17yr maiden mare, scan not preg, but no further heats???

[h=2]​​​​So this is my first attempt at breeding as I have a mare with very old lines which a group of us are trying to preserve (old pure polish). As an older maiden mare it’s of course going to be more potentially challenging. She had a health check prior and was top notch but no, I didn’t have her ultrasounded because I’d have to have hauled her a long way to clinic to have it done, and she’s a nervous hauler so I didn’t want to stress her. Obviously I should have.[/h] Anyway, she’s always cycled normally before, she was sent to an experienced stallion/farm well in advance to settle in, etc. She was bred twice June 19 and 21 2017. Scan 16 days later shows not pregnant, and one of her ovaries is barely visible and likely not producing well or at all??. The other had an ok folicles, but apparently smaller than one expect. Per Experienced vet that visits said farm often.
So I left my mare there knowing she should come into heat again shortly and we’ll try again. But she DOESN’T.
​​​​​​Shes home again now, has been for a week, and hasn’t show any signs of heat since covered. Not interested in my new yearling stud colt (though he doesn’t know how to do anything yet, my other pony mares will squat and pee in front of him when they are in heat).
I will keep introducing her to the colt to try and get a reaction once a week, just in case she suddenly shows a heat, but in the meantime… WTH?!
Has anyone had a similar experience? What happened?
I know it’s likely a real long shot that she took, but I don’t understand the lack of heats after cover. Can anyone explain why that might be? I know it is starting to get later into the season, but she should keep having heats for a few more months.
I’d love to hear any thoughts, stories, science, etc! Thanks!!

Just clarifying here. Lack of heats = she’s not showing heats or under ultrasound there is no follicle/edema progression and ovulation? My mare has not shown a single heat this year, but has had 5 tracked ovulations.

I see she wasn’t ultrasounded at the start, but did you do a culture/cytology or biopsy?

Nope just overall health check.

Argh I wrote do much more than just that sentence but it didn’t post! Forums don’t like my phone I think.

Small town, only one vet to u/s at stud farms or long haul in. Mare not receptive to stallion when should b “in” also not interested in my colt. I’m wondering if false pregnancy. Might order urine test so I don’t have to wonder got as long. It sux. She’ll be back to stallion with a new plan/help etc next season. Just wanted to hear others stories while I wait. :confused:

So. She was never checked for an existing infection, and she’s not being followed by ultrasound? (I think that’s what you’re saying.) With a young, fresh mare you’d probably have no real issues. With a 17 year old maiden, you need to have every tool avalible in your arsenal. Passing a general health check does really nothing for breeding. She could have no ovaries and pass a general health check. Most PPE don’t even check for breedablilty.

Not getting a culture/cytology first is setting you up for failure, as if she’s got an infection or growth, you have a hostile environment with 0% chance of welcoming an embryo. It’s extremely common for older mares to pool fluid, or even contaminate themselves with fecal matter. She could be getting pregnant every time, but losing it because it’s not attaching to the inhospitable environment. She might need synthetic progesterone to maintain a pregnancy. She may need a very proactive Oxycontin protocol. She may need to be flushed after breeding. There are so, so many options, but it is very hard to know where to go from if you’re not sure where you started.

This is a fantastic article on breeding older maiden mares: http://www.equine-reproduction.com/articles/MaidenMare.shtml They also have a ton of articles online and a very active FB page with over 2000 vets. There may be someone closer to you than you think, if you ask.

Again, though, she could be not showing heats because she’s not having them, or she could be not showing heats because she’s just not showing them. Last year my mare was squatting, winking, calling, the whole nine yards. This year? Nada. She’s having heats and ovulations, she’s just not showing for whatever reason. Or, it’s entirely possible that your mare has entered early anestrus.

You need more specialized help. There are a few resources to find a theriogenologist near you. http://www.therio.org/search/custom.asp?id=1107 or http://www.theriogenology.org/ being two.

Best wishes. It’s a ton of work, but extremely rewording to finally get the foal on the ground.


Thanks very much! The stud owner and I are going at it with a whole new plan next season!

Slightly OT - at what age is a mare considered to be an older maiden?

I think this varies, but 12-14 is usually the start of the age range I hear most often as “older maiden.”

I had somewhat of the same problem with one of my mares. I started early, she was live covered in april. We checked her and she wasn’t pregnant at 17 days. Expected her to come back into heat, but nope! We even have a stallion close to the breeding mares who they will try to get as close to as possible out in the field when they are in heat. And this particular mare even let a gelding try to mount her on the first heat we bred her on! (we separated them obviously).
Anyways, she didn’t show any heat after that one. She didn’t come back in heat before we gave her a hormoneshot to come back in heat and that was in June! But boom she got pregnant on that one :encouragement:

I have had MANY empty mares fail to show heat after breeding. And I have wanted to believe that they -might- be pregnant after all, but it hasn’t happened yet :uhoh: