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Getting the mare ready for courting...
Getting the mare ready for courting...

Many of us are choosing stallions for the mares.  In fact, to say the search has reached a feverish pitch is a better description.  Many mare owners are finding the stallion is requesting that his ladies have a healthy uterus as indicated by a negative culture.

We have been encouraging stallions owners for years to make this a requirement of mares they book. There are so many reasons for requiring a clean culture, many of which go beyond the health of the animals.

When a mare owner completes the contractual arrangement with the stallion owner, each is expecting the mare to be bred and as a result, become pregnant.  Each owner is assuming that the otherís horse is fertile and free of any diseases that would interfere with the mareís ability to become pregnant,  or which might infect his/her horse.  Each owner is absolutely sure their own horse is fertile and free of diseases.

Most contracts allow for unlimited rebreeding of the mare if she does not become pregnant on the initial breeding.  Many stallions guarantee a live foal the next year or the privilege to return the mare to the stallion with no additional stud fee, although this varies with the breed.

When the mare is presented to the stallion and bred through a heat period of normal length, she is expected to become pregnant.  If the open mare was not bred the preceding year, or if she was bred but did not conceive, this breeding may take place in March or April.  If the mare is ultrasounded on day 14 or later and found to be not pregnant, she is hauled back to the stallion for re-breeding.  By now it is April or May.  The mare is covered through another normal heat period.  After another ultrasound she is found open again and returned to the stallion.  Now it is May or June.  The stallion is being flooded with foaling mares to breed, as well as any other open mares that are returning, creating a wave of mares similar to a tidal wave.

When the mare is returned the third time, the owner is starting to wonder if there is something wrong with the stallion.  His mare may be only four years old and never had a foal, or has never had trouble breeding before (except last year which was because the stallion owner was out of town or it was too late in the year to continue).

When the mare is returned the third time, the stallion owner is beginning to wonder if the mare is infected.  If she is infected, is the problem one that could be transmitted through his stallion to his mares, those mares he bred for his in-laws, and the mares that were trailered 200 miles to be bred and happened to be owned by the very vocal president of the largest saddle club in the Midwest?

When the season ends, the stallion owner will know how many mares were bred and how many became pregnant and carried foals full term.  Unless the owner makes a concentrated effort to contact each mare owner, the final count may take as much as a year, or it may never be known.  But the owner of any mare that was bred and is still open will be suspicious of the stallion.  The return the next year may be made without an additional stud fee, but a year of production was lost as well as the cost of transportation and mare care for both years.

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