Foaling Difficulties


Dystocia or difficulty in foaling is uncommon in the horse. However problems do occur and it is important that your veterinary surgeon is contacted as soon as you suspect a problem. Sometimes the foal can be manipulated within the mare to enable normal delivery. However, sometimes there are foal abnormalities that make a normal birth impossible, such as contracted tendons. Your veterinary surgeon will make an initial attempt to correct any incorrect position of the foal but a horse is unlike a cow in that she will not be able to tolerate a large degree of manipulation without some damage to her reproductive tract. So, when manipulation fails, a caesarean section may need to be performed.


Caesarean section in the mare is a major operation performed under general anaesthesia. The decision to perform a caesarean is one which only your veterinary surgeon can make with you.

Retained Placenta in the mare

The foetal membranes should be expelled within a few hours of foaling during the third stage of labour. Occasionally these may not be expelled, but retained. If the mare has not passed the membranes within a few hours of foaling, then veterinary attention should be sought. Retention of the foetal membranes can lead to complications including endometritis (infection of the uterus) and toxic laminitis.