A common question from reproductive clients is, “Can I work my pregnant mare? If so, when should I stop working her?” And the answer is pretty simple on this one – in general, exercise is good for your mare. You can continue working your mare as normal for the first five to six months of her pregnancy. Turnout in a pasture is also good for your mare (and all other horses) throughout her pregnancy – she certainly does not need to be on stall rest unless there is another medical issue. In fact, exercise and turnout is beneficial to your mare – it will keep her physically and mentally active, and keep her body in good condition.
The level of work for your mare depends on her prior use, and what condition she’s in. You probably shouldn’t take an out of shape mare, breed her, and then begin working her in earnest while pregnant. However, if your mare is in condition, keeping her fit will be just fine. If your mare has any lameness or other health issues, make sure to speak to your veterinarian about exercise. The additional stress of exercise when she’s not healthy may aggravate the pregnancy. Additionally, if you have a high-risk pregnant mare, such as a horse that has previously lost pregnancies, you may reconsider your exercise regime. Work with your reproductive veterinarian to determine the best plan for her.
If you are still campaigning your very athletic mare, such as hunter, jumper and dressage athletes, during the first five/six months of pregnancy, you should consider curtailing hard work after the six month mark. Less strenuous work is still beneficial for your mare, depending on her comfort level. If, for example, she is getting so large that her size precludes riding, you may need to think of different exercise strategies and levels of intensity.
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By Dr. Pat Griffin