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Turning Heartache and Headaches into fulfillment

Beverly Servi

“Did you know that the conception rate for the equine industry is 65%? That means out of 100 mares 35 mares will be open at the end of the season.”

– Beverly Servi is a western equine breeder and stallion owner, as well as a retired CPA and financial consultant.

Growing up I did not have the opportunity to be in the horse industry but my love for horses kept drawing me to become a breeder. I dreamed of foaling out mares and raising the most extraordinary horses.

I researched bloodlines and generally stayed away from what everyone else was doing because I wanted a unique program. My dream is to have extraordinary horses that are athletically built, colorful and great minded. This includes big bones, broad chest, a big hindquarter along with a striking look and excellent conformation.

It has taken me a decade to find what I have been looking for and it did not come easy. From losing foals, crooked legs, and many unsettled mares, to investing hundreds of thousands of dollars. At one point I felt defeated, I almost quit because of the heartache and anxiety. I am so glad I stuck to it, because my dreams are coming true. It has been joyful and full of connection with horses and humans. There is no better feeling than that true connection with a horse.

Currently, I own a few top-notch mares and I am a stallion owner who is involved in all aspects of standing a stallion, including answering every single message, post and email that comes my way. Being a stallion owner is very rewarding for me because of the connection that I have with mare owners. Often folks will ask questions about breeding and I have had the opportunity to hear the good and no so good part of being in the breeding industry. This is exactly why I decided to write this article. I want to share what I know and the lessons I have learned, in hopes this article may help your dreams come true and that it be fun, rewarding, and exciting adventure breeding
your mare.

First, no one wins if your mare does not settle. It is not beneficial to the stallion station, the stallion owner, or the reproductive veterinarian. I was having a conversation with my friend Gita Thomas, about our mares being a big asset and a financial investment. We do our research, looking at dams, conformation, pour through pedigrees, performance records, and watch show videos when choosing the perfect stallions. Prior to choosing a stallion, we ensure we have a clear understanding that breeding our mare can cost thousands of dollars beyond the stallion fee. We ensure our budget for our breeding endeavors are sound so that we can go into this in a positive manner.

When ready, we have our high quality mares and a high quality stallion chosen and we are well informed. In 11 months our hopes and dreams come true when that new foal hits the ground. The waiting seems like forever as we anticipate what color will it be, will it be a filly or a colt, what will I name it? Hold your horses! What is a very important piece that is missing here? I will answer that question in a second.

Did you know that the conception rate for the equine industry is 65% ? That means out of 100 mares 35 mares will be open at the end of the season. Yes 35 mares. There are many factors that contribute to this percentage including the mare health. According to Barry Ball, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACT (reproduction specialist), University of California, Davis, showed early embryonic loss occurred at a rate of nine percent in young, fertile mares. Therefore, rechecks of the pregnancy are necessary so if an early loss occurs, re-breeding is an option. With a 65% conception rate and a 9% embryonic loss, the chance of a viable foal just went down to 56%. The Statistics are alarming, but something you need to be prepared for financially and emotionally.

The fundamental piece missing above is the need to research and utilize a top quality reproductive equine veterinarian. This cannot be stated enough. The difference between your general vet and the reproductive vet can be the difference between you ending up with a healthy foal or not. Do your research and find the best reproductive facility that best suits your needs. Building a relationship with your equine reproductive facility is also important. Ask questions and follow all best practices for the care of your mare. Do not cut corners and budget for all costs including potential added costs. (more budgeting information in another article). If cost is an issue consider waiting until you have money set aside.

The highest success rate for getting your mare safely settled in foal is to utilize fresh semen and to ensure your mare has a healthy uterus. This means taking your mare directly to the stallion station. If it means having your mare transported a fair distance, do that. If you have a mare that is difficult to settle, take her to the stallion station and let them know her history. Frozen semen is handled differently and therefore another reason to take your mare to an equine reproductive center. If this is not possible, find the best equine REPRODUTIVE VET that is educated in equine reproduction.

There are no guarantees but there are ways in which you can increase your mares chance of having a healthy foal.

Here are the top tips to increase your mare settling in foal

  1. Read your stallion contract and understand all your responsibilities as mare owner. Live foal guarantee can belimited. (another article on this)
  2. Have your mare evaluated by a reproductive vet including a culture, swabbed and biopsy.
  3. Have your mare tested for all equine diseases before breeding and ensure stallion is not a carrier.
  4. Provide excellent care of your mare including all vaccines and mare supplements before, during and after
  5. Higher percentage of mares settle if you take them directly to the stallion station
  6. Utilize a reproductive veterinarian specializing in AI (artificial Insemination) and ensure they know how to inseminate your mare if using frozen semen because the
    timing is different.
  7. Leave your mare at the reproductive center until the heart beat check or better yet until 46 days.
  8. Give mare regimate ON TIME and according to your veterinarian instructions, when necessary
  9. Give mare pneumabort EHV-1 vaccine 3,5,7,9 months and according to your Repro Vet-VIP to lower risk of abortion.
  10. Limit stress and changes and do not separate mares from best buddies
  11. Support your mare with proper nutrition at all times before, during and after birth
  12. Proactive care and strongly recommended core vaccines
  13. Have your mare checked at 14 days and every 30 days to at least 120 days.
  14. Breed early in the season, if possible, so you can rebreed if necessary.
  15. Have your mare foaled out by the reproductive center so they can administer proper plasma.
  16. Always quarantine new animals coming onto property.
  17. Healthy Age.
  18. Educate yourself on breeding and do not just put your future in someone else’s hands.

There are many lessons I have learned since I began on my journey in the horse industry. It is my goal to help others make their own dreams come true and that you get the opportunity to feel the pure joy and connections of raising your equine family and increasing your connections with horses and humans.

Being prepared and knowledgeable increases your chances of fulfillment and decreases your stress and heartache.

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