I have a 4 year old cutting horse that sired 1 foal as a 2 yr old. Earlier this year he ejaculated while live covering but now he does everything the same but does not flare or ejaculate. He still is interested and will mount repeatedly with the same effect. We have tried teasing other hot mares prior to service and going directly to the mare, we have tried AVs, we have tried 2 - 3 tries and put him away for 2 hours and try again and again, we have tried him until he almost exhausts himself.
Jos Posted From: 18.104.22.168
Posted on Saturday, May 01, 2004 - 08:14 pm:
The first thing to evaluate is the possibility of soreness or discomfort. This is the most likely cause for your problem. The trick is to find where he is sore...
Take a close look at his penis, which you are obviously evaluating for abrasions. If there is no apparent external injury, you should evaluate the pathogenic status of the penis with cultures of a surface swab, a swab of the urethral opening pre-ejaculation (if you can get him to ejaculate), and urethral opening post-ejaculation. These cultures are important, as another possible cause of ejaculatory failure is an internal reproductive tract pathogen, which may have cause a lesion - which again, is sore and will prevent him from ejaculating. I would not be surprised to hear that he has blood in his semen if you can get an ejaculation from him.
Next - is there any chance that he may be experiencing back pain? It may be worth giving him a dose of Phenylbutazone about 1-2 hours prior to collection - that is something you should discuss with your veterinarian. With some muscularly sore horses, this can be like viagra!
When using the AV, what is the internal temperature of your AV? Sometimes, earlier in the season stallions will respond to a cooler AV, but later in the season when they are starting to get a little bored, they require it warmer. The temperature should always be somewhere between 45 and 54 degrees C (113-130 F), with it at the warmer end of the spectrum with "shy" stallions.
What AV are you using? IF you are using a Colorado, it might be necessary to tighten the latex liner, as they relax after a period of use, causing the stallion to receive less stimulation.
If none of the above ring bells, try placing a warm (as hot as your hand can stand it) compress on the base of the stallion's penis while he is collecting/breeding. This requires a degree of co-ordination unavailable to some, but may work well, so perhaps use 2 people if you have to.
If you have access to another stallion, try collecting semen from or breeding that stallion in the view of the non-breeding stallion. There seems to be a well-developed voyeur response in some stallions.
Where does your stallion live in the barn (or pastures)? He should have the ability to be next to mares, so that he develops a "harem stallion" disposition, which will result in an increased endogenous testosterone level. If he already has that access, place another stallion the other side of him from the mares, as that will produce a "threatened harem stallion" effect, and his testosterone levels will increase. Note that you cannot give the stallion exogenous testosterone in an attempt to increase endogenous levels. That results in a negative feedback situation, wherein his own system will produce less testosterone.
If all of the above fails, you can possibly resort to using the drug Imipramine, which lowers the ejaculatory threshold. You might want to talk to your veterinarian about that.
Hopefully one of the above will hold the key! As a matter of curiosity, was this stallion ever shown, and if he was, do you know if he received Regumate treatment to "control" stallion-like behaviour in the ring? It appears from clinical evidence that such use may lead to a degree of chemical castration, and we are attempting to establish some data on the subject.
Jos, I've seen one example of Regumate used on a young stallion and in two years he did recover essentially full fertility. Prior to that his testicular development was significantly effected, his morphology was crap, and motility was barely in the double digits. Libido was good throughout, oddly enough.
To your good suggestions, I'd add a question about the footing where the breeding is taking place. A slippery ground will freak out some stallions who fear falling while breeding, and they will dismount early rather than risk the injury.
I've read research contradicting your advice to stable stallions together, in that multiple stallions will result in one stallion assuming "herd stallion" role and the others progressively down-cycling endogenous testosterone production. I believe Dr. McDonnell published this work a few years ago, though I can dig up the reference if you'd like.
Administering exogenous testosterone will, in the short-term, almost certainly increase libido in a stallion as it will in every male mammal that I know. Whether this actually results in more consistent ejaculation is another matter entirely. Over the long term, exogenous "T" will down-cycle endogenous production resulting in smaller testes. However, so long as the exogenous dosage is maintained, libido will not drop. Fertility, in contrast, may well go off a cliff but fertility and libido are not the same thing!
Who is handling the stallion? If there is someone present who is in a strongly dominant role to him, he may not be comfortable breeding. I've seen this in several young stallions, though once they got used to things it became less of an issue. Easy to solve in the early days, by having the person in question out of sight - and more importantly out of smell range.
How about hock soreness? Seen it cause stallions to shy off of mounting mares or phantom. Ground collection is a good option here.
Jos suggests considering Imipramine. As far as I know, the long-term effects of its use on breeding stallions has NOT been adequately studied. This is, in my reading of the published literature, a highly experimental protocol and even the researchers I know who have done work with it see it as a "last resort" tool for old or seriously injured stallions. I'd not use a youngster as a guinea pig unless all other options fail and you are willing to roll the dice. If there is countervailing, published data on the safety of long-term Imipramine use in breeding stallions, I'd be interested in a pointer to the data.
Jos' statement that the AV temperature "should always be" between 45 and 54 degrees is impressive in its precision, but I guess a few stallions I've handled before didn't read the memo and they are out of range! I've collected routinely with a mannerly, 12 years old stallion at 40 degrees (hotter and he's touchy and erratic in ejaculatory completion and volume), and we do have our "hothead" who loves 58 or 60 degrees or even more. . . though we tone it down simply for his safety. His best and easiest collections are above 55, always.
Not all stallions read the books that they use at vet school, often we need to look to some trial-and-error as well as a bit of common sense about stallion psychology to find out what's going on.
Chiropractic evaluation is worth looking into. I'm no expert, but cutting horses work hard and the stress of the work could surely result in spinal and sacral mis-alignment that results in soreness during mounting and particularly thrusting.
Finally, a stallion who is not receiving proper nutrition can eventually lose his drive and become less than vigorous during breeding. While some stallions do just great on good hay, clean water, and some grass, others with a different metabolism need much more to continue with training hard and also breeding. We pour calories and protein (and nutrients) into our showjumpers during breeding season - 25+ pounds of grain and supplements per day during peak competition training, plus hay. If I cut them back to a "normal" ration for an old gelding, they'd not only shut down in their training but their breeding intensity goes out the window. A tired, hungry, nutrient-starved stallion is in no shape to get very excited about breeding!
Some stallions just don't like certain mares. Those of us who rely entirely on AI are shielded from this, of course, but the live cover folks see it more often than most folks would assume. Have you tried different mares?
Anecdotal evidence points towards a potential long-term negative sperm effect in Regumate treated stallions. What is lacking is solid research as the whole concept of putting stallions on Regumate is comparatively new. The research that was done indicated mixed reactions from the stallions as far as reduction of sexual behaviour - primarily linked to age. The older stallions generally showed a lesser reduction than young stallions.
I think you misunderstood my comment about housing stallions together. I was not suggesting that the stallion be kept with another stallion away from mares, which would result in a "bachelor herd" situation, and reduction of endogenous testosterone levels; but rather that the low-libido stallion be placed between some mares and another stallion. This placement results in a "threatened harem stallion" situation, and raises endogenous testosterone levels. This is part of Sue McDonnell's research findings ("Stallion Behaviour and Endocrinology - What do we really know?" McDonnell, S.M.; Equine Reprod. 1995, and personal communication).
WRT Imipramine, although long-term effects have not been evaluated, I am not suggesting long-term usage, and Imipramine has been used in the equine to lower the ejaculatory threshold for many years (again, Sue McDonnell did much of the early work involved in this, along with Charlie Love). Usage of drugs is never my first resort, and I generally will evaluate an environmental situation first, then a medical one second, with drug usage as a last resort - but it is a possibility that should be mentioned.
With AV temperatures, while sometimes seen lower than the averages I mention, a better response is generally seen with the internal temperature between 45-54°C. "Cold" stallions are a rarity in my experience, and tend to be older stallions that have done more live cover (not an absolute, just a general impression Doug!).
I think you must have mis-cited that reference, Jos, because Dr. McDonnell's comments in that article are as follows:
"Testosterone concentrations were significantly higher when stallions were stabled with mares than when stabled with other stallions." (McDonnell, p. 2)
There is no mention of the term "threatened harem stallion" anywhere in that article, though Dr. McDonnell does cite another article of hers, "Bachelor and Harem Stallion Behavior and Endocrinology" without elaborating or mentioning "threatened harem stallion" in the citation.
Ironically, Dr. McDonnell does make nod to the (then-) recent controversy over hormonal manipulation undertaken in stallions in attempts to solve reproductive/libido problems. As I am sure you are well aware, she is no big fan of this type of "inject them rather than understanding them" form of stallion management. In fact, I do not believe she is a big supporter of Imipramine usage today is she? Dr. Metcalfe has more recently done work with chemical ejaculation protocols utilizing Imipramine, but I do not know of any specialists currently who are suggesting Imipramine as a standard tool for dealing with stallions exhibiting routine libido/breeding challenges.
I find many stallions just as sensitive to pressure as temperature, and in fact I've successfully conditioned several "hot" stallions to down-cycle to colder temperatures so long as pressure remains constant. When we assume all stallions are "hot" stallions, it is not surprising that our anectdotal findings invariably end up supporting our assumptions!
No Doug, I didn't mis-cite it. I'm not talking about a bachelor herd situation here. A bachelor herd consists of males only. What I'm talking about is 2 stallions placed next to mares (or even a single mare), with one stallion placed the opposite side of the other stallion from the mare.
I guess I'm not explaining myself very well, so I've included a diagram below, which I hope makes it a little more clear. Note that the pastures are double fenced - we don't want any accidental breedings on this bulletin board!
So... in my example, the stallions ARE being stabled with mares... and the "low libido" guy (stallion "A") is the harem stallion (he adopts the mares as his harem once next to them), only to become a "threatened harem stallion" when the interloper (stallion "B") is pastured/stalled/penned next to him.
There may not be any mention of the threatened harem stallion effect in the cited document. You will note I also mentioned "personal communication". In other words, that is something that Dr. McDonnell and I have personally discussed. I am unsure if she has published her data on that or not, so unless you can find something (you might like to try The Havemeyer Equine Behaviour Lab Reference Section), I'm afraid you will have to take it from me...!
WRT to Dr. McDonnell and Imipramine: While she (rightly) advocates evaluation of environmental issues before anything else, she is also quite prepared to use pharmacological means if required. This includes Imipramine. In fact, she authored a chapter in Dr. Juan Samper's book "Equine Breeding Management and Artificial Insemination" (W.B. Saunders, 2000) entitled "stallion sexual behaviour", which discusses (among other things) behaviour modification using a variety of techniques - including imipramine. You will also note by reviewing the above web page at the Havemeyer Center that Dr. McDonnell was published as recently as 2001 on the use of Imipramine for inducing pharmacological ejaculation (McDonnell SM (2001) Oral imipramine and intravenous xylazine for pharmacologically-induced ex-copula ejaculations in stallions. Animal Reproduction Science 68: 153-159.) in what she describes as an "ongoing work toward developing pharmacological methods for enhancing and inducing ejaculation in stallions with ejaculatory dysfunction or disabilities that interfere with normal breeding behavior". She is not unique in this work, and researchers at TAMU and CSU are - to my knowledge - working on similar projects. Additionally, I know a several equine reproduction specialist veterinarians who use Imipramine clinically. I am not aware of Dr. Metcalfe's publication on the subject - perhaps you could provide me with a citation and access point?
I trust this clarifies my observations sufficiently this time.
No problem in your citation of "personal communication," Jos! However, just to clarify, there is no published literature supporting your (and, as you say, Dr. McDonnell's) theory on "threatened harem stallion" status and increased libido resulting therefrom. While it makes sense, sort of, to assume this might be true, it's not something we can cite as supported by research data until those research data are published and open for review by others.
To be clear, many of the suggestions I make on this forum don't have peer-reviewed, published studies to back them up! They come from personal experience, and often from personal correspondence from other stallion managers and researchers here and in Europe. Not every bit of advice needs to have a citation to back it up, but when advice DOES have supporting data, I like to think it rises to a more solid level of consideration for all of us.
So, while I'm curious about the "threatened harem stallion" hypothesis you reference, I'll hold off judgment on it until I see some supporting data. Anectdotally, and from my personal experience managing stallions in mixed stallion/mare barns, one stallion tends to take on primary role and the other stallions stabled nearby down-cycle in terms of libido and aggression.
So, if one gave advice to somebody with a more submissive/shy stallion to trigger his libido by stabling him next to mares with another stallion clearly present nearby, he might get even WORSE in terms of libido and confidence. After all, he sees the other impressive stallion who sure seems to be taking control of the situation. The second stallion, rightly in his mind, settles back to a passive role rather than risk a potential entanglement with the more dominant stallion.
I've no published data to back this up, of course! It's pure hypothesis, but it's worth nothing when giving advice when we are relying more on our own "miles in the saddle" and experience, and less on our education and on the research others have done.
I am in complete agreement that Dr. McDonnell (and Dr. Samper, who is a friend of mine) have done work on chemical ejaculation for use in horses with "ejaculatory dysfunction." I do not believe Dr. Metcalfe has published her work, as she found the Imipramine-facilitated chemical ejaculation protocols to be too clumsy and not reliable enough to be of much use in clinical practice.
From personal communication with Dr. Samper (for whom I do not claim to speak, just to be clear!), I believe he has made the same conclusion. It can be done, but it's a last resort. It's also a procedure with unknown long-term effects on the stallion, and I think prudent clinicians in the field (such as you and I) have a responsibility to take care in recommending pharmacological treatments that have no long-term, longitudinal research relating to potential negative consequences.
The existence of clinical application of a procedure does not, prima faciae, indicate the procedure is safe or appropriate. Heaven knows we see many, many things used on/in horses that are horrible for them in the long term! However, while many people may think it is "okay" to burden a stallion with unknown health risks associated with an experimental pharmacological protocol (they are "just animals," after all), some of us don't approach our work with horses from this perspective. Hopefully, this clarifies my concerns regarding your endorsement of Imipramine usage in breeding stallions, Jos!
As you say, much of the information that is presented on this board by you, me and others - and indeed in the field of equine reproduction as a whole - is unpublished data or personal experience, as although there is a lot of research performed, there is also much that goes untested in peer-reviewed publications as a result of lack of funding. One of the voids that Dr. McDonnell struggles to fill is the research surrounding breeding (and indeed general) behaviour in horses. We are fortunate to have her and her research herd at New Bolton to present many of the views that she does. I would not - and did not - present unpublished data as being anything but that, but must admit that my personal findings have - apparently contrary to yours - supported Dr. McDonnell's hypothesis (I most certainly cannot lay claim to the hypothesis myself!).
With reference to the use of chemical ejaculation using the Imipramine and Xylazine combination: it is generally accepted that it works 70% of the time in 70% of horses, or in other words about 50% of the time across the board. At that rate, it is not feasible to use it as a regular collection method (quite aside from unknown drug reactions), but most certainly has it's place in the arsenal of treatments that the equine reproduction practitioner may try. We have for example used it with injured stallions that were not able to be collected any other way; stallions that had serious disposition problems that one would not WANT to collect any other way (and I'm not even going to get into the discussion about why one would want to breed to a nasty stallion... ); and zebras that were not handled, and could not be collected using standard techniques. As I tell people when lecturing: Can one base an entire transported semen program on the technique? No certainly not. Does it have it's uses? Of course.
Imipramine is a human tri-cyclic antidepressant. It is a prescription drug, and as such cannot be provided [legally] for use in a horse without the involvement of a veterinarian (and if one tried to start protecting all the idiots that use illegal substances in horses at the cost of those who are using a drug legitimately, we would be in serious trouble!). Consequently, I have little concern about recommending that it can be used in some circumstances. While there has been no research that I am aware of into the long term effects, the same can be said for many of the drugs we treat our horses with (although one could perhaps argue that we should not use as many drugs as are used!). I do not see it as a regular-use drug, such as phenylbutazone, and indeed, we do know that the half-life of the drug is very long (20 hours) so repeated daily use without titration of dosage can lead to counter-productive results (inhibition of ejaculation). As far as my personal experience with long-term effects; I first used it in a horse about 7 years ago. He had been injured, and the owner had many mares booked to him. We used the protocol repeatedly that season (successfully - the horse far exceeded the 70% rate!). I have collected that stallion using standard collection procedures ever since, and have seen no reduction in performance, sperm output, pregnancy rates or behaviour that would lead me to believe that there was any cause for concern. I have used the protocol in quite a few other stallions, although more recently than 7 years, and none have exhibited any behaviour or changes that would suggest a cause for concern. Overdosing with the Imipramine has been suggested as having a potential negative effect, at least in narcoleptic horses, in the short term (Peck K.E., Hines M.T., Mealey K.L. and Mealey R.H.; Pharmacokinetics of imipramine in narcoleptic horses, Am. Journal Vt. Research; 2001 62:5) resulting in muscle fasciculations, tachycardia, hyperresponsiveness to sound, and hemolysis. Those symptoms were not however lasting, and were seen to be worst at more than double the dose given for chemical collection. FWIW, I have never seen any adverse reaction to the drug when administered by our vet for chemical collection. It should also be noted that these research animals were given the Imipramine IV, whereas the usual mode of administration for chemical collection is oral. It is quite possible therefore that the "bolus" effect may have had something to do with the reaction. And again these were narcoleptic horses, so one cannot be sure what significance may be laid at that particular door when comparing with use in "normal" animals.
I don't think we are too far removed from the same opinions Doug - just that we are looking at them and presenting them from a slightly different perspective!
Say "hullo" to Dr. Samper for me the next time you see him - you are fortunate that he has returned to private practice in the area!
Here is the latest on the stud in question. He has zero soreness in back and legs, he has great footing, he is not handled or reprimanded he is easy going but strong libido and we let him mount and bite which he does very little of, at will. We have buted him 2x day we have greased his knees, we have done the wet compress at 55 degrees and achieved 2 minor ejaculations - one of 35 cc (in the mare) one slightly yellow. He still wants to dismount and go soft prior to ejaculation. I am desperate as I have high dollar paying mares here finishing their 3rd heat cycle.
Boy was that a brilliant debate. My stallion was having a great year, and then suddenly refused to ejaculate in the AV. I will carefully attempt all of the methods called for like anti inflammatory drugs, and relining my Colorado that has been left untouched all season. My boy was doing great, and then just shut down on the A/V I missed one shipment. How embarrassing. I refunded her money, and told her the next shipment was on me. But I still have not solved my problem. Thank you for having this discussion. I will try each step, and let you know what works. Rusty
The chemical collection discussion has been moved to here.
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