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Normal Foaling
Eutocia (normal birth)



Foal’s major systems and organs are all
in place though they must still undergo
a great deal of maturation.  The skeletal
system hardens and thickens while motion
patterns, such as standing and walking are
practiced.  Foal is draped in the amniotic
sac and connected to the placenta by the
umbilical cord.


Foal has grown considerably and
has less room to move around.  He
lies more parallel within the mare’s
belly, making it appear increasingly
pendulous. Towards the end of the 
week the foal works to get into the 
birth position.  His eyes open and
close, but he has nothing to focus on,
he will develop no visual acuity until
 after he is born.


The foal is in the delivery position – right side
up with front feet and nose in the pelvic “brim”,
which helps to dilate the cervix, his hind feet are
tucked underneath him.  The last day in the
womb is a quiet one for the foal, there is little
room to move since the mare’s uterus is
tightening around him, in anticipation of 
pushing him out.


The pressure of the foal’s feet 
pushing on the amniotic sac where
 it meets the cervix has broken the
outer wall of the double-walled
placenta, releasing a rush of fluid,
which lubricates the passageway.
The forceful abdominal pressure,
combined with the “guiding”
contractions of the uterus, pushes
the foal out.
1, 2, 3 Rule

1 - Foal should be born within 1 hour after the mares water breaks
      (if labor is not progressing within 30 minutes after water breaks)
2 - Foal should be standing within 2 hours
3 - Foal should be nursing within 3 hours and mare should have passed placenta 

At our Foaling Facility the foal is usually born within 15 minutes after the mares water breaks,
standing within 30 minutes and has already been given colostrum and is nursing within 1 hour
the mare will have passed the placenta within 1 hour and has been check for tears, etc.

Abnormal Foaling
Dystocia (difficult birth)
May be due to abnormal size or position of the fetus, inadequate
uterine contractions or lack of voluntary exertion by the mare.

Time is of the essence


Foal backwards, hocks first, umbilical cord
will become compressed against pelvic brim,
can cause suffocation or oxygen deprivation
*** call the Vet ***



Foal backwards, rear legs tucked under body,
placenta probably NOT ruptured
*** call the Vet ***


Head turned back or down

*** call the Vet ***

Foal in forward position
upside down with feet up

Determine if feet are front or rear
*** call the Vet ***

Head correct, front
legs down

Front legs correct,
head down

Rear legs up, rear feet
hung on pelvic rim


Head and all 4 feet 
emerge together

Head turned back,
front legs emerge

Foaling Tips
The Basics

  1. Be prepared - The first thing you should do in advance is to let your veterinarian know when your mare is due to foal - (put him/her on alert) and discuss with your veterinarian what they recommend you should do if you suspect a problem is occurring during foaling.  Talk to other individuals who have had mares foal.  And most important try to find someone who has frozen colostrum on hand, should you need it.  Colostrum is critical to a new born foal and is only effective within the first 12 hours of birth.  It is also recommended that a bottle of Seramune be kept on hand and the new foal be given 80ml - 100ml either by tubing or with a dosing syringe.  The only other alternative is a plasma transfusion, which is expensive, timely an must be done with extreme care.  Without colostrum or plasma the foal has no "passive immune" system!  If you are unsure how much colostrum the foal has received, your Vet can do an Igg test  when the foal is 18 hours old.  If the test results are <400, the foal is in danger, >400 to <800, the foal is adequate, >800 is what you want.

  2. Know the anatomy of a horse - especially the differences in the back and front legs.  This is essential in a problem foaling.  In some instances your veterinarian may be able to walk you through a problem delivery over the telephone, if you are prepared!

  3. Have your foaling supplies stocked and accessible.  The basic supplies are: A Telephone (to call the veterinarian, if needed), K-Y Jelly (to lubricate the mare), latex gloves or plastic sleeves, if you have to invade the mare) Betadine Scrub and cotton roll (to clean the mare).  These items will be used if you must reposition the foal or invade the mare for any reason.   Iodine (7%) - for the foals umbilical stump, towels - to dry and stimulate the foal, tetanus antitoxin shot, small "bent" neck baby bottle with a long medium flow nipple, a dosing syringe and/or baby bottle, and colostrum - given to the foal in the first 12 hours either from/by the mare or from frozen colostrum, by bottle or syringe - the foal should receive a minimum of 4oz within the first 12 hours of birth. 

  4. Maintain the foals energy level.  New born foals have very littlereserves of energy to maintain body heat and body functions. This energy will deplete very fast especially in cold weather.  Therefore the foal must eat.  If you have a mare that has no milk, the foal must be fed.  Goats milk is the best replacement milk.   Others are, Mares Replacement Milk made by Land-O-Lakes, a nurse mare,  and as a last resort, you can use 8 oz. of 2% cow's milk + 1 tsp Karo syrup.  The foal should be fed every 1/2 - 1 hour.  
    NOTE: Milk supplements/replacements are not a replacement for colostrum.  The foal MUST have colostrum in some form, either from the mare, frozen, or a
    plasma transfusion.

        By now you have decided colostrum is our favorite word.  We can not over emphasize the importance of colostrum.  We have foaled 1000's of babies and spent many hours on the telephone assisting.   The #1 question we are asked is "We need colostrum, do you have any?"  We bank colostrum and have shipped it all over the country.  However everyone who is having foals should make a habit of milking their mares (the mare will produce colostrum for the first 12 hours after foaling ONLY) and freezing colostrum - 4oz in a ziplock bag, labeled with the quantity and date.  Colostrum is good for 1 year frozen.  DO NOT THAW WITH A MICROWAVE....  Place the bag in warm water to thaw.  If you do not have a mare to milk, find someone that has frozen colostrum and get a bag.  Colostrum from any mare (big, little, any horse) will work, cows colostrum or any other milk source will not.

        Most foalings are uneventful with regards to problems, however being prepared in advance, can turn a problem into a solution with very positive results, leaving you with only one problem - not enough hours in a day to spend enjoying the baby.

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Shenandoah Miniature Training and Foaling Center

Brandy or Carp Carpenter
24757 State Highway 56
Whitesboro, Texas 76273
(903) 564-9447
Fax: (903)564-7629


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