Birth of the Foal

Normal delivery position of the emerging foal would be front feet first, belly down, with the nose later appearing above the legs. Commonly the mare is lying down, but may stand and move to another location to lie down. Most mares deliver the new foal unassisted without complications.

The person may choose to assist in the emergence of the foal by “holding” feet to retain the progress the mare has made, or may pull the foal by the legs when the mare is pushing, to help that effort. (Pulling when the mare isn’t pushing endangers the foal.)  Keeping one foal leg further forward than the other reduces the foal’s shoulder width and makes it easier on the mare to get that widest portion of the foal out.

The direction of pull normally follows the naturally positioned arc of the foal and angles down between the mare’s tail and heels.

If the mare is having problems with delivery, simply pulling harder - even with one foal leg ahead of the other - may not be the right solution, and may create additional complications by tightly lodging a “stuck” malpresented foal. The person trained to assist may reach inside the mare, potentially the length of the arm, to determine if the foal is presented correctly, and if needed reposition the foal for an easier delivery. The most common presentation problems are the foal’s legs or head out of position.