Estrus Suppression in Mares

Jason) I’m Jason Grady, veterinarian at Kansas State University in Equine Reproduction and Field Service. One question I commonly receive from mare owners is how to suppress estrus in their mare. One common reason to do so might be to suppress the signs of estrus such as tail switching, frequent urination, or squealing while at an event such as a horse show, a parade, or a trail ride. Many owners and veterinarians believe that estrus behavior may result in poor performance, poor attitude, or difficulty training, and so estrus suppression in these patients might be warranted as well. There are several different methods that have been described for estrus suppression, but as a veterinarian, my primary role is to find a method that is safe for the horse, effective, potentially reversible, if the client is wanting to use the mare as a broodmare in the future, as well as cost-effective. Probably the most common method that we routinely use is the use exogenous progesterones such altrenogest or intramuscular progesterone, and these have been shown to be very effective, cost-effective, and safe for the mare. Other methods that we might get commonly asked to help with estrus suppression might be to have the mare ovariectomized or spayed. This might seem as a permanent solution to the problem, but unfortunately, there are many mares that will still continue to show estrus, signs of estrus, even after the ovaries have been removed. The bottom line as a veterinarian, it is important to find a method that is safe, effective, as well as cost-effective, and consult with your veterinarian to identify a method that works for that specific mare.

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