Breeding Soundness Exams for Him and Her
Native Dancer won every race he ran in except for the Kentucky Derby. A true champion on the track, only one thing overshadowed the “Grey Ghost of Sagamore”: his offspring. The stallion sired 43 stakes winners, and his progeny includes champion sires Northern Dancer and Sadler’s Well.
When a truly great horse comes along, it’s only natural to want to replicate his or her talent. Some of us spend decades studying the traits of potential sires and dams to unite in the quest for the “perfect” foal, carefully taking note of the characteristics of progeny already produced. Others don’t consider genetics until they’re in possession of an outstanding horse whose qualities they want to keep around. Either way, it’s critical to do your research before playing Cupid to your horse—and not just in the realm of choosing the parents. A perfect pairing on paper does not a perfect pregnancy and healthy foal make; there are a number of steps you must take to prepare your horse or pony for parenthood. Without further ado, ladies first …
Start With A Healthy Mare
The chances of having a successful pregnancy increase when you have an excellent environment for both conception and fetal growth: a healthy mare. This means making sure she’s up-to-date on vaccinations, deworming, dental, and other preventive care before breeding. And don’t assume that a healthy mare is one that’s “fattened up” to breed. Theriogenologist Karen Wolfsdorf, DVM, Dipl. ACT, of the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, in Lexington, Kentucky, says you want to be able to “feel a mare’s ribs, but not see them” when breeding season rolls around. If your potential broodmare sports fat pads, a thick neck crest, and a long or poor hair coat, Wolfsdorf recommends having your veterinarian evaluate her for equine metabolic syndrome or Cushing’s disease, as these conditions can affect how she cycles and complicate
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