Importance of Mare Exams After Foaling
Once the foal is born, all the excitement surrounding the foal should not drown out the importance of the mare!
It is always recommended to have a veterinarian out to do a post-foaling exam on the new mom to make sure she has come through foaling healthy and ready to care for her baby!
Things we look for: (not a comprehensive list)
Has the placenta passed in its ENTIRETY? (SAVE THAT PLACENTA!) How long from the time baby was born until the placenta was passed?
Placenta health can give us clues into how the mare and baby are both doing. Additionally, if the placenta is not expelled in a timely fashion it can release toxins as it decomposes and make the mare very sick and even lead to death.
Tears in the vulva? Rectum? Vaginal cavity?
Sometimes, as baby is being born, a leg will get stuck in an unfortunate position. Then, the leg may end up creating a new connection between the vagina and rectum.
Is mom letting baby nurse? Adequate milk production? Udder problems? Is baby nursing appropriately?
Making sure the mare's udders are healthy and working as they should is a very critical role to the foal's health and survival as well as the mare's comfort. Sometimes, mares won't have developed a full udder in time for baby, or may have developed too soon and leaked all of the colostrum before baby was born. There are multiple issues that can arise from udder health alone.
Overall health post foaling – all systems working well?
There are a lot of changes in the amount of space in the mare's abdomen after the foal is born, this can lead to colic episodes as the organs try to shift back to where they once were before baby. Baby should be approximately 10% of the mare's weight - so mom just lost approximately 100-150 lbs of internal weight! That is a lot of space!
Additionally, the mare is now going to be spending a lot of her energy feeding baby through milk production. This is a good time to re-evaluate mom's body condition and nutritional program if it hasn't been addressed already.
A small amount of bleeding from the vulva is acceptable and expected with foaling, but there is the potential for baby to make some less than acceptable tears along the way as well. (See the previous section regarding rectal tears above). In addition, a lot of blood supply went into keeping the foal happy and growing while it was in the mare, and rupture of some of those vessels is possible, leading to life threatening blood loss for the mare.
Is the uterus where it belongs?
Sometimes, the mare will be straining to get baby out so long or hard that her bladder or uterus may prolapse.
Don't forget about how important the mare still is to the foal!