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Generally, mares should be in good health prior to breeding as well as up to date on vaccinations, deworming, and dental care. When planning whether to breed or not, a complete evaluation of the mare is recommended, including, if necessary, testing for heritable diseases such as HYPP, HERDA, WFFS, and OLWS. Mares are seasonal breeders, which means that they will stop cycling (enter winter anestrus) from late fall to late spring. To hasten the onset of cyclity they can be placed “under lights” 60 days before the anticipated breeding date. Placing a mare under lights means exposing her to 16 hours of daylight per day. This can be accomplished by using barn or paddock lights with timers, or a blue light emitting mask.
When a mare presents to SVEC for breeding, transrectal palpation and ultrasonography are performed to evaluate her internal and external reproductive anatomy. If there is any question or abnormal fertility history, further evaluations such as a vaginal examination, uterine culture with cytology, or endometrial biopsy may be recommended.
Artificial insemination involves monitoring a mare until she is in estrus with a dominant ovarian follicle (containing an egg), then giving an ovulation induction agent once the timing of the semen shipment has been coordinated and confirmed. Insemination is targeted within 6-24 hours of ovulation depending on the semen type (fresh versus cooled versus frozen) and quality. Ovulation is confirmed and the mare is checked for post-breeding inflammation (endometritis). Pregnancy detection can be done as early as 14 days post-ovulation.