How to Care for a Pregnant Mare
As with people, mares are individuals and their pregnancies will be unique to them. It will be necessary to tailor their care to their individual needs and circumstances. Here are some of the issues that you need to think about and attend to, so that your mare has a good pregnancy and when the foal arrives both mum and baby are healthy.
Riding and Exercise
You should be able to ride your pregnant mare during the first five months of pregnancy providing they are in good health. Their pregnancy will progress slowly during the first seven months. It is in the final three months of pregnancy that foetal growth accelerates. Speak to your vet as you may be able to ride for a little longer. Mares will benefit from some exercise throughout their pregnancy but this should be gentler in the latter stages. Exercise promotes good health and helps to prevent weight gain.
Pregnant mares can be turned out with other horses as long as they get on but it is best to keep the mare separated from other horses if you can. This will reduce the chance of the mare catching Equine Herpes Virus which may cause them to abort.
Wormers and Vaccination
Consult with your vet regarding worming. Worming remains important but certain wormers are inappropriate for pregnant mares. You should also consider investing in a programme of vaccination against Equine Herpes Virus especially where there is a history of herpes virus abortion or if there are a large number of horses on the property. Mares should also be vaccinated for tetanus and . If there is a history of Salmonella or Rotavirus diarrhoea then vaccinate for these as well.
The mare should be moved to the birthing area four to six weeks from the anticipated birth date, although this date can be difficult to predict. Moving the mare this far in advance will enable the horse to acclimatise to the area and to feel relaxed. It will also enable the mare’s body to build up a resistance to any pathogens which are present.
Nutrition - Stud Mix For Horses
As the foetus will develop very slowly in the first eight months of pregnancy, a mare will generally do very well on her usual diet but could require a stud balancer to boost the available nutrients. Think carefully about your horse’s diet as excessive feeding can lead to obesity and complications later in the pregnancy. In the final three months the mare will have a greater need for energy, protein, vitamins and minerals due to the rapid foetal growth. The right nutrition will also ensure that the mare can produce adequate amounts of milk for her foal.
Stud mix is an excellent feed for pregnant mares. A stud mix for horses will provide all of the required nutrients but without excessive calories. This should be fed in conjunction with good grass or haylage. Follow the feed manufacturer’s guidelines but in consideration of the quality of the available forage. If there are signs of excessive weight gain then reduce the amount of stud mix and supplement the mare’s nutrition with a balancer.
There are various types of stud mix for horses so make sure your mare is getting the right type for her. If she can get excitable on a stud mix then you could try 'non-heating' stud cubes instead.