My mare was recently diagnosed with asymetric ataxia and incoordiation of her hind limbs. The vet suspected that it was EPM based on the severity and duration of symptoms, along with abnormal tail pull response. She has stringhalt more in the left leg than the right, but no muscle wasting. She is pretty uncoordiated and her symptoms seem to be progressing slowly (only a slight difference in 6 mo)
We rescued this mare from slaughter and were hoping to train and sell her, but our vet says it is too dangerous to ride so those plans have gone down the drain. We really want to keep her because we saved her once and just can't think about not taking care of her.
We want to breed her as a way to keep her and keep her useful and have her be a contributing member of the family. Is there anything wrong with breeding an EPM mare? Is there any way that she will pass it on through the placenta? Has anyone bred a mare with EPM?
Not to be mean or anything...but I don't think your reasons for wanting to breed are really thought through? There are so many foals and unwanted horses, why bring another into the world and not knowing her full history, I would be worried what she may pass on to a potential foal. Also, un-registered unknown foals...not much of a market for them down the road and unfortunately, no one can guarantee a forever home to the horses esp. not right now. What really would she be contributing?
In our area there is a big market for sporthorse foals. She is a percheron and we would breed her to a hanoverian stud that we have some frozen semen from. Our mare is actually very athletic for a percheron, and the stud was the 5 yr old of the year in the hanoverian world so the baby would not be 'unknown' and we could register it with the American Sporthorse Registry.
I don't really want to get into who should be breeding horses and who shouldn't, I just wanted to know if anyone has any clue if she will pass the disease on while the foal is in-utero. I am trying to make well thought out decisions by finding out if the foal will be healthy before just sticking the semen in her.
I would also worry about the safety to the mare & unborn foal. If your mare is slowly progressing, I'd have to wonder what kind of strain carrying a foal would put on her, and if it would worsen her current condition. I have no experience breeding EPM mares, but I'd carefully weigh all options before breeding (as I can see you are doing). Just a thought...
Well, then...sounds like you have thought it out...I don't know about the EPM thing...I just know in our area...FL...any kind of foals right now are hard to sell. Maybe I should be looking at CA for possibly sending future sporthorse foals and yearlings...sounds like you are booming out there for these types...this is what we are breeding for our own future use...yeah!
Jan Owen Senior Stallion or Mare Username: 1frosty1
Post Number: 2566 Registered: 04-2006
Posted on Tuesday, July 07, 2009 - 06:58 pm:
Tatiana....is there anyway for the vet to do a definitive test to determine if it is EPM? Doesn't West Nile sort of mimic those same symptoms? Either way they are not genetic but I agree you would want to know if that parasite would pass to a fetus. Hopefully some one can give you some guidance. My concern would also be what the added weight from a pregnancy might do to her compromised motor control. Would be interesting to track. I know that women with MS (autoimmune disease that effects the neurological system) feel actually great when pregnant..so.......I am anxious to learn something....
Found this, and wondered if your mare is being treated? or if you knew there was such a treatment? here's a link to the site, too... http://www.admani.com/AllianceEquine/TechBulletins/Equine%20Protozoal%20Myeloenc ephalitis.htm Very recently a new treatment (ponazuril; Marquis®*) was approved for the treatment of EPM by the FDA. Marquis® is administered at 5 mg/kg orally once a day for 28 days. Toxicity testing at 2X and 6X the recommended dosage did not result in any serious side effects.
The prognosis for horses treated for EPM is suggested to result in an approximate improvement rate of 70% when using the standard therapy. Approximately 25% of affected horses may return to their original function. Diclazuril results in approximately 75% improvement in horses severely affected with EPM and approximately 30% of the horses (11/36) treated either returned to their original level of performance prior to EPM diagnosis or improved their level of performance. An efficacy study of 70 horses given NTZ found clinical signs improved in 63% of the horses. Some horses will relapse days, weeks, or even months after cessation of therapy, which may be due to a truly latent stage of the parasite, presence of a small persistent focus of infection, or perhaps re-exposure to the parasite. Estimates of the relapse rates range from 10% to 28% of treated horses using the standard therapy. For diclazuril, the relapse rate was less than 5%.
I agree that it would likely put too much strain on the mare... and what happens if the mare were to become suddenly worse (for some reason or another), shortly after the foal is born? Then you are left dealing with an orphan foal.
Kim, there really isn't much more of a market here in California either, and I'd be really worried about the resale value of a Percheron X WB cross.. even pure Warmbloods are tricky to sell in this touch economy for decent prices..
Breeding points aside, I think it would be too much of a risk. You don't know the history on this mare, you don't know if her pedigree carries any genetic deffects or not. Why compromise your mare just to get a foal from her, when you could go and buy a foal at an extremly reasonable price?
And to try and answer the original question, I found this... "Currently, it is thought that the S. neurona cannot cross the placenta so mares diagnosed with EPM are not able to pass EPM on to their foals en vitro. However, foals have tested positive after ingesting colostrum (mother's first milk). The youngest victim of EPM was two months old giving rise to the theory that the minimum incubation time for S. neurona is eight weeks (University of Kentucky EPM web site, 1998)."
Ok, I am gettng up on my soapbox now ... so stone me if you must. And, because you cannot hear my tone, I am saying this in kind tone.
If you have any issues with the mare's health why would you breed her? Just to make her "useful"? If you care about her health you will not breed her period.
We have champion Percherons and, I can tell you that the market for a pure bred weanling/foal from quality breeding is about $1500 to maybe $2500 if you are VERY lucky. Now factor in the costs of the breeding and the care and you are making no money at that rate. Your Percheron is from unknown lines so I doubt that you would get more then about $500 if that. And what makes her so special that she should be bred? Even to make a warmblood?
Look, I know that you said you didn't want to get in to breeding ethics however, there is more to breeding then if the mare can get pregnant or maintain a pregnancy...consideration MUST also be given to IF the mare should be bred at all. A responsible person looks at WHY a horse, be it a mare or stallion should be bred. Bloodlines, performance records, ect. are JUST AS IMPORTANT as if the mare can get pregnant or have a foal. To not consider ALL these factors (Including the health factors you mention and the econimic factors of breeding)is irresponsible on anyone's part. In my opinion, and YMMV, wanting a mare to have a foal so she can be a "contributing member of the family" is not, in my opinion, a very good reason to breed. Can she not "contribute" in other ways?
And let's not forget that draft horses can present special issues in breeding and foaling. Plus, anything that happens to them happens on a grand scale with grand price tags...can you afford it if it all goes wrong? Plus, a repro vet not familiar with draft horses will have a learning curve...care to guess how big a follicle should be for ovulation for example? A repro vet that does not work with heavey horses will, I can almost promise, have no clue. These are also very real considerations.
Were it me, I would pass on breedng this mare for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is her health. Frankly, I am unwilling to sacrifice a mare for a foal...especially one of unknown quality. Again, YMMV and the horse is yours so the decision is yours. Just trying to give you some more to think about
And now I will hop off my soapbox. Good luck with whatever you decide.
Well said Ann, just one question out of curiousity, how big do the follicles on Draft horses get? I've got an Oldenburg mare that has grown them up to 60mm, she is about 17 hands... I bet Percherons get even bigger! Would be very interested to know
Samantha - these big girls get anywhere from 45 to 60. This is why it is important to know how big a mare goes before inseminating. I would guess that if a stallion as passed away, (as in this stallion's case) and you only have a limited number of straws to deal with, you would want to make sure that you can get the mare pregnant.
I know that AI'ing can get pretty expensive or can be relatively inexpensive all depending upon how well the breeding is managed. Having said that, we manage our vet... by that I mean how often she comes out to U/S, when we AI, what drugs, if any we use. She is really good but altho' she is a repro vet, she had a steep learning curve for drafts. (She made several calls to New Bolton for advice from her mentor there when she fist went to work for us.)She caught on but it cost us about $2500 in vet fees to get her to know how to best manage these big girls. (She did a lot of U/S because she thought, like Diana said, that the mare would ovulate earlier off smaller follicles. She had a stroke when she first saw the 50 follicle floating around on a foal heat. She does however now enjoy a 80% success rate getting mares pregnant on foal heats. And another FYI, like TB's we need to have babies early for show purposes....a late baby is handicapped in the show ring so we try and have everyone deliever in Jan-Feb. Just more useless info for anyone who is interested! LOL!)
At any rate, I think lots of my breeding philosophy comes from years of breeding dogs..a popular breed that was over bred so people could make money, get their kids see the "miracle of birth" or because "every dog should have 1 litter". People also bred to the "flavor of the month" without much thought or regard to other factors and as a result, golden retrievers of today are much, much different then the goldens that we grew up showing and breeding in the early 1970's and IMO,the chagane has been for the worse. I currently have a stud dog that I have nver used to breed, despite many offers. He was the #11 dog in the country in his prime but there are things that I don't like, light pigment a "soft" personality and therefore, I have not used him and lost thousands of dollars. But you have to make good decisions...be they dog or horse related.
Anyway......I am weaning fillies this week....oh the carrying on! LOL!
Diana, I would like to treat this mare, but being in the financial situation that I am, paying $1000 a month for a treatment that may or may not work is a little to risky for the price. I would love to save this mare but I am trying to stay out of the red too. The info on transfering the protozoa through the colostrum is very interesting... I know there are anti-protozoal drugs that maybe we could give in late gestation to prevent the transmission? I really had no idea, that's why I came on here to see what everyone had to say.
I do worry about her becoming weak or incapable of caring for the foal, but as of right now I still don't know if it is EPM. We ruled out West Nile because the symptoms are progressing fairly slowly.
Ann, thank you for the info on the pricing of Percheron foals, I usually don't breed horses and I know the market better for young horses started under saddle and such...
I agree that someone must take into consideration all factors before breeding a horse, stallion or mare. This mare, while having an unknown backround, is also one of the most athletic and talented draft horses I have come across. She has decent conformation, because of her hind leg weakness and being big and not having a ton of balance she's never had her back feet touched my a farrier and they look better than my geldings who gets his done every 7 weeks. She's extremely trainable, she jumps the moon with no hesitation (yes, she is full percheron) and she does things with an attitude that I wish all horses had. I know that a registration and pedigrees and bloodlines are important, but I also think that it is better to breed a nice horse that is unknown in the above areas than a crazy horse that has all the above going for it.
You ask if she cannot contribute in other ways. I asked the vet what she would be suitable for, riding, driving, anything... and the only thing he could come up with was to put her down or to give her to a blood bank (this was under the assumption that we weren't going to pursue treatment). I think that for her to be happy in a pasture with a foal in tow would be much better than being a pincushion, but I want to make sure that everything will be healthy first, that is my primary question, which I think everyone understands.
Just as a side note, there is a good possibility that I would keep a healthy foal to raise and train my way. I personally love the draft crosses and work on desensitization a lot, I would love to be able to work from day one with a foal and see what I could produce. Basically if I didn't find a buyer for the weanling I would just keep it. So for all of you who were wondering what would happen to the foal, there ya go.
"We rescued this mare from slaughter and were hoping to train and sell her, but our vet says it is too dangerous to ride so those plans have gone down the drain. We really want to keep her because we saved her once and just can't think about not taking care of her."
"Rescuing" this mare from slaughter doesn't make much sense to me if you're just going to endanger her more. If I had a mare with symptoms like yours has, there is no way I would put her thru the agony of a pregnancy on top of it! Many of my most fit mares have a miserable time at the end of pregnancy....I just can't imagine taking one who already has pain, or weakness, and subjecting them to MORE. You mention that you can't imagine not taking care of her....yet, you don't get the treatment....I don't understand this. Maybe (this is just my opinion) if you wanted to do what is best for the mare, you could rehome her to someone who will treat her for her problems? In some instances, it's just not enough to pull them from the slaughter truck.... And like Ann said, Percheron foals are going pretty cheap...maybe you could rehome this mare, and then buy a foal to start from the ground up? I know what it's like to be emotionally attached to a horse for whatever reason....but many times we don't think realistically when faced with hard to make decisions. I honestly would not breed this mare, unless you're just looking for disaster. There is huge possibility that you lose mare & foal and alot of time and money. More so than if you just rehomed her and got another foal to work with...maybe even a mare already in foal with the sporthorse foal you're looking for. This one, while i am sure she appreciates you saving her life...just doesn't sound (realistically) like she's going to fit your needs and purposes. Whatever you decide to do (and it is YOUR decision, regardless of what anybody says) good luck to you. I wish you nothing but the very best possible outcome!!
This is what I was trying to convey in my first post...it just didn't seem well thought out or something....hopefully, Tatiana will find the proper place for this "rescue" mare and get her the treatment she needs...I wonder if there is a draft rescue in the area, like we have for TB's?
I wouldn't breed the mare until she has been fully treated for EPM. Then I wouldn't breed unless she tests clear. I think this parasite can cross the placenta but would get that fact verified by a vet.
it doesn't cross the placenta....but it is passed thru milk
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