Breeding update

"Ugh not this place again."
“Ugh not this place again.”

Last week, I took Gina back to the vet for a re-culture; it’d been about a week since the uterine treatments were administered, and my vet wanted to make sure Gina was clean.  It turned out to be an interesting and informative visit! Before the swab was taken, my vet performed an ultrasound so we’d have a better idea of where Gina was in her reproductive cycle. My vet showed me the cysts they’d previously detected, identified the a couple of follicles and measured them, and pointed out the uterine edema and explained how it can indicate estrus. I have zero experience with horse breeding, so I was totally interested in seeing all of this.

Gina was well behaved through both the ultrasound and the swab, enduring both with only a few baleful glares.

My vet called on Monday with the results of the culture- positive. Unfortunately, this means another round of uterine treatments, so we’re headed down to the vet today to start them. If I understand my vet correctly, we will AI immediately following the treatments if Gina is at an appropriate point in her cycle, then stitch her up via a Caslick procedure. (That link has some graphic photos, but is a great read if you’re unfamiliar with the procedure.)

What an adventure breeding is already!

Gina’s vet visit

Part of Gina’s breeding soundness exam was a uterine culture, which yielded bacterial growth and required treatment before breeding.

My vet recommended treating the bacterial infection with intrauterine antibiotics administered daily for three days. I hauled Gina down to the vet last week for the treatments; I watched the first treatment and had a chance to chat with my vet about breeding, which was interesting and informative!

Well, one of us found this more interesting and informative than the other.
Well, one of us found this more interesting and informative than the other.

My vet wasn’t concerned about the bacterial growth on the culture; she said it isn’t uncommon and is easily remedied. I asked her about the cysts she found- were there an usual number? What caused them? Am I setting myself up for failure? My vet advised that she wouldn’t choose not to breed because of the cysts- there weren’t an unusual number, they weren’t very large, and it’s very common for older mares to develop them. She’s optimistic that Gina will be able to conceive and carry a foal without problems.

I also asked about riding; I’d really like to qualify for Green Country Dressage’s year end awards, which requires me to have at least one more score. The club doesn’t have much going on in the summer because it’s so hot, so I won’t have another opportunity to show until September. My vet assured me that it was totally fine (and even advisable) to continue riding Gina until the third trimester or so. She said since Gina’s in good shape and used to regular exercise that it’s better to continue to work her rather than have her do nothing.

Now that Gina’s cleaned up, we’ll do another culture in a couple of weeks. If there’s no bacterial growth, we’ll breed on the next heat cycle! That puts us around the second week of June. I’m super excited- keep your fingers crossed that Queen G doesn’t grow anything else!


Gina’s BSE, Part 2

A few weeks ago I received word of the results of the second part of Gina’s breeding soundness exam. In addition to a physical examination of Gina’s reproductive organs, my vet also performed a uterine culture and cytology smear. The uterine culture determines if there are microorganisms present in their uterus. The cytology smear can detect if there’s an inflammatory process in the uterus.


The results weren’t ideal- Gina is growing some nasties in her vag. Her culture grew three different bacteria! This isn’t necessarily terrible, though. Gina will have to be ‘cleaned up’, as my vet delicately put it, before being inseminated. My vet advised treating this with antibiotics administered via uterine infusion for three days, then waiting a couple of weeks and collecting another sample to retest. If that comes back clean, Gina has the greenlight for insemination; if not, we’ll have to do some further investigation to find out why she’s got bacteria in her uterus. (There are a variety of possibilities for this, the most likely being that Gina’s labia have lost their elasticity over the years and are unable to seal tightly, allowing airborne contaminants into the reproductive tract. )

My vet is still basically optimistic that Gina can conceive and carry a foal to term. I’m eyeing late April or early May for breeding and hope insemination goes smoothly!

Gina’s BSE

Gina is sometimes glad to see me.

The vet was at the barn yesterday to do annual visit sorts of things: Coggins tests, vaccinations, floating teeth, etc. I had her perform a breeding soundness exam on Gina, too. Gina is an older mare who hasn’t had a foal since 2002, so I thought it prudent to have her checked out before attempting insemination later this year.

I informed the vet about Gina’s past breeding use; to my knowledge, her last foal was born in 2002. I’ve never been able to find out exactly what Gina was doing between 2003 and 2005, but I think I can safely assume that between 2005 and 2011 (when I got her), she wasn’t having babies while bouncing between hunter barns in the Tulsa area. I’m also unsure if Gina had any problems conceiving, carrying, or foaling.

The physical exam went pretty well. Gina’s in good shape, at a good weight, and is overall a healthy mare. She has no chronic conditions or conformational flaws that would affect her fertility or ability to give birth. The vet examined Gina’s teats, which are symmetrical, normal, and well-placed. She also examined Gina’s reproductive tract, starting with the easily accessed and obvious outside parts: tail, vulva, and hind legs. She was looking for things that would indicate problems: scarring, swellings, and/or dried discharge. Everything looked good. The basic conformation of the outer reproductive parts was evaluated too; no problems were found there.

Let’s hope tail luxuriousness is hereditary.

The next part of the exam was an examination of Gina’s cervix, uterus, and ovaries. Gina was well behaved- no kicking or ear pinning. Most everything was good, but the vet found cysts on Gina’s uterus. This isn’t uncommon, especially for older mares. My vet didn’t feel these cysts would have a drastic effect on Gina’s ability to conceive and carry a foal to term; she made a map of them so that after Gina is bred, there won’t be confusion about what’s a cyst and what’s a pregnancy.

Finally, swabs were collected for a uterine culture and cytology smear. Those tests will show if Gina has any bacterial infections or fungal organisms present in her reproductive tract. I’ll get those results in a week or so; I’m keeping my fingers crossed everything comes back normal!

I remain cautiously optimistic; even though she’s an older mare who hasn’t had a foal in several years, Gina appears to be in basically good reproductive health!

Gina's pre-baby body.
Gina’s pre-baby body. That mane is screaming “PULL ME”.