Deciding to breed your mare is not an insignificant decision. It takes significant planning and preparation to have the best odds of successfully getting your mare pregnant.
A pre-breeding exam is recommended for all mares. Things can change a lot for a mare from one year to the next. Even mares that have successfully carried and raised a foal may have new challenges this year. We strongly recommend a full physical exam as well as a reproductive ultrasound.
In addition to being in good health and body condition, free from disease processes, or significant lameness, mares also need to have a close examination of their reproductive tract. The conformation of their perineal area is very important for determining their risk for urine pooling, air sucking, or fecal contamination. The conformation of the perineal area of mares tend to deteriorate as they age, due to weight gain and loss, as well as the “pull” of carrying foals to term. A reproductive ultrasound allows veterinarians to look for any fluid that is currently pooling in the vaginal area as well as to look at the over all integrity of the cervix, uterus, and ovaries. This information helps veterinarians know if they need to prepare to flush the mare’s reproductive tract before breeding, if cultures or other lab samples may need to be taken, or if the mare may need a Caslix procedure once she is successfully bred.
During the pre-breeding exam, a discussion with your veterinarian needs to take place about how you are planning to breed your mare. If you are planning on live covering her, are you using a stallion of your own or are taking your mare to a standing stallion? Are you planning to ship semen, if so, is it cooled or frozen? If you are shipping semen, who is collecting the stud and what is his collection schedule?
You will also want to make sure you and your veterinarian talk through the plan for monitoring your mares heat cycle. If she is a mare that shows heat obviously, perhaps you, as the owner, can monitor her and have a pretty good idea when she is in heat. If she is a silent heat mare, then additional ultrasounds may be needed to establish where she is at in her estrus cycle.
If the plan is to ship semen and AI the mare, it also needs to be determined if she will be staying at the clinic during those times, or if she will needed to be hauled in. Often repetitive ultrasounds are needed to optimize the chance of getting a mare pregnant and hauling the mare to the clinic daily or even twice daily can become unmanageable.
All of these things are part of a normal mare breeding plan, and just being prepared ahead of time improve the likelihood of getting your mare pregnant. In Montana and Wyoming, April is the most common month to begin the breeding process. Get your mare in for her pre-breeding exam now so she is ready to be bred in May or June.