Dealing With Equine Dystocias

A difficult birth can be life-threatening for both mare and foal if not handled promptly and properly.
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Dealing with Equine Dystocias
A difficult birth can be life-threatening for both mare and foal if not handled promptly and properly. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse
A normal, successful foaling should take no more than 30 minutes from when the mare starts to go into labor to when she delivers the foal. Veterinarians consider anything longer than this to be a dystocia, or a difficult birth, which can be life-threatening for both mare and foal if not handled promptly and properly.

“Time is of the essence in dealing with a dystocia,” said Michael Spirito, DVM. “Ten minutes can be the difference between an excellent result and a dead foal.”

Spirito, a practitioner with Hagyard Equine Medical Institute’s Davidson Surgery Center, in Lexington, Kentucky, described ways veterinarians can resolve dystocias at the 2016 American Association of Equine Practitioners convention, held Dec. 3-7 in Orlando, Florida

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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