Would you compete a pregnant maiden? Or pregnant mare, for that matter?
This topic came up in a recent conversation, particularly about in hand or materiale. Is this ever done? More common in Europe than in the US? After how many days?
Not sure that I would ever show a pregnant mare or a maiden, but surely it does happen. For example: showing a current year foal in hand, and mama is pregnant. Those who have done it, what precautions did you take? After 120 days, everything is hopefully locked down tight, but still . . . .
It was definately an interesting conversation, and figured I'd take this topic to a wider audience!
I'm doing it this year with one of my homebreds. We've been checking her periodically and so far all is well with the baby. She's competing in breed shows, in hand, under saddle (hunters) and in harness. So far so good.
I rode, hunted (not strenuously, just cubbing) and Novice evented my pregnant maiden mare until her 5th/6th month. She was FIT BEFOREHAND and I think the consensus is that this makes all the difference. She was also a trooper and a no-fuss traveler.
We prepared and took two pony mares (both in foal) to their Weser Ems performance test last season...both did super and both had lovely, strong healthy foals for us this spring. I think both were four or five months in foal at the time of the testing. The younger mare was a maiden and had been previously ridden/trained prior to going in foal and was riding fit throughout her pregnancy.
I've been competing my mare at Novice level eventing. She's 11 and had one foal previously, many years ago. Like Deltawave said with her mare...she was fit for the job before she got pregnant.
Her schedule went as follows:
Bred on June 22 & 23rd (AI) Competed at an event at novice level with me June 25-27. One phase each day, trailered back & forth from home, 1 hour each way.
June 29 - July 4th - trailered her up to Tamarack Farm & rode her that week with Denny Emerson.
July 10th - competed at Novice at an event 2 1/2 hours away, all 3 phases same day.
Since then, she's been xc schooling a few times at novice & training & a schooling jumper show with my son. Lots of dressage with me. Generally working 5 days a week.
Everything's looking good....vet's happy, got a nice little embryo developing with heartbeat at last ultrasound.
I'm working on bringing my young horse along, so I'm probably done with competing the mare this season. My son might do some Beg Novice events with her, which she could do blindfolded and with a hoof behind her back. My son possibly might do his C2 pony club rating with her this fall and a couple of hunter paces, as long as everything continues fine.
She's tough, healthy, and fit for what she's being asked to do, albeit a bit heavier than I would like. This pony positively lives for jumping, especially cross country. Dressage, not so much. She travels like a pro and does not stress about anything, except maybe her dinner being late.
I am showing my 4-yr old maiden in Training Level Dressage this year, and she is at 49 days today (assuming it's still in there, lol - last check was at 33 days and there was a strong, healthy heartbeat and good-sized embryo). She went to her first show of the year on May 30th, was bred on June 11th, and then went to another show on July 18th.
I knew i wanted this mare to at least have a small show record before she went to the broodmare shed for good, so I started her last summer as a 3-yr old and took her to a very low-key schooling show once last summer to see how she'd be. She was a doll, totally non-plussed. I also hacked her all over hill and dale and took her to an organized trail ride off property. I wanted her to be totally OK with travelling before I tried to show her while pregnant. I would never risk taking out a pregnant mare if she's a nervous hauler or at all anxious off property..
I also make sure to have water on hand to sponge her down with immediately after a ride, I have a haynet full of yummy hay for her to munch on all day and I fuss over her and give her treats during the day as well. I am doing schooling shows with her and keeping it low-key and relaxing.
And like other posters mentioned, she was fit before being bred, so none of this is new to her or a big deal. I *am* making sure that I don't exhaust her body, though. I take it easy on really hot days and I had a contingency plan in place for the day of the July 18th show in case it was REALLY hot (turns out it wasn't too bad).
I plan on doing at least 2 more shows with her before October. She's doing really well and looks fantastic. I have no doubt that the pregnancy and delivery will be a piece of cake for her!
If you don't mind me asking, what are or were the ages of the mares? How far into the pregnancy before you started competing? Did you do anything special in preparation or for maintenance?
My mare is a 4 year old, and was being ridden regularly prior to being bred. We did not stop her training/showing schedule to breed her. In hindsight, as much as I'm (REALLY) looking forward to this foal, I'm kind of sorry I bred her, as she is going so well in harness that I would have really enjoyed driving her in the show ring next year. As it stands now, she will probably get the year off next year.
I showed a 13 yo-ish maiden with no problems up until she was about 5 mo bred (end of show season). She was better behaved when bred! This was an ASB pleasure horse that wasn't such a pleasure in the show ring. No problems at all with mare or foal.
I rode one mare, a lesson horse, a day or two before she foaled. She had been preg checked twice "open", so baby was a complete surprise. Mama and baby were just fine.
Kelly was 12, she was kept in work right through the first weeks of her pregnancy up until the end of the show season. Competed at 3 or 4 different shows and went hunting a few times in between there. No special preparation or treatment.
We have competed young mares in hand and in Materiale and at low level dressage early in their pregnancies (by that I am talking 3-5 year old mares from about 90 days to 6 months pregnant). They did just fine. They were relatively local shows and we were careful not to stress them.
I see no problem with continuing on with competition just as is as long as the horse is fine. The mare I have now competed through her last pregnancy and was ridden until 9 months. This time around she competed through 7 months at 4th level--no problem. She is MUCH better when she's pregnant, mellow and relaxed, and she loves going to shows and is very relaxed there--they are easy work for her. No problems with babies--they are huge.
As long as they are fit and doing fine, there shouldn't be a worry. You don't really even usually notice anything physically until 7-8 months. And, of course, I know stories of horses doing jumpers the night before giving birth. A friend told about a mare on the racetrack that was just too slow and fat, so they kept cutting her feed and racing her. The day after one race she gave birth to a healthy foal. Probably not an ideal situation, but naturally wild horses are moving 25-30 miles a day, so this should not be a big deal for a normal, healthy horse in shape.
We did it in 1995 with a maiden. The mare in question had 10 years of FEI competition behind her and was a seasoned show horse. We bred her during the week between the CDI at Raleigh and Gladstone Selection Trials. One cover. Pregnant. There were studies being done on the horses & heat management at the NAYRC in preparation for Atlanta's Olympics, so all the horses were weighed 2-4 times. Our mare gained weight during the week we were in Chicago in spite of working 2xs a day and the horrible heat. We were able to stay under the 120 day rule and got to compete at DAD but were 135 during the week for the Regional Finals. The mare had no problems during her pregnancy (shipped all over the east coast to compete and then to Tempel Farms and home). High score FEI awards at WPDA @ Harlansburg and then UConn and she won the AHS HOY for 4th Level. Healthy filly in the spring to show for it.
I'd do it again as she was fit, healthy and even easier to ride while pregnant - much more mellow in temperament. And it was my first year of going to NAYRC...wouldn't have missed THAT for the world!
I opted not to compete my mare this season. It took two tries to breed her, she tends more on the nervous side and she is 16 and a maiden. While she is an experienced show horse and trailers often, there are a lot of variables at a show that I cannot control - like what other horses bring in. It is also an extremely hot summer and she tend not to drink as much at shows.
It just is not worth the risk. My trainer has other horses I am riding and taking out and about. I still ride my mare (not if it is over 90), around the farm, bareback - easy hacking mostly or hanging out in the arena during the beginner lessons.
She may have been fine competing this year, but for me, it was not worth it to risk the money I spent on losing the foal just to go out and compete, especially when we have nothing to prove/qualify for/etc and I have other horses available to me to fill that need.
I don't see any problem with a mare in use while pregnant until they get very heavy in the belly later on, but don't you wait until the embryo is safely implanted before you trailer them about? I wouldn't want to take that risk in the early stages. A real waste of time and money if they slough off the embryo.
The first 2 years I had my maiden bred, I continued light riding and she absorbed before 45 days with each pregnancy. The final attempt, upon being bred, I pastured her and she retained the pregnancy and foaled a big, beautiful filly. Could be coincidence. She was a very anxious, high strung mare so the hauling and riding may just have been too much for her.
I competed with my mare through both pregnancies and she did fine. I did stop at the 9th month as she was just too big around and uncomfortable at that time. She was about 6 months along when we hauled her to horse camp for 2 weeks she kicked everyone's but and I was offered a healthy sum for her. But she trailered fine, was in top riding condition before we bred her and was 9 for the first one and 11 for the second foal. It REALLY depends on the mare and the ease of the pregnancy. She was live cover for both of her foals so there were no drugs involved to bring her into heat or anything.
Adoring fan of A Fine Romance
Originally Posted by alicen:
What serious breeder would think that a horse at that performance level is push button? Even so, that's still a lot of buttons to push.