Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Gestation Length is Associated With Early-Life Limb Deformities in Thoroughbred Foals

Mouncey, R; Arango-Sabogal, JC; de Mestre, AM; Verheyen, K


R Mouncey

JC Arango-Sabogal

AM de Mestre

K Verheyen


Flexural and angular limb deformities (LD) are an important cause of early-life morbidity and mortality/euthanasia in Thoroughbred foals. The majority are congenital in origin but, to date, their precise aetiology is poorly understood. We hypothesized that maternal-and pregnancy-level factors, particularly those with potential to influence in-utero growth and development, could play an important role. The aim of this study was therefore to investigate associations between such factors and early-life LD in Thoroughbred foals. A birth cohort was established on seven farms across the United Kingdom and Ireland and details of veterinary interventions for LD in foals in the first six months of life prospectively recorded. Details of dams' signalment, breeding history and reproductive and veterinary history in the breeding season(s) of interest were retrieved retrospectively from stud farm and veterinary records. Associations between mare-and pregnancy-level factors and LD in offspring were assessed using multivariable logistic regression. Records were available for 275 pregnancies in 235 mares, over two breeding seasons. Pregnancies resulted in the birth of 272 live foals, 21% of which (n = 57/272, 95% CI, 16-26) required veterinary intervention for LD in the first six months of life. Odds of LD decreased by 4% per day increase in gestation length between 314 and 381 days (OR 0.96, 95% CI, 0.93-0.99, P = .01). Longer gestation length appears to reduce the odds of early-life LD, including within the normal range of gestation length for Thoroughbred foals. Further work is required to elucidate biological mechanisms behind this association.& COPY; 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC license ( )


Mouncey, R., Arango-Sabogal, J., de Mestre, A., & Verheyen, K. (2023). Gestation Length is Associated With Early-Life Limb Deformities in Thoroughbred Foals. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 129,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 31, 2023
Online Publication Date Aug 2, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Oct 2, 2023
Publicly Available Date Oct 2, 2023
Print ISSN 0737-0806
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 129
Keywords Equine; Foal; Gestation; Limb deformity; Thoroughbred; BIRTH-WEIGHT; MATERNAL AGE; PARITY; PREGNANCY; OSSIFICATION; GROWTH


You might also like

Downloadable Citations