Breeding Specialists

The equine breeding industry has evolved dramatically with the introduction of artificial insemination programs and advanced assisted reproductive techniques. While live cover breeding pro-grams are still a mainstay for specific breeds, many

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The equine breeding industry has evolved dramatically with the introduction of artificial insemination programs and advanced assisted reproductive techniques. While live cover breeding pro-grams are still a mainstay for specific breeds, many breed associations now accept foals conceived through the use of cooled and frozen semen, embryo transfer, and advanced techniques such as hysteroscopic insemination and oocyte transfer. The success of these breeding programs relies heavily on assistance from qualified equine veterinarians and even board-certified specialists in equine reproduction.


How can my veterinarian assist with breeding my mare? Before breeding season begins, an equine veterinarian with expertise in reproduction can assess the mare’s reproductive fitness, perform treatments or surgeries to prepare her for breeding, and provide advice about the optimal breeding program for an individual mare. With the choices available for breeding today, it is important to select the best method available (i.e., live cover vs. artificial insemination) for a given mare based on her age, physical condition, previous reproductive problems, and stallion availability. Your veterinarian can also give advice about stallion selection based on his reproductive history and semen availability (fresh, cooled, or frozen).


Once the breeding season is underway, a veterinarian with expertise in reproduction is essential for monitoring and timing the breeding. Exposing the mare to a stallion (teasing) is the best initial method for identifying signs of heat (estrus). But many mares live in performance barns without access to a stallion for teasing.


Examining the reproductive tract by transrectal palpation and ultrasound allows your veterinarian to determine if your mare is cycling, as the majority of mares are reproductively inactive in the winter. These tools also allow your veterinarian to determine the stage of the mare’s reproductive cycle once she begins cycling

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Written by:

Dr. Margo Macpherson, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACT, is an Associate Professor and Section Chief in Reproduction at the University of Florida. Dr. Macpherson is also a Diplomate and past president of the American College of Theriogenologists. She has a strong interest in placental disease of horses and is working toward diagnostic and therapeutic interventions that will improve neonatal survivability.

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