Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Washington State
It's usually alright to start riding your mare by the time that the foal is about a month old or so. The biggest concern is avoiding putting too much strain on the little one as he's trying to keep up. It can a foal out quick, bouncing along at mom's heels. It's good for the mare to get a bit of work though, so you've just got to find a good balance.
Whether your mare will be overly concerned about her foal or not sort of depends to some extent on her temperament. You'll have to play it by ear and just be very attentive to whether she or the foal are becoming at all upset. If they are getting upset, back off on the riding a bit and take it easier.
The older the foal gets, the more comfortable both of them will be with being more separated. If you're riding in an arena when the foal is about three months or older, you may be fine just to have someone hold baby nearby while mom works. As long as they can see one another, they should be fine. With this in mind, I do not suggest taking the foal along on trail rides unless he is well trained to the halter and can be ponied (which arguably shouldn't happen until after weaning). If the little one wanders and gets into trouble on a trail ride, it wouldn't be good for anyone. You'd probably be alright riding around in their paddocks and pastures a bit though while the foal tags along.