Should you pull a foal out?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

Should you pull a foal out?

In most cases, it is generally not recommended to try to pull out a foal unless it is considered an emergency. The natural process of foaling should be allowed to progress without interference, as the mare’s body is designed to handle the delivery on its own. However, there are situations where intervention may be necessary for the safety of the foal and/or the mare.

One exception to this rule is a “Red Bag Delivery.” This is a term used to describe a situation where the placenta, which is normally delivered after the foal, is seen first. The placenta appears red and has a velvet appearance, hence the name “red bag.” In such cases, immediate action is required because the foal can suffocate if it is not delivered promptly.

A red bag delivery is a critical situation that requires immediate veterinary attention. The placenta acts as a barrier between the foal and the mare’s uterus, providing oxygen and nutrients to the foal during pregnancy. When the placenta is seen protruding from the mare’s vulva before the foal, it means that the foal is not receiving the necessary oxygen and can quickly become oxygen deprived.

If you suspect a red bag delivery, it is crucial to act quickly. Call your veterinarian immediately and inform them of the situation. While waiting for the vet to arrive, you can try to break the placenta by carefully tearing it open using your fingers or a clean towel. This will allow the foal to breathe, but it is important to note that this should only be done if you feel confident and have been instructed to do so by your veterinarian.

It is essential to remain calm during a red bag delivery and follow the guidance of your veterinarian. They will be able to assess the situation and determine the best course of action. In some cases, they may need to manually deliver the foal or perform a cesarean section to ensure the safety of both the foal and the mare.

In non-emergency situations, it is crucial to allow the mare to foal on her own. Interfering with the natural process can sometimes cause more harm than good. The mare’s body is designed to handle the delivery, and she will typically go through stages of labor, including contractions and the breaking of the water sac, before the foal is born.

However, it is important to monitor the foaling process closely. If the mare is experiencing prolonged, intense contractions without progress or if she is in distress, it may indicate a potential problem. In such cases, it is advisable to contact your veterinarian for guidance and support.

To summarize, pulling a foal out should generally be avoided unless it is an emergency situation such as a red bag delivery. The foaling process is a natural event, and interference should only occur when necessary for the safety of the foal and the mare. Consulting with a veterinarian and seeking their guidance is crucial in any foaling situation to ensure the best outcome for both the mare and the foal.