Ask Your Veterinarian: Breeding Soundness Exams

Veterinarians at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital answer your questions about sales and healthcare of Thoroughbred auction yearlings, weanlings, 2-year-olds and breeding stock. Email us at [email protected] if you have a question for a veterinarian.

QUESTION: What does a breeding soundness exam entail for a mare?

DR. JEFF COOK: The breeding soundness exam is a critical step in the process of purchasing a mare and serves the purpose to determine if a barren mare or filly is suitable for mating. To meet conditions of sale, a mare is considered suitable for mating if a rectal palpation and speculum exam of the cervix and vagina does not reveal significant abnormalities. When considering purchasing a barren mare, prospective buyers should consider having their veterinarian exam the mare pre-sale. There are significant issues that may not be found on the examination that is required by the sale, and could present potential problems when breeding the mare. When available, the mare’s reproductive history (produce record, foaling dates, abortions, etc.) can provide insight into her overall reproductive health as well.

The first step of the breeding soundness exam (BSE) is a general physical exam to assess the mare’s overall health. The mare’s ability to conceive, carry to term, give birth to, and raise a foal can be compromised by such physical abnormalities as laminitis or other chronic lameness, respiratory and heart conditions, and poor or excessive body condition.

When performing a BSE pre-sale, additional information can be gained through rectal ultrasound of the reproductive tract and direct manual examination of the cervix, which are not required by the sale to determine if a mare is suitable for mating. With the ultrasound your veterinarian can determine if there is excessive fluid within the uterus or other abnormalities such as uterine cysts or ovarian tumors. It is important to palpate the cervix, as many cervical defects are difficult to visualize on speculum exam. The pre-sale BSE may reveal significant issues that would not be detected on the exam required by the sale company.

In the case of most young, healthy maiden mares, rectal palpation to identify the presence of normal ovaries and a uterus, as well as a speculum exam to visualize the cervix will suffice to establish soundness for breeding and can be completed after purchase. This post-sale exam must be completed within 24 hours and the sale company needs to be notified immediately if a problem is found that would warrant return of the mare. There are a few questions that should be asked of the consignor before the sale concerning a maiden mare. It is important to note if the mare has been retired from racing and why. If she was retired for veterinary issues, has she fully recovered and will she require any special care? Has the mare had any issues that have prevented her from being bred previously? Asking these questions before purchasing a mare can provide insight into potential problems.

The breeding soundness exam is an important tool to be used by prospective buyers and mare owners to identify and assess problems preventing mares from producing foals and can also be used to institute appropriate therapy and management. Dr.

Jeff Cook graduated from veterinary school at Oregon State University in 2000 and completed an ambulatory internship with Rood and Riddle the same year. He is now one of the hospital’s shareholders and practices in the field, concentrating on reproductive issues.

The post Ask Your Veterinarian: Breeding Soundness Exams appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.


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