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Broodmare to Ridden Horse

Author: Hannah Goldney BCs (Hons) Veterinary Physiotherapist


As the breeding season looms ever closer, there are a few things to consider on the flip side of breeding your mare. It is important to consider when and how you will bring your mare back into work after foaling if you plan to do so.

There are several things that will influence how quickly your mare can return to normal work including:

  • Previous fitness level- The fitter your mare was before becoming pregnant, the quicker it will return

  • Age – Older mares will take much longer to recover from a foaling

  • Body condition score post-weaning

  • Birthing experience and size of the foal- Injuries sustained whilst foaling may slow the process and larger foals may have taken more of the mare's resources whilst lactating

During pregnancy, the mare will experience changes to her core abdominal muscles and prepubic tendon as they will stretch whilst carrying the weight of the foal. She will also have lost topline due to an extended period out of work. These changes are most obvious in older brood mares that may become hollow through their backs as core muscles are vital for maintaining strength up and over the back. For this reason, it is essential to strengthen your mares core muscles before introducing the weight of a rider and asking her to work in a frame.

Work should be introduced slowly as you would when bringing a horse back from injury. Long-reining and pole work can be invaluable tools to encourage your mare to adopt a long and low posture and develop core strength without the added rider weight. Light gentle hacks will help improve stamina before any canter work or schooling is introduced. Asking too much of a mare before she is strong enough can increase the chance of injury so slow and steady really does win the race here.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

It is important to note that saddle fit will need to be closely monitored as the mare will have changed shape after foaling and will continue to change as she is brought back into work.


Take-away message:

Mares lose vital core strength after foaling which will need to be built up slowly when bringing her back into work. Slowly introducing her back into work reduced the chances of injury elsewhere in the body, especially in older mares.

The fitter your mare is pre-pregnancy, the quicker she will regain her fitness after weaning

If you are considering breeding from your mare, have a discussion with your vet first as some lameness or medical conditions can be genetic and passed on to potential foals.


For a more detailed and personalised rehabilitation plan post-weaning, contact Hannah on 07494505191 to book an initial consultation session or click the link below

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