May 29 2020
Breeding season can be a stressful time for many breeders. Often in foal mares have to be transported for many reasons; for foaling down or so they can be re-bred after they have foaled. Majestic can help take some of the stress away by providing reliable, experienced and safe transport for your precious mare. It is, however, extremely important to plan the mares trip as far in advance as possible to protect both the mare and her unborn foal. You should also ensure your mare is at her foaling site four to six weeks before her due date as mares need time to settle and develop immunity against pathogens in the local environment that they will then pass to the foal via colostrum.
There are a few things to consider before transporting your mare:
- How far along in pregnancy your mare is
We spoke to Andrew Bailey from Rangiora Vet Centre, Andrew has been with Rangiora Vet Centre since graduating in 2004, and became a partner in 2011. Andrew’s main areas of clinical interest are in equine internal medicine and in particular breeding and artificial reproduction techniques. We asked Andrew; How far before a mares due date should you aim to transport her? Andrew said “The further out from foaling the better, 6 weeks is the closest any mares should be travelling”. If your mare is less than a month away from foaling we will not accept your booking as the risks to the mare and foal are too high.
- How well the mare travels and her general temperament
A well-travelled calm mare who has been to and from stud many times is likely to handle the stress of the trip far better than a flighty maiden mare who has rarely left the property. However, Andrew states that either way “The mare will be stressed and it is important to reduce this as much as possible”. Even if your mare is a regular traveller, there are a lot of changes during transport; different horses, different handlers and overnight stays in strange locations to name a few. The benefits of transporting your mare with Majestic is our staff are all very experienced; they transport hundreds of mares a season and can look out for signs your mare is stressed. We can also give your mare extra space in the truck to help her feel more comfortable. Once at our depots we try to keep mares out in individual paddocks where possible, this again will lower the mares stress levels. Our trucks are well ventilated, thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between trips this prevents the spread of any infectious diseases or illnesses which is very important for an in foal mare.
- How far the mare has to travel
If you are simply transporting your mare 20 minutes down the road this is unlikely to cause much harm (however should still be done a minimum of 6 weeks out). Interisland trips on the other hand, can be very hard work for a heavily pregnant mare and should be organised well in advance of their due date. This is vital, as if the mares cortisol (stress hormone) spikes from transportation stress it can induce premature labour, even in a mare that travels well usually.
- The mares physical condition and age
Andrew says that “The mare should be in the best condition she can be before she goes, as they WILL lose condition”. This means mares should be a healthy weight, up to date with all vaccinations/worming and free from any illness. Younger mares are likely to handle long distance travel better than older mares as long distances can be hard work for a pregnant mare. This should be taken into consideration; if your mare is over 16 years old, an interisland trip may be too much for her and she may need to be transported earlier in her pregnancy or sent somewhere local to foal down.
Dr Shelly Hann (B.V.Sc, Cert AVP, MRCVS) from Canterbury Equine Clinic says “although transport of any horse does induce stress, transport of the pregnant mare is generally considered safe. However, long journeys (>5 hours) should be avoided. Transport of late-gestation mares (>300 days) should be carried out only when necessary and air or sea freight should be avoided. Where possible, local facilities should be used for foaling down to reduce the distances travelled by late-gestation mares.”
Lastly, if you are in doubt as to whether your mare is fit to travel, a veterinarian should be consulted. A veterinarian can advise if you mare is fit for transport or if they should remain where they are. Any mare likely to give birth during transport, or be affected by metabolic complications of late pregnancy as a result of the journey, must not be selected for transport. Care must be taken when deciding if it is appropriate to transport young, old, pregnant or otherwise physiologically or behaviourally compromised horses.
Transport can be a stressful experience for horses. However, professional handling and safe, purpose built facilities such as those provided by Majestic will help to reduce the stress associated with travel. The team at Majestic are happy to help answer any questions when it comes to transporting your mare. Feel free to get in touch and have a chat with one of our experienced transport managers and we can take care of your mares trip for you!