Foaling is a distress event
3 Stages of Labor
While some mares may show few or subtle signs of distress during the 3 stages of labor, most mares will show marked distress as evidenced by an increase in their heart rate and respiration, and changes in their behavior.
Stage 1
(1-4 hrs)
  • Colic symptoms
  • Pawing
  • Sweating
  • ↑ RR/effort
  • Gentle rolling
Stage 2
(5-20 mins)
  • Water breaks
  • Active straining
  • Foal emerges
Stage 3
(1-3 hrs)
  • Passing of placenta
The 1-2-3 Rule
Following the birth of a newborn foal, there are 3 rules directly linked to the health and wellbeing of the foal and the mare.
1 Hour = Foal to stand
2 Hours = Foal to nurse
3 Hours = Mare to pass placenta
The health of a pregnant mare directly correlates with the health of her foal
Foals from mares with comprised health have
greater odds of death
  • 19x = Abnormal placenta
  • 8x = History of illness during pregnancy
Foals with complications are more likely to die
  • 21x = Foals with seizures (in the first 24 hours)
  • 6x = Foals with complications (during hospitalization)
Up to 15% of mares may experience serious complications after foaling
Retained placentas and uterine infections are some of the most common problems, as well as cervical tears, vaginal bruising and tears, poor milk production, mastitis, and rectal-vaginal tears.