Pregnant? Mares

I’m going to preface this by saying this wasn’t planned and came from an unfortunate situation where I had no choice but to keep my horses out with a “friend” that I no longer engage with in any way. She had a cryptorchid stud that she has been “going to geld” for years now, but she “hasn’t had the money” even though in the last 12 months she has bought a newer truck, trailer (she stated she paid cash, and it cost more than the surgery to geld), and house. He has had 2 foals (1 live with a pony mare, 1 stillborn with his half-sister, also Stud owner’s horse) and was getting out of his separate pen from Jan 31st to March 12th and my OTTB for sure let him mount and “breed” Jan 31st. I have a friend that knows more about equine reproduction than I do that claimed that it was highly improbable if not impossible for them to get bred in that time frame (I live in Kansas in the United States). With the time period of when the stud left and the signs that are showing we are guesstimating them to be about 7.5-8 months pregnant but will try to have a vet confirm.

He has for sure bred my OTTB Mare (Shaker), as she had started dropping weight and gained some back, although not as quickly as she normally does, she is usually a fairly easy keeper. You can now feel foal kicks, so I am positive that she is bred, just need the vet to confirm and get a better time estimate if possible.

My 19yr old AQHA mare, that I 160% didn’t want bred has potentially (most likely) also been bred. She is usually quite fit, and a tad chubby. I had started feeding her Buckeye’s Grow’N’Win at the same time I started feeding it my yearling gelding and my OTTB more grain, just so she wouldn’t feel left out. She does seem a little leaner than normal, with a rounder belly but seemed to continue to be in season after she was moved, although less so than normal. I am planning to have her checked as well, just to be safe.

With this I have a few questions, one would be the best way to have Shaker continue to gain weight throughout the rest of the pregnancy? She is currently getting 2 meals per day, each consisting of 1lb of Grow’N’Win, 1lb alfalfa pellets and 1.5lbs (soon to be 2lbs) of Nutrena ProForce Fuel, and a top dressing of 2oz canola oil. She is in a pasture with free-choice, good quality Brome hay. The next question is if I should blanket heavier or lighter than normal? Third, are there any special concerns I should have for Charity with her age if she is bred? And lastly, any tips for foaling/babies as this will be my first personal experience with this aside from foal watches for a couple of friends (never had one show signs while I was on watch duty). Thank you for your time, and I hope to learn more through this experience, although unplanned, still an opportunity to learn.

Why did you wait until now to do anything? If you’d had them checked immediately you could have had any potential foal aborted or at least prevented any chance of twins. Now you have a very risky situation. If the TB mare was bred 1/31 she’s nearly full term and will be foaling just as the weather gets really cold and potentially bad. You need to get them checked immediately. The best thing you can do if they are pregnant is send them to someone experienced to foal out.

The TB likely needs more calories. You would probably do best to add a third daily feeding. It’s generally not a good idea to blanket a pregnant mare that is close to term. Once she foals it won’t be safe to blanket her anyway. You need to make sure that your fence and shelter are safe for a mare and foal and that you can separate them from the other horses if necessary.

10 Likes

Where they are now is much better, and the facility has people that have experience with breeding, and they are away from the stallion owner who 1) Is now purposely breeding a cryptorchid stud 2) allowed him to breed his half sister and said it was a good thing 3) doesn’t vaccinate or give any extra care to her pregnant mares 4) refused to move her stallion after I requested in no uncertain terms mine not get bred and 5) generally does not have good or safe equine practices to begin with. I did not know she was like this prior to my horses going in with hers and would not have put them there had I known. Even I know enough not to be like that.

I waited to do anything because when I asked someone who has experience with breeding I was told it was impossible due to the time frame. Even when vaccinated in spring I asked the vet and the vet was not concerned… I know my mares pretty well and when I pointed out all the reasons I had suspicions that the OTTB had been bred anyways it was changed to “improbable” instead of impossible. But at that point it would have been too late to abort either way. The Thoroughbred does not typically show signs of cycling either way, and the quarter horse showed signs of heat cycles, just not as bad as she typically does. Nasty tail, spicy attitudes, general signs of discomfort all as usual, just to a lesser degree than “typical” although she has had years like that before. I had also told the stallion owner multiple times I did not want my mares bred and that I could help with fencing if needed and was told it was being taken care of, he was moving, ect. I am asking to receive education because 1) I DID NOT want my horses bred and was taking advise from other people with more experience who have intentionally bred and 2) you don’t know what you don’t know until you learn what you didn’t learn. If I am simply going to be bashed for not knowing something I had no intention of needing to know (there are enough horses out there I don’t need to breed my mares) then I will have this post removed and simply continue trying to find information on my own. The vet will be scheduled today, and I just found out over the weekend that it is “improbable” not “impossible” and then started seeing/feeling foal kicks that were confirmed by a different person, again with more experience with breeding than my very few and very simple foal watches. Not ideal, but it is where I’m at.

1 Like

I don’t blanket my broodmares at all, it’s just too dangerous. They really don’t need any increase in calories until their last couple of months of pregnancy generally. I usually just start adding in alfalfa hay to their free choice piles and that takes care of it.

My last mare got ulcers when sent away to the foaling clinic and dropped weight at an alarming rate so I switched her from the ration balancer she was on to ProElite Growth because it was higher calorie and apparently pretty palatable. Usually I can keep the mares on the normal amount of ration balancer and maybe a fat supplement by adding alfalfa.

3 Likes

OP, what an awful thing to be dealing with. First thing I would do is find who the best most local reproductive vet is. One who specializes in broodmare and foal care. And then I would be reading every single thing I can get my hand on about foaling and foal care, etc. And asking questions, as you are attempting to do.
“Most of the time” mother nature works as intended, and birth goes fine. But when it doesn’t… you need help and you need it NOW. As someone else pointed out, your mare is likely due very soon, and it’s getting cold. I would at the very least find a foal blanket.
This place where you currently have them - a boarding facility? You say the people have experience breeding…fine…but have they done the foaling out? That’s the experience you need, and even at that I would question them hard about their practices. Nothing like a sick or dead foal because somebody brushed off things as “naw we never did that”.
Best of luck to you.

4 Likes

Oh yes, it is more than possible that exposure to a stallion in that time frame may indeed result in pregnancy. Not all mares “shut down for winter” with their cycling. You are getting a vet in to palpate and pass an opinion about pregnancy, and that is going to be helpful at this stage. Other than that, you wait and prepare, and watch them. In six weeks time, these mares may have cycled several times, so exactly what your breeding dates are will remain unknown. Until birth is more immanent, the foal is dropped down below the pelvic arch, so can not be palpated by a rectal exam at this time, but it will be fairly evident one way or the other to a vet if the mare is or is not in foal by this time. Because you have no breeding date, the 11 months plus a week gestation period isn’t going to help you much. But that’s OK, its only a rough estimate anyway.

Your vet can give you info on nutrition requirements, worming and vaccinations for the in foal mares that will give you the best chance for successfully producing these foals. You can either send them to a breeding farm to be foaled out by experienced staff (which will be expensive), or do it yourself if you have the facilities, and hopefully someone experienced with foaling who can help you (and a vet on speed dial).

If you are looking at foaling out in cold weather, the acquisition of some (one or more) newborn foal blankets is a good idea. “Miniature horse” blankets can be OK for this, or large dog coats. Make sure they have lots of insulation, and are waterproof. Some people have used wool sweaters etc for this, but I go with foal blankets. I don’t know how cold you might experience in your area at that time of year, but chilled and wet conditions will be hard on a newborn foal. Since mares will often shed out before they foal, even at the wrong time of year, it may be necessary to blanket the mare too after foaling. And yes, there is risk with this, but you have to make the call one way or the other, knowing your mare, and with the facilities you have. I had to blanket both mare and foal heavily when we foaled out our mistakenly bred mare at -30C in our “unheated” barn, no other choice. And everything went well, no problems. Just dry that foal off, and bundle it into the newborn foal blanket/s, and newborn halter, all at the same time and before they wake up much. Helps with later training too, they’re already OK with being dressed. That foal was blanketed all winter, I didn’t actually SEE her much until spring, just a furry little face at one end and a fluffy little tail at the other, and four wheels underneath, motoring about LOL.

Good luck, and do the best you can! That’s all you can do.

4 Likes

I will ask more into their foaling experience specifically, but from what I’m hearing they’ve done the full foaling process. There are multiple foaling stalls on the premises, so once a closer date is determined they’ll be in a heated barn for foal watch. I also have a friend that lives approximately 45 minutes from the facility that had had several babies out of the mares that stay with her throughout their entire pregnancies, and I know she’d be willing to help. Actually mentioning that, she may know the best vet for me to contact since we might be looking at the same vet with the few we have to pick from in our area.

I do have one foal blanket already, but I’m assuming I will need to find a smaller one as it’s a 57"? Especially if Charity also ends up for sure pregnant (I’m honestly at this point just assuming she is, even though she is more subtle about it).

You don’t automatically need to blanket foals. I have a foal saver blanket that I put on when they are born, they may wear it for a day or two but then they are unblanketed. I keep them dry by bringing them in if the weather is going to be wet but that’s about it.

1 Like

57 inch is way too large- that is riding pony size. “Miniature horse” blanket, around a 36 inch one. As long as it is not “really” cold (like -30C) for extended periods of time, the foal shouldn’t need it long term, a couple days maybe… until legs are unfolded and the foal is flourishing and running around, healthy. Sounds like it is a decent facility, and you have helpers with experience. Let us know what the vet says, how many actually ARE in foal. When you see a good sized milk bag forming, and some drips of wax, then milk, things are getting closer to happening. Again… good luck! No one is successful at foaling without good luck.

1 Like

For a slightly less spendy option for baby blankets, “calf jackets” should work nicely. They usually come in a few different sizes and often can be found made locally if you happen to be in a dairy-heavy area.

Sorry you are in this situation. How long were your mares on the farm with the stallion after your mare was covered in January?
The autonomic nervous system of a foal is not fully developed until the first few weeks of life. So early on they are not able to regulate their body temp as well as a grown horse.
I hope you find out soon if they are pregnant. Pre foaling vax are important. A milk testing kit can be helpful. Mares do not follow the rules when it comes to physical changes and having a due date. They can foal with out waxing etc… The window for a normal foaling date is about six weeks. 320 days and they can go over a year. 340 is the average.
I don’t know about pastures in Kansas, the mares should not be eating fescue.
Please keep us posted and ask whatever questions you have.

1 Like

I wouldn’t mess with the udder at all. Once you express milk out you lose the teat plug and then have the risk of developing mastitis since bacteria is now able to get in .

If your barn is experienced in foaling mares in the past, then they should be watching them and should see some imminent signs but of course anyone who has animals birthing has come out to find the babies and been totally shocked.

Good quality hay and plenty of it is what they need most. I always fed mine a mare/ foal feed depending on condition and of course once they foal , they need hay free choice and in most cases the amount off feed may need to be increased.

No blankets, plenty of free choice exercise( paddock , pasture or hand walking) and a large, dry, free from drafts stall to foal.

If you have a public library nearby, they usually have several good foaling books available.
“Blessed Are the Mares” is one that’s a good beginner’s book.
It helps to read everything you can prior to delivery and sometimes the mare surprises you anyway.
Also have your vet on speed dial on your phone in case of an emergency problem.

They were on a fescue mix at the old pasture, and I had planned to ask the vet about that, as I know a mare that got “fescue poisoning” (not sure if that’s the actual name or not). They are currently on a prairie/brome pasture with high quality brome hay. They will be in stalls when foaling is close. The stallion was moved off the property March 12th, so the window for being bred is Jan 31st to March 12th. And I know there was a second time the thoroughbred was seen allowing the stallion to mount and breed (can’t find that exact date) so I’m hopeful that it was a later time she took, but we are planning to assume the first date to stay on the safe side.

As an update for all other things, I have ordered a foaling blanket as it seems quite potential I’ll need it with the time frame I’m looking at, I also got the smallest I could find locally just in case that doesn’t come in a timely fashion, but that was still a 40-46 inch one which would still be big but better than the other. The vet was not available until this upcoming Tuesday, so I will have info on whether it is both or just the one at that point, and see if they are ok to give vaccinations, without a true date (I wouldn’t see why not, but I’m obviously new to this). I currently have several contacts that have had foaling experience that have said to contact them if I need anything, and there are for sure people at the barn who have had foaling experience (as well as some having calving experience, which I imagine is quite different with a few similarities).

“What” is the stallion (other than a cryptorchid)? Any redeeming features?
Some alfalfa is always good to add in to diet, if possible. Also a good mineral mix with selenium (presuming your area is deficient- many areas are).

Any pictures? Would love to see the expectant ladies.

I would say no. He is registered AQHA or APHA. I think he’d make a great gelding, but his nickname/barn name is “Shithead” if that gives any indication of his demeanor. I’ve seen worse horses conformationally, but I still would never pick him to breed to. Owner claims he’s a “racefit” halter bred horse in this picture.

I take most of my pictures in snapchat and forget to save them, so I don’t have any since I suspected they were pregnant on my phone right now, but I’ll get some when I’m out at the barn tomorrow! I have one good conformation shot of Shaker here from before she was pregnant


And here’s a cute one of Charity leading my youngster

1 Like

Could be worse. Good luck!

1 Like

It’s worth getting papers if the stud is registered even if he’s not top quality. Better to have a mediocre OK registered AQHA and an Appendix than two grade oops foals. As @NancyM says, it could be a lot worse in terms of conformation and breed cross. People like mediocre OK QH and Appendix and deliberately create them often enough :slight_smile:

6 Likes