Mare & Foal

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Recent advances in genetic research have paved the way for more effective identification and screening of genetic diseases in the horse. With these developments come new ethical considerations with respect to breeding practices, testing, and disclosure.

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Good nutrition throughout pregnancy is essential to the health of both mare and foal. Adjust your broodmare’s diet as gestation progresses to meet her changing nutrient needs.

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Traditionally, horse breeders look to the stallion for pedigree lines to produce the superior performance offspring with the desired characteristics of speed, conformation, and health. But the lineage of mares plays an equally important role not only in the genetic quality of the foal but potentially in the breeder’s selection for fillies or colts. In addition, a mare’s maternal heritage influences the length of gestation.

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When to Watch - When to Act - Ask anyone who has bred horses, and they’ll tell you it’s no easy feat. However, when it is done properly (and everything goes right), having an energetic and healthy foal is an exciting and rewarding experience. Dr. Stephen Manning is a board-certified theriogenologist and an associate professor at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

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Q - I will be breeding my mare using cooled semen. Is there anything I can do to increase her chances of becoming pregnant on the first try?

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By Juan C. Samper, DVM - Waiting for the birth of a foal seems to take an eternity, but the day when your newborn foal will stand beside its dam and nurse for the first time is almost here. Most mares will foal without problems, but if you have a high risk mare you should alert your veterinarian of potential problems early, and monitor her closely during her pregnancy to protect your emotional and financial investment.

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Old maiden mares are considered special mares with the possibility of reduced fertility. An old maiden mare is a mare that is older than eight or nine and has never had a foal. However, there are other mares that are in the same category; mares that are bred at the age of two, foal when they are three, and then go into a show career and are not bred again until they are 12 or older behave very similarly. Not all are the same, but they are all at a higher risk of being a problem.

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