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Breeding Services

You have made the decision to breed your mare.  Now what do you do?  It is not as simple as you might think.  Artificial insemination has given mare owners the option of breeding to many incredible stallions that they would never have had access to in the past.  Fresh cooled or frozen semen can be shipped from the next state, the other side of the country or even the other side of the planet for that matter.  Getting the semen to your mare is not the difficult part.  Finding someone who knows what to do with it when it gets there is not as easy.

There are many factors you have to consider such as:

Mare Condition: 
Is your mare at the proper weight?  What is her breeding history?  Does she have good breeding conformation?  Does she have any uterine infections or other uterine/reproductive conditions which may complicate conception or maintaining a pregnancy?  These are things you need to think about before you breed your mare. 
Is your mare comfortable or is she stressed out?  A peaceful environment is crucial to conception.  Mares that are
 unhappy or stressed are not as likely to conceive.  When I used to take my mares to my former vet's clinic to be bred, they all constantly paced the stall or pen and were very unhappy.  When they were brought from the pen or the stall into the clinic and were put into the stocks, they were so upset they had to be sedated every time.  It was not really the vet clinic's fault, they were doing nothing out of the ordinary at the clinic, there was just too much going on.  There were lots of other unhappy horses there, sick horses, injured horses, trailers coming and going all day, it was just not the calm, peaceful environment they were accustomed to enjoying here on the farm.

Of course your horse will be much more comfortable in familiar surroundings, so perhaps you think it would be better to have the vet come to you.  Do you have the proper equipment available to do the breeding?  You should ideally have breeding lab equipment to test the semen and breeding stocks in a clean, well lighted area to safely restrain the mare for scanning and insemination.  Your mare will need to be ultrasounded many times before breeding (at least every 6 hours when she is nearing ovulation) to monitor her heat cycle and determine when she ovulates to know when to inseminate her.  This generally requires at least one person (sometimes more than one person if the mare is difficult) be available to assist the vet or the person doing the scanning and insemination.  Breeding procedures must also be done even in the middle of the night as mares do not watch the clock and ovulate only during business hours when it is convenient for the person(s) doing the insemination!

Who will do the insemination?
Why should the answer to this question be so important to you?  Many owners think they should simply just call their regular vet to do the insemination for them.  You can do that, but first stop and consider how many times your vet may have actually done this procedure and what his/her priorities are truly going to be.   Most non-specialist equine vets handle all sorts of other issues on a daily basis and while they are probably excellent at treating many different illnesses, suturing wounds, treating lameness, or colic, deworming, vaccinating, floating teeth, etc., many have not scanned ovaries or a uterus or done an insemination since they attended that class years ago back in vet school.  Would your regular vet decide it was more of a priority to go suture the horse who is bleeding profusely after running through a wire fence or to go treat the horse who is on the ground colicking severely or do you believe he/she would decide that ultrasounding your mare for an imminent ovulation would be more important to focus on?  I know if I owned the bleeding or colicky horse, I would sure hope my horse would get the first priority attention over an ovulating broodmare since his or her survival may be at stake.

The procedure for breeding using frozen semen is very different from breeding using fresh cooled semen.  Many vets rarely, if ever, do inseminations using frozen semen and sometimes they do not seem to realize the importance of strictly adhering to the proper thawing protocols for the semen straws.  It is NOT the same for the semen doses from every stallion.  Doing it incorrectly can harm or even kill the semen and cause your mare to fail to get pregnant.  This will cost you a lot in both time (each breeding cycle often takes several weeks from initial ultrasound scans to the 15 day pregnancy check) and money (vet bills and semen cost including shipping), not to mention aggravation when you have to start all over again.   

Most veterinarians are not breeding specialists.  Being successful at achieving pregnancies when breeding mares using artificial insemination takes practice...lots of it.  Timing is critical and knowing what you are seeing on the ultrasound screen is crucial to knowing where the mare is at in her cycle.  If a vet only breeds a few mares a year, they do not ever develop and maintain the proficiency of the skills needed to be effective with artificial insemination breeding, especially if using frozen semen.  Failed breeding attempts are costly, not only financially, but emotionally.  Nothing is more disappointing to a mare owner than NOT seeing the "black dot" on day 15.

At First Flight Farm, we use only Dr. Benjamin Espy, a Board certified Theriogenologist (equine reproduction and infertility specialist) veterinarian, one of only four such specialists in the entire State of Texas.  All of the ultrasound scanning and insemination breeding procedures for client mares are performed and invoiced by Dr. Espy.  He utilizes our excellent facilities, and top-of-the-line breeding lab equipment with the assistance of our highly trained professional staff (on site 24/7) to provide the best possible service and successful results for our breeding clients.


Services Available

Artificial Insemination (Using either Fresh or Frozen Semen)
Embryo Transfers
Frozen Semen Storage
Broodmare Boarding

35 Spanish Pass Road  |  Boerne, TX 78006  |  P 830.537.4150  |  C 210.355.3500