So, your mare is pregnant; now what?
Taking care of a pregnant horse is a big job. You want everything to go smoothly and be prepared for what happens at each stage of the journey.
But don’t panic!
We have some tips that will help you prepare your horse for giving birth so that everything goes as smoothly as possible.
How long do horses gestate?
If humans are pregnant for 9 months and a foal is 2-3 times as large as a human baby. Then how long is a horse pregnant for?
The average mare will carry her foal for about 11 months before giving birth. A mare that has been bred and successfully impregnated will begin showing signs of pregnancy once she is about five months along in her gestation cycle.
Make sure you are taking your mare to your vet regularly to keep an eye on how the baby is doing.
Can I exercise my pregnant horse?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question because every horse (and pregnancy) is different.
Get the green light from your vet before you figure out what kind of exercise will be right for your horse.
Even if the vet says she’s okay with exercise; what is your comfort level regarding the continuation of your horse’s exercise routine?
If you feel comfortable riding, keep the rides short.
Why you ask?
Well, keep in mind that your mare is growing an entire baby in her belly, and that’s hard work. She may tire out easier. Try keeping her ride between 30-60 minutes of moderate exercise.
Don’t stop exercising her completely. Keeping your mare conditioned will make for an easier time giving birth as all her muscles will be in the right place to help her push out the foal.
What do I need to do before my horse gives birth?
You’re not alone if you feel a little nervous about your horse’s upcoming labor and birth. It’s a very exciting time.
But, don’t worry! There is a lot of time to check things off your list before the foal comes.
Don’t have a list or know where to begin? No problem!
Here are a few things to get you started:
1. Take your mare’s diet into account before the birth of her foal.
It’s important to keep your horse’s diet in mind before the birth of her foal. Your mare will need more food than usual while she is pregnant, so make sure she has plenty of hay available at all times. If you are worried about her weight gain or loss, talk with your veterinarian about how much extra feed is appropriate for your mare’s metabolism.
You will undoubtedly be keeping a close eye on your 4-legged mama-to-be and will be keeping track of her stress levels and weight gain or loss.
Pregnancy is hard on all female bodies and can be stressful for your mare; especially if she is a first-time mother.
Call your vet as soon as possible if you notice that she is not eating well on her own (or if she just doesn’t seem interested in eating). They may suggest adding on the horse version of a prenatal vitamin supplement or adding grain so that she gets enough nutrients from other sources besides hay alone.
2. Schedule regular vet appointments
After your horse has been bred, you’re going to schedule a doctor’s appointment for about 30-35 days after the breeding.
Why do I have to wait 30-35 days?
This is the average number of days that -if your mare has been successfully impregnated- you’ll be able to see the embryo and hear the foal’s heartbeat.
Your vet may recommend another follow-up appointment at the 45-90 day checkpoint. This is to check for resorption.
What is resorption?
The first 90 days of your mare’s pregnancy are the most crucial. If your mare becomes stressed, sick, has a hormonal imbalance, or a number of other issues surrounding the pregnancy this can cause her body to terminate the embryo. Her body will then reabsorb the embryo, which is the process known as resorption.
Make sure to talk to your vet at your first appointment about how many follow-ups are necessary. Don’t forget to discuss a plan for when your mare gets close to giving birth.
3. Put together a “birthing kit”
You are a strong, independent horse owner. You can absolutely handle things on your own.
Even if this is your first experience with having a foal, it’s always good to be prepared. If your vet can’t make it out in the time it takes for her to show clear signs of labor
You will need equipment such as blankets, towels, or rugs; iodine solution; soap or disinfectant; scissors; cord clamps (if needed); cotton balls/towels soaked in warm water; gauze bandages.
4. Plan a “foal shower”
One of the best parts of being pregnant is the baby shower. Everyone is celebrating the life that is being created, and the creator of that little life.
Why not celebrate your mare too?
Host games, make foal-themed snacks, and take pregnancy pictures. All in celebration of your best 4-legged friend giving birth to their own little darling.
Keep it more on the mellow side (depending on your friend group) and turn it into a friendly BBQ that your horse happens to be attending too.
Whatever you decide, have fun with it.
How do I tell when my mare is ready to give birth?
Your horse is 3 weeks away from giving birth, and you’re all excited about the big event.
But, on the other hand, you’ve realized that it’s 3 weeks away and you have no idea what to look for signs of her going into labor.
And now the panic is starting to set in.
Take a breath. We got you!
Here are the beginning signs of your mare going into labor:
- Swelling in the udder and a wax build-up on her teat
- Pacing and restlessness
- Relaxing of her pelvic area
- Getting up and down
- Tail swishing
Once you notice a few of these signs, it’s time to call your vet. Your horse needs to be in a safe space to have the foal. And some horses will even hold back active labor until they feel comfortable with their surroundings.
You’ve been preparing for this for 11 months, and now is the time to call your vet. They will more than likely ask a few questions about your horse, so the trick is to stay calm.
Also, don’t be surprised if you go to sleep and wake up the next morning with a brand-new foal in the stall. Most horses give birth at night. In the wild, this would protect mama and baby from predators out on the hunt. It is perfectly natural, albeit disappointing so, don’t be surprised if this happens.
If you decide that you don’t want to miss the birth you can set up a trail camera (or birthing camera) in your mare’s stall so that you can record it.
So, now you know how to get your horse ready for giving birth. Remember that the most important thing is to stay calm and confident in your abilities as a horse owner. If something does go wrong, don’t panic! Use your knowledge of horses to help solve the problem and keep everyone safe until professional help arrives.