Foaling out your mare can be the most exciting thing you have ever done, as well as the most frightening thing you have ever been thru. Being prepared and knowing what you are doing can mean the difference between life and death for your foal as well as your mare. Read and research can be of tremendous help, however hands on training is the best learning tool you can find. If you are not familiar with the foaling process I would recommend that you visit a breeding farm and inquire if you can assist or at least observe several (the more the better) deliveries during a foaling season. The more hands on experience you have the more prepared you will be. After foaling out well over a thousand or more mares we still find that we learn new things every single year. Learning never stops.
Most of the time, everything goes well, but when it doesn't, a few minutes can be the difference between life and death. Have the Vet's phone number (one that he/she will actually respond to) on hand. We have a wonderful Vet that will get out of bed, even when he is not on call and arrive here within twenty minutes......now, twenty minutes can be too late if you do not realize you are in trouble right away. The Veterinarian we use also has a great deal of experience in mal-positions and has saved many foals as well as mares for us. Being prepared, and knowing your mares and recognizing when trouble is brewing is vital.
We always watch our mares, and know how they normally act so any change is a signal to me that something may not be right. Being able to read your mares is of the utmost importance. It’s amazing how a many of the mares know when things are just not right, will stall labor as long as they physically can as well as giving signs (short of slapping you up against the head) to alert you. Watch the changes in your mare that tells you of pending parturition and be prepared.
We think it is important to always wash my mares vulva/anal area and wrap their tails prior to hard labor so if we need to sleeve up and check position we only have to cleanse them once, then lube and check for toes and noses......finding toes pointed the wrong way, or no toes, or only one foot......can make your heart almost go into cardiac arrest. BUT, if you check before the water breaks (this is why we do not use foal alerts.....) there is a lot of room and buoyancy to turn a foal, and if it is a bad position, the Vet can be alerted, you can stall labor a bit and get needed help.
So, here is a few things on our list of must haves for my foaling kit:
Flashlight and batteries (I have a small head lamp) (LOL, it does look funny, but does it ever work when I am treating a navel and need both hands)
Tail Wrap (vet wrap)
gentle iodine, or some use chlorhexidine solution
enema - always
stack of clean towels
frozen colustrom (I bank it every year)
stainless steel bucket and water
phone with Vet on speed dial
foal resuscitator (know how to use it, and if one is not available, know how to administer mouth to nose resuscitation)
manure bucket, fork
knife or sharp scissors
Medications/Drugs to have on hand:
Penicillin and Tetanus Antitoxin