Mare & Foal

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Every spring, mare owners get excited about choosing a stallion for their mare, but many decisions need to be made before selecting the stud and breeding the mare. “Breeding is not for the faint of heart,” says Lisa Longtin. She owns Merrington Warmbloods in Kindersley, Saskatchewan and has been breeding warmblood horses for the dressage and hunter rings for 25 years. “When things go well, it’s great. But there are so many things that can go wrong.”

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If you have a pregnant mare in your barn, plan ahead to collect and freeze some of her colostrum — that all-important first milk — so you have it on hand if a foal is born without access to this essential liquid.

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Fragile Foal Syndrome (FFS) is a lethal genetic disease of connective tissue which has been reported most frequently. in Warmbloods. However, a recent study has found that the genetic defect responsible is present across a range of other breeds.

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Canadian breeders producing quality foals - North American horse owners may not be aware that Canada is the home of Linwood Ranch, an equine breeding facility that has generated peer reviewed research in recent years on subjects such as equine behaviour, equine welfare, stall design, and the requirements for lying down time for healthy horses. Linwood Ranch is a PMU or “pregnant mare urine” ranch in Manitoba, and is also where active research is conducted on many equine welfare issues affecting all of our horses.

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Dr. Keith Betteridge, Professor emeritus, Department of Biomedical Sciences at Ontario Veterinary College, shares his research on early pregnancy loss in mares.

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Waiting for the birth of a foal seems to take an eternity, but the day when your newborn foal will stand beside its dam and nurse for the first time is almost here. Most mares will foal without problems, but if you have a high risk mare you should alert your veterinarian of potential problems early, and monitor her closely during her pregnancy to protect your emotional and financial investment.

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Research from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has demonstrated that a chromosomal defect is responsible for a significant proportion of horse pregnancies that fail within the first two months of development. These findings will pave the way for new diagnostic tests for what could be one of the most common causes of pregnancy loss in mares.

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