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


Foaling, Foal Foot has Torn Hole Into Mare's Rectum & is Trapped


Your mare is foaling and is having difficulty. You notice that a foal's hoof is coming out of the mare's rectum. If the mare continues to push the foal out, she will completely tear the wall between her rectum and vagina. While this looks terrible, know that most mares do survive this, and the injury can usually be repaired.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

your role


What To Do

If possible, you can try to push the foal's hooves back in and redirect them to exit out the mare's vagina. If you can do this safely, and help deliver the foal with gentle tension on both feet, you may help the situation and prevent more damage. What has been created already is a recto-vaginal fistula (hole between rectum and vagina). What you have helped prevent is called a third-degree perineal laceration (common opening of rectum and vagina).

Contact your vet as soon as possible, regardless of whether you were able to assist the mare or not.

What Not To Do

Do not assist the mare unless you are confident you can do it safely.

your vet's role

Your vet should evaluate the mare as soon as possible. They will evaluate the mare and foal's overall health and provide symptomatic and supportive care. Once their health is deemed stable, they will talk to you about short-term management of the injury and thoughts about longer-term repair. In most cases, these injuries are not repaired initially. Instead 6-8 weeks is allowed for healing to take place and inflammation to subside.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Briefly describe the situation to me.

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP