What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Mare in Abdominal Pain (Colic), Soon after Foaling


Immediately after foaling, a mare is uniquely susceptible to a variety of problems causing abdominal pain (colic).

Uterine cramping is common and usually manifests as pawing or lying down- signs that may be indistinguishable from other more serious conditions. Uterine cramping is especially common in the moments after foaling and again around the time that the mare sheds her placenta.

Mares experiencing uterine cramping often paw, kick at their belly, and lie down. Severe signs of pain, including sweating and more obvious distress right after foaling can be caused by more severe conditions, such as the rupture of a uterine artery, ruptured uterus. Mares in the post-foaling period are also inclined to have severe intestinal problems, especially colon volvulus (twisted large colon).

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours
    • If the mare seems ill, or shows colic signs beyond mild uterine cramping.
    • 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.
    • Questions coming up around foaling should usually be discussed right away with your vet.
  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • Once the problem is resolved it is still wise to evaluate the horse's general health and management to ensure there is no underlying problem.
    • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

your role


What To Do

For these reasons, it is always best to call your vet immediately. While the colic may only be caused uterine cramping, it could be something more serious. If the mare is extremely painful, down and rolling, you may need to pull the foal from the stall until your vet arrives.

If the signs are mild, you may assess the mare's general health using the Whole Horse Exam on Post-Foaling Mare (WHE), paying particular attention to gum color and heart rate. Share your findings with your vet.

What Not To Do

Do not introduce new or particularly rich feeds to your mare at this time, instead keep her feed and management the same.

Do not give pain relievers like flunixin (Banamine), unless advised to do so by your vet, as medications may interfere with the mare's normal uterine contraction post-foaling.

your vet's role


Your vet uses the results of the physical exam to distinguish uterine cramping from more serious problems.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Does the mare's attitude and appetite seem normal?
  • When did you first notice this?
  • When did your mare have her foal?
  • How severe do you think the problem is?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?
  • Is the foal standing and nursing normally?
  • Has the mare passed her placenta whole?
  • Have you given the horse any medications?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

Very Common
Less Common
more diagnoses

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP