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Dealing with Mare Infertility

Breeding a mare can be an exciting and trying time for any horse lover, but it can also be muddled with frustration and confusion if infertility is suspected. There is nothing worse than spending the fall and winter months anticipating a successful conception, only to find that your mare is unable to conceive. Despite your best efforts and monetary investments, your mare may go cycle after cycle without any kind of results. So what is a horse lover to do?

Seek Professional Help

The first thing that you can do is seek the help of a trained professional. Your vet will be able to give your mare a complete exam to rule out any major problems with your horse’s anatomy or chemical makeup. They will likely perform an internal and external exam, along with ultrasounds and blood work. It is important to let your vet know if the mare has ever spawned a foal before or if they have suffered from any miscarriages or injuries. This will help them create an accurate picture of your mares overall health and well being.

If you are unfamiliar with the stallions breeding history, you will want to research and bring this information along to your visit too. It is not uncommon to spend a few cycles focusing on the mare when the problem in fact lies with the stallion’s ability to create adequate sperm.

Be patient

A healthy mare has a 50% chance for conceiving in any given cycle. Which is why even the best laid plans can fall to the wayside. Many breeders will try for an entire breeding season before seeking infertility assistance. Regular checkups and monitoring during the first season will help give you a better picture of where the problem may reside. Once a treatment plan has been established it may still take a few cycles to fine tune things, so be patient!

Learn all you can

Do as much reading as you can on the subject of equestrian infertility. Remember, your vet is trained to handle most problems but there are many that he may be unfamiliar with. Every day new strides and procedures are being developed to increase the odds of a successful conception. Pay attention to each examination and listen to the vet’s findings. Do your own research online and in your local library. The more you know about the mare reproductive tract, the more prepared you will be to finding a solution.

Some of the most common mare infertility problems are:

  • Hormone imbalances- hormone therapy is one of the most common infertility treatments in the equestrian world today. Many horses may have too little or two much of a certain hormone (like progesterone or estrogen) which can inhibit their ability to carry a foal to term.
  • Uterine abnormalities- some horses may be born with structural problems that can inhibit the conception process. An exam by your vet can help determine if this is the case with your mare. Once diagnosed, they may be able to surgically correct the problem.
  • Ovarian problems- even if your mare appears to go into heat, they may not actually be ovulating. Monitoring and blood work can help confirm an adequate ovulation if there is indeed any activity.
  • Overall poor health- if your horse is sickly or diseased it is never a good idea to try to impregnate them. Make sure that your mare is up to date on all of their vaccines, and is eating a proper diet. Vitamin supplements may help improve their overall condition.

Prepare yourself emotionally and monetarily

Infertility can be a struggle for any horse lover. You will likely get excited over the prospect of a cycle, and then let down when things don’t work out like you hoped. It is important to be patient and take things one step at a time. Most mares will be able to spawn a foal within a year or two of getting a diagnosis. Financially, frequent vet visits and medications can wear a hole in your pocketbook as well. Discuss the costs associated with each treatment to make sure that you are able to meet the financial obligations of the treatment.

Begin Treatment

Finding the underlying cause of mare infertility is the biggest hurdle to overcome. Once you know what is wrong, you can then go about fixing it. Your vet may want to do hormone replacement therapy, surgery, or try medications to help boost your mare’s fertility. Rest assured though, that almost every condition is treatable. When all else fails, your mare could undergo a round or two of embryo transfers. This takes all the guess work out of the process- an egg is taken from your mare and combined with sperm from the stallion. Once the egg is fertilized, it is placed back in the mare and will hopefully lead to
a successful pregnancy.



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