Back to basics
Ensure the pregnant mare is comfortable to make foaling easier
Published 05/01/2010 | 05:00
There are some basic necessities for the pregnant mare prior to foaling. Horses need access to a continuous supply of fresh, clean water. Equally they need access to large quantities of well-preserved fodder, perhaps supplemented with a well-regarded stud mix.
Spend your remaining budget on the other essentials -- teeth, feet, preventive health care and shelter.
Be careful that expensive supplements don't become a crutch and an excuse for bad husbandry and management. Even the best of feeds end their days as expensive manure if not chewed properly -- horses need regular dental care as they age.
Have mares fit (and healthy) but not fat at foaling. Recent studies have shown that horse owners fail to recognise obesity as a health issue. Excess fat places unnecessary strain on any horse's metabolism and skeleton, even more so the mare carrying a foal -- witness the number of older broodmares with laminitis and collapsed hind fetlocks.
Every farmer knows that lameness reduces mobility and therefore feeding. Pain reduces performance -- whether this is milk production, growth rates, speed jumping ability or rosettes in the show-ring.
Mares should be vaccinated:
- Against tetanus for their own sake and for the protection this can give the foal via colostrum;
- Against the herpes virus to ward off a storm of abortions in your brood mare herd;
- Against influenza. An outbreak of this virus, as humans know, is never pleasant.
Pregnant mares should be well wormed and living in an environment that generally keeps worm and infection levels low. We're fortunate in this country that we have plenty of space -- horses need it and space dilutes disease.
Exposure to the elements in severe weather can cause needless weight loss. But individual, poorly ventilated, poorly insulated, dank, dark stables, with no room for horses to move or escape draughts and rank smells, make for poor living conditions.