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Dilema - Bred or Not? Bulletin Board » General Mare Questions - Volume 1 » Dilema - Bred or Not? « Previous Next »

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Lisa Amarino
Posted on Thursday, October 14, 2004 - 12:46 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Hello everyone, this is my first visit here and I've heard about the wonderful advice that can be given - lots of knowledgeable and experienced participants.

Here is my situation- Last week of April 04', I purchased a wonderful 19 y/o TB broodmare out of the killpen. I reside in NY and she was sold to the meatman the night prior at local auction, the following morning, once shipped from the auction house to the killpen, I picked her up.

Found out her identity from my vet. She is an associate at the veterinary practice I use and resides on the farm where this mare originated. From her identity, I ran a JC report and the breeder reported this mare having been bred to a stallion on their farm for this past Spring (04') but was pronounced barren, thus the reason she was culled from the herd. She was sent through the auction the last week of April, so the 'guesstamate' is that they attempted breeding her in Feb/March and an ultrasound was done sometime in April, just prior to her being culled from the herd. The former breeder also attempted to breed her for the past 2 yrs., without success.

Since having her here on my farm, she has continued to become quite large. It became noticable approx., 6 weeks ago. At first, I hesitated as I didn't believe the former owner, a vet as well, could've missed a pregnancy. However, in recent weeks, I've also seen behavior changes as well as her enlargement. Behavior changes- I never would see this mare lay down to sleep, attributed it to her being partially blind and always wanting to stay on the alert, but the past 2 weeks, I find her laying down frequently taking naps. Normally, while standing, she would stand 'squared' up, but now I notice her standing with just a bit of a spread with her back legs. Also, I've seen an increase in her water consumption. Most recently, her manure is much more softer/previously it was formed. There's been no change in her diet.

Tuesday past, my vet (the associate) came to my farm to check, if indeed, this mare could be bred. She agreed, she appears large. She palpated rectally and concluded that she didn't feel any 'fullness' in either uterine horn. However, she also said that there is a period of time in gestation whereby a foal will 'drop down' and cannot be felt. Needless to say, the final conclusion was that she didn't feel she was bred, but it isn't impossible. At the time, I didn't realize that I needed to specify that an ultrasound be done, when I phoned to have her check the mare, I left it up to her discretion as to how to determine any pregnancy, I have since been told that an ultrasound should've been done as 'standard' in this situation. At this time, I am very hesitant to be any further invasive w/this mare, not only in the event that she is bred, but also the risk of any rectal tears/complications of being invasive.

I'm also providing pics of the mare. The first pic to the left is a week after I bought her, May 7th. The other pics were taken yesterday.

Any opinions are appreciated. I am not/have not been familiar w/breeding although I have owned horses for the past 28 yrs. This is just a bit out of my scope of experience. THANKS!!

Jim Thacker
Posted From:
Posted on Thursday, October 14, 2004 - 03:02 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

If you don't want to do anything invasive, a simple blood test will tell you if the mare is pregnant. Have your vet draw blood and send it to a lab; you'll know within a week. You need to give them an approximate breeding, although if she's past the 120th day that's all they need to know in order to determine which test to run.

Lisa Amarino
Posted on Thursday, October 14, 2004 - 04:36 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)


Oh thank goodness, I've just been *so* hesitant to ask for an ultrasound, another invasive procedure after having just been rectally palpated on Tuesday. That's a relief!

Judging by the time-frame, she surely is past 120 days. I'm going to phone my vet again and make the appt. Many thanks for a very *simple* answer!!! :-)

Posted From:
Posted on Thursday, October 14, 2004 - 11:07 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

If the mare is 7 months pregnant, there should have been little doubt as to pregnancy status with a rectal palpation if the palpator is experienced. As one would not be evaluating the uterine horns for pregnancy at that stage though, I have concerns about the experience of the palpator in this case if that was indeed all they were evaluating.

While a palpation is somewhat invasive, it is not generally a serious issue, and most mares accept it without any problems. Mares are routinely palpated during breeding - sometimes several times a day in some situations - with no problems. Humans tend to anthropomorphise, which is not conducive to increased safety of the mare in this situation. One more palpation by an experienced palpator is far less of a risk than not knowing if the mare is indeed pregnant and thereby running the risk of not innoculating the mare correctly during pregnancy, or not being present at the foaling.

An estrone sulfate (or total estrogens) blood assay would indeed also be a reliable indicator of pregnancy after about 100 days.

You cannot reliably estimate pregnancy status by looking at the mare. You need to get her checked using either palpation or assay.

Lisa Amarino
Posted on Friday, October 15, 2004 - 07:38 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thank you Jos, your information has been very helpful. Here is what I was told yesterday after my phone call back to my vet, who is, an associate vet at the vet practice of the former owner of this horse and owner of the large breeding farm-

First, as for the rectal palpation done on Tuesday, a portion of her response to me (my vet) indicates that in her mind, she clearly may not have been sure, and it was, as we discussed prior to her leaving my farm, still undetermined if the mare is bred based on her in-ability to feel any 'fullness' in either uterine horn. Possibly in-experienced? Possible.

When my vet returned my call yesterday, after an episode w/the mare in the morning, laying down, getting up, by all appearances, very uncomfortable. She was not in the immediate area and so directed me to take the mares vital signs. She was not in distress and so as my vet suggested, I administered a shot of banamine. Within the following hour, the mare returned to normal and drank, passed manure & urine, and began to eat some hay.

I told my vet that I wanted her back to my farm to draw some blood for the blood assay, to determine with certainty, if this mare is bred. She then began to tell me that during the time of my first call to her, she phoned the large breeding farm and spoke to the breeding manager there in regards to this mare. She said this manager knows the broodmare(s) explicitly, and questioned any odd behavior this mare may have during pregnancy and according to their records kept. The answer was no, this mare never experienced any signs of 'foal-colic' or any other odd behavior. The manager also told her in her opinion, there is no way this mare could be bred as she was 'dirty' during the times they attempted to breed her, she had been 'flushed' and they determined her not bred and sent her off to auction.

Regardless of the additional information, I am not going to have my peace of mind with this mare, I insisted that a blood test (assay) be done, and so my vet is coming next week. I would rather spend the monies now, and be sure, than continue to wait and risk possible complications down the road.

If she isn't that's fine, but if she is, then surely I need to prepare and do what's best for this mare at this point in any pregnancy.

Posted From:
Posted on Friday, October 15, 2004 - 07:14 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

She is a beautiful mare and I'm so happy you found her in time. I will be anxiously awaiting the blood test results, so don't forget to let us know! She does "look" bred, although as Jos said that is not a good indication of pregnancy. Good luck either way!

Posted on Friday, October 15, 2004 - 09:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I will absolutely post an update. As I said, this is out of my 'scope' as I've never bred or been involved in it. I can't thank the those that responded enough, it made the decision and situation much clearer for me!!

Now the waiting begins....

Posted on Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - 07:33 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Update for today-

Well, the vet was here today and pulled blood. I phoned Cornell Equine Repro yesterday to make sure of exactly what type of test to be done according to the estimated gestation (if she is). They are going to be doing an estrone sulphate test and if it arrives by the end of this week, they do the tests on Mondays and I should know by mid-week next week.

Also, had a little more in-depth conversation w/my vet today as she also inquired more on the breeding farm. She was bred Jan/Feb to one stallion, then the end of March they found her dirty, flushed her and bred her to another stallion and the one out of all 4 that stand there that is the most fertile (regardless of his age, 23). Ultrasounded her on day 15, didn't see anything and of course, the rest of the story is she was sent to auction the last Friday in April and thats when I bought her from the meatman.

Whatever the outcome, she is loved dearly, regardless of possibly being bred or not, and she has received wonderful nutrition since I've owned her (as she did while in the previous owners care) and so at least I know other than any vaccinations that may have been missed, she's healthy and sound in every other respect.

Posted From:
Posted on Friday, October 22, 2004 - 01:19 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

OK, an answer is hopefully coming soon! Please continue to let us know!

Posted From:
Posted on Saturday, October 23, 2004 - 07:30 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

All this talk about Palpations makes me wonder. At what point does it become less accurate to tell if a mare is in foal by palpation? I just had a mare palped that had been pastured with a stud May 1-Aug 8th. My vet palped her on Monday and found not signs of pregnancy in either horn. I figured he was 100% accurate and have made the decision to sell the mare. He also said she had several teeny tiny follicles on her ovaries and he suspected she was going into anestrus(sp). I don't want to sell this mare and then have the new owner get a surprise next spring. Should I have him ultrasound or bloodtest her instead?

Posted From:
Posted on Sunday, October 24, 2004 - 01:13 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

My personal feeling is that there really shouldn't be a point that palpation becomes less accurate if the person palpating is experienced.
I have been breeding horses for 12 years, and have consistently used the same vet, and in that time period he has never been wrong on determining pregnancy with palpation at any time during the pregnancy. I have had my mares palped during different periods of their pregnancies to determine whether or not they were indeed pregnant, and the vet has always been able to tell if they were or not.
I think a lot of times we just want that mare to be pregnant so bad or we think that she just has to be pregnant because of circumstances, that we figure the vet must be wrong.
If you have confidence in your vet's accuracy, then you should take his word that your mare is not pregnant. If your vet has given you reason to doubt his findings, then do further tests.

Posted From:
Posted on Sunday, October 24, 2004 - 01:46 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Sandy, It's funny...I have never questioned my vet, and now I wonder if I should. I always figured it was either in there or it was'nt. BUT...the other day he was out to palp Classy, a new mare. He casually asked me if I wanted to recheck Gabby (a mare he had determined open at 55days in July). I was taken back by this question, as I thought there was no doubt. He said in an older mare like her (20 and 7foals) with a few cysts it can be hard to tell. Then he palped Classy, and said he could find nothing in either horn, but this mare is supposed to be about 5months along, from what I am reading at this stage that is the wrong place to check?? vet does Cows, Sheep, Horses, Goats, dogs, cats...everything. He is a awesome vet in all other respects. But maybe it is time for a repro specialist for my breeding needs. ~Dani

Posted on Wednesday, October 27, 2004 - 01:15 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The update-

Vet phoned a short while ago and the results are that she is NOT pregnant based on the Estrone Sulphate test. I have to tell you, I am relieved - after having just moved here this past Spring, I just wouldn't feel ready enough (haven't experienced my first winter here!). At least I now have peace of mind - though she is HUGE. The vet and I both laughed and I exclaimed, okay, this mare needs to be on a diet, she agreed!

She's definately in great health, albeit her vision. What a love...

Posted From:
Posted on Wednesday, October 27, 2004 - 05:22 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Yeah, it does sound like you may have a reason to doubt your vet at this point. You may want to go ahead with an ultra sound on your mare that is supposed to be 5 months. At least it will give you the peace of mind that you need. I know how frustrating it is to not know whether or not a mare is indeed pregnant.
I had a mare this year that I had palped at 40 days gestation and my vet said that he was going to say yes, she is pregnant, but it just didn't feel like a 40 day pregnancy should and he recommended having her re-checked again further on. So, I waited and having never seen the mare come back into heat again, decided to have her re-palped at 90 days, and sure enough, she was found open at that time. Vet said she must have been in the process of absorbing when he checked her the first time. The mare finally came back into heat 5 months after her initial breeding, we re-bred her and she didn't settle because she came into heat again about 3 weeks later. By then it was too late in the season to try again.
But to look at her right now, I would almost swear that she is in foal. But, I am taking my vet's word that she lost the foal. But I have to admit, I still sometimes wonder (just because of how the mare looks and acts).
So, I feel for you on the just not knowing aspect.
Good luck and I hope you're able to find out whether or not your mare is in foal.

Posted From:
Posted on Friday, December 10, 2004 - 09:01 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I have a crazy question. I had my vet out to check my mare to see if she was pregnant. I bought her in July and they said there was a chance she was pregnant. Well anyway she did a rectal, and said "well she might be, her uterus feels bigger then it should." As she kept going she pulled her arm out and said she's not, she's open. I have no experience with Mares, she is my first, but she certainly looks pregnant and my farrier thinks she is. Can a vet make a mistake like that? Thanks for the help

Posted From:
Posted on Friday, December 10, 2004 - 11:40 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

sure. Anyone can be wrong. if you are that worried have a second palpation or even a blood test. Maybe by a different vet. if you are worried it is better to go thru the expense of having a second opinion. if not, than it is a waiting game..... Good luck!

val green
Username: Missie

Post Number: 1
Registered: 05-2006
Posted on Monday, May 08, 2006 - 12:32 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

can any one tell me wether it is possible for a mare that has been covered and not shown a season since then to now show when she is about due to foal

Megan A Brown
Username: Fabmeg

Post Number: 85
Registered: 04-2006
Posted on Monday, May 08, 2006 - 02:14 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Some mares are funny, but I would have her checked to make sure she hasn't aborted. I had a maiden mare this year that slipped her foal sometime this winter with out us noticing. We kept telling ourselves she looks small because she's a maiden, then she started showing to the stud horse across the way. We had her palpated, and there was defiantly no baby.

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