Advances in testing can help breeding New methods may improve success rate


January 17, 1993|By MUPHEN WHITNEY

Just about every issue of horse magazines that has been published recently has been an annual "stallion issue." It's time to start thinking about this year's breeding season.

Equine reproduction always has presented horse owners with a difficult problem. The breeding season is relatively short, and the gestation period is relatively long.

Currently the average reproductive rate of mares in the United States is about 60 percent. Some people are content with this rate of success, but to others these are not satisfactory odds when it comes to maximizing the number of offspring from the top animals in each breed.

Dr. Bud Hallowell, an equine practitioner, researcher anmember of the Advisory Board of the Northwest Equine Reproduction Laboratory, has stated that "only by increasing overall efficiency in breeding will we be able to achieve our

purposes. If we could produce a foal every time a mare is bred, breeders would be able to make the necessary choices to strengthen bloodlines, improve breeds and enhance performance."

Many techniques used today as a matter of course in breedinprograms all have come into use within the last three decades. All of these techniques are the outgrowths of research programs. The primary focus of work at NERL has been into the events that occur in the early stages of a mare's pregnancy.

This research has yielded data that provided almost instantaneous benefit to mare owners. Researchers have found that the greatest incidence of pregnancy loss was in the first few days after conception. Therefore, if pregnancy checks were done early enough -- and this is possible with diagnostic ultrasound -- it would be possible to rebreed many mares who had lost their pregnancies in the early stages.

In one research program at NERL all the mares who had lost embryos very early were rebred. A significant proportion of them became pregnant again, and nearly 75 percent of these carried the embryo to term.

These days many problem mares can be helped with innovative procedures, which are the outgrowth of research done at NERL and at other veterinary research facilities. It is becoming less and less rare to be able to help previously barren or hard-to-breed mares.

Success stories are increasing in direct proportion to the information and techniques becoming available from the various research projects and efforts.

Whether you have just one beloved mare or a whole barn of investments, improving the conception rate can make a huge difference to your bottom line -- whether it is calculated in satisfaction and sentiment or in dollars and cents.

Education seminar scheduled

Make sure you put the next Carroll County Equestrian Council education seminar on your calendar. The one at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday will cover proposed limited liability legislation related equine activities.

The February seminars will feature equine dentist Lars Curley, who will discuss how to assess your horse's teeth.

Clinic with a master

Have you always wanted to attend a clinic with Three-Day Event master Bruce Davidson? Here's your chance to audit one of bTC Davidson's clinics here in Maryland. The audit fee is $25. Call Joyce McDonald at Shadowbrook Farm (410) 796-4947 for more


Calendar of events

Wednesday: Carroll County Equestrian Council seminar on the Equine Activities Limited Liability Act; 7:30 p.m.; refreshments served. Agricultural Center, Westminster. (410) 833-4593.

Friday-Saturday: Dressage show and clinic. Hilltop Farm, Colora. 658-9898.

Jan. 23-24: Karen Lende three-day eventing clinic; all day. Maple Spring Farm. Glenwood. (410) 442-2295.

Feb. 2: General meeting of Carroll County Equestrian Council, 7:30 p.m. East Middle School, Longwell Avenue, Westminster. (410) 833-4593.

Feb. 5-6: Carroll County Equestrian Council booth at the Cranberry Mall Agricultural Days Exhibit, Westminster; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day.

Feb. 27-28 -- Flat and jumping clinic with Three-Day Event rider Bruce Davidson. Shadowbrook Farm, Elkridge. (410) 796-4947.

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