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Tips for Safe Mounts and Dismounts

July 27, 2015

When it comes to mounting and dismounting, safety should always be your No. 1 priority.

Question:

I have had several mishaps while mounting and dismounting. I always triple check the cinch, but just last week I tore the offside billet while trying to mount. Both the horse and I were jumpy after that. I have also had the saddle slip as I dismounted. I have a lower back injury that makes it difficult to mount quickly and have put on a few pounds over the years. Any suggestions on how to making mounting and dismounting safer for me and the horse would be helpful. Would a breast collar help in this situation? I use a mounting step when possible; however, there are situations where one is not available.

For the answer to this question, we spoke to Peggy Adams from the Certified Horsemanship Association.

Read the rest of this entry »

Embryo and Oocyte Transfers

July 20, 2015

For older mares and mares still showing, an embryo or oocyte transfer is a viable option to have a foal.

ask expertQuestion:

I have a 21-year-old American Quarter Horse mare that has never been bred. Is it possible to harvest her eggs and do an embryo transfer?

We consulted the experts at the American Association of Equine Practitioners for the answer.

Answer:

Maybe. This is really two questions. Embryo transfer involves breeding the mare, flushing the fertilized ovum seven days after ovulation and transferring it to a recipient mare. Harvesting eggs involves removing unfertilized ova (eggs) from the ovary, and supplying the sperm cells via one of several different techniques.

Let’s start with embryo transfer. In young, fertile mares, flushing embryos is a relatively simple procedure that is offered by many veterinary practices. The mares are bred naturally or artificially, their cycle closely monitored via ultrasound so the uterus can be flushed seven days after ovulation. The harvested embryo is placed in the uterus of a recipient mare that has ovulated on about the same day, but not bred. This procedure is quite successful if both mares have normal reproductive systems. In older mares, however, this can become a challenge.

Reproductive efficiency begins to decline in mares after the age of about 13 years. Although a 21-year-old mare might be in perfect health in every other way, her reproductive competence is limited.

Producing a viable embryo is a process that can be more difficult than it sounds. The mare’s ability to get pregnant is first dependent on her ability to produce fertile ova (eggs). Stallions produce billions of new sperm cells most every day of their adult lives. Mares, however, are born with all the eggs they will ever have, so an aged mare has aged ova that may not function as well as they did earlier in her life. In addition, she must have normal anatomy and physiology of her cervix, uterus and uterine tube. Aging can compromise all or part of this process, and thus prevent the production of a viable embryo.

There are many tests that can be performed to determine potential fertility in mares. A culture of the uterine fluids during the first two days of heat can detect the presence of infection that will not affect her general health, but will greatly impair fertility. An endometrial biopsy of the lining of her uterus can give us more information about reproductive health. Hormone analysis can be of some use to determine her ability ovulate normally and support an embryo during early development. However, the most accurate test will be to breed her and see if an embryo can be flushed. In mares that cannot produce an embryo, another option is available.

Oocyte transfer: A needle is inserted into the structure on the ovary, which contains the egg (The ovarian follicle) and the fluid containing the ovum is aspirated and placed into a dish containing culture medium. Ova harvested in this manner can be used for in vitro fertilization (test tube babies), or transferred to the uterine tube of younger mare to be bred in the same cycle (gamete intrafallopian transfer, the “GIFT” procedure).

During the recent decade, our understanding of equine reproduction has greatly expanded. With this new knowledge, technology has been developed to prolong the productive years of our favorite mares, and helped to preserve valuable genetic resources for the equine industry. These procedures are not cheap and the success rate in older mares is not high–there are no guarantees–but they do provide options for mare owners that previously had none.

Madison Seamans, DVM, MS, Kuna, Idaho, for the American Association of Equine Practitioners

*AQHA and the provider of this information are not liable for the inherent risks of equine activities. We always recommend consulting a qualified veterinarian and/or an AQHA Professional Horseman.

Keeping Summer Itches at Bay

July 13, 2015

Biting insects can cause your horse to scratch the summer away. Here’s how to keep your horse itch free.

ask expertQuestion:

I recently purchased a 13-year-old horse that was on 24-hour turnout. He now has a stall and is turned out 7-10 hours per day. He has managed to scratch out part of his long mane (on trees, walls, etc.) When I look between the hair roots of his missing mane, his skin is red and slightly scabby. Along the opposite side of his neck, where his mane originates, there are faintly bumpy areas where there are dead skin flakes (gray in color) that are rising from his skin’s surface. I am using a very, very fine tooth comb to remove these flakes and separate them from his coat. There is no loss of hair, just these flakes rising from his skin’s surface. I am at a loss as what to do for him.

We consulted the experts at the American Association of Equine Practitioners for the answer. Read the rest of this entry »

Treating Tapeworms

July 6, 2015

Deworming based on fecal egg counts is an effective parasite control strategy. But what about tapeworms, whose eggs don’t show up in fecal floats?

ask expertQuestion:

My horse has had a couple fecal egg counts, all being negative and no need to treat. I haven’t treated for a year and have another test coming up. If it’s still negative, I’m not sure if I should treat for tapeworms, since those don’t show up in the egg counts. Would this be a correct treatment?

We consulted the experts at the American Association of Equine Practitioners for the answer. Read the rest of this entry »

Feeding the Pregnant Mare

June 22, 2015

Mares have different nutrient requirements when pregnant. Do you know how to feed her and her growing foal?

ask expertQuestion:

I have just bred my mare, and she is in foal. How should I manage her forage intake to be sure she gets appropriate nutrients and roughage? She is a very, very easy keeper that can easily get fat on hay alone.

We consulted the experts at the American Association of Equine Practitioners for the answer.

Answer:

This is an excellent question. I am glad that you have given this aspect of your management some consideration. The good news is that if she is already at a reasonable weight and body condition score (BCS), you don’t need to make changes to your feeding program until she finishes her eighth month of gestation. The time of highest digestible energy requirement for a broodmare is during months nine, 10 and 11 of gestation and then through lactation. Energy requirements are even higher during lactation than they are during gestation. Read the rest of this entry »

Pasture Pals: Mares and Geldings

June 15, 2015

Keeping mares and geldings in a pasture together won’t necessarily cause mares to go into heat.

ask expertQuestion:

Can pasturing one gelding with a group of mares stimulate them to come into heat?

We consulted the experts at the American Association of Equine Practitioners for the answer.

Answer:

When addressing heat (AKA estrus) in mares, there are two broad categories:

  1. Estrus induction (AKA manipulation)
  2. Estrus detection Read the rest of this entry »

Treating a Horse with Founder

June 8, 2015

The treatment and prognosis of founder in horses depends on the degree of rotation of the coffin bone.

ask expertQuestion:

My 12-year-old mare was diagnosed with founder. Her coffin bone has rotated, and she is quite sore. We had our farrier take off some of the toe, and she is walking better. What should I expect for her prognosis, and how best can I treat her?

We consulted the experts at the American Association of Equine Practitioners for the answer. Read the rest of this entry »

Vaccinating Pregnant Mares

June 2, 2015

Increase your foal’s immunity by giving your mare a booster immunization prior to foaling.

ask expertQuestion:

My mare is due in early July. I have already vaccinated her, but I’ve heard that it is good to vaccinate again within 30 days of foaling to give the foal resistance. What about the rabies shot? Should that be done within that 30-day time frame, or should we have it administered now when I usually do it?

We consulted the experts at the American Association of Equine Practitioners for the answer. Read the rest of this entry »

Senior Horse Feed with Molasses

May 25, 2015

Senior horse feed with molasses can be a problem for horses with a metabolic disease.

ask expertQuestion:

Can you provide the pros and cons of feeding senior feed with molasses?

We consulted the experts at the American Association of Equine Practitioners for the answer. Read the rest of this entry »

Buddy-Sour Mare and Stallion

May 18, 2015

Separating a buddy-sour mare and stallion pair is in the best interest of horse health and safety.

ask expertQuestion:

How can I prevent my mare from getting bred by my stallion, as they are extremely buddy sour? We have tried separating them, but I feel it becomes a dangerous situation for them.

We consulted the experts at the American Association of Equine Practitioners for the answer.

Answer:

I have given some thought to your troublesome situation. This is an interesting topic for discussion. I see two immediate concerns for you:

  1. Wanting to avoid physical trauma to both your mare and stallion
  2. Not wanting your mare to get bred. Read the rest of this entry »

Foal CPR

May 11, 2015

Know how to perform emergency CPR on a foal in distress.

ask expertQuestion:

How do you perform CPR on a foal in distress?

Answer:

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is the restoration of spontaneous circulation and breathing and is used in cases of cardiopulmonary arrest, defined as sudden cessation of spontaneous and effective respiration and heartbeat.

This most often occurs in foals suffering from asphyxia or lack of oxygen before and Read the rest of this entry »

Patella Problems in Horses

May 4, 2015

Surgery can be performed to correct upward fixation of the patella in horses.

ask expertQuestion

My horse has a patella ligament issue. It’s mostly noticeable when you pick up his foot and notice the catch. As long as he is in shape he does pretty well, though he does have more trouble when stalled. The patella issue is only confined to the one leg. At what point do you consider examination, and how long is recovery time?

We consulted the experts at the American Association of Equine Practitioners for the answer. Read the rest of this entry »