For most horse owners, breeding your own foal is a lifelong ambition. Before you ever proceed to the actual covering, you’ll have spent hours assessing your mare to identify her best points, have researched dozens of different studs to work out which stallion will complement her best, and will have had a breeding fitness exam performed to make sure she’s fit and healthy. 

Once the big day arrives, it’s a waiting game to see whether she takes or not, and this is when an important question starts to rear its head: if she falls pregnant, how often should you scan? 

Here are the gestational exams you might want to consider. 

14-day ultrasound 

Most veterinarians recommend that your mare’s first pregnancy check should take place two weeks’ post-ovulation. The purpose of this exam is simple: to confirm pregnancy and ensure the early identification of multiple embryos. The latter must ideally be done before implantation into the uterine lining on the 17th day, to give pinching (the removal of one twin) the highest chance of success. 

21-day ultrasound 

If your mare fails to maintain her pregnancy, this loss will usually occur early on, which is why a 3-week check is also recommended by some vets. This is not only a chance to make sure your mare is still carrying but that the foetus is growing normally and the pregnancy appears to be viable. 

28-day ultrasound 

For many breeders, a 28-day ultrasound is also preferred. This is the point at which a heartbeat can be detected. The foetus and foetal membranes should be easily visible, which means that it’s a useful tool in determining whether the pregnancy is healthy. 

45-day ultrasound

Although not every breeder will opt for a 45-day ultrasound, some like to monitor this critical gestational period. Just prior to this point, structures known as ‘endometrial cups’ form, and these are vital in helping to maintain the pregnancy moving forward. Although this exam is not a necessity, it can be especially helpful and reassuring for those whose mares have failed to carry to term in the past. 

60-day ultrasound 

The early ultrasounds are the most important in terms of monitoring pregnancy, but an increasing number of people are also opting for an additional scan at 60 days – one which can determine the foal’s gender. This can be assessed with remarkable accuracy by two months’ gestation, and helps to up the ante and increase the excitement in the long months leading up to foaling. 

When it comes to breeding your own foal, there is nothing quite so exciting – or important – as those all-important early scans. Be sure to keep track of how your mare’s pregnancy is progressing, and you’ll give yourself the best possible chance of a healthy foal at the end of your long-anticipated journey from owner to breeder.