Understanding Breeding Soundness Exams for Mares

One researcher explained that the purpose a breeding soundness exam is to determine the probability of a mare conceiving and carrying a foal, and determining the cause(s) of sub- or infertility.
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Understanding Breeding Soundness Exams for Mares
One researcher explained that the purpose a breeding soundness exam is to determine the probability of a mare conceiving and carrying a foal. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse
Making an informed decision to breed a mare is an exciting time in an owner’s life. There are so many things to do: pick a stallion, prepare a foaling location, and dream big about the foal’s potential, to name a few. But the first thing on the list should be to have a veterinarian perform a breeding soundness examination on the mare.

During a presentation at the 2012 Western Veterinary Conference, held Feb. 19-23 in Las Vegas, Nev., Walter Threlfall, DVM, MS, PhD, Dipl. ACT, a consulting theriogenologist (reproductive specialist) in Powell, Ohio, and professor emeritus in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at The Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, gave an in-depth look at what a mare’s breeding soundness exam should entail.

“The purpose (of a breeding soundness exam) is to determine the probability of a mare conceiving and the cause(s) of sub- or infertility,” said Threlfall, a Quarter Horse breeder for more than 30 years.

Obtain a History

Veterinarians should begin a breeding soundness examination by obtaining a detailed history of the mare, Threlfall said, indicating that much can be learned from this portion of the process

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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