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More reasons for early exams...
More reasons for early exams...


This week we will continue our discussion of pregnancy exams of the mare.  We have thoroughly discussed the advantages of diagnosing pregnancy using the ultrasound.  We will mention a couple of additional reasons and then move on to diagnosing the pregnancy by rectal exam.

In addition to early diagnosis of pregnancy, using ultrasound allows us to intervene at a critical time in the life of the embryo.  If the mare has a low biopsy grade, indicating her uterine wall is not in the best of health, convincing her to maintain a pregnancy can be a challenge.  Also, if the mare is older (mid teens and beyond), her ability to produce sufficient progesterone may be impaired.  The older mares also have smaller follicles and smaller embryos, which can be weaker than those of the younger mare.

For all the above reasons, knowing the mare is pregnant allows us to diagnose any deficiencies and supplement them as needed.  As soon as we diagnose an early pregnancy in a mare with a troubled history, we can take a blood sample and have it checked for hormone levels.  If the progesterone level is low, we can supplement it with injections or oral medication.

If the biopsy grade was unusually low, the mare may already be on progesterone.  A blood sample taken at the time of pregnancy evaluation may find the progesterone levels high enough that continued supplementation is not necessary, saving the cost of medicine and the time to administer it.

The ultrasound examination can be performed anytime after fourteen days of the last breeding.  At this time, the embryo is literally rolling around within the uterus.  It has a couple more weeks before being firmly attached to the lining of the uterus.  Pregnancy loss in the mare is highest before this implantation time.

We recommend the mare be pregnancy examined a second time forty five days after breeding.  This will guard against the disappointment of having a mare found pregnant by ultrasound, only to have her found open the following spring.  The mare pregnant at forty five days will likely stay pregnant for the duration.  This second exam can be done by rectal palpation.

To summarize:

The first pregnancy examination can be performed anytime after fourteen days from the last breeding.
This confirmation will give you the confidence the mare is pregnant and save the trouble of running to the stud farm the upcoming week.
It will also allow us to start the problem mare on medication to help her maintain the pregnancy, if that is necessary (especially important for older mares).
After forty five days, the mare should be examined a second time to ensure the embryo survived the critical first month after conception.
From this point on, all you have to do is watch for the reminder cards for when the regular vaccinations and deworming are due, as well as the very important rhinopneumonitis vaccinations at the 5th, 7th, and 9th month of pregnancy.

This assurance that a pregnancy was established will reward you with an ornery, self destructive, and enjoyable foal in a short year.

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