Like all expectant mothers, pregnant mares need significant love and care from their human caretakers to safely deliver a healthy baby foal. As female horses are pregnant for an astonishing eleven months, their caretakers have ample time to attend to their health and well-being. Critical aspects of caring for a pregnant horse include:
Prior to getting pregnant, the potential mother must receive proper nutrition, primarily through forage. It is advisable for her to gain some weight in the months before her pregnancy, as this allows her body to be ready to conceive. During the first seven months of pregnancy, it is not necessary to increase a horse’s caloric intake or add supplements if she is eating a well-balanced diet. However, it is important to note that foals in utero begin to grow substantially in the seventh month. This can result in the mare needing more nutrients to keep up with her growing baby. At this point, caretakers may need to increase her daily food intake. Her condition should be closely monitored to determine if additional grains or forage are needed. As always, an ample supply of freshwater should be available at all times.
There are a variety of necessary vaccines that a pregnant horse must be given, as infectious diseases can cause abortions. All vaccines should be kept current, and they should include vaccinations for West Nile virus, influenza, tetanus, and Western and Eastern encephalomyelitis at the time of conception. Additional vaccinations must be given throughout the pregnancy, including a booster about a month before the foal is born. This booster shot will pass antibodies to the baby via the mare’s colostrum and will help protect the newborn from diseases.
Deworming prevents parasites from infecting the mother, helping to keep her and baby healthy and disease-free. In conjunction with a veterinarian’s guidance, mares should follow a deworming schedule during their pregnancy that helps to keep them safe. It is important to note that the majority of deworming medications are safe for expecting mares.
Human caretakers are pivotal in the proper management of a mare’s pregnancy. With proper attention and care, a mare should expect to have a successful pregnancy that results in a healthy foal.