Mare & Foal

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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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Q: I own a top quality mare that I would love to have a foal out of. However, she is also my primary riding and competition mount, and I’d prefer not to stop riding her so she can have a foal. I do have another mare and am considering using her as a surrogate for embryo transfer. What exactly is involved in embryo transfer? How can I tell if my second mare is a good surrogate candidate?

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Few things in nature are more inspiring than new foals frolicking around their mothers on a crisp spring morning. The fact that a foal can be up and running within a few short hours after birth is but one in a long series of miracles. Conception is miraculous in itself. Development in utero, or in the womb, begins with the formation of all of the organ systems and is followed by their maturation. During the entire process, the foal is completely dependent on the mother’s blood supply for eating, breathing, and eliminating metabolic waste products.

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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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