University of wisconsin-madison


Dystocia refers to a problem delivery due a malpresentation. The normal sequence of position changes during parturition is presented at the bottom of the page. Any change from this type of delivery is refered to as dystocia. It is beyond the scope of this class to go into all the types of dystocia. In general, if the feet do not appear within 5 to 10 minutes of the chorioallantois breaking, then dystocia is a possibility and a Veterinarian should be called. Likewise, if the head or second leg does not appear after the first leg, a Veterinarian should be summoned. The mare should be gotten up and walked around until the Veterinarian arrives. This will delay progression of labor.

While it is possible for the mare owner to help with parturtion after the legs and head become visible, failure to deliver within 15 minutes should prompt a call to the veterinarian as you will quickly tire.

It is at this point that we need to caution the mare owner about helping during parturition. Two theories of thought exist. The first is that as little help should be given as possible since mares can delay parturition if people or noise are present. The mare may even stop labor if someone enters her stall. This could cause reduced oxygen delivery to the foal and reduction in mental capacity and muscle coordination of the foal. The second theory is to always help the mare once the legs begin to appear. This is only advisable if the mare is very comfortable with the person or persons entering her stall.

In the table below is presented the normal sequence of position changes during parturition. Prior to parturition the foal is in the position 1. During stage 1 of parturition, the legs extend as in position 2, fetal rotation occurs as in position 3 and then the placenta and legs enter the pelvis as in position 4.

1. Normal Fetal Position

2. Extending of the Limbs

3. Fetal Rotation

4. Placenta and Legs Entering the Pelvis.


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