What is Baby Horse Called?

All animals have special terms that refer to children and infants. Horses are no exception. However, it can be difficult to know exactly what to call a baby horse because the industry has several terms that describe different types of baby horses.

In this article, we’ll cover all of that terminology so you can be more confident in using horse age terminology. We’ll start by looking at common names for baby horses, and then look at the more specific terminology related to age and gender.

Let’s get started.

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What Do You Call Baby Horse?

If you see a baby horse under one year of age, it is called a foal. It doesn’t matter if the baby horse is a boy or a girl. The foal’s name only tells you the age of the horse, i.e. a newborn that is under one year old. If only things were as simple as calling a baby horse a foal. There’s other terminology you need to know to handle horses more confidently based on their age and gender:

mother and foal exmoor pony

Horse Age Terminology to Know:

Provision Definition
Foal Baby horses under one year old
weaning A foal that has recently stopped breastfeeding, under one year of age
a year Foal between first and second birthday
Colt A stallion that is not yet 4 years old
Filly A female foal who is not yet 4 years old
Stallion Adult male
stud Adult males to breed
castrated Adult male castrated
Mare Adult female
nightmare Adult female for breeding

Weaning vs. yearling

Whereas foals are horses under one year of age, foals are foals that have stopped breastfeeding recently. This usually occurs whenever the foal is about six months old.

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Once a horse reaches its first birthday, it is called a yearling. If a horse is one year old, it means it is over one year old but under two years old. Both the terms weaning and yearling can be used for either a male or a female.

In both cases, the horse is very young, but immature and immature. The terms weaning and yearling only tell you exactly how old the horse is and what stage of life it is in.

Fell Pony mare with foal_Shutterstock_Nicole Ciscato

Men vs Women

Foals are also distinguished by gender. This happens whenever the horse is between two and four years old. During this age, the horse is still not fully mature, but is old enough to eventually emerge from the infant stage.

For stallions that are between two and four years old, they are called stallions. On the other hand, females of this age group are called fillies. You can technically use this terminology before the horse is two years old, but you’re more likely to hear the term used when the horse is between two and four years old.

Mature

After horses reach their fourth birthday, they are finally adults. At that time, males were called stallions and females were called mares. If a male is castrated, it will be called castration. Males used for breeding are called males, while females used for breeding are called sires.

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More Information About Foals

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Foals is actually quite interesting. Here are some fun facts about foals and horse breeding:

  • Foals can start walking an hour after birth.

  • Most horses are over two years old before they are ridden.

  • The gestation cycle of a horse is eleven months.

  • Breeders try to have their foals born as close to the start of the year as possible.

  • The horse’s age is calculated using January 1 as its universal birthday.

  • If the mother has difficulty giving birth, it is called dystocia, and can lead to the death of both mother and baby, as well as a barren future if she persists.

  • Foals and ponies are not the same thing.

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Final Thoughts

If you want to refer to all baby horses under one year of age, you can simply call them foals. As the horse ages, the terminology transitions from weaning to annual chicks. Then, you start hearing gender-specific terms, such as colt, filly, stallion, stud, castration, mare, and broodmare.

If you don’t use these terms perfectly, don’t worry. These terms are used much more fluently than you might expect. The most important thing is that you know when a horse has reached adulthood. Adulthood is a time when horses can breed and race.

As long as you don’t say “baby horse” and choose the more appropriate term “foal,” most people won’t ask or raise an eyebrow about the term being used.

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Featured Image Credit: Maria Junge Fotografie, Shutterstock