Caring for the Pregnant Horse: Can I Ride My Mare?

Knowing when and when not to have your pregnant mare in work is very important! Having this information can help you to better keep your mare and her baby healthy and happy and reduce the chances of potential pregnancy loss and/or complications.

So, can I ride my mare when she’s pregnant? The answer is both yes and no! Depending on what trimester of pregnancy your horse is in, it can be totally safe to ride or very uncomfortable and potentially unsafe to ride. Typically, during the second trimester of pregnancy, it is the best time for your mare to be ridden and worked.

In this article I will cover:

  • The safest times to ride a pregnant horse
  • When to avoid riding a pregnant horse
  • Activities to avoid when riding a pregnant horse
  • Approved exercise for mares in early pregnancy
  • Approved exercise for mares in late pregnancy

The Safest Times to Ride a Pregnant Horse

When it comes to riding a pregnant horse, there are times when it is safe and times when it is unsafe to ride your mare.

The safest time to ride your mare during her pregnancy is in her second trimester. In this trimester, the chances of pregnancy loss are significantly reduced. Not only this, but the fetus inside your mare won’t be so big to the point where your mare is uncomfortable when running around.

If you ride western and use a back cinch when riding, I would suggest removing it when riding a pregnant mare to reduce the pressure on her belly. Otherwise, you should be totally fine to cinch up!

Even though your mare is safe to ride at this point in her pregnancy, don’t forget that she has a little baby inside! Try not to let your mare overheat or become over exherted when you’re riding so both her and her baby don’t get overwhelmed.

When to Avoid Riding a Pregnant Horse

There are three main times during a horse’s pregnancy when she should not be ridden. These times are:

First Trimester

During the first trimester, it is important to avoid riding your horse. The reason for this is because at this point in her pregnancy, the chances of her miscarrying and losing her foal are the highest.

When first pregnant, your mare is succeptable to pregnancy loss that can be triggered by overheating or overexhertion when working and even too much high-motion or high-intensity movement.

For these reasons, if you suspect your mare has become pregnant, it is best to just let her have some time off until her baby is a little bigger and her pregnancy is a little more ‘established.’

If Sickness or Lameness are Suspected at any Point

This rule should go towards all horses, but it is especially important when dealing with pregnant horses. Even if your mare is in the safe-zone for riding as far as trimesters are concerned, you should never ride her if you suspect she is sick or lame.

Sometimes, horses can have serious health issues that are triggered when pregnant. One example of this is gestational laminitis which affects the horse’s feet. You want to make sure if you see any sort of lameness in your pregnant mare, that it is immediately reported to a veterinarian and that you don’t even think about taking her out for a ride.

Like in people, when pregnant, horse’s immune systems can be impacted by pregnancy. This means that they sometimes have an increased chance of getting sick when in foal. With this in mind, keep a close eye on her appearance and behavior and avoid riding or working with her if she’s acting abnormally or any sort of illness is suspected.

Last Trimester

This should almost be a no-brainer. When your mare is in her final trimester of pregnancy, she will be worn out enough by her big baby that riding and work is almost out of the question.

The last trimester of pregnancy should be used to prepare your mare’s foaling stall, make your mare as comfortable as possible, and monitor her for symptoms indicating she may be going into labor.

It is just too uncomfortable and difficult for her to really perform under saddle when she’s carrying such a big load already. Giving her some time off is really the best thing you can do for her at this point in her pregnancy.

Activities to Avoid When Riding a Pregnant Horse

If your horse is in the second trimester of her pregnancy and she isn’t uncomfortable when working, riding is totally okay! But there are some activities I would suggest avoiding when riding a pregnant horse. Some of these include:

  • Jumping
  • Cross Country
  • Roping
  • Racing
  • Barrel Racing
  • Endurance
  • Other High-Intensity Sports

Not only should the above activities be avoided when riding an expecting mama horse, but you should also avoid riding in:

  • Extreme heat
  • Extreme humidity
  • Slippery Conditions

Avoiding these conditions will help reduce the risk of your mare falling, going into heat exhaustion, or becoming excessively dehydrated, all of which can have a negative impact on both the mare and her baby.

Approved Exercise for Mares in Early Pregnancy

In early pregnancy, your mare is not yet uncomfortable by her baby, but we don’t want to ride those early term mothers because of the risk of pregnancy loss.

Some approved exercise ideas for mares in that first trimester include:

  • Turnout (wandering around a turnout or grazing should be okay for a newly expecting mare. At this point, make sure she’s turned out alone to reduce chance of injury)
  • Walking (if you are itching to take your mare out, bringing her for a short walk should be okay)
  • Groundwork (I would avoid lunging, but other low-intensity groundwork exercises involving leading, stepping over poles, and pressure/release exercises should do no harm)

If you want to keep your mare busy during her break from riding, these are probably some of the best low-intensity exercises you can do with your mare

Approved Exercise for Mares in Late Pregnancy

In late pregnancy, the poor mama is definitely feeling the affects of pregnancy on her body. She’s going to lack stamina and likely just want to eat and sleep all day. If you are wanting to keep her active, the following activities are probably the best low intensity activites you can do with her at this stage:

  • Turnout (letting her wander around or graze in a turnout is a good way to let her just stretch her legs without requiring too much energy. Pregnant mares should be turned out alone or with another mare around the same gestation period)
  • Walking (if you are itching to take your mare out, bringing her for a short walk should be okay)

Keeping her exhertion minimal at this point is important for her comfort. You want to avoid making your mare uncomfortable at all costs.

I hope this post helped you to better understand and prepare your mare’s work schedule during her pregnancy!

Hailey Sipila

Horses have been my passion ever since I can remember. At school, I was known as that weird horse girl, and I would read horse encyclopedias for fun. Over the years since those days, I have only learned more. My experiences with horses of a variety of breeds have taught me a lot. Now I want to share what I know with you!

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