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


Mare less than 320 days Pregnant, Appears to be Foaling


Your mare is less than 320 days pregnant, yet she appears to be in labor. If she is in labor, she is in the process of aborting her pregnancy. If the foal is born alive, there is a good chance that it will be premature and not survive without prompt veterinary care.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

your role


What To Do

Call your vet immediately. Problems relating to pregnancy and foaling are considered emergencies and you need veterinary assistance now. Then, if possible, you may investigate the situation further and share your findings and concerns with your vet upon their arrival.

Prepare to talk to your vet about your mare's breeding dates and reproductive history.

Assess the mare's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to their rectal temperature, heart rate, and the appearance of her vulva and udder. Is her udder full or engorged? Is it dripping milk? Do you see anything protruding from the mare's vulva such as the foal or fetal membranes? Or is the mare simply showing signs of colic, such as getting up and down?

If the mare is in distress, walk her in circles in a spacious area like an arena until your vet arrives. If she is quiet, then leave her alone.

your vet's role

Your vet uses a physical exam and other diagnostics to determine whether the mare really is in labor or whether there is something else going on. If the mare is in labor, in most cases, the fetus must be delivered. With prompt veterinary assessment and treatment, there may be a possibility of saving the pregnancy.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Was the mare confirmed in foal by a veterinarian?
  • Has there been any problem with the pregnancy prior?
  • What is the mare's age, breed and history?
  • How many foals has the mare had, when were the foals born, and were there any issues?
  • What are the mare's breeding dates?
  • What, specifically is the mare doing now?
  • Does the udder appear enlarged?
  • Does the udder have milk in it?
  • Is there any vaginal discharge?
  • Do you notice any signs of abdominal pain (colic)?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

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

Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

Very Common
more treatments

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP