About Our Equine Reproductive Services
It’s always an exciting time when you decide to breed your horse. The process entails a bit more than you may realize, especially for breeding performance horses and ensuring a healthy pregnancy. Jacksonville Equine Associates has state of the art ultrasound imaging to help monitor the entire gestation and has comprehensive understanding of the health concerns to monitor your horse for. Additionally, we provide artificial insemination services if you decide to breed to an outside stallion.
General Information About Equine Pregnancies
In general, a horse carries a filly or colt for approximately 11 months. This, however varies from pregnancy to pregnancy. Typically, a mare carries a colt longer than a filly, but once again this varies from pregnancy to pregnancy. In most cases a foal born before 300 days of gestation isn’t able to survive. Those born in the 300-to-330-day range are at high risk and need urgent and intensive medical care.
Breeding Soundness Check
A soundness exam is the first examination your horse will undergo when you decide to breed. This ensures your mare is healthy enough to breed and capable of carrying a foal to term. During this exam, our doctors evaluate your mare’s reproductive health through a trans-rectal palpation and a trans-rectal ultrasound. These helps view your horse’s cervix, uterus and ovaries for possible problems.
Other testing includes
- A uterine biopsy to evaluate the endometrial tissue
- A vaginal speculum exam to inspect the cervix
- A uterine culture and sensitivity to determine if any infection is present that could inhibit successful breeding
All of these tests help us identify issues that could interfere with a healthy pregnancy, such as infections, uterine fibrosis, and inflammation among other issues.
We offer services to monitor your horse’s pregnancy and intervene, if necessary, to prevent complications from occurring. In most cases, a mare’s pregnancy doesn’t have any complications.
About Artificial Insemination
At Jacksonville Equine, we can help if artificial insemination of your mare is desired. This process starts with finding the appropriate stallion and acquiring semen. A good teasing program is also needed so that you can determine when your horse is showing signs of estrus. After determining the appropriate time of ovulation using transrectal palpation and ultrasound, the Stallions owner is contacted and the semen collected and shipped.
The timing of ovulation is the critical step. The semen is shipped in special chilled containers that help maintain the viability of the sperm. Using a sterile pipette, our doctors deposit the sperm in the appropriate horn of the uterus so that they will be closest to the egg for fertilization once ovulation occurs. The mare is then examined via ultrasound at 14 to 18 days later to determine if pregnancy was achieved.
About Horse Pregnancy Monitoring
Once the mare is determined to be pregnant, an additional sonogram will be performed before 30 days of pregnancy to be certain that a twin pregnancy does not exist. It is very difficult for horses to carry two foals to term and puts the mare at high risk. To prevent this from happening we can eliminate one embryo so that she only carries One healthy foal to term.
Additional checks will be performed at 60 and 90 days of pregnancy and again in the fall. Vaccination for equine rhino pneumonitis or viral abortion will be performed on the fifth, seventh, and ninth months of pregnancy.
About Labor and Delivery
A mare will usually experience 1 to 2 hours of contractions before getting ready to give birth. It ends with the sac breaking. The actual delivery process usually only takes about 30 minutes total. We can intervene at any time if complications arise and you should call immediately if you notice anything abnormal or taking longer than 30 minutes. Mares that are at high risk are frequently sent to a hospital or reproductive facility for monitoring.
After delivery the foal should be standing in 1 to 2 hours in nursing within 2 to 3. The placenta should be passed within the first two hours. If this does not occur you should call immediately. An exam will be performed on the foal at 24 hours to evaluate whether or not they received adequate antibodies through the colostrum, the mares first milk. The immunity for the baby or acquired through this milk and will maintain antibody levels for the next few months and are vitally important for the health of the foal.
Whether you are breeding a horse for profit or for pleasure, we advise anyone interested in breeding to see a veterinarian with experience in the equine reproductive services. We are able to assist in every step of the process to ensure both mother and baby are healthy.