I have a 14yr old mare who has had one foal previously at age 10 (bred at 9).
At the time of breeding, she had what the vet described as "sticky follicles" as in she wouldn't ovulate, the follicle would just sit there. So we did a course of u/s's, prostaglandin and GnRH and she did get pregnant on the first breeding.
Until she was lined up to be bred, I had never seen a heat cycle on this mare, but her temperment and personality changed drastically the day of conception until a couple weeks after the foal was born.
Now, a few years later, she is exhibiting heat signs constantly, from November until now. It may have been a long time before that but she was not in my care so I do not know for sure when it started. She's in obvious discomfort on a daily basis, is sensitive throughout her abdomen, leans against gates/walls etc. on both sides, is constantly squirting/winking/presenting to both mares and geldings. In general, I wouldn't call her a happy camper.
So I suspect that she has cystic ovaries, but how would I go about treating them?
I spoke with a new vet today about her, the only recommendation I got was to put her on a herbal supplement. I can't see that completely solving the problem. He also stated that cystic ovaries in mares are quite uncommon. Is that true?
I would like to breed her again in another year or two if that makes a difference. Otherwise the thought of spaying her has crossed my mind since she's clearly uncomfortable.
The terms "cystic ovaries" or "cystic follicles" are not generally associated with the equine. The bovine has a condition that is referred to as a cystic follicle, but the same condition is not found in the equine. A condition that somewhat parallels the condition in the equine is the annovulatory hemorrhagic follicle. That condition however typically presents as persistent anestrus rather than a persistent estrus.
A more likely cause for the scenario that you describe would be the granulosa cell tumour, which is a steroid-producing tumour of the ovary. Initially, this tumour produces large amounts of estrogens, which may over-ride the normal diestrus-inducing hormones and result in a persistent estrus. Note that this is a persistent state, so when you say "she is exhibiting heat signs constantly" I am taking that to mean exactly that. A GCT can be detected in some instances by ultrasound, but a more reliable method of confirmation is a testosterone and inhibin blood-assay of the mare.
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