JANUARY 1996 BACK ISSUE
Part of Horse Previews Magazine website. Posted on 1/1/96; 10:00:00 AM.
Getting Your Mare Ready to Breed
A new truck & trailer pulled into the barn and I could hear horses moving around inside. The owner came around to let the mare out, all the time telling me how excited she was about breeding her mare and what she was going to do with the resultant foal. Out stepped this mare with a baby doll head, willowy neck, tremendous hip, feet that had not been taken care of for months, 200 pounds underweight, & probably had not been wormed in years or had her shots. The mare was an older animal that had never been bred. A look at her rear end told me she had a sunken anus and she had not had a pre-breeding exam. Unfortunately, this or something similar happens more frequently than we wish. Here is what we did to assure a happy ending to this story, and what you as a stallion manager could do to help get the mare in foal.
I called the vet to set up a pre-breeding exam. A pre-breeding exam is probably the best way to tell if your mare is breedable or not. You can determine whether she is ovulating, has a negative culture, will need a caslick's after being bred, or whether she has a hymen that will need to be stretched. At this time, she needs to be brought up to date on her shots and worming. At this time you can have a general physical done to determine if she has any other problems that might affect her being a mother. It is important that you know what is going on with the mare for several reasons. If the mare needs medication or has some physical problem, it should be attended to well in advance. Waiting until you want to breed her may delay getting her bred in a timely manner. If you do not understand what the vet is saying, ask him to explain in detail what is involved and take notes. The stallion manager will be interested to know what is going on.
The broodmare needs to have her feet done just as your riding horse does. You don't have to put shoes on, in fact, we prefer you didn't, but she does need to be trimmed on a regular basis. If she has a foot problem that can be helped by shoeing her then you should do just that.
I like my mares to be in a thrifty condition going into breeding season. Not too fat or thin, just in a good solid frame. I will start them on a light program sixty to ninety days before I want to breed them. I don't blanket unless it is very wet and cold. I do start them on a ration that will fatten them up and I put them on a supplement that contains selenium and all the rest of the vitamins and minerals. I think that it is most important that you have a feeding program with lots of green, leafy hay (grass or alfalfa or mixed) with concentrates and supplements to keep your mare's fertility up and to produce a healthy salable foal.
Occasionally, we get a mare who has not been bred for a number of years and they do not get pregnant on the first breeding. We have found that if we have them on a good supplement along with our feeding and light program that we can get them pregnant on the second try. If the owner continues the feed program, the mare usually has a live foal.
Virgin mares, especially older virgin mares, can be put in foal as easily as any other mare if you take the time to get them in condition and the stallion manager takes a little more time to breed them. We have had several mares that were in their twenties that had never been bred and were able to get them in foal the first time we bred them. If they are tense or frightened, a little tender care and a shot of relaxant will greatly improve their outlook and yours.
Infections are a way of life in some mares but they can usually still produce if you will follow what your vet tells you to do. We have had success in breeding this type of mare and so can you. A veterinarian who is an equine specialist is most helpful, because your mare needs to be in an infection-free time to get pregnant and stay that way. You need to consult with your vet to determine the best way to treat the infection and keep the mare from aborting once she is pregnant. Now is the time for you as a mare owner to get all those items done by your vet that will ensure your mare getting pregnant. The more things that you can do before delivering your mare to the stallion owner will increase the chances of her becoming pregnant. The other side is that you can shorten your mare's stay at the stud farm by having her ready to breed. You, as a mare owner, can make a much better impression on a stallion manager if you will do these simple things that are really nothing more than good horse husbandry. All stallion managers want your mare to leave the breeding farm in as good or better condition than when she arrived. They want the mare pregnant and you to have a happy experience. There is no reason why every healthy mare cannot produce as many or as few foals as you want, as long as you want. The important thing is to take the same care of them as you would your riding horse and you will have a mare who can produce a foal as often as you want.
M.R. Bain is the stallion manager for BHR Management Inc., 95746 Howard Lane, Junction City OR 97448; Phone 541/998-6595. BHR Management, an equine consulting firm, operates The Stallion Station, standing stallions for owners who do not have facilities or staff to do so. Mr. Bain has degrees in Animal Husbandry and Business Administration and has been involved in the horse industry since 1955 as a trainer, manager and consultant.