Mare Care Tips

Right from the vet's mouth: ABCs for the new mare owner.

A few years ago, The American Quarter Horse Journalsat down with veterinarian Dr. Racquel Rodeheaver to hear her advice on breeding a mare with shipped semen for the first time.

AQHJ I just bought a mare, and I want to breed her with shipped semen. But I’ve never done this before. What do I do first?

Dr. Rodeheaver – You’ll need a breeding soundness evaluation on the mare to understand exactly what our expectations are going to be for her reproductive health. If you can find out previous breeding history, it’s helpful just to know whether she has ever had problems becoming pregnant or how she has performed reproductively. If a history isn’t available, then that’s all the more reason to do a breeding soundness evaluation.

Looking for more information on horse breeding? AQHA's got you covered with the Horse Reproduction Report, a full-color downloadable report discussing breeding costs, reproductive problems, good breeding conformation, breeding on foal heat and much more.

AQHA – What does a breeding soundness evaluation involve?

Dr. Rodeheaver – It entails thorough physical and reproductive exams, which would involve evaluating her reproductive conformation, doing a rectal palpation and ultrasound. Then we would do a vaginal exam, a cervical palpation and exam and a uterine culture. A culture allows us to test for any type of bacterial or fungal infection involving the uterus. We call that endometritis. Finally, we would do a uterine biopsy. We take a small sample of tissue to determine whether there is any inflammatory condition in the uterus or any kind of aging changes or fibrosis that might limit the pregnancy. The goals are to really look at the mare’s reproductive health so that we can come up with a prognosis, or a level of expectation of what our chances are of getting her bred. There are some decisions that are assisted by doing that exam. For example, if we found out that a mare had some evidence of inflammation in her uterus, or had a low-grade infection, she might be a mare that is predisposed to endometritis and many times, with those mares, we have to manage them more intensely.

AQHJ – What other decisions does a breeding soundness exam help you make?

Dr. Rodeheaver – I serve clients on an ambulatory basis. I also have the luxury of having a facility available. For a mare that doesn’t have any reproductive problems, I will manage her on the farm.

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If I need to manage her more intensively, say I’m having to treat her uterus with antibiotics, lavages, or for some reason she has a reproductive problem that warrants more intensive management, most often I will encourage you to bring the mare into the facility.

Go to QuarterFest on Our Dime!

AQHA members have a great opportunity to win a trip to QuarterFest: A Celebration of the American Quarter Horse. This one-of-a-kind event, May 1-3 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, will be a chance to ride, touch, observe and learn how to care for your American Quarter Horse.

If you’ve visited AQHA’s new web site, – and you want to visit QuarterFest – here’s the deal: In 200 words or less, tell us which tip on you have benefited from most, and explain why. On the site, you’ll find tips and advice on training, recreational riding, showing, horse health and breeding – so you have lots to choose from.

Send us your entries no later than March 27. And please adhere to the word limit; longer essays will be disqualified. We’ll only accept one entry per person. The contest is open to AQHA members over age 18, and the winner will be notified by April 3.

The prize includes airfare to Murfreesboro from anywhere within the contiguous United States, hotel accommodations and event admission. Visit America’s Horse Daily for complete rules and to submit your entry.