...or I guess I should say a lack thereof. Have a 7yo maiden mare (APHA). Foaled on 1/30 (2 days earlier than due date), has not had a heat cycle, foal heat or otherwise, since.
Vet has been checking her once a week for follicles, but has said she's doing absolutely nothing. In fact, he says her entire ovary (both) is about 40mm. It's like she's completely shut down. He recommended I give her prostin, which I did, on 2/17, just in case we missed her foal heat and he wasn't seeing a CL. Still nothing (she did heat up a bit, but no full-blown sweat - which I know isn't indicative of whether or not the prostin has worked). Dhe's 30 days' post-partum today (3/1). Second recommendation was to put her on ReguMate for 10 days and prostin again. Last recommendation was to turn her out and get some sunshine. Hard to do here in southern OH, but am sending her to a farm in KY where she and foal will only be in at night and during inclement weather. Hopefully this glorious spring weather holds out and doesn't get frigid again!
I have a tendency to believe this mare is either lactational anestrous or she is simply so stressed being in her environment that she's shut down. She's never been in a barn with other horses before, had always been kept in pasture, albeit with other horses. Never stalled near a stud (she's on the other side of the barn, but she can hear him when he's carrying on and when we tease). She seemed okay with being in the barn pre-partum (she was up for about 3 weeks before foaling), but has become a nervous wreck with this baby on her side. The weather could be screwing her up, but my other mares are cycling - irregularly, but cycling nonetheless.
She was on domperidone for approximately 1 week before and 1 week after foaling but she still didn't have an abundance of milk. She was out on grass, but none of other mares here at the farm have any issues with fescue toxicosis, so I have a hard time believing that was the issue. In fact, no issues with dystocia, placenta previa, agalactia, etc. at all in other mares. They all milk like dairy cattle.
I know I'm messing with Mother Nature, wanting a Jan/Feb foal, but this mare is a halter horse and the market demands they be born early. She got in foal so easily last year - one cycle, one insemination with shipped semen on 2/26/11. The only change has been the foal and the living arrangement, being in the barn at night. If it is lactational anestrous, is there any way to help kick her out of it? She's too nice a mare (and the baby is phenomenal) to be an 'every other year' mare. Thanks!
Please note for future reference that there no such thing as a "due date" in the equine, which has a range of normal gestation duration between 320 and 270 days. We have an article that discusses "due dates" which might prove interesting to you and save you some grief in the future!
Post-foaling ovulations occur on average between 5 and 15 days post-foaling. It is not unusual for mares - especially first-time foaling mares - to not display receptivity. I would suspect that perhaps your vet did not check the mare until after the mare had ovulated on an early "foal heat" and consequently did not see follicular activity. It is possible that the resulting CL had regressed by 2/17 to the point of not being detectable, but that the mare had become anestrus by that point (so no subsequent estrus).
A likely possibility alternative to lactational anestrus is that simply the mare has become seasonally anestrus. It is not unusual for mares foaling this early in the year to go through foal heat and then enter winter anestrus. Prevention of this occurrence may be aided by putting the mare "under lights" for 60-90 days prior to foaling and keeping her phototropically stimulated after foaling and until around 40 days post-conception once she conceives.
With the move to KY, you may wish to try using domperidone again as there is a protocol for 10 days of lighting followed by 10 days of lighting plus domperidone, then 10 more days of continued lighting that may result in the onset of cyclicity (obviously the lighting needs to be kept on throughout and then after through to 40 days post conception as above). There needs to be 14½-16 hours of lighting - which can be natural and artificial combined, but must be continuous - throughout that period, so having her turned out may pose a problem.
eFSH has shown promise in encouraging early cyclicity, but owing to the slaughter ban in the US, is not available. Recombinant eFSH has been developed and may be available for the same use.
Other than that, it's going to be "tincture of time"! If it is lactational anestrus, then weaning the foal will the recommended course of action, with cyclicity typically resuming 30-60 days after the weaning.
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