Breeding Older Mares

Meet Spook. This is one of our kindest, sweetest broodmares. With a show record of her own and NCHA earnings, plus the proven abilities of her past progeny, Spook is our matriarch mare. She has had no complications becoming pregnant or foaling out in the past and with the help of progesterone therapy, we are expecting another foal from her this coming March. However this year, this sweet little mare turns 21 and that means it’s possibly time for us to re-evaluate our breeding practices with her.

While there isn’t any history to suggest that Spook wouldn’t carry another healthy foal to term for the next year, we believe Spook is of the age that we may need to consider embryo transfer. Here’s why.

Aging broodmares can become more prone to certain complications like ruptured prepubic tendons, dystocia and even rupture of a uterine artery. Uterine health, uterine cysts, endometritis, placentitis and decreased fertility can also play a role in the older broodmare’s breeding soundness.

In this scenario, embryo transfer would be a means of protecting our investment by eliminating the above risks and still allow us to enjoy the beautiful and talented foals Spook produces. We wouldn’t have to jeopardize Spook’s health. Plus, our mare could then enjoy her days in the pasture performing a special task for us: keeping the weanling fillies crop of that year in line as their “baby sitter.”

In the next couple of days, My Stable Life will define and discuss further the possible complications of breeding older mares. One by one we’ll examine some of these issues, explore the reproductive functions of a mare to see where problems might occur, and talk about possible solutions. Stay tuned!

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