Poll: Readers Share Dystocia Experiences

More than 330 readers of TheHorse.com responded to a poll asking, "Have you ever experienced a foaling dystocia?"

results of poll on foaling complications

Results were as follows: 

  • No: 59.16% (197)
  • Yes: 40.84% (136) 

Readers shared their experiences with foaling complications in the comments below.

Results of weekly polls from TheHorse.com are published in The Horse Health E-Newsletter. Published every week, this e-newsletter offers news on diseases, veterinary research, health events, and in-depth articles on common equine health conditions and what you can do to recognize, avoid, or treat them. Sign up for our e-newsletters using the form above or on our e-newsletter page.  

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  • the front legs were twisted together but luckily I could straighten them out by myself fairlrapidly
  • Only once in a miniature mare. Every owner should be prepared-time is of the essence.
  • shoulder lock - mare foaled standing up- had to pull foal
  • I work for a Veterinarian, so I've seen quite a few. They're very intense, with varying results
  • Three times. All with loss of foal but mother fine.
  • No, thank goodness, in 40 foalings. Only an elbow hung up on the pelvic brim a couple of times.
  • ONly one in 8 foalings was problematic. we pushed baby back in, repositioned, then she was born.
  • Feet were upside down, Stood mare up and then presented normally but had to pull foal out.
  • one front leg was back.
  • Rescued 25 yr old emaciated mare; foal presented with both legs folded back.
  • Not w/my own mares, but I'm a former vet tech who has dealt w/it, cattle too
  • Foal's front feet perforated the vaginal tract and presented through the mare's anus. Saved both.
  • red bag resulting in dead foal
  • foal with severe contracted tendons caused dystocia. lost the colt.
  • Lucky...
  • With Miniatures it is gonna happen.. even did a red bag this spring
  • luckily, no dystocia, but my mare did retain her placenta last time
  • Uterine torsion horrible unsucessful surgery dead foal torn uterus mare died 5 days later
  • The foals neck had turned during birth, no one noticed the water break because the foal wasnt due ye
  • my mare delivered a dead foal with a dystocia. The front legs were bent in 'jumping' position.
  • Foal was stuck for unknown causes. Mare bled out and we lost her.
  • One of the worst days of my life
  • upside down, managed to turn him for successful foaling
  • Horrible
  • Get your vet. there fast or loose both foal & mare.
  • Thank God never a bad one but have pulled some very large ones and pushed back and straightened legs
  • The foal died - hind leg forward and hooked on the pelvic rim
  • Maiden Mare with huge foal. did not turn. Vet & I had to maunally turn..ended well.
  • only one front leg coming.Vet sorted it out without problems.
  • hind legs came forward under belly of foal
  • never experienced a foal birth
  • never bred a mare yet, so no
  • mare prolapsed Lg + sm colon out hole colt kicked in vagina - term shock. Shot mare Csect live clt
  • I don't breed
  • red bags, breeches, wry neck was the worst breech, prolapses, tears, recto-vaginal tears...
  • Twin foals, red bag, lost both.
  • the bag did not break by the foals hooves ,It blew up like a balloon,and i broke the bag
  • We lost a colt this past April, the Vet suspected premature placenta separation. Still mourning...
  • uterus prolapse during delivery. Lost mare and foal
  • I don't even know what that is!!
  • I work at an emergency referral hospital
  • 3 red bag deliveries
  • But I lost two foals at birth to twinning
  • uterine rupture, malpresentations, deformed foetus
  • Yes, most foals we have saved. Unfortunately we lost some too; even with vet help.
  • 1 time I had remove the sack from the foals head
  • No, but I had a mare rupture her uterine artery and bleed out 7 hours after foaling
  • Foal's head was turned backward over his soulder.
  • The foal was presented in breach position, but we were mentally and physically prepared.
  • My Miniature mare. I don't breed her anymore.
  • 1 foreleg was bent backward,causing theknee to hang up. repositioned the leg feet first & jenny deli
  • upside down, walked mare until vet arrived. Vet held legs as mare went down,foal rotated
  • Foal was upside down. Got foal turned & out to shoulders and hung up a back leg on pelvis. Lost both
  • 2 times: breach delivery (both died), and only one foot presented & vet aided delivery
  • One hoof presented. Repositioned & foaling completed with no more problems.
  • Red Bag
  • Upside down, both front legs back, and head turned back.
  • Had to push foal back and relocate both front legs. The mare was exhaused, pulled foal all ok.
  • We have had a few with our miniature horses.
  • scariest 10 minutes ever - but it worked out! So glad I was there, or might have lost them both.
  • Head down between the front legs.
  • I've been foaling for 25 years-the most interesting was the colt that came out hind feet first!
  • Foal correctly positioned but unable to pass through pelvis. Chains wrapped on legs, pulled out OK
  • Malpresentation. Foal survived, mare died due to hemorrage.
  • knock on wood!
  • but only had one foal!
  • minor shoulder locks
  • Had a shoulder stuck, was presenting one leg past knee and nose with other foot just visable.
  • Worked on breeding farm. Several dystocias.
  • Contracted tendons kept the foal from gaining its feet. Dam panicked and rejected the foal.
  • It was horrid. Foal was huge and malpositioned. Lost the foal, almost lost the mare.
  • Miniature horses. Hip lock, leg lock, breech, red bag, twisted cord...
  • miniature had large colt with head back - took 2 hrs to deliver stillborn mare was ok
  • Draft foal - What vet thought was front feet were actually the back.
  • but I have only had one
  • I have never experienced foaling.
  • no, thankfully
  • Maiden mare
  • So far, so good! Five healthy foals & mares, monitored throughout preg/ultrasound & I help deliver.
  • twice with limited breeding. One foal presented upside-down and one was a redbag.
  • Horrible! Foal died and had to be wenched out. Mare survived.
  • Red bag. LUcky it happened in daylight & I was able to cut the foal free. Lovely healthy filly

About the Author

Megan Arszman

Megan Arszman received a Bachelor of Science In print journalism and equine science from Murray State University in Murray, Ky., and loves combining her love of horses, photography, and writing. In her “free time,” when she’s not busy working as a horse show secretary or riding her American Quarter Horses on her parents’ Indiana farm, she’s training and competing her Pembroke Welsh Corgi and Swedish Vallhund in dog agility and running.

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