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Vero Beach, Florida

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Miniature Horse Care:

The advice below is from our own personal experience of solving miniature horse foaling complications to try

and save a live foal.  This is not in any way meant to replace any professional advice from a vet.


Miniature Horse Foaling Complications:


1.  The most common complication in miniature horses birthing is a front leg turned back at the knee. 

I try and get inside the mare quickly and get the leg turned straight before she pushes the head and

other leg completely into the birth canal.   This give me room enough to find the other leg and pull it

up straight with the body.   There has been times when the leg is just back behind the head but still

coming with the head.  Reaching in I can get a hold of it and pull it out even with the other leg. 

In a few cases if the mare has the head and leg in the canal and I do not have enough room to turn

the leg, I can squirt as much OB Lube in and  around the birthing canal and reach in on the side of

the head and get a couple of fingers behind the knee and pull the leg in a bent position through the

birth canal along with the head.  In a few cases I have on mares that have had several foals, not been

able to find the leg as it is sitting straight back along side the body.  In this case I have been able to lube

up the canal birth and pulled the baby foal out with the leg being straight back.  However, this usually

only works on mares that have had several foals or a mare with a very small foal.

2.  Head coming in the birth canal, but no front legs.  Usually in this situation both front legs are tucked

back with the knees in the forward position.  As in description number 1, I have the same situation with

the exception of another leg to find and get straight into the birth canal.  Most of the time one leg is

easier to do then the other.  Once both legs are in the birth canal and the head is coming then the foal

is a normal position.

3.  Two front legs coming with the head straight down to the mares belly.  This can be a hard one as of

the length needed to get to the front of the head which is pointed toward the front of the mare.  Sometimes

I can pull on the neck and get it to slide back to me closer.  Other times I just have to really reach and

hope I can get a couple of fingers into the foals mouth and pull the head back and up, until I can get

a better grip of the head to get it into the birth canal.  Usually in this situation I do not have enough

arm length to grip the jaw of the foal and pull it back until the head gets closer to the birth canal.

3a.  Same as above but the head and neck is to the side of the foals body.  In this situation I can usually

get a grip on the jaw and pull it back to the birth canal.  As the head is not as far back as in the above


4.  Foal waded up and either on it's side or upside down.  This takes a lot of pumping of OB Lube inside

the mare.  Sometimes I can take one arm inside and try and get it turned.  Depending on how big the

foal is, sometimes it takes both hands to get the foal turned into the proper position.  Once it is turned

then I have to find the legs and get them into the birth canal and then go back in and find the head

and do the same.  This is one of the more difficult deliveries I will run into.   As sometimes the

umbilical cord may be wrapped around some part of the body and prevent movement into the birth canal.

5.  Feet and head come out and foal gets stuck in the middle.   This is work very fast pace situation as

the air can get squeezed out of the lungs.  Usually the hind legs are pushed up against the pelvic or you

have a hind leg coming with the stomach area through the birth canal.  Once in this position the birth

canal is very tight.   But I have been able to squeeze my hand under the stomach area and if I find

a foot, try and push it straight back so it drops down below the birth canal.   Sometimes having the

mare standing up helps if a hind leg is not in the birth canal, as the weight of the foal and pulling straight

down will help bring the rump of the foal out of the canal.  Pulling on a leg and sliding my hand into

the birth canal on top to try and pull out on the rump also helps.

6.  Breach foal.  If the foal is upside down I have to turn it as described in number 4.  However,

I have found most to be laying in the correct position.  Finding the hind legs and getting them through the

birth canal, most are easy to pull out in this position.

7.  Everything coming correctly but foal is not coming out.  This is just a guess, but somehow the cord

is around something like the chest, neck or between the front legs.  Usually allowing the mare to push

and doing a lot of hard pulling I will start to feel and hear something stretching.  Once the cord gives

enough slack they usually come right out.  Trying to figure this one out is sometimes hard as everything

is correct and there should be no reason for the foal to come, but it does occasionally happen.

Hopefully you will not encounter much of these complications, but having foaled out almost 2000 foals

over the years, I have experienced about every possible complication that is possible.   Happy Foaling.





This page created 1/03/2013

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