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from the veterinarian n

Breeding the Show Horse

Equine Athlete Veterinary Services SUCCESS IN THE SHOW RING BRINGS GREATER VALUE TO your horse and its lineage, both past and future. Outstanding stallions and mares are sought after to help create and support the future of our industry. Incentivized competitions requiring qualifying bloodlines are a thriving component of nearly every discipline. Breeding and showing can be combined to achieve the best of both worlds. One of the most important factors to consider when breeding the show horse is communicating your plan with your veterinarian. The earliest pieces of information the owner will want to gather is her show schedule and any previous breeding records. Previous trial-and-error information can save valuable time in the current season to help make it more efficient. For example, knowing a mare usually ovulates at a specific size follicle, has a tendency to develop uterine fluid, has uterine cysts, or has failed to carry her foal to term previously are just some examples that could impact your veterinarian’s decisions throughout the process. In place of, or in addition to, a thorough history, a breeding soundness exam can provide valuable insight. This generally includes evaluation of external reproductive anatomy, a reproductive ultrasound, and laboratory tests. Diagnostics to evaluate the health of the mare’s uterus can help direct treatments to maximize success and maintain realistic expectations. This is particularly important for mares that historically have been difficult to breed. Though many people in our industry save breeding for after the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show in February, it is actually best to start the breeding plan and dialog with your veterinarian in November or December of the prior year. The mare’s natural cycle is irregular until late March. To shorten this transitional period, ensure that your mare remains under lights to prematurely and artificially increase the length of her days. This will signal her body to behave like she has reached her natural breeding season sooner, helping her have healthier and more predictable cycles earlier in the year. If that is difficult in your setting, consider purchasing an Equilume mask through your veterinarian to increase light exposure directly. Some mares receive Regu-Mate to suppress their heat cycles while showing, due to pain experienced during ovulation. This medication must be discontinued for several days prior to beginning breeding.

Healthy and normal uterine edema immediately prior to breeding.

A 38cm x 35cm follicle on the right ovary on a mare that has been under lights since November.

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An Equilume mask helps increase light exposure directly.


arabian horse


Issue 2. 2019

Vaccinations are considered safe during pregnancy, but caution should be exercised during the first 60 days. Starting at 90 days, the mare will need to begin a specific vaccine protocol to protect her future foal. If your show mare will not be carrying her foal, there are additional considerations for embryo transfer. Most embryo transfer facilities prefer to be notified of the plan to breed a mare and ship the resultant embryo well in advance for a variety of reasons. Planning months ahead of time for the use of the embryo transfer facility is vital to ensure the availability of a recipient mare. Another consideration for both the embryo donating and carrying mares are their planes of nutrition and weight. Overall body condition can affect pregnancy rates, with excessively skinny or excessively fat mares having more difficulty establishing a viable pregnancy. In addition, our Arabians and Half-Arabians are predisposed to metabolic disorders, including Equine Metabolic Syndrome and Pars Pituitary Intermedia Dysfunction. Consult with your veterinarian to see if weight management or addressing an underlying disease may be beneficial for your mare. While much consideration is given to the mare, the stallion should not be forgotten. Actively breeding and showing stallions have a tendency to put more stress on the joints and soft tissue structures of their hind limbs when collecting. Your veterinarian may want to conduct serial lameness exams and supportive joint therapies during breeding season to help maintain consistency in the show ring and the breeding shed. Older stallions, stallions with sub-optimal semen quality, or issues affecting their sperm have a slew of options available to them from supplements, to centrifugation of the semen prior to shipping, to highly specialized processing of semen. Regardless of the stallion’s breeding history, it is best to have a veterinarian perform a breeding soundness exam that includes evaluation of the semen. Optimal semen processing practices vary from stallion to stallion and finding what works best for a specific stallion can help improve pregnancy rates. Ideally, training and breeding should be kept separate. Where possible, the trainer should not be the person handling the stallion during collection. The trainer’s expectations for behavior should reflect how the stallion should behave at the show. It can be confusing, and even cause shyness when attempting to collect a stallion, when his routine trainer handles him in the breeding shed. It is even advisable to have a separate halter and stud chain so there is further differentiation from routine work and breeding. These efforts are important to help reduce stud-like behavior in common areas such as wash racks, warm-up pens, and line-up in a class. We wish you the best this breeding and showing season! ~ Jessica Bush, DVM, MBA

Associate, Equine Athlete Veterinary Services

Profile for Arabian Horse Association

Arabian Horse Life Magazine; mini issue 2 2019  

The Arabian Horse Association's (AHA) member magazine, Arabian Horse Life (AHL) is due to hit mailboxes the last week of April. Distributed...

Arabian Horse Life Magazine; mini issue 2 2019  

The Arabian Horse Association's (AHA) member magazine, Arabian Horse Life (AHL) is due to hit mailboxes the last week of April. Distributed...