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


Newborn Foal, Seems Disoriented or Dazed


Foals are generally alert and active within minutes of birth. A good general indicator of a foal's overall health is their desire and ability to nurse. The act of latching to a teat requires a properly functioning neurologic system. Once a foal has nursed for the first time, they should nurse and sleep frequently. When they are up, they should be bouncy and bright, even playing and bucking within the first few hours of birth.

It is not normal for a foal to appear dazed, disoriented or confused. It is also abnormal for them to simply "hang around" the mare's udder without nursing or to stand for extended periods as if they are almost asleep on their feet.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours
    • If the foal is not as bright as normal or not nursing normally.
  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If the foal appears otherwise normal, i.e. is active and nursing normally.

your role


What To Do

You can assess the foal yourself, but recognize that this may be an emergency. Pay particular attention to whether the foal has dried milk on their face or if the mare is dripping milk from her teats. Contact your vet immediately with your findings and concerns.

your vet's role

Your vet knows normal foal behavior and performs a physical examination and other diagnostics to determine whether there is an underlying problem.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • When was the foal born?
  • Did a vet assess the mare, foal and placenta soon after foaling?
  • Was there any difficulty or delay in the birthing process?
  • Is the foal standing and nursing normally?
  • Was the foal normal before, i.e. nursing, bright and alert?

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