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Older mare--another try?Pregnant?(long) Bulletin Board » Breeding Problem Mares - Volume 1 » Older mare--another try?Pregnant?(long) « Previous Next »

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jreventer (
Posted on Thursday, August 23, 2001 - 07:22 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I have an eighteen yr old maiden mare who was breed for the first time this year. She is in excellent health, fit, sound, etc. She was breed Al in the middle of may. For several days she acted studlike, more homronal than usual. 20 days later we took her for an us, the vet said she wasn't pregnant and had had a hematoma on her right ovary but had no other problems and small follicles. She normally comes into heat very easily but this time it took two lutalyse shots to bring her back in(she had not just cycled but was slow to come in). She was bred again AI and given oxytosen and once again very hormonal. We took her back for an us at 30 days believeing she was preggers(this was the last shot so going at 20 days wasn't important). Up until this point she had shown no signs of heat and she is a very true mare who always flirts with the geldings during heats. The us showed no pregnancy and the vet contributed it to being late in the season for her now showing heat. Since then she has shown no signs of heat. Is it possible she is pregnant and the vet missed it? I almost think she may have been preggers the first shot around. By the way, this would be unusual for this vet as he excellent at trouble mares and repro.

On the other hand, last year my vet got most mares he ai'd pregnant the first time around and almost all the second. This year he got very few the first time around(even the easiest proven broodmares) and probably half more the second time around. Local breeders who cover live had trouble getting seasoned broodmares bred. We are in the south where there was a huge fescue problem this year and this was a recent article/study done by nscu finding that fescue is being found to cause problems with fertility. Of course all of the pastures around here are fescue so the horses would have been on it(this is pre breeding) question, has anyone else experienced similiar problems?

Third part: I would like to rebreed this mare next year despite her age esepcially knowing it could have been a fescue problem. If she is bred I would like to try live cover(she stands for a horny gelding:) and a friend/breeder has found some mares concieve better this way. I would also pull her off fescue before the spring grass, and go through all of the steps(oxytoxin, regumate, etc) you think it would be worth trying again? Stupid? Just a possible loss of money?

Sorry this is so long and thanks!

Kelly (
Posted on Friday, August 24, 2001 - 04:23 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I have no experience with Fescue. Coastal hay is the hay of choice where I reside in Texas. But, I would like to respond to the third part of your posting.

I believe that if a biopsy is taken early in the next year, and all is well, why not try again. This time, get an early start and cover all of the bases as you suggested. I just had an 18 year old maiden mare concieve this breeding season. It did take a bit more work, but the owners are so excited!

As to your question of it being worth the effort, only you can judge that one. Stupid, no. A possible loss of money...maybe. Check her over and leave no doubts about what you are dealing with. Then you will have a better understanding of your chances. I would suggest keeping her under lights starting the first of Nov. or Dec. By the end of Jan. you may be able to start preparing for breeding in late Feb. or early March. Give yourself, the mare and your vet a good shot at it!

Noble Knight (
Posted on Saturday, August 25, 2001 - 03:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

JReventer, either the vets and breeders are on the bottle in your area or somethings going on. Conception rates do vary slightly from year to year but the situation you explained is not normal. I think that you have a good reason to believe that fescue grass toxicosis, from pasture or hay, could be the culprit. I posted a little info on this site under "Pregnant Mare & Newborn Foal - Fescue Grass and Preg. Mares", check it out. Also a concern could be the Black Cherry Tree/Armyworm. It is thought to have been causing the Kentucky foal loss (early and late term) because of the cyanide contained in the leaves, possibly interacting/transferred by armyworms. If you have any black cherry trees in or near your pastures or hay fields, get rid of them as soon as possible.

As far as missing a pregnancy with US, at 30 days an experienced vet should be able to tell quite readily but it is possible it was missed.

I think you are on the right track with the live cover. I try to first live cover maiden mares, especially the older ones, because of the much higher conception rate. First have a vet check her out and perform a cytology/culture smear. I would then recommend an experienced stallion and handler. Tease the dickens out of the old gal and cover her once each day of the last 2 days of her estrus and do not use ocytocin/regumate. Start early in the season so that you will have time to try ocytocin/regumate if conditions warrant such. It will cost your time and transport and is much less than AI.

Kelly (
Posted on Saturday, August 25, 2001 - 08:01 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

With an 18 year old mare, the possibility of retaining uterine fluid is very real. I would not suggest breeding her 2 days in a row, for that would increase the possible irritation and subsequent fluid retention. The sperm is viable for 48 to 72 hours depending on the stallion and different variables. Therefore, breeding live cover ( with more chances of irritation ) would be deterimental to your objective.

My suggestion is this, if you must breed her 2 days in a row, let's assume that you bred on Wed. at 7:00 am., the next cover could be done on Thurs. at 7:00 pm. That would help some, by giving her a bit longer to recover.

If you are using AI, the chances for poor uterine clearance are still there, but the technique is less disruptive to her reproductive tract. Your vet can tell by ultrasound how much fluid is remaining. If after insemenating for 2 days, he detects more fluid than normal, oxytocin is the only remedy. Why waste more time and money? Do all that you can, oxytocin and regumate are perfectly acceptable protocols for an 18 year old maiden mare. I do not agree that you should fore go these important steps. Remember, next year she will be a 19 year old maiden mare! Take your best shot while you still have one.

Even with live cover, you will need to use ultrasound with this mare, considering the problems that were present and detected by ultrasound this year. You would have never known about the hematoma any other way, and would have been unsuccessfully live covering her the entire time. ( that would have been a waste of time and money for sure )I suggest that in view of what has happened in the past, you continue to follow her with ultrasound no matter what your preferred method of breeding is. It is not a lost cause, but a cause for attention to details.

Noble Knight (
Posted on Sunday, August 26, 2001 - 04:13 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

JReventer, You must have $1,000+ into the TWO UNSUCCESSFUL AI breedings plus the stud fee. Unless you can transport your mare to the stallion, ask the owner if he could carry that breeding over for you until you can "figure out" what's up with the mare (fescue, uterine problem, etc). As a stallion owner I would definitely do it for you. Or you can forfeit the money, time, effort, and booking fee and move on. If you find fescue was the problem, I would consider bringing her back to the vet that has an excellent record with troubled/older maiden mares and follow his direction.

If fescue was not a problem and you decide to live cover, have her vet checked (US, Biopsy cytology/culture smear). Find an acceptable stallion that is close and reasonably priced, and follow what I previously suggested. If you can't find an experienced handler go with pasture breeding but only if the stallion is well behaved. I would again not recommend any human intervention, oxytocin/regumate etc.. Your out nothing but the trip to the stallion and a couple bucks boarding. If you find she won't settle after 2 cycles, then call in the vet.

Pasture breeding is not used much in today's horse industry but it still has an excellent conception rate. A retired breeder friend of mine from North Dakota used to have about 90 mares in three groups with one stallion per group. Every year only 2 or 3 needed extra attention.

As far as not live covering no more than once every 2 to 3 days, I have seen many very successful pasture breeding operations where the stallion breeds 1 and 2 times a day for as long as she'll stand, some mares standing up to 5 days. Along with the resident mares, young and old, maiden and proven mares were brought in for 2 or 3 standing days and taken home with no problems.

I usually only cover a mare once with no trouble but have found that once a day for the last two days of a cycle for older maiden or troubled mares has worked for me. Right or wrong, he say's she say's, it has worked quite well and may help others. If that didn't settle them, pasture breeding almost always did. Some rare ones need other help including hormones, no ifs, ands, or buts.

If fescue or other problems aren't at fault, IN MOST CASES there is no better way to jump start an older maiden mare than live cover or better yet, pasture breeding. Just make sure you have provisions for free return service and refund of fee, LFG in writing.

Kelly (
Posted on Sunday, August 26, 2001 - 11:57 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I live cover, pasture breed and AI. I have a preference as to which one to use depending on the mare and her past breeding history. I consider every situation separately, and then go with my best case scenario.

Consider this, with 30 mares, the stallion is not covering those 30 mares every day and certainly not every 2 days in a row. That would be impossible. Most stallions are only able to breed effectively for twice a day, for a few days in a row. Just because the stallion is physically mounting and penetrating the mares, does not mean that the ejaculate is viable. This is how and why AI is being used, for breeding a greater number of mares in the most successful way possible, in the least amount of time.

If you start early in the year and there are not many other mares being covered at the same time, pasture breeding may work out well. Ask all of the questions that you will need to know to make your best decision. How many mares is this particular stallion covering at the time your mare is there for service? How many are AI? How many are live cover? How many will be pasture bred at the same time? Have your vet check the sperm count if you are breeding AI. There are many factors to consider, the most important one in your case is her age and her past failure to cycle and ovulate as needed for a successful insemination. This is not a simple case of jump starting an older mare. You experienced some real physiological problems with this particular mare.

So, start early, do the appropriate evaluations, follow the suggested protocols and go from there.

Jos (
Posted on Sunday, August 26, 2001 - 01:25 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

This is an interesting thread, and is progressing very happily by itself, but I thought I should clarify a couple of points that have been made.

Any time a mare is bred, there is an inflammatory response elicited by and within the uterus. What has happened is that the mare's body has been "invaded" by a foreign substance - the semen - and the body wishes to eradicate it just as it would say a cold virus (this is simplifying it somewhat, and there are other factors at work here too!). In order to do that, the immune system releases a large number of neutrophils (a special type of fighting white blood cell) into the uterus. All the progressively motile sperm that are "traveling" will be into the oviduct (where fertilization actually takes place) within four hours, and the peak of the inflammatory response (which is limited to the uterus) occurs in the region of 6 to 12 hours post-breeding, gradually decreasing over the next 24 to 36 hours. This means that the viable sperm themselves are not affected, but only seminal plasma, bacteria that were introduced during the breeding process, and any other detritus within the uterus.

In most mares, the fluid created as a result of this inflammatory response is eliminated from the uterus, however in a significant portion of mares – particularly older and/or multi-parous mares – there is a compromised ability to clear, which problem is known as “delayed uterine clearance”. What then happens is that when the conceptus enters the uterus between days 5 and 6 post-ovulation, it is entering a hostile environment, and dies. It should be noted that although the presence of uterine fluid seen on ultrasound is a clear indicator of a problem, occasionally there may be an apparent absence of fluid, and yet a problem can still exist.

What this translates into in the above-discussed situation is that in these susceptible mares repeatedly breeding will result in an increased amount of distress to the uterus and a lowered chance of conception. Personally therefore, I would not breed such a mare two days in a row unless there was a question as to the stallion’s fertility (which would not be an issue with the average stallion, who’s sperm are viable for 36 to 48 hours post ejaculation).

Considerable research (LeBlanc et. al. U-Fl) has shown that treatment of these susceptible mares with a low dose of oxytocin a minimum of four hours post-breeding results in a significantly higher pregnancy rate. There is such a protocol set out on this site and available by “clicking”here.

While it is true that pasture breeding often results in higher conception rates than many live-cover (in-hand) breeding situations, it should be noted that where a problem exists with a mare (such as delayed uterine clearance), one is more likely to see a reduced conception rate. In other words, with a healthy herd, one would see higher rates, but if the herd were entirely composed of delayed uterine clearance mares, rates would be significantly poorer than if controlled breeding methods had been used. One interesting point though is that when a mare is being teased by a stallion, there is an endogenous release of oxytocin by the uterus, which if the mare is in a pasture situation (and therefore being teased more regularly than in the barn) it is possible that there may be an aid in uterine clearance as a result. This is of course negatively mitigated by the fact that there is a significantly higher inflammatory response present as a result of repeated breedings.

A stallion in a herd situation is capable of breeding multiple times in the course of a day, not merely once or twice. However, his sperm concentration will be severely depleted as a result and although he may be breeding, there may be insufficient sperm present to achieve impregnation. There will however be seminal plasma present that may cause increased inflammatory response within the uterus.

My betting money therefore for these older mares – maiden or not – goes with a “minimum contamination breeding” (a single breeding just before ovulation, preferably by AI) and follow it up with the oxytocin protocol. We (and many others) have had tremendous success with this method.

Sorry for the lengthy post!!

jreventer (
Posted on Monday, August 27, 2001 - 01:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thanks for all of the responses!
Some more ? and answers:

Being in nc all of our pastures have fescue so it kinda hard to get away from it without keeping the mares on dry lots. Our horses are fed timothy or orchard grass hay only and all of it is imported from the north...Next january if we try again we were planning on pulling her off the grass before the spring grass came up-is this early enough. too early?
We have no cherry trees so that is not a problem but this year was an awful year for the fescue, lots of fungus problems...

In early spring we will have a full work up done on her-cultures, ultrasound, etc. The hematoma this spring was beleived to be cause by a too large follicle and it disappeared-her follicles were between 35mm and 40 mm each time(she a small tb/arab).
She will be ultrasounded after each breeding. My vet recommends for live cover to breed day one and then day three at the end of the cycle. I would like to try live cover but will discuss it with my vet. We will also begin breeding her earlier...

All of your advice was great! I will of course discuss everything with my vet first and continue researching...i would love any more suggestions and ideas...this may not be the most cost effective thing i have done but i would love to get a baby out of this mare so i think we'll give it one more shot:)

Kelly (
Posted on Monday, August 27, 2001 - 06:46 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I think that you will have a good start on the next breeding season. I do have a suggestion on the live cover; Being that she is a maiden mare, teasing is a key point. Have a look through some of the earlier posts back at the bulletin board, they will explain the process.

I believe that you would be best served by hand breeding, not pasture breeding. AI, at day 3 and 5 would be a good plan as well and the least chance of contamination.

In a hand breeding situation, I would plan on breeding her at day 2 ( late in the day ) day 4 (late in the day ) day 6 ( early in the day ). If you suspect that she has a shorter cycle, breed her day 2 (early in the day ) day 4 ( early in the day ) day 5 ( late in the day )By then, she will have been teased for a number of days, and should be a willing partner by day two. Day one is too early. Remember, most mares ovulate within 24 hours of the end of their cycle, so your later breedings are the important ones. You do not want to encourage more inflammation than neccessary. I would also give her a shot of HCG within 24 hours of the last cover, to insure ovulation. Check for uterine clearance and possible need for Oxytocin. 5 days post breeding, start the Regumate. This is a sound and proven protocol for an 18 year old maiden mare. You will enhance your chances, not hurt them.

Your chances are as good as many others out there, who are pregnant as we speak! Good Luck.

jreventer (
Posted on Tuesday, August 28, 2001 - 12:17 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thanks so much Kelly! I will keep in mind everything you have said...last spring when we teased her she wasn't very receptive but learned over time(she was also palapted daily)...the owner of the stallion is a good handler with lots of experience, but I'll make sure we tease he as much as long would you recommend keeping her on regumate-the whole pregnancy? Thanks!

Kelly (
Posted on Tuesday, August 28, 2001 - 03:11 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Your vet may want to pull a progestorone essay on her in preparation for breeding. The protocol for Regumare is 90-120 days. I suggest the 120 days, for a months more cost you might as well go the entire time. You won't have to wait too much longer!

Noble Knight (
Posted on Wednesday, August 29, 2001 - 12:45 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Jos, I completely disagree with you on one point, your posts ARE NOT too long. They are both technical and simple, clinically factual and "real world" views that prove you are quite experienced, educated, and probably an excellent teacher. I've enjoyed reading your posts, including your articles, and must say very, very well done.

I think you're right on this one Jos., 60% - 40%. (I did give a little) The first insemination/live cover on this old of a maiden mare is sometimes a "hope it works" thing. Having to Induce estrus vs natural cycle may cut your odds a little too, even more so since the hematoma probably was the cause and put another "sure hope it works this time" in there. If fescue is dealt with, 60 days clean hay, the mares thorough exam is good, and a well versed vet with proper pre & post protocol, it's worth one more try.

Heres the but - If Jreventer had 2 unsuccessful AI's with a skilled vet under all conditions good , necessary/beneficial procedures followed (oxy, reg, caslik etc.), then ya get her out in the pasture with the boy. That's the way nature made it and it usually works the best. We can replicate it most of the time for "normal" mares but some just have a hard time with it for some reason. Give live/pasture the same chance as AI, 2 times and don't mess with it. Step in on the third try or try AI again, you'll use the same procedures/protocols either way at this point.

I agree with your live cover times suggested for a normal first time breeding. However, if after 2 fruitless, properly performed AI's, something's not quite working. There's something to the each day cover, it has worked for me several times. Once I bred a very old hard breeding mare, won't tell you how old because you might chastise me. I teased her hard for 2 days letting the stallion approach her front, neck, and then just a little past the front shoulder and called him off even when she started to stand. She would stand for only about 48 hours and was very to the point, no messin around type of gal. I found the only way she would settle was to breed twice the first day, at 8am and 8pm, then one more time at 8pm the next day and she was out by morning. I know it's "not right" to do it like that but it was right for her. I would not recommend anyone else try it unless all else fails. Is there a known reason for this, could it be some type of natural uterine prep that we just don't understand or know about?

Theoretically, AI with older maiden mares should be more effective since one can more closely monitor and correct conditions like clearance, hormone levels, and ovulation. However, I have found it more successful to live breed failed AI's than to AI failed live covers.

Kelly (
Posted on Wednesday, August 29, 2001 - 01:19 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I believe that the stimulation provided by agressive teasing is the key.

Obviously, unless the stallion is one of low fertility, more sperm is not the answer. As with most things equine, timing is everything. I tease my breeding mares agressively and directly before every AI, or live cover. Some facilities do not continue to tease once the mare has shown to be in. This in itself, can reduce the chances of conception.

The only advantage that live cover has over AI, is the prolonged contact and stimulation that ocurrs while breeding. In a pasture situation, there is more exciting and stimulating teasing more often, than in an AI proceedure or most hand breedings. The drawbacks of pasture breeding and hand breeding are, inflamation and contamination. ( as well as other factors like; possibility of injury and over breeding, etc. )

Horses are not unlike we are, in that, the mind is a powerful and stimulating organ. All girls like to be flattered and flirted with before that first kiss! Even the equine ones! It is a natural uterine prep, to be stimulated by teasing and contact. Science can only go so far.....the rest is feminine response, pure and simple.

I have found that many mares will only stand and present themselves to the teasing stud. They have developed a relationship with that stud, and respond to him alone. I have also had mares that once they were covered by the breeding stallion, will have no further contact with the teasing stallion! Most women will understand this behavior, and I believe that this if often over looked by many vets and men. Do not underestimate the bonding factor associated with the breeding process. Many mare and stallions will "pair" up after breeding and graze quietly together, while the stallion isolates the mare from the rest of the herd.

In an artificial situation, one must duplicate the entire mating process as best as possible, including the stimulating teasing and contact prior to the insemination. It has worked for me!

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