Horse Pregnancy : Facts, Symptoms, Stages, and Care

Horse Pregnancy is one of the beautiful feelings for a mare, just like it is for human beings. The time of pregnancy varies, but the labor process is the same.

An average horse has a gestation period ranging up to 350 days (11 months). Some horses might have a shorter or longer pregnancy than 350 days. At the same time, ponies may deliver babies in 9 or 10 months.

Horse Pregnancy

In this blog post, I will discuss how to tell if a horse is pregnant? I will also describe all the facts, symptoms, stages, care, and problems occurring during the pregnancy.

Broodmare and Stallion Breeding Age

While it is not necessary to restrict a horse’s age for breeding, some equestrians think that waiting for some years could improve conception, pregnancy, and birth.

This pet rule is the same for both the broodmare and the stallion, as they might need to get their bodies ready for the process of complicated processes (Horse Pregnancy and birth)

Broodmare Breeding Age

What do you think is the best age for a mare to breed?

A filly, also known as a mare, can give birth to a child when it reaches the age of two years. But it is not necessary to wait two years, some mares might not be ready, and you might wait three years to breed them.

A mare will show the signs and will be attracting the horses as a consensual sign of breeding.

Stallion Breeding Age

You might be thinking that at what age should you breed a stallion?

Stallions are ready to produce enough spermatozoa required to get a mare pregnant when they are only 11 or 12 months old, but studies suggest that horses should not be used before three years for a successful conception.

You would also say that the best years to start breeding are from eight to fourteen years, when testosterone levels are the highest.

But in my opinion, both female and male horses must be treated with nutritious food for three years and then be used for breeding.

How early can a horse get pregnant?

It is not ethical to pressurize your horse to breed early. In fact, in many countries, including the US, breeding horses before the onset of age are specifically illegal, and you might get a jail card.

Mares are ready to breed as they reach two, but three years is required to get puberty for stallions. A male horse would be perfect to breed till it dies, but you should not breed mares after their 20s.

Can a 3-year-old horse get pregnant?

At the age of two years, a horse is getting ready to start breeding. Three years of age suggest that it is not eligible for breeding, but you might want to invest some more time in it.

Some horse owners who want to breed their horse at the age of three are welcomed, as it is not bad.

Average Gestation Period

The gestation period is a word which not everybody is familiar with, and it needs to be elaborated on.

Normally, gestation refers to the whole time taken by the horse to get pregnant, start the baby’s development, and form a complete foal like it.

In many horses, the gestation period is averagely the same, but it could be different in horses not receiving a poor diet.

So How Long is a Horse Pregnant?

A horse is pregnant for 11 months, two years more than a human’s gestation period. The gestation period in horses might increase or decrease depending on a horse’s diet. Miniature horses like ponies breed in less than ten months.

But the gestation period may increase or decrease by the horse breed. For example, the following breeds have the gestation period as follows:

Horse BreedGestation Period in Days
Pony Bosnien339.16

Eight Symptoms of Horse Pregnancy

One of the main concerns about horses is how to tell if a horse is pregnant or fat?

A horse starts exhibiting a definite behavior when she conceives a baby horse, and several changes are noticed, which are termed as the symptoms of horse pregnancy.

Following symptoms will help you tell if your horse is pregnant or fat as I said, its behavior changes.

1. Refusal To Mate

The first thing commonly seen in all mammals is the behavioral change to say no to sex whenever the conception happens.

It would happen because of the hormonal fluctuations, and the mare horse would not let the stallions come near them and mate with them.

So the refusal to mate is one of the first signs that you will see in pregnant mares.

2. Absence of An Estrus Cycle

The second symptom of pregnancy which is also common in all mammals is the absence of the estrus cycle.

What is the estrus cycle? The Estrus cycle refers to what a mare experience each month and is preparing to conceive a baby. But when the conception occurs, a mare will not allow anyone to mate with it.

Now, one thing you will think that Do horses have periods and bleed?

Horses do have an ovarian cycle, but they don’t bleed, and their period has the four distinct phases in which it goes to the same process of preparing for pregnancy, but no breakdown of the walls or bleeding happens.

3. Changes in Behavior & Responses

Another good sign that relates to a mare’s pregnancy is the change of its mood and behavior.

A horse would be behaving moody and won’t let a male stallion come near when it’s about to foal. But it might not be a clear sign of pregnancy, as behavioral change is associated with many other things.

How do horses act when they are pregnant?

Many mares start raising the tails as a desire to mate, but these things certainly change, and it might not be behaving this way again as conception is likely to happen.

In fact, as the pregnancy period increases, the behavior is changed much, as your mare will be becoming crazier. And acting mad at everyone.

Are pregnant horses aggressive?

Aggressive behavior is not always normalized in female horses after conception, but more than 40% of horses are aggressive during pregnancy. It is just like an average human female because mood swings and unexpected anger is seen in humans.

Another thing we wonder is if the heartbeat of horses increases during pregnancy.

In some cases, the mare becomes restless and aggressive and behaves weirdly, so it is seen that heart rates of female horses rise when pregnant, but not necessarily.

4. Swollen Belly

One of the most common featured symptoms of pregnancy is a swollen belly. It is the same thing we see in all the animals who get pregnant that their belly gets bigger and swollen.

A swollen belly is the most common symptom of pregnancy, and to get the confirmatory pregnancy test, you should consult your vet, and he will tell you more precisely.

5. Restricted Movements

Like the human females don’t want to do anything during the pregnancy, horses will have the same behavior and have atrophy all the time.

General mood swings and hormonal changes in the body of humans will cause restricted movements in the horses, and they always try to be at rest.

6. Ultrasound

Well, if you want to have a confirmation test that will leave no doubts about the pregnancy, I would recommend you go for an ultrasound test.

What is ultrasound in horses?

Horses have ultrasound tests to confirm the pregnancy; your vet should be done only if necessary.

Ultrasound costs are considerably affordable and will not cost more than 45 to 60 USD.

But there’s one thing to consider, and repeated ultrasound is not healthy for the foal and the horse because the radiation may negatively affect the baby.

7. Blood or Urine Test

Now, many of you are thinking: Is there a horse pregnancy test?

Blood or urine tests will be only effective if you take them to a trusted and verified lab. You can have your horse’s blood or urine test and confirm pregnancy.

Can you do a urine pregnancy test on a horse?

A blood test and urine test would be equally effective in getting the result, as they will check the estrogen level in the specimenSo blood tests and urine tests are okay for this.

8. Progesterone Levels Hike 

Apart from all these things, the most common factor checked in the blood test of a horse, and probably all mammals, is the level of progesterone.

What is progesterone, and what it tells about pregnancy?

Horse pregnancy verification is strongly linked with the amount of progesterone present in the blood. If the test detects a high level of progesterone, the mare has conceived and is pregnant.

Stages of pregnancy in a horse

Now, let’s study the gestation period and its stages in the horses.

Typically, we’ve learned that horse pregnancy is for 330 days to 350 days (about 11 months). Let’s see what the stages are in the whole pregnancy.

The First Trimester

The first trimester is divided into three months or 110 days, increasing or decreasing according to a horse’s health.

Day 0 :  Ovulation date

Days 14-16 : Prenatal ultrasound and twin assessment

Day 18 : Twins could require additional ultrasound examinations

Days 25-30 : 2nd ultrasound to check for twins (heartbeats)

Days 45-60 : Ultrasound to confirm fetal heartbeat and viability of the pregnancy

Days 60-90 :   Mares will be dewormed first, followed by ultrasound fetal sexing.

The Second Trimester

The second trimester starts with the 114th day on average.

Day 114 : Start of the second trimester

Days 120-150 : An ultrasound examination can be used to conduct fetal sexing

Day 150 : EHV-1 vaccine, deworming 2

Day 210 : The second EHV-1 vaccination

The Third Trimester

The third trimester usually begins on the 226th day.

Day 226 : Beginning of the third trimester

Day 270 : Third vaccine against EHV-1

Day 300 :  Deworm horse again, open caslicks, administer additional vaccinations, as directed by your veterinarian.

These vaccines must be employed to the horse’s mares:

  • (EHV 1/4, 
  • EEE
  • WEE
  • Tetanus 
  • Flu
  • West-Nile 
  • Rabies

Expected foaling dates are between days 320 and 365, and the average foaling date on day 340.

How to Care for a Pregnant Horse?

A pregnant horse is very sensitive to its surroundings. Proper exercise and food will make the baby healthier and also be helpful for the mother at the time of birth.

Let’s see which things are necessary for the pregnant horses the most.

(i) Regular Exercise

Regular exercise is very crucial during pregnancy. A horse’s metabolism should be kept active when it starts gestation.

Regular exercise in pregnant horses makes the body free of toxins and adds vital metabolic boosters to the blood as a natural response.

So always take your horse out for a walk for 30 minutes at least every day.

(ii) Proper Nutrition

Regarding nutrition, I would say that horse’s foals need vital vitamins, proteins, and amino acids.

What do you feed a pregnant horse?

You should feed nutrient-rich hay or fescue to your horse during the pregnancy with all the vitamins, minerals, and proteins that might boost the metabolism.

(iii) Avoid Riding the Pregnant Mare

One of the most common questions that I hear is: should I ride my horse during pregnancy?

Of course, it would be inhumane to ride a mare when it is carrying a baby. Research suggests that mares should be only doing exercise like walking by themselves.

(iv) Vaccination

Let me tell you one thing that is never changing; vaccination you should provide at all costs.

When the mares are five, seven, and nine months pregnant, they receive doses of equine herpes virus. Gestation vaccines should also be applied according to some vets at 3-month pregnancy.

(v) Last Month of Horse Pregnancy

The last month of horse pregnancy starts when ten months have been completed, and the 11 month starts. 

The month marks labor, and she could foal a foal anytime a horse can have labor contractions.

What are the signs of a horse going into labor?

Some basic signs of labor are shown when a horse reaches the age of 11 months of pregnancy.

Following symptoms are saying that a horse would be going into labor:

  • Restlessness 
  • Sitting And Standing Frequently 
  • Sweating A Lot
  • Upper Lips Curling
  • Pawing
  • Shifting Of Weight 
  • Elevating Hind-legs
  • Swishing Its Tail
  • Frequent Urination 
  • Frequent Defecation

How many days can a mare go over her due date?

In many cases, the pregnancy lasts more than 340 days or 11 months. It is pretty normal, and nothing should be concerned about it.

Horse pregnancy can delay for more than 25 days, and it is generally because of the late development of the fetus.

Some other pregnancy complications, such as placental dysfunctioning, are also the main cause of delayed pregnancy.

Pregnant Mare Care Chart

Pregnant mares need massive care and support. A mare will be needing a lot of diets full of nutrients each week of pregnancy.

You should take care of your mare and follow this strict plan:

  • Take your horse for a regular exercise
  • Give high-yield hay with good minerals and vitamins.
  • Take your mare to vet
  • Take the necessary ultrasounds
  • In the last month, keep the diet full of nutrients and energy

Best Supplements For Pregnant Mares

Some supplements are there for your pregnant mares, making them feel very good and energetic so pregnancy is sustainable and foals are introduced to the world easily.

No doubt, hay and fescue are the most important things that a mare should eat, but you must provide these supplements:

Consult your vet before giving any supplement to your pregnant horse.

Ten dangerous Problems in Pregnant Mares

Following are the ten most dangerous problems in pregnant mares:

  • Spontaneous abortion
  • Colic
  • Fescue toxicosis
  • Internal Injury
  • Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis
  • Laminitis
  • Malnutrition
  • Obesity
  • Twinning
  • Uterine Artery Rupture

1. Spontaneous Abortion

Spontaneous abortion occurs because of two major reasons, equine herpes virus confirmation.

There are high chances that a foal gets aborted in this condition, and the best treatment would be a vaccine or surgery known as Caslicks Surgery.

2. Colic

Colic would be defined as any major stomach pain in horses that would cause extreme conditions.

Several types of colic may affect, and one of the most dangerous is impaction colic, as it would be life-threatening.

3. Fescue Toxicosis

Fescue toxicosis is the condition in which an underlying endophyte virus is in the fescue and affects the horse’s health.

 Fescue toxicosis is a life-threatening disease, and you should check the fescue before feeding it to mares.

4. Internal Injury

Any internal injury due to riding, walking, jumping, or any accident might result in pregnancy problems.

That’s why you should avoid injuries, and you shouldn’t ride pregnant horses.

5. Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis

Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis also knows the central nervous system’s deformities, which causes pregnancy problems that might have adverse effects on the foal to be born.

6. Laminitis

Laminitis occurs when a pregnancy is delayed, and it will cause an increase in the horse’s body weight.

Laminitis can also cause equine metabolic syndrome.

7. Malnutrition

Malnutrition affects the foal and its development. The baby born might be fragile and needs immediate and proper nutrient supply in injections.

8. Obesity

Obesity is a term used for being overweight. One should watch the diet; if the mare gets obese, fat will accumulate over its body.

Obesity increases the rate of cardiac arrest.

9. Twinning

Twinning may be normal in all other mammals, but it is not common in big animals like horses.

Twinning means more than one baby is born at one time, increasing the risk of birth canal damages. Only 3% of the horses may have twins.

10. Uterine Artery Rupture

After giving birth, approximately one or two liters but could cause uterine artery rupture if a total rupture happens.

In uterine artery rupture, a major artery might burst in the birth canal, which causes more than 3 to 4 liters of blood loss.

It is a severe problem, as it needs immediate medical vet assistance.

Horse Pregnancy Facts

Following are some cool equine pregnancy facts:

  • Mars give birth only in spring
  • The gestation period of horses is about 340 days on average
  • The mare’s eight increases up to 200 pounds during pregnancy
  • Mares don’t eat for two animals during early pregnancy, so no need to increase the diet.

Horse Pregnancy : FAQs

Final Verdict on Horse Pregnancy

Horse Pregnancy is the period after the horse has conceived a baby horse, and the time it takes to develop a healthy foal in about 340 days and deliver it.

It is not difficult to tell if a horse is pregnant, some signs of symptoms are great, but the sixth sign given above is a confirmatory test.

That was all about the horse pregnancy, and if you like the blog post, please shares it with your friends.

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