While there have been significant advances in equine reproduction techniques over the past 15 years, there’s been less research conducted on reproductive problems in broodmares.

The U.K. veterinary industry hopes to address this deficit by engaging new veterinary interest in the subject; this month the Equine Veterinary Journal has published an online reproduction research collection, with an introduction from equine reproduction expert Jon Pycock, BVetMed, PhD, DESM, MRCVS, new president of the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA).

Pycock has also compiled some pertinent tips for breeders to help them make the most of the latest reproductive science and expertise.

A significant number of the mares bred in the U.K. each year are Thoroughbred mares breeding foals destined for the racing industry. The significant remainder are bred by the sport horse industry for competition in various disciplines. There are also a large number of mares bred by breeders for other reasons. Equine welfare charities collectively advocate that that there are many more horses in the U.K. than there are good homes, which is causing a major welfare problem. Advances in knowledge and techniques are helping to make breeding and safer and easier potentially enabling the focus to be on breeding for quality and purpose rather than quantity, whether Thoroughbred, sport horse, or native pony.

Proper breeding management is vital to ensure the success of a breeding operation. Managing the reproductive problems of mares and stallions properly can and will enhance their fertility. There have been significant advances in equine reproduction on both clinical and practical levels particularly since ultrasonography was introduced as a technique in broodmare reproduction in the early eighties. This has opened up our understanding of many aspects of broodmare management to maximise pregnancy and foaling rates.

Pycock has spent most of his professional career working in the field of equine reproduction and broodmare management, in particular. He shared the following tips for breeders to help with safe, effective, and healthy breeding:

  1. Work with a veterinary surgeon experienced in the field of equine reproduction who is prepared to discuss all aspects of the process.
  2. Be a well-educated client. Pycock says, “As a veterinary surgeon I have always viewed the best clients as those who are well-educated. This does not mean classifying yourself as an expert because you have read a random article that you found online. Rather, you will have thought very carefully about what the breeding process entails, read some information written by knowledgeable colleagues with the experience to write well-informed articles, discussed the process with your vet, and maybe even attended a lecture or two on the subject.”
  3. Have a good reason to want to breed from your mare and be prepared to commit both time and money to the process.
  4. Make sure your mare is healthy and free from any disease before breeding.
  5. Be an optimist but prepared for occasional disappointments along the way.

The reproduction research collection is available free online at onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1001/(ISSN)2042-3306/homepage/progress_in_broodmare_practice.htm.