From the Foaling Barn


The Foundered Mare: Breeding Implications

Shiney (in the AirRide boots) gets her first adult companionship since she foundered in February. She's sharing her paddock with Jewel.


Our eight year-old mare, Shiney, foundered as a result of treatment for a retained placenta. Besides the founder (laminitis), she suffered damage to her kidneys, which complicated her treatment. To control the pain of laminitis, the usual protocol is to give the mare anti-inflammatories, which has the potential to further damage her kidneys. Although at times during her illness we feared for her life, eventually she began to improve and today she is relatively healthy. After the crisis was over, we were able to evaluate the damage to her feet. X-rays show that there was no rotation of the coffin bone in either foot, but in the left foot the coffin bone had sunk on the inside, causing her varying degrees of pain. Some days she walked pretty well showing pain only when she was turning to the right. But at other times she was quite sore at the walk. Part of the problem was that the part of the hoof with the damaged laminae was growing very slowly compared to the outside of the hoof, so that unless she was trimmed every two weeks, her hoof developed a significant imbalance which in turn was the cause of her pain.

Her progress to health has been slow and halting. Several weeks ago we had a setback when she developed a large abcess under her frog, which caused her extreme pain. She was so sore we were afraid she was foundering once again. Even after the abscess broke open, she still seemed to be in pain. However, x-rays showed that the coffin bone was unaffected. Within a few days, she improved dramatically and is now walking better than ever. But my vet and farrier warn that until the damaged part of the hoof is completely grown out she will be prone to more abscesses.

Which brings me to the biggest decision I had to make about Shiney--should I breed her this year of not. At first my vet was encouraging. By the time Shiney would bear any significant increase in body weight, the hoof should be completely grown out. But as her recovery seemed to sputter, I decided that I didn't want to take a chance with Shiney's health. She is a young mare and has many years of foals ahead of her if she is returned to full health. Also, I did not want to risk investing in an expensive breeding if there was any chance that Shiney might not survive her illness.

Because she is a well-bred mare (Shining Spark X Top N Final X Topsail Cody) with good earnings, and because her first two foals are showing promise, I decided that it would be worth it to pull at least one embryo from her. We decided to wait until she seemed to be stabilized to breed her. We bred her to Smart Spook, and flushed a grade 1 embryo. Unfortunately,the embryo did not survive in the recipient mare. So we tried again, this time to Gunner; no embryo. We went back to Smart Spook, but again had no luck. During this time we were trying to find the best way to alleviate Shiney's footpain--special shoeing, AirRide boots, lillypads, etc.

After three unsuccessful breedings we decided to call a halt, and do two things before we tried it again. We weaned her foal at three months to reduce the strain on Shiney. And we made a greater effort to control Shiney's pain. Our farrier and vet consulted and we came up with a plan of monitor her and trim her more often and to go back to AirRide Boots. We let her go through another cycle and then tried again. I also decided to change studs, to a younger stallion who I know has very good semen. We bred her to Spooks Gotta Gun and got an embryo, which took (we should have a heartbeat on it by next week). Then we went back to our original stud, Smart Spook, bred her again and got another embryo.

I'm satisfied that we made the right decision not to breed Shiney to carry, but, if I were to do this again, I would wait longer to try to breed her, until after we had weaned her foal and her pain was under control. The stress of her pain clearly interfered with her ability to conceive.

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