I have a 16 yr. old Arabian mare that was purchased last year. Mare had previously been live covered 3 times and had 3 foals, last foal born in 2002, and was not bred after that. Mare was cycling normally, we live covered her to our stallion in June 2005, she skipped the next two cycles but then started showing heat in September. So this Spring we had picked out a very nice stallion to breed her to, and we had the vet to a culture first----which showed positive so he did a infusion, followed by 10 days of SMZ. We hauled her 250 miles to the stallion after her normal cycle. She settled in very nicely there, but was 7 days late coming into heat. She had a 5 day heat, and was live covered on the 3rd and 5th day. The following week we brought her back home. She then passed over her next cycle, so of course I was very excited hoping she was in foal-----vet was here on day #21 post breeding and did an ultrasound and said she was open. So the plan was that we would breed her again to our stallion, and the day after she goes out of heat put her on Regumate and then check her on day #14 to see if she is pregnant. We have teased her every day with the stallion, we are now on day #28 and no sign of heat. This mare was always very obvious when she was in heat. What would you suggest I do??? She has a fabulous pedigree, and I very much want to get a foal from her. Would appreciate any advice.
Was a cytology smear prepared in conjunction with the culture? If not, then it is quite possible that there was not a uterine infection, and that the treatment was unnecessary. Additionally, a single uterine infusion (was an antibiotic included in that infusion?) is not considered sufficient treatment for a uterine pathogen - typically three infusions with the correct antibiotic are required. Then to further the issue, systemic antibiotics are generally considered to be insufficient to deal with a uterine pathogen as the antibiotic levels required to control a uterine pathogen can generally not be reached with systemic antibiotics.
I have some concerns therefore about the techniques that were in use. There may well be other factors to take into consideration that I - and possibly you - are not aware of that makes the treatment viable, but as a general rule the diagnosis and treatment technique that you outline is not considered suitable or sufficient by theriogenologists (veterinarians trained and certified in reproduction).
You observe that the mare was covered on days 3 and 5 of standing heat - was an ovulation confirmed? Depending upon when it was in the spring, the mare may still have been transitional (and therefore not ovulating) - something that is supported by the irregularity of the cycle.
You then note that the "passed over her next cycle" but that the vet was there on day 21 - by that do you mean that the mare showed not signs of estrus? Because at day 21 the mare would typically still be in that same estrus stage, and not gone beyond it... I'm guessing that's what you mean, but want to confirm it.
I think my game plan would be to first check the mare again and make absolutely sure she is not pregnant. Pregnancies are missed periodically, and the fact that she did not come back into heat is certainly suggestive of pregnancy. Assuming that she is confirmed not pregnant, you will need to know where she is in her cycle, so ultrasound is called for anyway.
If the mare comes back into heat, I would have a uterine swab taken and a cytology smear performed if that was not done previously. If there is any indication of a need for it, I would then have a culture of the swab grown and suitable treatment initiated to deal with an identified pathogen. Take a look at the article on this site about the importance of a cytology smear being performed in conjunction with a culture to understand that a little more.
If all is clear with the cytology/culture, then the next issue to address is the ability of the mare to clear pre- peri- and/or post-breeding uterine fluid. The leading cause of failure of pregnancy in older mares is a condition called endometritis, and this is commonly caused in older mares by an inability to clear uterine fluid - a condition called delayed uterine clearance. This is usually easily dealt with by the use of a suitable oxytocin protocol (follow that link for details).
The need for Regumate use to allegedly "maintain a pregnancy" is highly over-rated! Follow that link for an article about that. It is expensive to use, and not needed in most cases. It does not replace good diagnostic and breeding management work, although it is often used as such a replacement. There are mares that require it, but they are very much in the minority.
Hopefully the above has given you some "food for thought"! If you have access to a theriogenologist to work with your mare, you may find that in the long run, even if the initial costs are a little higher, it will work out cheaper and more satisfying for all concerned. Failing a theriogenologist, a veterinarian that has a particular interest and ability in equine reproduction should be sought out - asking locally to find the best will probably help. Note that equine reproduction is a very small part of a general veterinarian's practice, and it is a very complex field which is continually growing in complexity and available knowledge/treatments. It can be very difficult for a general practice veterinarian to keep on top of this, and indeed many may not have specialised in it in University, so simply being a vet. does not necessarily mean that they will be able to get the best results.
I have a problem mare also, she is 16 years old and had 13 foals. She missed last year.
She has been covered 3 times this season with no pregnancy and we got the vet out last Thursday 2 November 2006 to scan her and the vet said she did not have any folicles and that she was just coming into season. She told me to cover her with the stallion on Sunday (which I did). The vet then came out and scanned the mare on Monday for fluid and said she looked tidy and that she had ovulated.
I am confused as to how a horse can have no folicles on Thursday at all and by Monday have ovulated? How long does it take for a follicle to mature to the ovulation stage?
Also, can a mare get pregnant if she only has small follicles when she ovulates?
Posted on Wednesday, November 08, 2006 - 11:41 am:
It would be unlikely that a mare would have no follicles on a Thursday and have ovulated by Monday! Either a follicle was missed on Thursday, or she hadn't ovulated...
It may be that your mare is still in transitional stage - it is a little late for you in Oz, but she is an older mare, and some of those older mares don't follow the rules like they should! If that were the case, it would explain why - despite three breedings - she is not pregnant!
If you want a more definitive (or possibly reliable) answer than that which you have got to date, you could request a blood progesterone assay of the mare at least 6 days after the alleged ovulation - if she did ovulate, then there should be levels in excess of 4 ng/ml. If she didn't ovulate, then there won't be any progesterone.
Despite an apparent absence of fluid, if she is ovulating and you don't have a pregnancy this time you may also want to try using the oxytocin protocol. We routinely use it on older and "problem" mares, and it has a good effect - it's also cheap and easy.
It is unusual for a full-sized (i.e. ~1,000lbs) mare to ovulate on follicles smaller than 3.5 cm (35 mm), although it does sometimes happen - especially if there is more than one follicle on the same ovary. I would be extremely skeptical if the follicles were smaller than 3 cm though.
Thank you so much for the advice Jo. However, after your advice it sounds like my vet does not know what she is doing if she has missed follicles and has preempted ovulation. ahhhh!!!!!
I am also not confident this mare is in foal either by your diagnosis.
We are having a funny season this year, with the drought and all but I think my next best thing would be to AI her rather than natural service so the whole thing is alot more controlled.
I will also look into Oxytocin Protocol as you suggest.
The vet said she had very small follicles on the Thursday, do you think it would be possible for the folicles to get to mature size by Sunday night when I covered her which when she ovulated Monday I may have had success?
Follicular growth occurs at 3 to 5 mm per day. As I don't know the diameter that the follicle was when it was "small", or when it allegedy ovulated, I can't really comment beyond that, but perhaps you can do the math...!
Since speaking in November I sent her down to a specific vet that specialised in Problem breeders as I had lost faith in my vet. The new vet used Chilled Semen to inseminate the mare, she had two very good folicles on both ovaries and he said she was doing everything right and we both thought she would be in foal. Not in foal after 14 day test.
We decided to go with Embryo Transfer to see if we could get an embryo from her, she was natrually covered and everything looked great again, two good folicles on each ovary, ovulated well but no embryo was recovered.
The vet now thinks that the 3 large 6cm cysts the mare has is stopping her from conceiving, as the sperm cannot get past the cysts.
What is your opinion on the above? Do you think this could be the problem and what is the best way to get rid of cysts and have them not grow back?
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