Many horse owners ponder if it is safe to ride a pregnant mare. Exercising an unborn mare has many health benefits, but there are also potential hazards to be aware of.
Within the first 30 days of pregnancy, riding should be avoided as too much strain could result in early embryo loss. After that period has elapsed, experts agree it’s safe to continue working your horse at a light level as long as she doesn’t become overheated.
During the first 6 weeks
Pregnant horses should generally avoid riding during the first six weeks. Exercising helps relieve any tension that has built up inside your horse’s body, and keeps her fit and healthy.
However, if your mare is at risk for miscarriage or has already experienced one, it’s wise to stop riding her during these months. Additionally, monitor her diet closely to make sure she receives all necessary nutrients.
During the second 6 weeks
Pregnant mares usually can ride until their seventh month, though it’s best to gradually reduce exercise in the last three months before delivery.
Exercise should only be undertaken during the final trimester of pregnancy, when the foal starts to really develop. After this point, exercising should not be done as it could cause stress to the developing fetus.
During the third 6 weeks
If your mare is healthy and her foal developing normally, you can ride her during the third 6 weeks of pregnancy. She may still need some rest though.
This period is especially critical, as the fetus’ primary growth occurs during this time. As its heart beats, eyes form and a stalk begins to form into what will eventually become its umbilical cord.
During the fourth 6 weeks
Horse owners know the joy of witnessing a pregnant mare taking her first tentative steps in a pasture. You can’t help but reflect upon all your hard work in raising and nurturing her, as she takes those first tentative steps with pride and assurance. It truly brings out the best in you.
At each stage of your mare’s pregnancy, you should be mindful of her condition and adjust her work accordingly. The most crucial thing is to keep her as healthy as possible during the most critical time – which is usually the last trimester.
During the fifth 6 weeks
Riding a horse during the fifth 6 weeks can be quite risky, as your mare’s placenta is moving higher in her abdomen and she becomes less stable.
It is best to limit your riding activities until after the foal has been born. Doing this will help guarantee both your mare’s safe delivery and the health of her unborn foal.
During the sixth 6 weeks
Pregnancy can be an exciting time for horse owners, but it also presents certain challenges. If you ride your mare while she is pregnant, it is essential to know when to stop so she doesn’t harm either herself or the foal.
By the sixth six weeks of a pregnant mare’s gestation, she will begin to slow down and require more rest, in addition to increased food requirements – especially towards the end of this trimester.
During the seventh 6 weeks
You can safely ride your pregnant horse during the seventh six weeks, provided she is generally healthy and not considered high risk. However, if there has been a history of pregnancy loss or abortion, then you should not attempt to ride her.
Horseback riding carries the potential risk of placental abruption – when the placenta separates from the uterus.
Due to the risk of miscarriage and premature labor, many owners opt not to ride their pregnant horses during this trimester.
During the eighth 6 weeks
As your horse’s pregnancy progresses, her body begins to change. She may feel tired or crampy during the first trimester, but this is just her body trying to slow down and get ready for baby.
Riding can still be an enjoyable experience for a pregnant mare, however. She may become even more active and responsive while in the saddle than before.
Chris is a passionate learner and writer. When he’s not working on his blog or learning something new, he’s a full-time systems administrator and father of two beautiful girls. Chris loves spending time with his family, reading, writing, and playing hockey.