How is a Caslick's Procedure Supposed to be Done in a Mare?

How is a Caslick's Procedure Supposed to be Done in a Mare?

A Caslick’s procedure is employed to prevent fecal contamination and possible placentitis (infection of the placenta) in a pregnant mare.

Photo: The Horse Staff

Q. I have a mare who is due to foal any day. She had a Caslick's procedure done and two weeks ago my vet removed the stitches, but she is still closed up. When I called the vet twice, both times I was told that she would open up with pressure when she starts to give birth. Other horse people that I know told me that she should have been opened up. This is new to me. How is a Caslick's procedure supposed to be done? I don't want her to tear when she gives birth because it's not opened.

Jackie Sparks


A. A Caslick’s procedure is employed to prevent fecal contamination and possible placentitis (infection of the placenta) in a pregnant mare. It is also commonly used in mares with poor vulvar conformation (a long vulva that tilts forward) to prevent aspiration of air and contamination of the vaginal cavity leading to endometritis (uterine infection).

The vulvar lips are sutured together to form a tight seal. If the suture material used to perform the procedure is absorbable the sutures are left in place. Otherwise, non-absorbable sutures are typically removed 10 to 14 days after the procedure.  

The tissue is then opened approximately two to four weeks prior to the anticipated foaling date. Opening the Caslick’s suture line is often done at the same time that pre-foaling vaccines are given. If the mare foals through a closed Caslick’s she is at risk for vulvar tears that may affect future fertility.

About the Author

Mary Beth Stanton, DVM, Dipl. ACT

Mary Beth Stanton, DVM, Dipl. ACT, received her DVM and residency training from Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. She is a member of the American College of Theriogenologists (Board Certified Veterinary Reproduction Specialists). She owns Equine Veterinary Specialists of Ocala, a reproduction facility that offers mare and stallion management as well as foaling and neonatal care. She also enjoys riding and raises Hanoverians and Dutch Warmbloods.

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