With the equine breeding season soon to be upon us now is a good time to consider facilities for home breeding of mares.
The determination of timing for breeding and to establish pregnancy requires veterinary examination of the mare's reproductive tract. This procedure is done by inserting the veterinarian's arm into the rectum to allow manual examination of the ovaries and the uterus. Rectal examinations are not an innocuous procedure for both mare and vet. Many vets have been hurt and some even killed performing this common procedure. Vets risk being kicked or crushed and there is a risk the mare's rectum can be damaged if they move unexpectedly. There will always be risks when dealing with large animals like horses but there is much that can be done to improve and maximise safety.
In the safety-conscious world we live in, performing rectal examinations on mares without safety facilities is not acceptable. When performing most rectal examinations we use ultrasound scanners. This is a monitor box connected via a cord to the scan head which the vet holds. There is also a necessary electrical connection. This is a valuable piece of equipment. During its use, we need a way of positioning this equipment so the vet can view the screen at the time of scanning. At the same time, the mare needs to be restrained so she does not move. Facilities are needed so we can protect ourselves and our equipment. All this can be hard to achieve with only the owner to assist which is often what we are faced with.
If we are asked to perform these examinations at mare owners properties we require facilities to safely restrain your mare. Minimal facilities is a box or small area where the mare can be restrained. A fractious or maiden mare may be sedated. We can use rope sidelines to rope up a hind leg so they can't kick and a twitch may be used. A form of support - a table or another person is needed to hold the scanner. If you have a number of mares to examine you should consider building a crush. We can assist you with design and sitting for any crush.
If we feel we cant perform any examinations safely then the mare can be brought to our clinic. We have 2 metal specifically designed ‘crushes’ of differing sizes with safety back gates to allow us to safely examine broodmares. The photos show the two steel ‘crushes' we have at the clinic.
Please don't be offended if we ask for you to bring your mare to our facilities - we're only looking after our own safety and that of your mare.
- Brendon Bell