Retiring Performance Mares to the Broodmare Band

Q: I was interested to read the question on mares returning to performance careers after foaling ("High Performance Broodmares" in the August 2001 issue of The Horse, article #2766 at www.thehorse.com). My question is a slight reversal of this. What, if any, problems could I expect from a mare who has been a performance horse (endurance) most of her life and is retiring to the broodmare paddock at the age of 11 or 12 for her first foal? She seems to cycle normally, but I have heard stories about abnormal hormone levels and the difficulties of getting performance mares in foal after a long career. Any thoughts or suggestions would be welcome. Jenny

A: Really, there's no problem. Rarely, mares which are poorly conditioned or have received lots of anabolic steroids will have non-existent or irregular heat cycles, but that is usually a short-lived problem once they get to the farm and adjust to photoperiod and better nutrition. Since your mare is cycling normally, I would expect her to get in foal as easily as any other. 

About the Author

Elizabeth Santschi, DVM, Dipl. ACVS

Elizabeth M Santschi, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, is a Clinical Assistant Professor in Large Animal Surgery at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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