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Riding pregnant mare

From: Sue

Jessica,

Thank you for horse-sense. I really appreciate it. My question is about riding pregnant mares. I have heard a lot of "rumors" about riding pregnant mares. My mare is 16 years old and in great shape. She is due to foal the first part of April.

I have heard that you should ride your mare through her whole pregnancy to keep her in good shape for foaling. I have also heard many stories from people that say you should NOT ride your mare because of the risk of stressing her out and losing the foal. My mare is in great shape and I can't imagine riding her for 3 months.

If I do ride her should I just keep it to a walk trot so I don't over do it? I have also heard that I should not take her to strange places because I could stress her out and lose the foal. Is this true? I guess what I really need to know is when should I stop riding her and taking her places so I don't cause discomfort and stress to her and the foal?

Thank you SO much.

Susan


Hi Sue!

You're going to need to talk to your vet about the best program for your particular mare and this particular pregnancy. The best I can do is to give you some general ideas.

In general, a mare that is fit and sound and accustomed to being ridden won't suffer if she is ridden lightly and gently through the first six or seven months of her pregnancy. Some mares have been ridden up until the last month or two. Some riders hang up their tack when their mares are even five months along. Much depends on the mare herself -- is this a first or a tenth pregnancy? It does make a difference. ;-)

In general, it's usually safe to limit the riding in the second trimester and stop riding in the last trimester. The exception would be, IMO, if the mare's turnout time is limited. In such a case, gentle walking exercise under a light rider would be much better than confinement to a stall or a tiny paddock. But I'll assume -- and hope -- that your mare has a large field and plenty of turnout time.

Have a chat with your vet, either via telephone or in person when your mare gets her last shots. He'll be able to advise you about riding, about your mare's diet, about stable and pasture management, and about when to have her shoes pulled, etc.

As for taking her to other places, just be sensible. If you want to haul to a nearby trailhead to do a day-long walking trailride on a fit mare in her first six or seven months of pregnancy, that's probably fine. The trailer ride is likely to be more stressful than the trailride! But I wouldn't advise hauling a heavily-pregnant mare anywhere, especially to areas where there are a lot of unfamiliar horses. You don't want your mare stressed unnecessarily. You also don't want her exposed to anything that could affect the foal, or to anything that could make her sick and require medications that could affect the foal.

Since your mare is due at the beginning of April, you can probably safely go on riding her through December as long as your vet agrees. When you stop riding her, go on visiting her and giving her lots of individual attention.

Be sure that she has safe turnout, that she gets enough exercise, that she has all her shots, and that she's keeping a good weight.

If you don't already have books on the subject of pregnancy and foaling, read "Blessed are the Broodmares" and "Blessed are the Foals". Both are by M. Phyllis Lose, and both are clear, comprehensive, and easy to understand.

And don't hesitate to ask your vet questions. ANY good vet would rather hear from you before there's a problem, and thus help you prevent that problem -- what makes vets crazy is being told "Well, Doc, I didn't want to bother you...." when they're trying to deal with a serious problem that could have been prevented.

Good luck!

Jessica

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