If a mare is in good health and the pregnancy is progressing normally, there may be no need to make changes to her routine immediately. As she gets closer to the delivery date, she will need some special care. The cost of boosters, deworming, and other costs should be factored in when owners are considering breeding their animals.
Diet and Exercise During Pregnancy
If the mare is in good heath and the pregnancy is progressing normally, no changes may need to be made to her diet. Continue to feed her a balanced diet consisting of grain and good quality roughage. The mare should always have access to a supply of fresh water.
The pregnant mare can be exercised as normal during the first four or five months of her pregnancy. She can even be ridden up to the ninth month. Jumping and racing, which are risky activities, should be avoided during pregnancy. The exercise is not harmful to the developing foal, and the mare will benefit from being physically active.
Deworming and Vaccinations for the Pregnant Mare
Keep her on her regular schedule for deworming until the last month of her pregnancy. At that point, a daily wormer may be given. This strategy will reduce the incidence of parasitism in the mother and the foal.
Tetanus and Strangles vaccines should be administered approximately four-six weeks before the due date. Foals can be vaccinated when they are about three months old. They receive some immunity from their mother, which will protect them until they get to this age.
Farrier Care for the Mother to Be
The pregnant mare should be trimmed when she is about to foal. If she has loose shoes or excessively long hooves, is at risk for injuring herself or the foal during delivery. After foaling, the mother will be sore in her perineal region, which may make it difficult for the farrier to lift her back leg for trimming the hoof. First time mothers may feel anxious and attack the farrier as he or she approaches the foal.
As the due date approaches, arrangements will need to be made for caring for the mother and foal during delivery. Some veterinarians offer an inclusive service that includes foaling out the pregnant mare and routine care for the newborn foal for a fee starting at approximately $420.00. (This amount does not include board.) A veterinarian would be on call for each foaling, and would be able to assist if dystocia, or a complicated foaling, occurred. An attempt would have to be made to reposition the foal so that it could be delivered from the uterus. No owner would want to face the loss of a foal, and protecting an important asset with horse insurance makes good sense. This type of policy can pay out for veterinary fees, board, permanent loss of use, and other types of losses. The owner can choose the type and level of protection that makes the most sense to him or her.
Additional Veterinary Services Available
Along with the standard services offered by a veterinary clinic caring for pregnant horses, such as caring for the umbilical card and administering an enema to the foal to lower the risk of meconium impaction, the mare and the foal will be examined after delivery to ensure they are both healthy. Other services which would be offered for an additional fee include:
- Blood test to measure antibody level in foal's blood (conducted at 18-24 hours of age)
- Supplemental colostrum or colostrum substitutes (if needed)
- Veterinary services for complications (retained placenta, neonatal disorders)
Retention of fetal membranes occurs in approximately 2-10 percent of foal deliveries. The veterinarian may administer oxytocin to cause contractions which will expel it from the uterus. Another option is for the veterinarian to remove the membranes by hand. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications may be administered to the mother, as well. These treatments increase the mare's chance of survival as well as the likelihood of her producing future offspring.
As long as the mare is in good health when she becomes pregnant, her routine should be able to continue as normal until shortly before she is due to give birth. She will require expert medical care during delivery and during the postpartum period to ensure she and her foal are healthy.