Risk in Breeding 17 yr Old Maiden to Carry

I had a surrogate mare to use but lost her in the accident involving the hay cradle. EMS has surrogates available but I hadn’t planned on spending the additional $5500 on using one of their surrogates and it isn’t really in the budget. I am weighing my options and trying to figure out what to do - I didn’t want my donor mare to carry for several reasons and really didn’t want any mare due this late but that’s a whole other thing. Both EMS and the other vet who did the breeding soundness exam day they don’t expect her to have any complications carrying and no more risks than any other mare but I still worry. Can anyone here give me real world experience with older maidens carrying (not worried about if she will get pregnant that’s a whole other hurdle)?
I am trying to see if I can find a recip mare for a free or cheaper lease in the mean time but it’s already so late in the season I may have to wait until next year which also worries me with donor mares age.

My vet said there is risk but it’s very low and no more than breeding any mare.


My vet said the main difficulty with older maidens is getting them in foal in the first place (which you said is chronologically later on your list of things to worry about). Mid-teens is of course no spring chicken but my vet said passing the breeding soundness exam and being able to clear fluid etc were our main concerns. In our case she was right and things went well.

An acquaintance took the plunge and bred her 20yr maiden mare, put it off for a couple years thinking she was too old, had a moment, realized if she was ever going to have a baby from this very nice mare it needed happen now.
This year the 20yr maiden had a lovely little filly, sassy and just what the acquaintance wanted to grow old with.

My experience has been similar to the others. There is always a risk to the dam with foaling but if the older mare is in good shape and all the repro concerns have been answered/solved, well then, it’s totally up to your ‘appetite’ to allow/accept the risk with that specific mare. I’ve seen many mares well into their early twenties carry and deliver babies successfully, of course those weren’t maiden mares, but I’ve seen more than a few maidens in late ages who were in good health in all other respects also do fine with their pregnancies once in foal. If your vets are supportive, then the decision to go forward is all up to what you are willing to risk…and in this case the risk sound within reason…breeding is never for the faint of heart.

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Before ET became readily available, this was pretty common.

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Standardbreds can race in Canada until they are 16. They aren’t all geldings. No one blinks an eye at buying a 16 yro mare with a good race record as a broodmare.

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Thanks all! She had a clean culture and overall good repro health exam earlier this year but vet suggested a biopsy (which was originally skipped as she wasn’t going to carry and cultured clean) to get the best idea of how successful, or not, our breeding attempt will be.