Maiden Mare

Q. I have a 3-year-old maiden mare. She is in estrus and has been bred twice. She bled both times. The blood was spread over the stallion's penis and most of the way around above the glans penis (the cap-shaped termination of the penile shaft). What would cause this? A tear? Should I just use artificial insemination?

Jackie, via e-mail

A. The presence of blood after breeding can be very disconcerting. It can be from several different sources. It is necessary to consider both the stallion and the mare. Hemospermia (blood in the semen) is an uncommon problem in stallions, but it can certainly affect a breeding program. Hemospermia can have many causes. Bacterial and viral infections of the urethra and accessory sex glands have all been observed as causes, as have traumatic injuries to the penis. Any stallion owner should be concerned about possible problems and have the stallion evaluated. Hemorrhage from the mare can also have many causes. (See Hemorrhage in the Broodmare.)

Vaginal varicosities (areas of unnatural, permanent distension) can occur in the region of the perforated hymen. These could be disrupted during natural service and be a source of bleeding, and they would tend to occur in older mares. More importantly, the bleeding could be from a tear in the vaginal wall. Such tears tend to occur when the penis doesn't contact the cervical os (the opening of the cervix), but hits the vaginal wall instead. These injuries can vary from a minor tear--which will heal without incident--to a major, life-threatening condition. A full-thickness vaginal tear can be further complicated if the stallion ejaculates into the tear.

A veterinarian should evaluate any mare that demonstrates evidence of bleeding after breeding. He should perform a speculum examination to determine the source of the bleeding and the severity of the damage.

About the Author

R. Dixon Appel, MS, DVM

R. Dixon Appel, MS, DVM, practices with Pheasant Ridge Equine in Cumming, Iowa.

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