It’s said that you never stop learning when it comes to horses; you’re a perpetual student of all things equine.
That seems to hold true because in some strange twist of events, I have quickly switched from showing and training horses to breeding and delivering horses.
There is a bit of a learning curve when dealing with broodmares (and stallions and foals for that matter). Quite a bit can go wrong or not according to plan.
Placentitis, an infection that targets the placenta, is the leading cause of abortions/slipped foals. It typically thickens the placenta wall, preventing nutrients from reaching the embryonic foal, and usually causes premature separation of the placenta from the endometrium of the mare.
Mares with placentitis usually present signs such as early udder filling or leaking milk, or vaginal discharge 3-4 months before estimated delivery date. It can be treated with hormone balancers such as Regumate and antibiotics such as SMZs. (Always discuss treatment plans with your vet first!)
Unfortunately, out of two mares who developed this infection, we lost one foal this year, even through early detection, constant vigilance, and appropriate administration of medicine. (This mare has since been restarted under saddle and has been sold as a family riding horse.)
Other issues such as twin pregnancies can cause trouble for horses and require prompt treatment and prevention strategies for broodmare well-being. (If caught early enough, twin pregnancies can be prevented by having a vet pinch off one of the early embryos.)
It’s not for the faint of heart, but you do need a heart.
We’re wrapping up the last of this year’s foaling season, with just one mare still holding on … although she could pop any day now.
Here’s hoping for a filly and not another surprise colt!