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caledonia

1st Time Breeder

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Does anyone have suggestions for articles/books/websites a first time breeder should read? Or any tips/stories you can share to help me prepare?

My mare was bred 3x in the past, but I am a complete greenie.

I got in contact with an excellent repro vet in February and she was able to give me a bit of a run down on what will happen, but as the breeding date approaches, I need to refresh my memory on certain things. Im going to talk to my vet sometime this week, but I thought it might be helpful if I got some of my more "basic" questions answered before I call her; just to make sure I have everything covered and to make sure I can really understand/absorb what she will tell me.

The current questions on my mind: (sorry this may be long...bear with me, pretty please!)

My vet explained to me that a mare's estrous cycle becomes very difficult to track in the winter months (and I think she said sometimes stops?) and in order to culture her in preparation for breeding, we needed to wait until the spring/warmer weather when she starts cycling regularly. How can I tell/track when she starts cycling? This mare has really wacky cycles and is very, very hormonal. When she was in heavy training, it seemed like she was in season 24/7, so how do I know when she is actually cycling? Is there an easy(er) way of determining when she can be bred? Is there anything I can do to help induce a cycle? (I don't have easy access to a teasing stallion.)

What things should the mare have done in preparation for breeding? The vet mentioned culturing her, but other people have also suggested "cleaning her out" and having her tested? She is UTD on all the normal spring vaccinations, but is there anything else she should get? Does anyone suggest certain supplements to feed or any suggestions for preparing my mare?

For the actual breeding procedure...I am using AI and I already picked out a stallion/bought the doses. My vet said I need to track the cycles and when she is at a certain time, she will come out an do an ultrasound. How do I determine the optimum time? (What is the optimum time?? And how small is the "insemination window"?) Then I need to contact the breeder and have them send me the doses? Or is the cycle tracking easy enough that I can contact the breeder to send the semen at a certain time? Are all the doses typically shipped at once? Or is one dose shipped and if she doesn't take, I can have the second dose shipped? If she doesn't take on the first try, I am assuming I have to wait a full cycle before we can try again? So then would it be beneficial to start tracking her ASAP so I don't end up having to breed her really late in the season?

I know all 3x she was bred were using AI, so do you think that increases her chances of taking? I heard that AI (especially with frozen...which I am using) has a lower success rate? My vet suggested sacrificing one of the straws in the dose and having it sent for analysis...would you recommend this? The stallion has a high breeding success rate (as far as I've heard), but he is also recently deceased, and I could only buy 2 doses, so I'm nervous about sacrificing anything in case I need it. I asked the agent I bought the semen through (its an international stallion) and she said that I will get all that information/analysis when the doses are shipped. Is this typical? Is this the information my vet was talking about, or is this different data?

So once I determine she is ready to breed, I will bring her into the vet clinic where the actual insemination will take place. She will stay there for 7-10 days to make sure there is no post-insemination swelling or infection. During that time I assume there is some way of telling if the breeding was successful? Or is that only determined at the first ultrasound? When is it determined the breeding was truly "successful"? How many ultrasounds are typically done during the first trimester?

Ok phew...sorry that was so long! Its pretty obvious that I am super nervous (but very, very excited!) about the whole process and I really just want to know everything I can in order to be more than prepared.

Any and all help/suggestions/advice/stories/tips are more than welcome :happy0203:

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Does anyone have suggestions for articles/books/websites a first time breeder should read? Or any tips/stories you can share to help me prepare?

My mare was bred 3x in the past, but I am a complete greenie.

I got in contact with an excellent repro vet in February and she was able to give me a bit of a run down on what will happen, but as the breeding date approaches, I need to refresh my memory on certain things. Im going to talk to my vet sometime this week, but I thought it might be helpful if I got some of my more "basic" questions answered before I call her; just to make sure I have everything covered and to make sure I can really understand/absorb what she will tell me.

Good Start! A good vet is a real asset!

The current questions on my mind: (sorry this may be long...bear with me, pretty please!)

My vet explained to me that a mare's estrous cycle becomes very difficult to track in the winter months (and I think she said sometimes stops?) and in order to culture her in preparation for breeding, we needed to wait until the spring/warmer weather when she starts cycling regularly. How can I tell/track when she starts cycling? This mare has really wacky cycles and is very, very hormonal. When she was in heavy training, it seemed like she was in season 24/7, so how do I know when she is actually cycling? Is there an easy(er) way of determining when she can be bred? Is there anything I can do to help induce a cycle? (I don't have easy access to a teasing stallion.)

Our horses don't cycle in the winter. If we keep them under lights, they start cycling in feburary. We have the stallion in the barn so we just tease everybody (poor royal!) We have had one mare cycle, and Val will have her foal cycle this week coming. Each mare is different, some mare have very strong cycles others don't. Royal is very good about tell us how is in heat and who is not.

What things should the mare have done in preparation for breeding? The vet mentioned culturing her, but other people have also suggested "cleaning her out" and having her tested? She is UTD on all the normal spring vaccinations, but is there anything else she should get? Does anyone suggest certain supplements to feed or any suggestions for preparing my mare?

Do whatever you vet recomends. We get our cultured. We also make sure any shots that need to be done get done before breeding. Some shot souldn't be given while a mare is in foal, so talk to your vet about what needs to be given since it varies by area

For the actual breeding procedure...I am using AI and I already picked out a stallion/bought the doses. My vet said I need to track the cycles and when she is at a certain time, she will come out an do an ultrasound. How do I determine the optimum time? (What is the optimum time?? And how small is the "insemination window"?) Then I need to contact the breeder and have them send me the doses? Or is the cycle tracking easy enough that I can contact the breeder to send the semen at a certain time? Are all the doses typically shipped at once? Or is one dose shipped and if she doesn't take, I can have the second dose shipped? If she doesn't take on the first try, I am assuming I have to wait a full cycle before we can try again? So then would it be beneficial to start tracking her ASAP so I don't end up having to breed her really late in the season?

What to do is when she start to cycle, call your vet, they will book an ultrasound. Also call the stallion owner and give them a heads up that your mare is cycling and you will need thme to ship in a couple of days. Your vet will look for a follicle and will tell you when to order semen. You ultrasound so you get the best window to breed.

No you shouldn't say ship in x number of days. Better to ultrasound and ship then.

Depends on your contract. Our states you can have a second, thrid dose for the duration of the contract, however the mare owner pays a fee

After you breed, you will have your vet back out to re ultrasound to see if there is a baby. If thier is no baby, your vet can short cycle her by giving her a shot.

I know all 3x she was bred were using AI, so do you think that increases her chances of taking? I heard that AI (especially with frozen...which I am using) has a lower success rate? My vet suggested sacrificing one of the straws in the dose and having it sent for analysis...would you recommend this? The stallion has a high breeding success rate (as far as I've heard), but he is also recently deceased, and I could only buy 2 doses, so I'm nervous about sacrificing anything in case I need it. I asked the agent I bought the semen through (its an international stallion) and she said that I will get all that information/analysis when the doses are shipped. Is this typical? Is this the information my vet was talking about, or is this different data?

Reputable breeders will have there stallions tested before they ship. We do, and re test him every year.

So once I determine she is ready to breed, I will bring her into the vet clinic where the actual insemination will take place. She will stay there for 7-10 days to make sure there is no post-insemination swelling or infection. During that time I assume there is some way of telling if the breeding was successful? Or is that only determined at the first ultrasound? When is it determined the breeding was truly "successful"? How many ultrasounds are typically done during the first trimester?

Your vet will ultrasound. I can't remember how long after for the life of me at the moment. It was a year ago we had Val done.

Ok phew...sorry that was so long! Its pretty obvious that I am super nervous (but very, very excited!) about the whole process and I really just want to know everything I can in order to be more than prepared.

Any and all help/suggestions/advice/stories/tips are more than welcome :happy0203:

My answers are in pink.

As for books, I like Blessed are the Broodmares, The Foal is the Goal and The foaling Prmier. I read all of these and learned a lot. I have other books that I havn't had a chance to read yet but I made a thread and got some good book suggestions from that. Link to thread Best of luck with breeding you mare. Also make sure when she get close you post on the foaling board! and keep us updated! [smiley Wavey]

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Desputed did an awesome job of summing it up for you but i just wanted to add, i would NOT sacrifice one of the straws for testing. like Desputed said, the stud owners would/should know. also, freezing can be a little tricky but every year vets are learning more & more & getting better & better. also if you have any more questions or concerns, which you will, first time can be very stressful, this is the place to get support!

Edited by fastfilly79

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Well...I just scheduled the first vet appointment to get her cultured tomorrow!!

The vet will also be ultrasounding her to see where she is in her cycle and calculate the next cycle. Then its just a matter of time before we start the process :)

Thanks for everyone's help!

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One thing I wanted to mention -breeding with frozen semen is quite a bit trickier on the mare end. Unlike with cooled semen, you will not be ordering the semen when the mare is in heat -your vet should have a liquid nitrogen tank, and the semen should be shipped to you and stored with your vet once the breeding is paid for. You mare should be at the clinic for breeding -frozen semen has a very short lifespan, so the vet will probably need to ultrasound several times to inseminate at the optimum moment -an hour either way will mean success or failure for you. I can't really imagine a need for your mare to stay at the clinic for a week post breeding, however.

As far as analyzing the semen -your vet can look at a drop in the microscope to estimate sperm count and motility at the time of breeding. If you only get two doses, you want every bit to count.

You can ultrasound for preg check as early as 14 days, though I have mine checked at 16 days by preference, as the embryo attaches to wall of the uterine horn on day 15. Another ultrasound at 30 days to check for a hearbeat is a good idea. Beyond that, it is sometimes possible to check the sex around 60 days and 90 days -I always figure I might as well save the $50 and be surprised -it's not like I can say, "fine, keep it!" if it isn't what I'm hoping for, lol.

As far as bringing her into heat -your vet can give you a shot, estrumate, which will bring your mare into heat within a few days. It wont work if she is within five days of having ovulated though, but your vet can get an idea of where she is in her cycle when she checks her. Estrumate is IM and very inexpensive, but you do need to observe carefully for about an hour afterward and have banamine on hand. Most mares just sweat up, but some can get very painful, even colicky.

Anyway, good luck! Do you have pics of your mare? And who is the stallion?

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Beyond that, it is sometimes possible to check the sex around 60 days and 90 days -I always figure I might as well save the $50 and be surprised -it's not like I can say, "fine, keep it!" if it isn't what I'm hoping for, lol.

In 15+ years of breeding I have never heard ANYONE being able to check for the sex of the baby via ultrasound around 60-90 days! Have you actually done that?

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Thanks again guys!!

So the vet came out on Wednesday. The mare was ultrasounded and determined to ovulate in 2-3 days based on the size of her folicle. The vet gave her a shot to force ovulation (I cant remember the name for the life of me -- starts with an L) and next thursday I will give her a shot of estrumate to short cycle her (she told me about the colic-y symptoms she might have.) She will be ultrasounded again that saturday and (crossing fingers!) will go into the clinic on Monday or tuesday. She will stay in the clinic for a few days for multiple ultrasounds and hopefully a successful breeding :)

This is the mare:

http://pets.webshots.com/album/559223279ijsqhl

And this is the stallion:

http://www.emcostallionservices.com/stallions/dazzler.html

Im breeding for my next event horse :)

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Goldenboy_eventer, very nice mare and stallion. Hope the baby is everything you are dreaming of! Good luck, let us know how it goes. :smilie:

CoolRabbit, it isn't something I have done, but a freind has done it, and when the technique first became popular I did ask my vet if she could do it. She said she could, but I just decided it didn't really matter -might as well be surprised, lol. It never hurt any baby colt to wear a pink and lavender foal blanket...

Here is a quote from an article on thehorse.com by Richard D. Holder, DVM.

"How It's Done

Your veterinarian begins the process by scanning for a live normal fetus. The fetus is examined for gender by locating a structure called the genital tubercle. The genital tubercle (which eventually will become the ****** in a colt and the clitoris in a filly) develops on the midline of the fetus, between the hind legs. At around 55 days, the structure moves toward the umbilicus in a colt and toward the anus in a filly. Therefore, the gender of a fetus cannot accurately be determined before about Day 60, when it has fully migrated.

After 75 days, the uterus is carried over the pelvic rim by the fluid of the pregnancy and the fetus moves to the lowest part of the uterus, making the rectal ultrasound approach difficult. However, as the pregnancy progresses, the fetus grows and extends back toward the pelvis, allowing it to be viewed again ultrasonographically around 90-95 days.

Between 90 and 150 days of pregnancy, the fetus grows considerably and its gender can be diagnosed only about 80% of the time. At that stage, the veterinarian is scanning for external genitalia (******, mammary gland, clitoris, etc.) that frequently are difficult to see because they are not well developed until around 110 days. After 150 days, the fetus has grown so large that it becomes even more difficult to view the area of the fetus needed to determine gender.

The ability to determine the gender of a foal before it is born requires planning. Even the best equipment and the most experienced veterinarian will be faster and more accurate (a 99% accuracy rate can be attained) when the mare is between 60-75 days pregnant. Before and after this time, size, positioning, and other factors make fetal gender determination difficult. Since timing is critical, tell your veterinarian ahead of time that you would like to know the gender of the fetus so that the service can be arranged"

Edited by Bryna

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So unfortunately my mare's culture came back with some growths on it. Two were normal bacteria, and one was (at very low levels) abnormal. We started the 3 day antibiotic treatment today, and then I decided to skip a cycle. My vet said that some people will press right into short cycling again after the treatment, but If I am in no rush (which I not) that we should wait the infection out. Especially since I am breeding with frozen and only have 2 doses, I really, really want to take my time and give the highest chance for a successful breeding. She finishes treatment on Friday, will be re-cultured on monday and (crossing fingers) will come up clean and we can proceed to the next step.

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that is going to be a beautiful cross. cant wait to see this baby! love how good he produced as well, to me thats more important then what the actual sire himself looks like. the one Star Dazzler, wow! nice, very nice.

edited to add: is your mare on a broodmare supplement?

Edited by fastfilly79

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that is going to be a beautiful cross. cant wait to see this baby! love how good he produced as well, to me thats more important then what the actual sire himself looks like. the one Star Dazzler, wow! nice, very nice.

edited to add: is your mare on a broodmare supplement?

I am super happy with Dazzler as well. His size doesnt bother me too much, as I am pretty short and am looking to get around the 16.1hh range. (anything over 16.2 makes me look like a peanut!) He passed away in December, so I had to jump on the chance to get some of the last available doses and I really, really hope she takes!

She is not on any broodmare supplements...would you recommend that she is?

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Everyone please cross your fingers!!

A round of antibiotics and another cycle later, my mare is finally going into the clinic. The vet was out today for a 2nd culture and to ultrasound to see the size of her folicles. She is growing the culture tonight, but we made plans to ship her into the clinic at 8am tomorrow morning. I called to have the semen over-nighted, and pending the fact that nothing serious grows again, she will be bred tomorrow sometime :)

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yes, i highly recommend her to be on a broodmare supplement! i put my girls on D.A.C. broodmare 3 months before breeding! its not to late though. some people will disagree about supplements but if you want a superior foal, give your mare supplements. & for Gods sake, i see this on this board quite a bit & frankly it scares me, dont allow your mare to have her baby in the dirt or shavings! its just a real good way for the foal to get infections & foal pneumonia.

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Update :)

So after the last update, my mare just had her 2nd culture return dirty. We did another round of antibiotics in the uterus as well as putting her on doxy orally for a little extra umph. Finally after the 3rd culture, she came back without any colonies. She went into the clinic last Wednesday and was bred early Thursday morning. Just to be even more safe, my vet opted to put her on an immune stimulant. ($$$$!! lol) She came home Friday morning. She has her very first preg check next thursday at 8am. Everyone cross your fingers we see a tiny heartbeat on the ultrasound! The mare was sewn up with a caslicks and Ive been keeping her in light work so she doesnt fry her brain.

I was really nervous about using frozen semen my first time breeding (her 4th time being bred) but my vet looked at a drop under the scope and said she was very impressed with his quality...which is helping reassure my decision.

Im trying not to get too excited in case she doesnt take, but Im already thinking about names... ;)

Anyone have ideas for names?

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So she is not pregnant :(

She was ultrasounded at day 14 and it was a little questionable about what was on the screen. It looked like either a day 12ish embryo or that she was reabsorbing the cells. Rechecked her again today (day 18) and there is nothing there. Bummer. Now Im trying to make the difficult decision of continuing or stopping. Unfortunately with all her culture issues, my vet bill is almost 3x more than I was saving/planning for. I need to crunch some number to decide if it is worth my while to continue with the last dose or to try and sell it and get some money back...idk :(

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I'm sorry your mare isn't pregnant. Unfortunately, welcome to the world of breeding horses. It took me 5 shipments/collections to get my own mare in foal.

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We start our mares under lights in about february. We put the lights on them for an extra 6 hours on top of what they already get from sun outside.

and they usually start cycling by march or sooner.

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