Veterinarians at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital answer your questions about sales and healthcare of Thoroughbred auction yearlings, weanlings, 2-year-olds and breeding stock.
Email us at [email protected] if you have a question for a veterinarian.
QUESTION: When a buyer is looking at a broodmare who has a gap in her produce record, how concerned should the buyer be about her breeding soundness?
DR. TOM RIDDLE: The buyer or his/her representative should definitely investigate the reason for the gap in the produce record. Whatever the reason, the mare's value will be affected because there will be fewer runners that could race well and therefore improve her catalog page. Consultation with a bloodstock agent on the effect of barren years on the mare's value would be important.
Other causes for blank years could include situations that might not affect her reproductive soundness, such as not being bred for financial or legal reasons, but usually there is a veterinary issue that should be considered carefully.
The buyer and his/her veterinarian should discuss the issues that led to the gap and/or gaps and decide if there is a medical reason that might affect the mare's ability to conceive, maintain, and deliver a healthy foal. There are some causes for going barren which may be “red flags” for the mare's likelihood of delivering a healthy foal. These would include problems related to reproduction such as dystocias (difficult foalings), cervical or other damage to the reproductive tract, chronic uterine infections, poor vulvar conformation, abnormal ovaries, and genetic abnormalities.
Non-reproduction health problems that could cause gaps in a mare's produce record include all issues related to the mare's general health, including colics, bad feet, neurologic disease, respiratory dysfunction, and difficulty maintaining weight.
The mare's age should always be considered, as older mares have been found to be less fertile and an aged mare is statistically less likely to produce a vigorous, successful runner. There are many exceptions to this rule, but a buyer should consider the odds he/she is up against when they make their purchase.
The consignor should be able to provide answers about blank years in the mare's produce record or should refer the prospective buyer to someone who is familiar with her history. Buying a mare is a big investment, not only in the purchase price, but in her required care after the sale. Problems will arise even when a thorough investigation is made, but every effort should be made to reduce the risk.
Dr. Thomas Riddle received his veterinary degree from the University of Georgia in 1978 and came to Central Kentucky to intern with Dr. Don Witherspoon at Spendthrift Farm. He joined Dr. Bill Rood's ambulatory practice in 1982, and in 1985 the two purchased the land on which Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital now sits. The hospital now includes three campuses and is owned by 23 shareholders.
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