Tried to post this yesterday, don't think it worked so am trying again...
We have an older mare (14-15yrs), maiden TB mare. Mare has been at the vet AI clinic for 3 months trying to get her in foal. First cycle, she had a positive preg test at 15-16 days however when vet scanned her a week later she was not in foal. She actually had twins so he had to squash one, and the vet said he may have squashed the wrong one so she may have aborted the other. Second cycle, vet missed the mares ovulation by 36 hours so mare was not in foal. Third cycle, mare was inseminated within 6 hours of ovulation and had a positive preg test at 16 days however vet said embryo was a little small which he put down to her age. A week later we have just got news that the mare is now NOT in foal...
The mare has been kept in good condition & looked after all her life, she never raced, has been caslicked since she was 2 yrs old. Vet said that she is really good inside for her age, really clean. Good cervix, has had no infections or fluid all along the way, vet was overall happy with the mare's reproductive track. After she slipped the first cycle vet did progesterone level tests which came back normal.
We haven't spoken to the vet in depth yet however can anyone give me any information as to reasons why this mare may be slipping the embryos apart from her age???...
When she first went to the clinic she was in really good condition, however has slipped in condition since she has been there... plus there has been the change in climate. Clinic is on the coast where it is more humid then at home. We used chilled semen all along the way which was of excellent quality according to the vet.
The most common cause of early embryonic death is endometritis. This may be caused by many factors, including pathogenic presence, or be breeding-induced.
You observe that she "had no infections" - but how was that confirmed? Was there a cytology smear prepared and read in conjunction with a culture? (Follow that link to read more).
If the mare was indeed genuinely clean prior to the breeding, then one should look at the possibility of breeding-induced endometritis ("BIE"), which in many cases can be controlled by the use of an oxytocin protocol. We have had good success with mares that sound similar to yours with the use of that protocol.
It is worth considering that after three failed breeding cycles, the "insult" to the uterus is considerable, and that in itself can have a negative impact on the likelihood of establishing pregnancy, so one needs to be aggressive now in controlling inflammatory issues, so the use of the oxytocin protocol should be discussed with your veterinarian in addition to any other treatments.
Thanks Jos for that information. We haven't had any smears or cultures done as yet however after reading up a bit will try & get some done soon... might give us some answers. The vet hasn't given us any indication that we should have done this beforehand so we assume from what he said that he didn't suspect any infections. The mare was flushed and given oxytocin after each service as a precaution and according to the notes on the bill she had a couple of doses for antibiotics while she was there because the ultrasound showed a cyst on a couple of occasions. The mare is home now and has lost a fair bit of condition over the 3 months she was away. She looks pretty run down so an infection wouldn't surprise me. Her coat isn't very healthy looking anymore which it usually is and the mare doesn't seem her normal self so there is probably some underlying reason. Its very disappointing considering the mare went to the clinic in excellent condition and they have let her slip so much. I would also have thought the vets would have told us if he suspected infections and wanted to do tests but so far they haven't.
We haven't had any smears or cultures done as yet however after reading up a bit will try & get some done soon... might give us some answers.
Make sure that you have the cytology smear performed - about a third of all uterine swabs will show organism presence, but it may not be pathogenic in nature, so the cytology smear is important to differentiate.
The mare was flushed and given oxytocin after each service as a precaution
Our personal preference is not to flush unless there is an obvious indication of need, as we consider that there is a likelihood of introduction of something during the treatment, which of course will be undesirable (we are not unique in this thought process, which is pretty standard). What amount and how many treatments of oxytocin were given? Review the oxytocin article that I previously cited - a single (or even a couple of) dose[s] is typically inadequate, and giving more that 20 iu is contraindicated by research.
she had a couple of doses for antibiotics while she was there because the ultrasound showed a cyst on a couple of occasions
Antibiotics will not have an impact on cysts. Nor is there any indication that antibiotics would be desirable for any reason in the presence of cysts. Unless there was another reason for the treatment, the random use of antibiotics can be harmful.
She looks pretty run down so an infection wouldn't surprise me.
A uterine infection will not cause a mare to drop condition. The equine uterus is a remarkably insulating organ.
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