If spring is here, that means mares all over the world are giving birth to their foals (foaling). Horse gestation can differ greatly in comparison to some of the other animals we work with in veterinary medicine. Whether a horse is naturally bred or artificially inseminated, it’s important to understand the horse gestation period.
Horse Gestation Facts:
- Horses typically breed in summer, resulting in a spring birth.
- It is recommended to follow this general rule with artificial insemination as well.
- A mare can produce 1 healthy foal a year.
- Twin pregnancies are possible in equine pregnancies, but almost always result in loss of one or both embryos.
- Pregnancy can be confirmed by ultrasound at 2 weeks.
- Veterinarians can manually begin to feel changes in the uterus at about 6 weeks.
- Pregnancy can be confirmed by urine and blood at around 3 months.
- During the first 100 days of pregnancy will a mares appetite begin to increase, and mood changes might occur.
- It is recommended to test for pregnancy at the 3 month mark, due to high risk of a loss of pregnancy during this first time period.
- A foal starts to look like a small horse at around 3 months in the womb.
- A mare will begin to look pregnant at 6 months.
- When day 315 comes around, a mare may begin to show signs of foaling. At this time an owner should be getting prepared for foaling.
- During birth, the mare may appear agitated and “colicky.” This means biting at her sides, rolling around, and walking restlessly.
- The average gestation period is 340 days.
- Some mares will have shorter or longer gestation periods.
- Foaling before 315 days is considered premature.
- Mares can safely carry a foal to term up into their 20’s.
- Most pregnancies and deliveries are without complication, and require little human assistance.
If you enjoyed this info-graphic, take a look at the article How do you become an Equine Veterinarian? on our blog.