Miniature mares unable to get into foal

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Ellie

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Hi!
I'm new here and I hope this is the right place to post this. I have completely run out of ideas what to do with my little herd and was hoping someone with miniature horse breeding experience could help. I have been trying to have my miniature horses breed but haven't had any luck. The first and only time there was a successful breeding was back in 2013. 2 of my 4 mares had just turned around 4 and I wanted to give them another year before breeding them. My oldest stallion (4 years) decided otherwise and crawled over the fence and covered the mares. They gave us two very healthy foals the next year and that has been it, no more foals since then! I have tried breeding in-hand and pasture breeding with no success at all. I put them together again March 2022 to pasture breed again and they have been there since. In early August 2 of the mares started looking different and had not gone into heat for awhile and refused the stallion. I had the vet draw blood on them, she showed me the results and said they were not pregnant unless they had been bred in the last 60 days. So I was going to wait and see but a few days later I saw the stallion covering them again. My oldest stallion is 29 inches tall and both his mares are around 29-30 inches. My younger stallion is 32 inches and his mares are 32-33 inches so I don't think its a height problem and I have seen them cover the mares no problem. Each herd has their own large pasture with grass and trees and are separated from each other by a large fence and an electric fence. They are all up to date on there shots, deworming, and hoof care. All of them are brought in at night and fed with supplements the vet recommended. There are other horses on the property (only mares and geldings) but they are not even visible to my miniatures and they have no interaction with each other except with one miniature gelding who is stalled in the same barn in his own stall but they cannot see him.(The other horses are also well cared for and up to date on there shots). I thought I was doing everything right but I just can't figure this out or what to do anymore. Any advice?
 

Ellie

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Only one of the mares is a bit over weight, the other 3 are a healthy weight. I haven't had the vet check any of the mare's culture or metabolism before. Is there anything else I should have the vet check? Should I have the stallions looked at as well? I'm not sure if they could be part of the problem or not.
 

elizabeth.conder

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Yes I would have the mares and stallions both checked if it’s been that long with no foals. Do you do yearly vaccinations? Since it’s all four that are not taking I’d assume it’s something in common. If none of those are the issue, I’d even check to ensure none carry dwarfism. There is one gene that if passed with any other dwarfism gene, causes spontaneous abortions. That seems rather unlikely to me given the different mares for this meant years but it’s not impossible and if nothing else comes up, it’s worth a shot. I’d honestly just start with a full breeding soundness check on all 6. The vet may have other ideas too.
 

Ellie

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Yes, we do yearly vaccinations and all of them are kept up to date on their hoof care and deworming. Is there anything else I should check until I can get the vet to exam the minis? Is it possible there is something they are eating in their pasture or feed that could cause this? The only plant I have noticed wasn't good and always pull is pigweed but I might have missed something else. I feed them Triple Crown senior and they have been doing well on that. I rotate which dewormer I use on them. I use Ivermectin, Oxibendazole, Strongid and Panacur. I don't use Moxidectin.
 

elizabeth.conder

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It could be something they are eating. I’m not sure where you are so can’t tell you what plants. But a lot of counties have departments that can help make sure there are no bad plants. So a lot of people have had issues with mares aborting or not taking from yearly vaccines. Especially west Nile and rabies. I personally don’t vaccinate my bred mares just as a precaution. Some have never had issues with it though and most vets I’ve talked to don’t agree. Just what a lot of breeders have experienced (multiple abortions within days of vaccines). Not much you can do until your vet sees them. Maybe just keep checking you pasture and if you want, you can always go ahead and test for dwarfism. The other stuff requires a vet.
 

Ellie

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Thank you for the advice! I'll read up on yearly vaccines and if nothing turns up on my mini's exam will try not vaccinating my bred mares. I'll get my mares and stallions checked out by a vet when I can and check through both pastures again while I wait for that. Thank you again for all your help!
 

Ryan Johnson

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I agree with what Elizabeth has said, The only other couple of things I wanted to add was, can you separate the stallions from the herd just before they come into season ? Sometimes when a stallion lives with a herd for a long period off time , they can become more friends rather than what they were to put together to achieve. If all comes back fine with the vet, I would ask your vet to give them a shot to bring them into season , that way you can keep track of when your mares are cycling and when they are due to come back in. Im In Australia , so our breeding season has just started. I gather yours is coming to an end so it could even be wise to wait until the start of spring to try again. I don't think anyone is too old , so I really hope you get some answers from your vet :)

Please keep us posted :)
 

Ellie

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Hi Ryan
Yes, we have a separate pasture away from the mares where we keep the stallions before breeding season. The mares have become more friendly with the stallions this year then before but they will not allow the stallion to share their hay with them and they are definitely dominate over both studs. Thank you LostandFound I wasn't aware that fescue could cause problems like that, we live in Tx so fescue grass could be very possible. It is very wet here right now but I will try to go take a look when it stops raining and check the internet for more information about fescue. Thank you both for the information!
 

Standards Equine

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The thing about fescue is it's regularly used as lawn grass. There's a fungus that can contaminate it (from seeding) that makes it dangerous to horses - especially mares in foal. Fescue that was planted without the fungus (I believe the seed is treated and labelled) is no problem for horses to eat. Should fescue be your culprit, you will either have to keep your littles out of the pasture, or kill the pasture, turn it over and replant a mix that is free from contaminated seed.
I was wondering about the mineral content in your pastures, but you did indicate that you're supplementing. I like to add a loose mineral to their feed to ensure all bases are covered.
I'd also have your mares cultured. It's pretty difficult to get a stallion (that's never been severely sick) to stop producing sperm cells. It's much more feasible that a mare has something going on in her uterus that prevents a good implantation and healthy fetal development.
 
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