Ask an Expert

Swelling During Pregnancy

The American Association of Equine Practitioners helps a mare owner keep his horse comfortable.

Photo via: Stephanie Whitaker


Five days ago, I went to exercise my pregnant mare and noticed some swelling in her back legs. I had not been able to exercise her for several days due to snow and icy conditions. The stable owner where she is boarded said she was just stocked up from standing in her pen and needing exercise. I have been out to exercise her every day since, and the swelling has not subsided. There is no heat in the legs and the mare does not show any lameness.

What else can I do to make the swelling go away, and what could be the cause? She is eating just fine and exercises great. She loves her round pen exercise and loves to run around the arena. She gets four to six flakes of alfalfa hay a day, depending on how big the flakes are, and gets one pound of grain.


In late pregnant mares, it is not uncommon for a mare to stock up. Typically, it is in the hind limbs.

Exercise should help keep the filling under control. Has the filling increased in spite of the exercise, or is it staying the same? If the filling is stable, I would suggest continuation of the exercise.

Some people will place a support wrap on the legs to help control filling. Others will apply a sweat in an attempt to pull the filling down. The choice for any of these treatments is related to the severity of the filling.

If you think the filling is excessive or if the mare is not close to foaling, I suggest that you have your veterinarian evaluate the mare.

-- Dr. Pete Sheerin, Lexington, Kentucky, member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners

Check out AQHA's Mare Care: Breeding Tips for more information on keeping your pregnant  mare healthy and happy.

*AQHA and the provider of this information are not liable for the inherent risks of equine activities. We always recommend consulting a qualified veterinarian and/or an AQHA Professional Horseman.