When Foaling Goes Wrong

Prepare ahead of time for the steps you will take as an owner if a problem presents during foaling.

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There is something magical about foaling time that involves more than just observing the start of a new life–special though that might be. In addition, it often is the fruition of months, even years, of planning and anticipation on the part of the owner. As we stare in wonder at a wobbly foal, we often see more–a winner on the track, a jumper soaring over fences, a cutting horse making fantastic moves, a reiner leaving “elevens” in its wake … the list goes on.

The anticipation reaches its apex when the mare goes into labor and a tiny hoof makes its appearance, then another, then the nose, the neck, shoulders, and, in a rush, the rest of the body.

Unfortunately, it isn’t always that simple and straightforward. Sometimes things go wrong and a potentially wondrous event turns into an utter nightmare.

Quite often when health issues arise with a horse, there is time to evaluate exactly what has gone wrong and carefully plan a course of action to solve the problem. With a birthing problem, technically known as dystocia, one often does not have the luxury of leisurely planning a treatment protocol; time is of the essence

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Written by:

Les Sellnow was a prolific freelance writer based near Riverton, Wyoming. He specialized in articles on equine research, and operated a ranch where he raised horses and livestock. He authored several fiction and nonfiction books, including Understanding Equine Lameness and Understanding The Young Horse. He died in 2023.

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