Hello, everyone! I was referred to this board after I posted my question on another board... looks like there are a lot of knowledgeable people on here, so I'll give this a try. Here's the situation, any suggestions or advice would be welcomed:
Mare foaled March 30th.
Six days later (April 5th) she had a 3.9 follicle. We were not expecting that so soon, and this mare is going to KY to be bred, and we couldn't get her there until the weekend. By then she was out of heat.
We gave her Lute on April 17th. She was in heat on the 21st and 22nd. We took her to another farm on April 23rd, close to where the stallion is, and they ultrasounded her on April 24th. She had already ovulated.
The farm gave her Lute on April 29th that I know of. Apparently she teased in on Sunday (May 7th) but when they ultrasounded her on Monday (yesterday, May 8th) she had no follicle. This is a partial excerpt from their email:
I prostined her a few days ago and yesterday when that colt was next to her she acted like she was in heat - Had the vet palp her today and there is nothing there - this is the 3rd time that she has shown NO activity that means nothing even coming up on her ovaries - He said her ovaries were hard and small - I think she may have shut down - I know she had a heat after she had her foal *snip* I only had this happen once before and we had to wean the foal at 2 months to get the mare in heat to breed. I am open for suggestions.
My gut feeling is that she hasn't shut down, because we know she's had at least two cycles since foaling, but I've never had a mare shut down so I don't know much about that.
Anyone have any brilliant ideas? We really need to get this mare bred ASAP, and this is the last season that her "date" will be standing, so waiting for next year is not an option. This is a TB mare so we have to have live cover.
I also wanted to post this link, it's an article about this mare's dam. Our mare was a maiden last year, stood like a champ, and got in foal immediately. Therefore, I didn't think much about this article when I recently learned about it. Now, however, I'm beginning to wonder... any thoughts?
Really all you can do is follow the mare with ultrasound and see if you get follicular development. There are protocols involving GnRH or Domperidone treatment that may be beneficial, but results are mixed, and expense is high. Your reproductive veterinarian should be able to provide you with information about suitability of these treatments in your mare.
There are a couple of things to bear in mind:
Mares that foal typically have follicles present on the ovaries that are up to (or sometimes larger than) 3 cm in diameter. Your mare's follicular size at 5 days was therefore not unusual;
The average window of ovulation on "foal heat" falls anywhere between 5-15 days;
Some mares will "shut down" following "foal heat" and will not start cycling again until about 3-4 weeks after being weaned;
Some mares display signs of estrus as a submissive posture, but are not in fact in estrus with developed follicles.
From the above, you will I am sure realise that the behaviours that your mare is demonstrating may or may not be associated with being in heat and therefore it is not a safe call that she has had "at least two cycles since foaling" unless ovulations have been specifically observed per ultrasound.
You might want to pull a blood-progesterone assay, which if there is a progesterone level >1ng/ml indicates an active CL that should respond to prostaglandin treatment. Sometimes CL's are not easily visible on u/s for a variety of reasons.
That may be true, however, there may have been a certain amount of nervous tension surrounding the mare & getting bred on time & all the things we get uptight about, & having an unrelated calming touch come in may have relaxed the mare enough to allow her body to do what it needed to do. You can't ever discount what stress can do to a horse.
Unfortunately, the cited article did not provide sufficient information about evaluation methods and timings to be supportive of the concept presented. Although stress may negatively influence mares, the fact that there were apparently not consistent, nor sufficient ovarian (follicular) evaluations performed, and that there were potentially large windows where unidentified follicles may have been present, and responded in an other-than-"normal" manner, as suggested in the two articles that I pointed to on our web site, results in a high probability that there was a perfectly normal function occurring, and not something that required a "healing touch" to be "cured". I don't doubt good intentions, and good handling never hurt a horse, but in some instances there are other factors that play a larger part, and without an accurate evaluation of a process, drug or treatment that is being used to "alter" an animal, we cannot conclude that the process, drug or treatment is in fact making any difference. To do so can lead to the regrettable situation where people end up spending time, energy and money on unsubstantiated treatments that do nothing to alter the situation. It's why drugs are required to undergo such a heavy testing procedure by the FDA before being approved for use.
Thank you for the responses, I really do appreciate your thoughts!
Jos wrote, "From the above, you will I am sure realise that the behaviours that your mare is demonstrating may or may not be associated with being in heat and therefore it is not a safe call that she has had "at least two cycles since foaling" unless ovulations have been specifically observed per ultrasound."
Her 3.9 follicle on April 5th was found by ultrasound, and the vet at the time estimated that she would ovulate quickly, but we just could not get her to Kentucky before the weekend, and by then she was no longer in heat. She had shown heat while she had the follicle, so I feel safe in saying she did ovulate that first time.
The next time, when she was in standing heat on the 21st and 22nd, she was ultrasounded on the 24th and the vet commented that she had ovulated either the evening of the 22nd or the 23rd. Although I was not there for that ultrasound, I again feel confident that the vet saw an indication of a very recent ovulation when he did the ultrasound.
This last time, when she showed heat signs Sunday and was ultrasounded Monday, there was no indication of a follicle or a recent ovulation, so in this case it appears that it was a behavioral thing.
We are leasing this mare out, and the lessee has chosen to ask the "Healing Touch" people to come see her. His take on it is that it can't hurt, and if it helps... great! He is not fully convinced (nor am I) about this method, but since she is slated to probably be the last mare bred to this (very nice) stallion before he is pensioned, we are leaving no stone unturned to get her bred.
One of the Healing Touch people (I think, or maybe someone referred by them... but at any rate it was someone the lessee contacted through the people who worked on the mare's dam) "talked" to this mare and it was her opinion that the mare was afraid that if she was taken to be bred, the foal by her side would be taken away. Apparently she felt the mare was very nervous, and she worked on getting her comfortable with the idea of being bred back. (I'm just relaying information here, so don't think I've lost my marbles...)
Next thing I know, I get this email last night: Had her check a few days ago and no activity and today a 4.5 and soft and a 3.2 hard
So, they called the farm and wouldn't you know it, they'd had a cancellation for 8:30 this morning. She was taken to the farm and covered. I just got this news this morning:
The cover went perfect. She had a 35 on the left and a 50 (!) on the right, but was not showing at all.
Now, I'm a scientific thinker by nature, but I'll tell you what... this is pretty creepy. I just hope that the old man sent some potent swimmers... it would be really cool if this mare had one of his last ever foals!
Well I will be hoping for good swimmers for you! Sometimes funny things happen. Touchy Feely people huh? Thanks for sharing it has been very informative! Good Luck!
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