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Questions Bulletin Board » Foaling and Immediate Post-foaling Issues » Questions « Previous Next »

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Mandi Evans
Username: Shaylynn

Post Number: 29
Registered: 04-2009
Posted on Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - 05:38 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Okay well I thought I had posted this and it went bye-bye so forgive me if it ends up posted twice.

When things went wrong with my mare foaling earlier in the year, it's left me with some questions. Most of the those questions were because of what the vet was telling me.

After my mare's water broke, some of the sac appeared, but there was nothing with it, no hooves anywhere to be seen. I called my vet as I was concerned. My vet said it was fine and not to worry. Just sounded like the sac hadn't broken all the way. I asked if that meant a red sac delivery and the vet didn't know what I was talking about. Vet said call me back later, but everything sounds fine.

Called vet again as nothing was happening and vet said it can take time. Well everything I have ever read and ever seen is that the foal is born within an hour, usually less of the water breaking. Vet said everything sounds fine, even though it was over an hour after her water breaking.

Needless to say, when the vet finally got out here things were not fine. The foal was upside down and backwards.

Anyways the whole experience left me rather shaken. But the vet left me really doubting myself. I realize vets don't know everything, but I expect a vet to know at least the basics of foaling. So either this vet does not know what they are talking about or I don't. I need to know what it is so I can get my head around this and either do more studying or something.

So is it true/right that a foal needs to be born within an hour of the water breaking? If not can you please tell me what the norm is. Also when the sacs are not breaking correctly, is that normal, or a cause for concern?

Any other thoughts, advice, etc are appreciated.


(Message edited by shaylynn on September 16, 2009)

Breeding Stock
Username: Dressage_diva333

Post Number: 852
Registered: 02-2008
Posted on Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - 06:11 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Foals need to be out within 20 minutes of the water breaking.

If I don't see hooves within 5 minutes of the water breaking, then we check the position. Doing this saved one of my best mares, and her already sold colt this year. Water broke, white sac appeared, but there were no feet. We waited 5 minutes. The foal was in the correct position, but HUGE, and the legs were pointing straight up. Mare was a maiden. The vet said that the mare would have likely been torn very badly had we not intervened.

We got the legs out enough to put chains on, then it took about another 10 minutes to get him out. We do feel that he was a bit of a "dummy foal" due to the diffucult delivery. I know we would have lost him had we not been there, and my mare's reproductive soundness would really be questionable.

Your vet obviously does NOT know what he/she is talking about. Was it a large animal vet??

You probably would have lost your foal anyways, as it seems like turning a foal around in that position would be very near impossible. Did your mare survive? Did you get the foal out eventually?

To put it in perspective, my last foaling of this year was textbook. From the time the water broke, to when the foal was completly out, was just 7 minutes. Average time I'd say is about 10 minutes.

I'm very sorry you had to experiance that..

Mandi Evans
Username: Shaylynn

Post Number: 30
Registered: 04-2009
Posted on Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - 06:44 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thanks for the response. That helps a lot.

Yes the vet is a large animal vet.

And yes my mare did survive. I had to haul her 2 hours to a vet hospital and they pulled the baby. Obviously it was too late for him, but she came through just fine.

Diana Gilger
Senior Stallion or Mare
Username: Kdgilger

Post Number: 2644
Registered: 01-2008
Posted on Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - 06:50 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Mandi, I am so sorry for this! I don't think I'd rely on that vet again, for sure. I have minis, and little problems can turn into big ones FAST. When the water breaks, i count every 5 minutes.....if there's no progress in 5 min, I go in to check position. Typically, my foals are on the ground within just a few minutes of water breaking....usually less than 20. The only times its gone longer is when one was in trouble or twisted and needed repositioned. My longest delivery was 35 minutes, and that foal ended up being delivered 3 legs and a head and an umbilical cord wrapped around everything. It was a mess!! If 10 min passes and there's nothing happening after the water breaks, typically it's not going to without some help. At least, in my experience!!

Board Administrator
Username: Admin

Post Number: 2629
Registered: 10-1999
Posted on Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - 08:38 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The rule of thumb is: "'Waters' and no legs in 30 minutes, you've got a problem; legs and no nose in 20 minutes, you've got a problem".

Exactly what one does, and how early one intervenes depends primarily upon one's level of experience. I would certainly not be concerned if the allantoic fluid had passed and I didn't see legs in 5 minutes, but by 10 minutes I would be wanting to check things out. An important caveat there though - see what your mare is doing. If she is getting up and down, and straining, and is in obvious distress, then checking earlier rather than later is called for; while if she is reasonably placid (for a mare foaling!) waiting a little longer is valid. To a great degree that is where the experience kicks in (i.e. reading the mare and the situation).

Certainly it is preferable that the foal be born within an hour of the allantoic fluid being presented - but remember that as long as the allantoic membrane is still attached to the endometrium, there is still oxygen transfer going on (that's not to say that the foal isn't in trouble, but it's not like it's going to die at exactly 1 hour!). There have been many documented cases of prolonged foalings with dystocias still resulting in a live foal. Seven minutes - or an average of 10 - would be on the fast side in my experience, and I would say that it would be more common for 15-20 minutes to be the average time from passage of the allantoic fluid to complete deliverance of the foal.

Failure of rupture of the allantoic membrane (typically resulting in a "red bag" delivery) or of the amniotic membranes may be related to endophyte exposure (typically through infected Fescue or Rye grasses or hay), so you may want to evaluate your fodder for that potential.

One other point I do need to address is the use of calf chains on foals. The equine is not capable of sustaining the pressures placed upon it in the same manner that is seen when "pulling" a calf with calf chains, and tremendous care must be exercised if using calf chains, nor should it be a routine procedure. The use of a dry towel to assist in traction (foals are slippery!) and normal human effort is typically adequate except in a dystocia. If calf chains are to be used, make sure that they are doubled to avoid damage to the foal's legs - but again, I recommend that they not be used routinely.

Mandi Evans
Username: Shaylynn

Post Number: 31
Registered: 04-2009
Posted on Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - 10:16 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thanks so much for the responses and information.

I'm wanting to rebreed my mare next year. But I wanted to clarify and to double check on what I thought I knew (or didn't know) before then.

I'm definitely not an expert as this was only my 6th foaling, but I hadn't seen anything in the previous ones that prepared me for this. However, I have seen some text book ones, and shortly after her water broke, I knew this wasn't one of them.

Thanks for the clarification about red bag delivery. The pasture here is Bermuda as is the hay, so I'm pretty sure she never was exposed to any fescue or rye. I don't think the sacs not breaking was actually a problem as the vets at the hospital said everything else was perfectly normal, the foal just wasn't turned right.

Breeding Stock
Username: Dressage_diva333

Post Number: 853
Registered: 02-2008
Posted on Thursday, September 17, 2009 - 12:09 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Jos, yes, we doubled the chains... the veterinarian was there of course, and we don't like using chains... but in this particuliar instance, it was neccessary. The mare was absolutly exhausted and making NO progress... nor were we having any luck without them. I am aware that great damage can be done if the chains are not properly used.

We don't assist foalings unless it is needed (have had one bad dystocia, foal upside down & presented with only one leg, where of course, assistance was needed, the other was the large colt mentioned above)... other than that, the mares have pretty much been fine on their own. Absolutly every effort is made to attend foalings though.

Breeding Stock
Username: Cjskip

Post Number: 991
Registered: 03-2008
Posted on Thursday, September 17, 2009 - 04:25 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Mandi, please don't doubt yourself. You did call the Vet-three times! However, I would never, ever, use that vet again, for a horse delivery. They did not even know as much as you did, to some degree. It doesn't mean they are a bad vet-it might just mean that they don't know much about reproductive horse stuff, but that is what you need a Vet to know if you are relying on them during a delivery (or any reproductive issues, for that matter).

When my first, and so far only, foal was born, I'd had the stroke of good luck to have found this site and felt well prepared. But when the time came and my foal didn't nurse for 5 hours, I was close to panic. It is one thing to know these things, and another to actually be there, having to make decisions about what to do.

Things did turn out alright for my foal in the end, but what I am saying is that knowledge, plus experience, are what helps us feel confidant. And learning never ends. So please, try not to doubt yourself.

If you choose to breed her again, I bet next time, your story will be a lot different. Let us know, okay?

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