Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Mass Protruding from Inside Vagina or Vulva

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

  • If this is associated with the foaling process and does not seem normal.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) in the resting horse indicate fever (Temp >101F/38.3C) or heart rate greater than 48 BPM.

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • If you think this is not related to pregnancy and foaling.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.
  • If the swelling is mild or moderate, and not increasing rapidly.

The vulva of a normal healthy horse is flat, and there is a good seal between the vulvar lips. There should be no tissue protruding from the area. Certain uncommon conditions can cause tissue to protrude from the vulva.

Hermaphrodites may have abnormally enlarged clitoris (actually a penis) that protrudes from the lower vulva. Prolapse of the vagina is rare and can appear as a red ball protruding from the vulva. Various types of cancer, such as tumors of the skin outside the vulva, in this area can also grow into masses. Older mares (especially those that have had multiple Caslick’s procedures) lose fat and muscle here and there can be some mild parting of the lips, exposing tissue inside.

A mare that is in the process of foaling has the fetal membranes protrude from the vulva prior to foaling. In a normally foaling mare, these appear as a white, fluid filled balloon and will be followed within moments by the foal’s front feet. Fetal membranes hang from the vulva after foaling and should be shed within an hour or so of foaling.

However, premature placental separation (red bag delivery) appears as a red fluid-filled ball or balloon preceding foaling and is a veterinary emergency, and requires immediate intervention to save the foal.

WHAT TO DO

If this observation is not associated with foaling, assess your mare’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) and discuss your findings and concerns with your vet. Send a photo of the condition to your vet for this discussion.

If associated with foaling contact your vet immediately to discuss whether the mare is having a “red bag delivery”. Unless your vet can attend to the situation within minutes, ask them if you should cut the red bag and deliver the foal yourself. Your vet may guide you over the phone. See also the related Skill “Assist Foaling Mare, Pull Foal.”

In the case of a red bag delivery, carefully but rapidly cut the thick red bag with a pair of scissors. To cut the bag, simply make a small snip in the bag with the scissors before making an aggressive cut or tearing the placenta with your hands. In this way, you are certain not to cut the foal inadvertently.

After the crisis, the foal is at risk for HIE (Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy aka Dummy Foal Syndrome). Watch the foal carefully. It should rise to its feet and nurse soon after birth. I strongly recommend that your vet perform a post-foaling exam on foal, placenta and mare.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

CONTACT US

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Sending