The vast majority of mares foal without any problems and are best left to give birth undisturbed/watched from a distance, and usually do so in the more unsociable hours of the night.

Accurate prediction of foaling is still very difficult, even with sophisticated methods such as analysis of blood hormone or milk electrolyte levels. Although several types of foaling alarm are available, there is no substitute for close monitoring of the mare around foaling time.

Problems at foaling can have catastrophic results for both mare and foal. Recognising a problem early and calling for veterinary intervention without delay is strongly advised. Often a problem can be corrected early and a healthy foal delivered safely.

If this is not possible, the mare can be admitted to DGVS for further help, including delivery by Caesarean section under general anaesthetic where necessary.Particular care should be taken in cases of:

  • First time foaling (maiden) mares
  • Mares having experienced problems at previous foalings
  • Owners with limited or no experience of foaling

High Risk/Abnormal Pregnancy

Certain pregnancies are deemed "high risk" and more intense monitoring is advisable.

These include:

  • Mares with premature udder enlargement or milk production or vaginal discharge during pregnancy
  • Mares with a history of problems during previous pregnancy or foaling
  • Mares that have produced critically ill foals. Mares with other medical issues eg laminitis, colic, chronic lameness

Some of these mares may require medication +/- extra vigilance at foaling.

If your mare falls into this category, we are happy to discuss options/management plans to optimise her chances of carrying a foal to term and recommend more intensive monitoring through her pregnancy.


Unfortunately some pregnancies result in abortion (expulsion of the foetus before 300 days of pregnancy).

Usually this occurs suddenly, without any warning signs and the mare remains healthy throughout.

Although most abortions are the result of non-infectious causes, we strongly recommend all cases should be investigated, both for the safety of other horses on the same premises and the breeding future of the mare herself.