Should You Spay Your Mare From Breeding
 By Winniefield Park   •   26th Nov 2015   •   1,692 views   •   0 comments
Should You Spay Your Mare From Breeding

Gelding male horses is a common procedure. There are many advantages including a more predictable temperament, preventing unwanted breedings and may result in increased growth for the individual. If gelding a horse has benefits wouldn’t it make sense to be able to do the same for mares? Mares can have a reputation for being moody, especially in the spring, it would eliminate the temptation to breed a mare and perhaps produce a foal that would contribute to the ‘unwanted’ horse problem, and may have some effect on growth as well. Is there a similar procedure to gelding for a mare? After all, spaying and neutering companion animals such as cats and dogs is common and encouraged. Unfortunately the answer is no.

Gelding is a fairly uncomplicated and inexpensive surgery. The reproductive organs that are removed are close to the body surface and can be done at the animal’s home, rather than having to take it to a clinic or hospital. Recovering and healing is relatively fast. Spaying, as removing a mare’s reproductive organs is called, is more complicated, has more risk for complications and the horse will take much longer to heal after the surgery. Male horses are capable of producing many foals in any given year, but mares are capable of only producing one foal every year, so being able to easily geld a young stallion is a very good thing as a means of population control. Spaying a mare to prevent offspring isn’t likely to be a driving reason behind putting a mare through such a surgery.

Related; Five Reasons Not To Breed Your Mare
Related; Backyard Breeders Blamed For Spike In Equine Population
Related; Solving the Problem of Unwanted Horses

Spaying in mares is also called an ovariectomy, because it involves removing only the ovaries, and not the uterus as is done to dogs and cats. When it is done, it is to correct undesirable hormone driven behaviour or remove ovarian tumors or abscesses that can cause hormone and health problems that can’t be resolved by medication or training. Because the ovaries are deep within the abdominal cavity, surgery is very invasive, there is a chance of internal bleeding, healing is slower than with gelding and infection can more easily occur. The surgery is also far more expensive than gelding.

In the last decade a technique called laparoscopy is making the surgery easier and less risky. Not all vet clinics will have the resources for laparoscopy, but the benefit of this technique is that veterinarians are able to see what they are doing and are able to spot and treat any unwanted bleeding resulting from the procedure. This is an improvement over older methods, but it is still major surgery, there is still chance of infection, and the horse may have obvious scars, depending on how the surgery is done. Recovery time for a mare, regardless of the surgical method used can be up to three weeks.

Compared to having to give mares with hormone problems synthetic hormones for years, which also can cause problems for humans that come in contact with the drug, or putting up with a horribly mare-ish mare, spaying may be the answer. For simply preventing reproduction however, even though it would ensure a mare could never have a foal, the surgery is too costly and risky to do routinely.
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