If your horse becomes pregnant, it's time to take the necessary steps to make sure she has a comfortable and safe pregnancy. Proper care and nutrition are also essential for the health of the foal. Here is what you need to know about providing the right care for your mare while she is gestating.
Protection From Danger
As soon as you notice that your mare is pregnant, you should remove her from other horses that are not similar of familiar to her. You want to prevent your mare from catching an infection or disease while pregnant, so try to limit her exposure to horses that regularly go to shows or on long trail rides with horses from other barns and owners. Mares should also have limited contact with horses that could injure her or shed infections: horses that are still young and feeding, horses that are being trained, or horses that are recently vaccinated.
This doesn't mean that your mare needs to spend her entire pregnancy in isolation. If she has a good relationship with another mare or gelding who is similar to her in age, training, health, and temperament, she can continue to enjoy companionship. Other pregnant horses can also make good companions.
Your pregnant mare will need more to eat. A horse will gain an average of about 176 pounds when pregnant. Most of that weight will be "lost" during birth because the majority of the weight gained is actually the weight of the fetus. There is also an increase in body fat because the mare needs extra energy to produce milk for the young foal. To provide the nutrients and energy necessary for pregnancy, you should provide:
- a vitamin supplement that helps to support the needs of the growing fetus. Specifically, horses need more salt, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and copper than might be available in regular feed.
- nutrient dense forage. Your mare will get hungry between feeding times. Have some grass or alfalfa available for grazing between meals. Young plants (alfalfa that was cut while still in early growth) is more nutritious.
- extra feed at meal times. It doesn't take much, but an extra bit of grain or hay at feeding time will help to provide for your mare's increased caloric needs.
Your mare will still need to stay active during pregnancy unless she is at risk for injury. In fact, mares who are used to high levels of activity, like racing and jumping, can continue with those activities until she is no longer able to do them safely (while the fetus is still small). In the last few months of gestation, continue to ride your mare frequently, and turn out your mare from her stall as often as you can.
For more information, contact Edisto Equine Clinic or a similar location.