Giving birth to a foal is one of the most exciting events for horse owners and stables. When there is a new foal in the family, love is in the air! I know that when we have new foals join our family, we are eager to introduce them to the family, check on their health, and watch them grow!
At the same time, we are also concerned about the health of the mare. Giving birth is a stressful process and it is important to give the mare time to heal before riding her again. The question is, how long do you have to wait before you ride the mare again!
After your mare has given birth to a foal, you should wait six to eight weeks before riding her again. There are a number of factors that will play a role in how long you have to wait. Take a look at some of the information below!
It Depends on the Activities of the Mare
If you are a professional breeder, then you might have a weaning date set in advance. In this case, you might not want to ride the mare at all; however, you might need the mare back for other riding activities.
Now, it is possible for you to ride a mare even if the foal is still present. We do that from time to time at our stable as well! On the other hand, there are a few challenges that are going to come up.
The most important factor that you need to consider when you want to ride a mare who has recently given birth is her delivery. It takes a while for a mare to recover from her pregnancy and delivery process. So, how long does a mare take to recover from this process?
The answer is that it depends on the delivery process. As long as the birth was straightforward, your mare should be ready to wear a saddle again in around six to eight weeks; however, if there were any complications with the pregnancy, then you might have to wait a little while longer.
Possible Complications During the Birthing Process
There are a few complications that might arise during the pregnancy process that could lead to longer recovery time. For example, if the labor was prolonged, this might lengthen the recovery process. The longer the horse was in labor, the longer it will take to recover.
Another possible complication could be a twin gestation. If the mare gave birth to twins or carried twins at any point in the pregnancy, this is going to lengthen the recovery time as well. Carrying two foals instead of one requires a lot more work and could place more stress on the mare’s body.
Some delivery processes could lead to additional complications as well. For example, your mare might have a retained placenta.
A retained placenta arises if the placenta has not been delivered by three hours after the foal has been delivered. One of our mares had a retained placenta and this led to a serious infection.
This infection required intense antibiotic treatment that sidelined our mare for a few weeks. If this happens to your mare, this could lead to a longer recovery process as well.
What To Do With the Foal
In addition to the health of the mare, you need to consider the presence of the foal as well. For example, if you are planning on riding the mare in an enclosed area, then you might want to let the foal follow along.
You can let the foal lose and allow him or her to follow you and the mare during the riding process. Another option is to enlist the aid of an assistant. The assistance can hold the foal in the arena if there are additional concerns.
Another option is to leave the foal with a different horse while you ride the mare in the arena. Of course, you need to think carefully about which horse you want to leave the foal with while you ride.
Make sure that you introduce the foal slowly ahead of time. Not all adult horses are going to take kindly to foals and you don’t want the horse to attack or injure the foal.
Finally, be sure to leave the foal in a safe space. Expect to hear a lot of calling from the foal to the mare during the ride. The mare is likely going to react a little bit, so keep an eye on the situation.
It might also be a good idea to have someone else on the ground monitoring the situation. That way, they can provide assistance if the relationship between the mare and the foal becomes distressed.
Ease Back Into the Activity
When you decide to ride a mare for the first time after giving birth, you need to take this process slowly. Likely, your mare has not performed any serious work for a few months.
Similar to an athlete, the mare is going to be out of shape. Therefore, you need to ease her back into strenuous activity. Her bones and soft tissues will need to be reconditioned.
Therefore, do not get on her and expect her to ride at full-speed right away. This is a good way to injure the horse.
Instead, think about walking the mare first. Start this process while the foal is still nursing. Log plenty of walks and slow trots. This will help the mare build a strong aerobic base once again.
As the process continues, you need to think about the mare’s diet. Your mare has to keep up with her calories during pregnancy and lactation. Remember that your mare is basically eating for two people during the process. This increased caloric need is significant.
How can you tell if the mare hasn’t been able to keep up with her nutritional needs? Check your mare’s weight. After your mare has given birth, check her weight, and compare this to the pre-pregnancy weight of your mare.
If she has lost weight, then she needs additional calories. Think about providing additional protein to your mare. Remember that as your riding activities intensify, your mare will require more calories.
If this is a problem, then you need to find a commercial field that has been specifically designed for mares that have recently given birth. Then, follow the directions of the feed to make sure that you provide you mare with the calories she needs.
There was one time that we had a mare that was struggling to gain weight following the foaling process. When this happened, we weren’t sure what to do! We ended up enlisting the help of a professional nutritionist.
This professional was able to take a look at what was in our feed. Then, she could compare this to the calories the foal required in the form of milk and also looked at the riding schedule.
Then, the nutritionist was able to help us explore the diet and make some adjustments to help our mare gain weight! We even got to adjust the saddle to make this more comfortable for our mare!
Hydration is an Important Issue
Finally, with all of the focus on diet, it is easy to overlook the role that hydration plays. In order for your mare to produce enough milk, she needs to increase her water intake by between 50 and 75 percent.
Most adult horses already drink between 10 and 12 gallons of water. If you ride your mare regularly, this is going to increase the rate of fluid loss in the form of sweet.
This is an even bigger issue when the temperatures are warm outside.
Therefore, if you are riding your mare regularly, you need to provide plenty of water to cover both the needs of the foal as well as the exercise. If your mare is out of shape, then she is going to work even harder to keep up.
As a result, you should provide your mare with between 20 and 30 gallons of water per day.
We always make sure that our mares have access to fresh, clean water and track their salt intake as well. This is critical for making sure that your mare is able to keep up with the demands of both her riding and her foal.