For around 345 days, mares gestate. But equine pregnancy is not a delicate year. But most horses do well when pregnant. And to have a successful delivery, you would only need to make a few slight changes at the end of the term. Until the final three months, the fetus doesn’t start to fully develop. So, the mare is more or less like the rest of the herd beforehand.
Yet for a mother and unborn child… leaving a pregnant horse to fend entirely for herself spells disaster. Here’s what you need to know about the different aspects of pregnancy:
For a healthy pregnancy, physical fitness is critical. Because most of the physiological changes occur near the end of the term… healthy mares may continue their original training routine. Without a history of birth problems. Throughout the start and middle stages, some can even compete. If the workout is too strenuous, there is a small chance that the fetus will damage. Or rupture the abdominal wall. Although this is uncommon.
During the first month of pregnancy, it is a safe idea to limit physical activity. You will detect any signs of current or potential health concerns in this way.
The first 30 days are so important. So, until pregnancy is more well-established, she should not do any high-level exercise. Especially in the hot summer.
When the mare’s pregnancy hits the eight-month mark, training should be cut down. But not entirely removed. The growth of the fetus would prevent the mother… from performing to her natural ability at this stage. And place too much stress on the body. In particular, the increasing foal causes the diaphragm of the mare to move. So. she will not be able to consume as much oxygen as she used to.
The pregnant mares feed for two. So, both their food needs and those of the unborn foal must be taken care of. Foals need lots of proteins, minerals and energy to support their rapid growth. The sum of each nutrient you give to the mare is not even all over the board. Pregnant horses need 80% more calcium and phosphorus. But only 42% more protein and 28% more calcium are needed. Simply adding more nourishment results in a dietary imbalance.
Feed your mare with a grass hay diet with little or no grain to support a healthy pregnancy. Take a look at the sources of the diet. And explore any dietary deficiencies with your veterinarian. To boost unique vitamins and minerals, you may also want to add equine supplements. Even if the feed itself is nutritionally adequate, a boost will still be a need for your mare.
As all these carry over to the fetus, keep your mare up to date with her vaccines. For the following conditions, mares must be immunized at the beginning of a pregnancy:
- West Nile virus
Pregnant mares should be immunized against equine rhinopneumonitis. After five, seven and nine months. Finally, about a month before she’s due, the mare should receive a booster of the first package of vaccines. In the initial milk she provides, these shots increase the number of antibodies. Shielding the foal from severe illnesses.
Depending on your place, your mare may also take advantage of extra vaccinations. For guidance on protecting the mother and the foal against regional diseases… consult your veterinarian.
Finally, make sure your horse is dewormed. So that during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding, parasites do not move. For pregnant mares, most deworming drugs are safe. But first contact your veterinarian to select the correct one and set up a schedule.
During the last two to three weeks of pregnancy, keep your mare at home. As the stress of travelling can induce labor. Make sure she has plenty of room in the trailer if you have to move her. Make sure her vulva has not been sewn shut until she’s due. Otherwise it could prevent her from foaling again and again. With the resulting damage.
Over the last few weeks, observe the mare’s udders. As early leakage can be a sign of infection. Check on her every hour while the horse is close to delivery. She is able to give birth if she is lying down. If the weather is cold, make sure she does so indoors. Hypothermia can be easily contracted by foals.
Start timing, how long has it been that the mare is in labor. Call a veterinarian if the procedure continues for more than 20 minutes.
Signs of Approaching Foaling
The period of a typical pregnancy is usually between 335 and 342 days. But it may often vary from 315 to 400+ days.
Many mares begin to experience low swelling. Along the abdomen around a month before foaling. Also, the udder begins to swell slowly. And will have rapid expansion two weeks before term. The udder stays firm throughout early growth.
The udder gradually softens and fills with fluid a few days before foaling. This slowly changes in appearance from watery to dense colostrum. In general, colostrum develops 1 to 2 days before birth. Around 21⁄2 to 5 liters of colostrum is provided by the average mare.
The softening of the pelvic ligaments is progressing. And the tail head of the mare may appear higher. Dried mammary secretion (waxing) wicks usually appear about one day before birth. And some mares will drip milk in the last couple of hours.
Preparation for Foaling
Here are the things that you need to do in preparation for foaling:
- Provide a foal area for the mare. Grassy paddocks or well-bedded stalls work well.
- Strip-out, disinfect, foal stall and re-bed.
- Use fall-safe bedding. We prefer clean straw so the foal is less likely to breathe it in.
- Accustom maiden mares a few weeks before foaling to get their udder treated.
- When foaling is imminent, wash your mare’s vulva section, inner thighs, and udder. You could give her a whole-body bath.
- When foaling is imminent, wrap up your mare’s tail.
Things you need to have before foaling:
- Your vet’s phone and numbers and a nearby, experienced neighbor.
- A watch or clock, notepad and pencil to keep track of the timing. Estimating accurate time during and after a foaling can be.
- Old, clean towels for the foal to dry.
- A disinfectant for dipping the navel in a small cup. Your vet can help with an appropriate solution.
- Clean-up pots, soap, and warm water.
- A good bag of trash for the placenta.
- Plastic or gloves made of rubber to keep your hands clean.
Monitoring Before Foaling
Your mare’s tracking will ensure you’re there for foaling. You may also check the milk’s calcium content. In addition to improvements in its udder, milk color, and waxing. This test will provide a fair estimate of when the mare will foal, although not foolproof. Late at night, most mares foal, so milk tests taken in the evening provide more detailed results.
There are available foaling monitors that will send a signal to a pager or phone. Again, these do provide a reasonable estimate though not foolproof.
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!