Miniature horse pregnancy care is very much like a regular sized mare’s pregnancy and just as expensive. Expectant miniature horse mothers need quality feed, inoculations, vet check ups and a safe place to foal. However, miniature mares have more difficulty producing foals than other breeds.
Only a vet can determine whether a miniature horse mare is pregnant. This is done through gynecological exam and a hormone test. An ultrasound is the best way to determine pregnancy although this is very expensive.
Mares can go into a prolonged heat and can be in season for two weeks – one week more than the normal sized horse. This prolonged heat and receptivity to stallions does not guarantee pregnancy. Equipment for artificial insemination often is too large for a mini mare, so the mare may have to undergo breeding the old-fashioned way, according to The Book of Miniature Horses: Buying, Breeding, Training, Showing and Enjoying. (Globe Pequot; 2005.)
Miniatures may not show any physical signs of pregnancy until they are about eight months along. Pregnant miniature mares need daily exercise so they do not become obese. An obese mare will have a difficult foaling.
Pregnant mares need a gradual switch from hay and grass to concentrated grain feeds. Just suddenly switching feeds can cause the mare to colic. A small handful of grain is more than enough for the first feed. Consult your veterinarian for a feed-switching schedule.
Mares should get their usual feed ration until the beginning of the ninth month. Then they can begin switching over to grain. The Book of Miniature Horses recommends adding a copper nutritional supplement to help promote normal fetal development. The mare will always need access to fresh water and a salt lick.
Determine if the mare’s pasture contains any fescue grass. If moldy, fescue grass can make a mare sick and possibly trigger an abortion. Remove this grass before the mare is nine months along.
Miniature mothers-to-be need the same preventative worming doses and vaccinations as larger mares in order to prevent parasites from infecting the fetus. Horse Owner’s Veterinary Handbook (Howell Book House; 2008) notes that a healthy mare produces antibody-rich colostrum or first milk which is essential for a newborn foal to drink because it is the only way it will receive antibodies.
Mares should be given a rhinopneumonitits vaccination ever two months starting at the fifth month. Three to six weeks before the mare’s due date, she needs booster vaccinations for the following:
West Nile virus Tetanus Equine encephalitis Equine influenza Equine viral arteritis (if the vet recommends)
Although miniature horses have been known to foal in pastures, this is not the ideal place to foal because a vet often needs to help manipulate the foal out of the mare’s body. It is far safer and more convenient for the vet if the mare is inside in a large foaling box. Check the sides of the box for any sharp protrusions that the mare or foal could cut themselves on.
Miniature horse pregnancy is even more complicated than for a regular sized horse or pony. But they still need vet care, inoculations, worming, daily exercise and quality feed. Gestation may be slightly shorter than for an average mare – 320 to 340 days instead of 350 to 370 days. Be sure a vet is in attendance to assist in delivering the foal.
Gore, Thomas, DVM, et al. Horse Owner’s Veterinary Handbook. Howell Book House; 2008.
Campbell Smith, Donna and Bruce Curtis. The Book of Miniature Horses: Buying, Breeding, Training, Showing and Enjoying. Globe Pequot; 2005.
Costa, Lais R.R., MV, MS. “Certain Diseases Affect Miniature Horses.” Equine Health Studies Program Newsletter. Winter, 1999. http://evrp.lsu.edu/v8/8minihorses.asp