| Breeding The Mini Horse
A miniature horse stallion is sexually mature sometime between two to five years of age. Mares
are fertile by the time they are two.
Breeders frequently wait until their miniature horse mare is 3 years old, because she has reached
her full growth by then. This lowers the risk of gestation and birthing problems.
Stallions can be introduced to the mare or mares in the pasture. Write down the date he was
placed in the pasture with the mares. Watch to see that he is not being too aggressive with the
In order to know the date the foal will be born, it is best introduce the stallion to one mare at a
time. Hand breeding gives more control over the behavior and safety of the horses. This is
especially true with maiden mares that may become frightened by the stallion's advances. The
breeding records will be more precise with individual breeding, rather than pasture breeding.
The average gestation period is 340 days (11 months). During the first 8 months of gestation, the
mare she should receive the same care as any horse.
During gestation the mare should be vaccinated against rhinopneumonitis in the fifth, seventh, and
ninth months, and be kept up to date on all her regular vaccinations such as tetanus, sleeping
West Nile, and rabies. During the last month, the mare should receive a tetanus toxoid shot.
The mare should be dewormed in the last month of gestation, and she be kept under a regular
deworming program since parasites are a major health threat to all horses. Not all dewormers are
safe for pregnant mares, so reading the labels is a must, to make certain the wormer is safe for
Feeding During Gestation
The mare should be kept at a normal weight during gestation, not underweight or obese.
During the last trimester the foal is growing rapidly which means the mare needs to eat more. Her
forage or hay can be decreased and concentrates increased to make sure the foal's needs are
being met without detriment to the mare.
She needs to have increased calcium and phosphorus for foal bone development. According to
studies, a pregnant mare's pregnancy directly affects the fetal bone development. Mares in these
studies who were fed rations deficient in copper had 58 percent more bone and cartilage lesions
by the age of three months.
Breeders can get help in ensuring that their mares are getting all the nutrients they need from
your local county livestock agent. He will know what nutrients are in the naturally growing pastures
of the area.
The mare needs plenty of water and exercise during gestation. It is better to let her roam in
pasture than kept in a stall.
However, if your pasture has fescue growing in it, the mare must be taken off the pasture by the
beginning of the last trimester. Most fescue grass contains a toxic mold that can cause many
problems including: abortion, thickened placenta, retained placenta, and low milk production.
Miniature horses can have foaling problems due to their small size.
This means that the owner needs to know the approximate date she is due, and to observe the
mare for signs of labor.
Signs Nearing Labor
The mare will slow down her activity 2 or 3 weeks prior to the birth. Her abdomen will relax and
"drop." One week before the birth, the muscles next to the head of her tail will become very soft.
She may begin to secrete a clear liquid from her teats a few days before foaling. The secretion
becomes thick and has a milky white color by day two. You may see dried whitish substance that has
dried on the tips of the teats.
This is called, "waxing." If edema occurs, which is swelling of the legs, udder, and ventral line
under the belly, hand walking the mare can help relieve the pressure.
These are the things needed for the birthing:
2. Mild soap
4. Tail wrap- keeps mothers tail out of the way during birth
5. Towels- to dry foal
6. Ten percent iodine solution and medicine cup- disinfect cut umbilical cord on foal
7. Enema kit (the child's size)- give to foal if meconium not passed in 12 hours of birth (meconium is
thick, black stool)
8. Small emergency oxygen tank- use if foal stops breathing(ask vet how to use properly to avoid
At the beginning of labor, muscle contractions begin and the horse becomes restless. She may bite
at her sides from the pain, swish her tail, pace, lie down and get up repeatedly, sweat, and urinate.
This stage lasts two to three hours. Then the water breaks.
After the expulsion of this watery substance, the mare's contractions continue. You will begin to
see the foal's forefeet and nose appear. This should take about fifteen minutes.
If the foal does not appeared within thirty minutes after the water breaks, or does not present
front feet and nose first it is best to call the veterinarian. The foal may need to be re-positioned
so that it can fit through the birth canal.
Once the foal is born, attention must be turned toward its needs, to ensure that it stays warm,
begins to suckle, and appears normal.