Postpartum Problems in Mares

Many things can go wrong when a mare foals, both during parturition and immediately after. Dystocia (difficult birth) is especially concerning. Even if things seem normal, here’s why a veterinarian should perform a post-foaling exam for mom an
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A post-foaling injury or infection can be life-threatening or career-ending for a mare.

I remember 1973 as a bad year. We had three mares foaling, and two had problems. The first mare wasn't producing much milk and also had severe uterine cramps after foaling. We administered pain-relieving drugs and monitored her to make sure she didn't crash down on her new foal. Eventually the crisis passed.

The second mare was not so lucky; her foal presented backward. (During a normal birth a foal faces the back of the mare, with head down and legs stretched out and straight like a diver, but this was not so in our mare's case.) Our veterinarian extracted the foal–dead by then–and discovered the mare had a tear in her uterus; she was later euthanized

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Written by:

Heather Smith Thomas ranches with her husband near Salmon, Idaho, raising cattle and a few horses. She has a B.A. in English and history from University of Puget Sound (1966). She has raised and trained horses for 50 years, and has been writing freelance articles and books nearly that long, publishing 20 books and more than 9,000 articles for horse and livestock publications. Some of her books include Understanding Equine Hoof Care, The Horse Conformation Handbook, Care and Management of Horses, Storey’s Guide to Raising Horses and Storey’s Guide to Training Horses. Besides having her own blog,, she writes a biweekly blog at that comes out on Tuesdays.

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