Mare Health After Foaling

Experts address how soon a mare can be ridden after she foals.

Experts address how soon a mare can be ridden after she foals.

ask expertThe American Association of Equine Practitioners offers great advice for this mare owner. AAEP is an AQHA educational marketing alliance partner.


After a mare foals, how long will it be before she can be ridden again? And how long should I wait to breed her again? I have a 5-year-old Quarter Horse mare that foaled recently with no problems.


As for breeding the mare, it depends on your goals for her and her offspring. In many disciplines, you want the foals born early in the year because of age and racing/showing guidelines. In many instances, people will attempt to breed back a mare on her foal heat. In most cases, I like to breed back mares on the cycle just after foal heat. It certainly does not hurt to wait longer. Just keep in mind what time of year the foal will come around next year. If you wait too long each season, soon you will have a season in which it will be too late to breed. This is not necessarily a bad thing; it just depends on your breeding program and your needs.

I might be a bit conservative, but I usually do not push mares into riding until the foal is weaned at around 5 months of age. It is probably safe to ride the mare a bit earlier. Just remember that she is using a lot of energy to produce milk for the foal, and you should have her at a slightly higher plane of nutrition as a result (body condition score of 6 or 7 out of 9). Also, some mares are very concerned about watching their foals, so riding could be less than productive because the mare cannot concentrate on the task at hand, and it might also be a bit risky. For these reasons, I feel it is best to begin riding again after the foal is weaned. If you want to ride this mare a lot, it might be best to take her out of breeding for a few seasons.

— Dr. Damon O’Gan, Austin, Texas, member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners

*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.

9 thoughts on “Mare Health After Foaling”

  1. When does a mare start her normal heat cycle after the “Foal Heat” is it 21 days or 28 days?


  2. Tammy,

    Foal heat is approximately 7 days post-foaling, after that it’s normal, approximately every 21 days: 14-17 days out, under the influence of progesterone, 5-7 in heat, under the influence of estrogen.

    Foal heat can be a bit more unpredictable, lasting longer or shorter than a regular heat cycle – it depends on the mare.

    Christine Hamilton, Editor, The American Quarter Horse Journal

  3. Hello, I own a 5 year old Dutch Warmblood mare that I am wanting to breed. Is September too late to breed her? I know many people who have bred their mares as late as December and they’ve had nice, healthy foals. I live in Oklahoma. Also, I am worried about the breed registries and keurings. Would being born in August affect getting their registration done and going to their keurings? The baby would be eligible AWS, RPSI, and possibly Oldenburg.

  4. my mini mare miscarried at 4 months and is in heat 2 days later. is it ok to allow her to breed that soon?

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