WITH the breeding season now well and truly upon us for 2020, the prospect of losing your mare or foal is something none of us want to think about.

The Northern Ireland Horse Board are once again providing their Foster Mare and Orphan Foal Alert service; this facility is operated free of charge to breeders throughout Ireland. Offering the service 24 hours a day seven days a week, the Northern Ireland Horse Board feel that in some small way this may help breeders needing urgent help at a crucial time.

Whether you have lost a mare or foal, just go onto the NIHB website www.nihorseboard.org foster alert and see if there is a mare or foal available, or leave your own details onto the web page for another breeder to contact you.

If you don’t have a computer, you can ask a friend to do it for you or contact the NIHB office on (028) 383 43355, from the Republic of Ireland add (048), or email nihb.office@gmail.com or contacting the NIHB via their social media outlets on Twitter and Facebook.


The NIHB ask that all owners make arrangements between themselves regarding the care of mares and foals. Like most things, the more widely known about and used the system is, the more successful this service will be.

A spokesperson for NIHB said: “At such a tragic time and when you have just lost your broodmare and your orphaned foal needs a foster mother urgently, where do owners turn for help when time is of the essence? If you unfortunately find yourself in such a situation, why not try www.nihorseboard.org, you will see the Foster Alert marked on our front page, just click on there and any mares available or foals needing a foster mother will show up. If not leave your own details, and then others can contact you if they can help with a foster mare or orphan foal.

“It is worth mentioning that mares stop producing milk quite quickly if not suckled and therefore will only be available for a few days. The more this service is widely used the more chance a mare may be available or a foal found. We would also ask veterinary surgeons and practices to keep our details available for potentially distressed clients.”

How it works:

Mares who have lost foals

Any mare owner who has lost a foal and is willing to let their mare foster an orphan foal can check the website site and see if there is a foal needing a foster mother at that time or leave their contact details the NIHB Foster Alert page on the website www.nihorseboard.org.

Remember if a mare fosters a foal this can help her get over the loss of her own foal more quickly and help her breeding cycle return to normal.

Orphaned foal

Any breeder who has an orphan foal can look up the website and see if there is a mare available or they can leave their contact details on the NIHB Foster Alert web page on the website www.nihorseboard.org, hopefully someone with a mare available will check the site and offer her as a potential foster mare.

Who can use this facility?

Anyone needing either a foster mare or orphan foal can look up the web page and see if any mares or foals are available at that time, if not they can place their own details requesting help on the site and hopefully a suitable partner will soon become available. The NIHB ask that all owners make arrangements between themselves regarding the care of mares and foals.