The Problem Mare: Monitoring High-Risk Pregnancies

Keep a close watch on mares at risk for not carrying a foal to term.
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Keep a close watch on mares at risk for not carrying a foal to term.

Picture the aging broodmare who in past years has produced fine foals–some whose births were more difficult than others. You know her chances of continuing to deliver healthy foals are dwindling, but her bloodlines are still worth perpetuating. It can be challenging to achieve and maintain pregnancy in high-risk broodmares such as this for a variety of reasons. In this article we’ll review what can make a pregnancy high-risk, along with health aspects to monitor before, during, and after pregnancy to optimize a mare’s chances for delivering a healthy foal.

Pregnancy Perils

Age A mare’s age greatly affects her ability to conceive and maintain pregnancy. "The mare’s age plays a much larger role in early pregnancy loss than in later loss," reports Sara Lyle, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACT, of the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine. "Actual conception rate is probably not that different between fertile and subfertile mares (of any age; 90% vs. 80-90%) but the problem is early embryonic death (EED)

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Written by:

Nancy S. Loving, DVM, owns Loving Equine Clinic in Boulder, Colorado, and has a special interest in managing the care of sport horses. Her book, All Horse Systems Go, is a comprehensive veterinary care and conditioning resource in full color that covers all facets of horse care. She has also authored the books Go the Distance as a resource for endurance horse owners, Conformation and Performance, and First Aid for Horse and Rider in addition to many veterinary articles for both horse owner and professional audiences.

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