Red Bag Birth or Placenta Previa in Miniature Horses


CREDITS:  This compilation of information is from personal experiences of some of the AUNTIES (members) here, and from several well-written articles found at the following websites:
BIG Thanks to Beth at IAm Ranch for allowing us to use the following information provided on their website at

 Consult your veterinarian before making any decisions regarding the care of your horse(s). IAM Ranch Miniature Horses is sharing with you what we do to maintain the health of our horses.
This is not intended to direct you on how to care for your horse. The intent of this is only to share what we do, and raise questions for you. We advise you to consult your veterinarian before making any changes in your horse's health care.
The information found on our website is not to supersede the advise of your veterinarian.

It is critical that you narrow down when your mare is going to foal. I believe it is imperative that you be there. Take advantage of swimming pool strips and monitor your mare's milk!

Click here for the full screen video of our red bag birth!

Click here for a second red bag birth.

In a Red Bag birth, the placenta detaches from the mare prematurely and the oxygen supply to the baby is cut off. It is important that the mare be aided and that the baby gets out of momma very quickly. One vet told us that we have only 6 minutes after the placenta detaches until the baby dies. You do not have time to get a vet or a neighbor, YOU NEED TO EQUIP yourself to handle this emergency situation.


When there is a red bag birth, you will see a red bag protruding from the mare rather than the typical white bag. The red bag is much tougher than the white sac. It almost feels like a basketball. Have something to cut it open and do not rely on your fingers. Some breeders recommend a sharpened popsicle stick; scissors worked just fine for us.

After cutting the red sac open, (Do NOT injure your mare internally while doing this) you need to reach inside of it and find the baby hooves which will be inside the white sac.
As you can see in our video, that is where we started pulling. Because of the time crunch, we did not wait for contractions, but pulled towards the hocks until we got baby out.

I am so convinced that if a person breeds a miniature mare, they then need to read and read and talk to others about the emergency situations. In 2008, we went to a clinic on dystocia and took notes that are outlined on our site.
By breeding a mare, this is the commitment that we made. The book, The Complete Book of Foaling, is an excellent tool. When an emergency birth occurs or any type of dystocia, you will not have time to wait for your vet, or your neighbor.
Be ready!!

The dystocia that we helped with in 2009 could have had a disastrous outcome if intervention was not immediate. The longer you wait to intervene, the more the baby gets crammed against the pelvic wall and the tighter everything gets. If you are there when it all starts, you can intervene by rearranging baby and help out, most of the time. Yes, we call our vet, but thankfully, we have been able to call as he is on his way and tell him that baby is out and all is well.

Following are links to more articles put together for foaling preparation:

Click here for our foaling calculator
Click here for a foaling kit list
Click here for ideas of what to do 30 days prior to foaling
Click here for our post foaling check list
Consult your veterinarian before making any decisions regarding the care of your horse(s).

For great articles and photos please view the archives of the two main Miniature Horse and Pony Registry Publications.
Miniature Horse World is the AMHA - The American Miniature Horse Association - Magazine.
The Journal is the AMHR/ASPC -The American Miniature Horse Registry/American Shetland Pony Club- Magazine.
You may click their banners below for magazine archives.

The American Miniature Horse Association     American Miniature Horse Registy, American Shetland Pony Registry, American Show Pony Regitry

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