Breeding Q&A's

By: Horse Deals

Breeding Q&A's
Breeding Q&A's

Planning to breed from your mare? Here, vet Kayleigh Barker MRCVS of the Chiltern Equine Clinic answers some commonly-asked questions…

Q Will my mare need a pre-breeding examination?

A It’s advisable to check that your mare is both physically and reproductively sound. An examination prior to breeding will include a vulval conformation assessment, reproductive organ palpating and scanning, plus disease testing. Blood tests or swabs may be required, depending on the type of semen that is to be used.

Q What might affect my mare’s ability to conceive or carry the foal to term?

A Specific reproductive abnormalities such as poor vulval or internal conformation can affect the chances of the mare getting pregnant. General orthopaedic unsoundness such as back pain (perhaps from kissing spines), pelvic injury, bony injuries to lower limbs, laminitis or osteoarthritis may mean that the mare cannot carry the foal to term – or at least is very uncomfortable doing so. The mare will become heavier as she progresses through gestation, so any painful bony issues are likely to be exacerbated.

Q Which physical weaknesses could be passed onto the foal?

A A number of hereditary diseases are known to be breed-specific. Some conformational defects are heritable, which means that certain families of horses tend to produce offspring with similar weaknesses. Ongoing research into the heritability of problems such as sarcoids and sweet itch, however, has yet to reach definite conclusions. Ask your vet if you’re concerned that a physical weakness is likely to be passed on.

Q Could the foal inherit stereotypical behaviour?

A The evidence for this is anecdotal rather than scientific. What is known is that a foal is easily influenced early in life and likely to copy its mother’s behaviour from the outset. If she windsucks, for example, the foal may imitate – yet it is unlikely that the behaviour is passed on genetically.