Broodmare Health Care

Is your mare getting the care she needs to produce a healthy, happy foal?

From AQHA Corporate Partner Pfizer

Many American Quarter Horse mares are now pregnant and waiting for the spring foaling season.

The goal of any breeder is to keep the mare healthy throughout the pregnancy and then deliver a normal, vivacious foal.

Whether you are a seasoned breeder or a soon-to-be first-time owner of a foal, it’s imperative that you follow proper broodmare-care protocols to help ensure that all goes well for your mare and foal.

First of all, it is important to follow simple biosecurity practices. Ideally, broodmares should be kept in small groups with others who are at a similar stage of pregnancy1. All pregnant mares should be isolated from any horses likely to be shedding infectious organisms; these may include weanlings and yearlings, young horses in training and horses that are showing or competing1. Separation ideally means a separate barn, paddock or pasture and no sharing of feed and water sources1.

In AQHA’s FREE report, Guide to Registering a Quarter Horse, we offer some hints to make sure your horse’s registration gets through the first time, whether you choose to complete your application online or by mail.

Unless specified otherwise by a veterinarian, most mares benefit from exercising during pregnancy. Many mares have been used for rigorous athletic competition (including racing and jumping) up to five months of gestation with no problems1. Light trail riding can continue until six to eight weeks prior to foaling. Mares who aren’t ridden benefit from as much turnout as possible, preferably a minimum of six hours a day when conditions allow1.

Proper deworming and vaccinations are necessary to keep your broodmare healthy. Internal parasite control relies on a combination of pasture management, manure disposal and strategic use of dewormers. Most modern dewormers are safe for use in pregnant mares, but always check the label first and consult a veterinarian.

Vaccinating broodmares has three main purposes:

  1. Protect the mare from disease;
  2. Help prevent abortion; and
  3. Help protect the foal by passive transfer of immunity through the colostrum1.

Many veterinarians recommend that vaccines not be given to mares in the first 60 days of pregnancy1. Ideally, mares have completed their primary course of vaccinations before becoming pregnant. To help ensure protection of the newborn foal, pregnant mares are vaccinated for most diseases in the last three to six weeks of pregnancy1.

Get detailed information on what you need before you begin your paperwork. The AQHA's FREE report, Guide to Registering a Quarter Horse, includes a checklist with dates, photos and other important information you’ll need to speed the registration process along.

All broodmares should be vaccinated against tetanus, equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1), eastern and western equine encephalomyelitis (EEE and WEE) and West Nile virus. Most pregnant mares are also vaccinated against equine influenza and equine herpesvirus type 4 (EHV-4). Pfizer Animal Health offers PNEUMABORT-K® +1b, an equine rhinopneumonitis vaccine used to help prevent abortions in pregnant mares. PNEUMABORT-K +1b is typically given to pregnant mares at months 5, 7 and 9 of their gestation. Other vaccinations may include rabies, strangles, rotavirus and Potomac horse fever. Consult a veterinarian. Your veterinarian can advise you on which vaccinations are likely to be beneficial in your situation and when they are best administered.

Prepping for a new foal is often an exciting time for horse owners. However, there are a lot of important details that need to be monitored to help bring that foal to a successful term. Consult a veterinarian on the exam schedule of your broodmare, when to deworm and vaccinate, exercise, nutrition and biosecurity protocols.

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1. Scott Madill, DVM, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota. Care of the Broodmare. University of Minnesota Extension Service. 2007. Available at: Accessed: October 10, 2011.