Characteristics of a Baby Horse

Foals (baby horse) are incredibly adorable and captivating creatures just like a hores at any age seems to capture the attention of any crowd. They are born with a unique set of physical characteristics that make them distinctly different from adult horses. From their delicate limbs to their soft and fuzzy coats.

Let’s look at the physical characteristics of baby horses and gain a deeper understanding of what makes them different from a mature horse. 

young foal

Size of a Newborn Foal

On average, a newborn foal stands between 2.5 to 3.5 feet tall at the withers, which is the highest point of the shoulders. As for their weight, they typically range from 60 to 100 pounds. However, it’s essential to note that these measurements can vary depending on the breed of the horse.

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Foal’s Coat

A foal’s coat can be a fascinating thing to observe as they grow. They come in various types and colors, each unique to the individual foal. At birth, the coat is usually soft and fuzzy, providing warmth and protection. It can come in colors ranging from dark shades, such as black or bay, to lighter hues like chestnut or palomino. There are even rare occurrences of roan or spotted coats.

As the foal matures, their coat will begin to change. Sometimes, the color may darken or lighten as they shed their baby coat and grow their adult one. This process can take a few years, and the final color of the coat often reflects the genetics of the horse’s parents.

Markings and patterns are also common on a foal’s coat. These can include stars, snips, blazes, or socks on their legs. Some foals may even have unique patterns, like appaloosa spots or pinto markings. These markings can be helpful in determining the breed or color genetics of the horse.

Limbs and Hooves of a Baby Horse

When a baby horse, known as a foal, is born, its limbs and hooves are already well-developed, allowing it to stand and walk within just a few hours of birth. The limbs of a foal are relatively long in proportion to its body size, giving it that adorable, long-legged appearance. These limbs are also quite slender and delicate compared to the sturdy legs of adult horses.

Foals have tiny, soft hooves when they are born. However, don’t let their size fool you – these hooves are already incredibly strong and capable of supporting the foal’s weight. They are also remarkably flexible, which helps the foal absorb the impact when trotting or galloping around. Over time, the hooves will grow and harden, becoming stronger and more resistant to wear and tear.

a mare standing over her young foal

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Average Gestation Period for Mares

The average gestation period for mares, or female horses, is around 335 to 342 days. Or 11 months. 

However, it’s important to note that there can be variations in this duration. Some mares may give birth a few days earlier or later than the average range just like a human or any other animal.

Several factors can influence the length of gestation in mares. The breed of the mare can play a role, as certain breeds may have slightly shorter or longer gestation periods. Additionally, a mare’s previous pregnancies can impact her gestation length. Mares that have had multiple pregnancies may have shorter gestation periods, while mares in their first pregnancy may have longer gestation periods.

During each trimester of pregnancy, mares undergo various physical and behavioral changes. In the first trimester, the mare may experience hormonal fluctuations, leading to mood swings and changes in appetite. As the pregnancy progresses into the second trimester, the mare’s belly will start to visibly expand, and her mammary glands may enlarge. Finally, in the third trimester, the foal’s movements may become more noticeable, and the mare may display nesting behavior, preparing for the birth.

I hope this was helpful in you in understanding the right terms for young horses. 

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