Embryo transfer advice

rowy

Well-Known Member
Joined
16 February 2010
Messages
2,548
Location
leicestershire
Visit site
I have an extremely well bred hanoverian dressage mare who I am currently training up the levels in dressage (she is currently 6 years old). She has an incredible temperament and her ability is incredible as well as having excellent conformation etc.

I also have a 7 year old connie cross who got diagnosed with OCD in both hind pasterns two years ago. I have since got her sound and started schooling her again and hacking etc but she occasionally gets very slightly unlevel, more so in the summer when the ground is harder, when I have to stop working her or slow it down to just hacking etc.

Would love to breed my dressage mare but I don't want to lose a year out of training or competition, as I don't have any other horse to train or compete. Plus she is so talented I don't really want to "waste" time. So I have recently been looking into embryo transfer.

I have a local vet that offers embryo transfer. The only think that puts me off really is the fact you have to have a reserve recipient mare in case the first mare isn't in the same cycle.

Does anyone have any advice or experience? I did an assignment at university on the costs of breeding etc. so well aware of all the costs.
 

sport horse

Well-Known Member
Joined
23 January 2002
Messages
1,944
Visit site
Ideally you would have at least three mares as potential recipients. I have tried it twice now. Once quite a few years ago and once last year. Both times with international level performance mares. Both proved pretty difficult to actually get in foal in the first place and when at last we did get an embryo and transferred it, it re absorbed into the mare after some two weeks. It was an extremely expensive exercise (many thousands of pounds) and I would suggest only worth it for either the very wealthy or the very top class performance horses.
Can your 7 yo connie cross actually carry a foal to term? Is she actually big enough and more importantly of the right temperament to allow your Hannoverian foal to grow and develop appropriately?
Can I suggest you speak to people who have actually tried embryo transfer rather than your university breeding assignment. Have you also factored in that it can affect your donor mare's performance for the season - a mare's hormones are very affected by becoming pregnant and then 'losing' the pregnancy and I do know several riders who wait for a break in competition ( they usually arrive at some point due to injury!) and then have a go at taking an embryo.
Good luck whatever you decide. Do let us know.
 

popsdosh

Well-Known Member
Joined
7 November 2008
Messages
6,388
Visit site
Realistically what you will spend will buy you two equally talented youngsters and you will know what you have. ET is not the revolution we thought it would be. It is only really for top of the pile very high performance mares where you are prepared to risk a wad of cash and there is no other way of doing things. I would definitely have reservations about using your connie cross mare as a recipient on many grounds. You will spend circa 4K and potentially not even have a foal to show for it. Yes it looks doable if you look at the literature however they are trying to sell you a service. I can give you many examples where it has gone spectacularly wrong however they dont get a lot of publicity.
Ask yourself honestly why do I want to do it, and then take off the rose tinted specs.
 

Alec Swan

Well-Known Member
Joined
20 October 2009
Messages
21,080
Location
Norfolk.
Visit site
Having been down the ET road, with both success and failure, I've come to realise that even following success (as in live foals born), it's unlikely that what we produce will be what we hope for. The process of achieving a pregnancy, removing the embryo and placing it in another mare, is a relatively simple and straight forward procedure. The problems arise with the attendant doubts and question marks, and there are many, including the advice which we're given!

Alec.
 

vanrim

Well-Known Member
Joined
4 September 2013
Messages
527
Visit site
I have s fantastic mare from ET. I used Twemlows. They cycled 2 potential mares which was just as well as the first mare couldn't be used for some reason on the day.
 

bounce

Well-Known Member
Joined
19 January 2009
Messages
809
Visit site
OP I am considering ET as well, albeit several years down the line. However I would be using a specialist vets that have donor mares available and hiring their services rather than using my own.
I'd be very interested to hear more of the negative side of things that popsdosh mentions.
 

Equi

Well-Known Member
Joined
25 October 2010
Messages
13,588
Visit site
No experience with et but just my two pennies worth - the mare is 6. What realistically are you going to do with the foal when you want to focus on your mare? She will be 10 when the foals ready to start and I would think 10 is prime age for top dressage so if you're aiming high you may not have time for it all unless you happen to have lots of money/your own yard and staff.

The Connie seems to be just needing a job at the moment so she has an empty uterus etcetc... I'm not saying you think your Connie is a bit usless unless she's doing something but it can come across that way. If she's got soundness issues then even though there is no genetics in common the mare may suffer to have a foal.

It all sounds like a huge waste of money to me. I would focus on the mare and take her to the moon, then retire her before she's burnt out like some get and get some lovely foals to start again.
 

Alec Swan

Well-Known Member
Joined
20 October 2009
Messages
21,080
Location
Norfolk.
Visit site
OP I am considering ET as well, albeit several years down the line. However I would be using a specialist vets that have donor mares available and hiring their services rather than using my own.
I'd be very interested to hear more of the negative side of things that popsdosh mentions.

Whilst I can't speak for popsdosh, obviously, I do have some experience of ET. I've learned through making the mistakes of listening to those who are I'm sure experts at the process, but their understanding of what the final product may be, leaves more that a bit to be desired. In short, whilst they will produce a foal for you, will the foal be what you want?

A few years ago, the claim was made "What we want are big roomy mares as recipients". That's fine if we want 'big roomy offspring', but if we're after replicating our top class jumping or dressage mare, then the choice of recipient is possibly of greater importance than the donor mare. The suggestion that the recipient mare has no influence upon the foal is quite wrong. Let's turn it round the other way; imagine that we used our qualified and adored mare, not as a donor but as a recipient and the embryo placed inside her, came from a second rate mare. The chances are high that our qualified mare would add to the mix, and so similarly, our second (or third) rate mare, when used as a recipient, will be most likely to detract from the eventual product.

"ET is used regularly and successfully for Polo Ponies" I hear you say. Correct, it does and though I've no specific knowledge of Polo, I'd bet that most of the recipient mares are ALSO Polo Ponies, or were. For the specific disciplines of Dressage and Show Jumping, I would suggest that the only suitable recipient mares would be those which proved themselves in the very same disciplines, because make no mistake, the recipient mare has a huge influence upon the foal, despite what the experts at embryo transfer may tell us.

I can do no better than quote pospdosh; 'Ask yourself honestly why do I want to do it, and then take off the rose tinted specs'. Embryo Transfer needs to be very carefully thought through, and before we embark on the process.

Alec.
 

Lgd

Well-Known Member
Joined
17 September 2008
Messages
682
Visit site
centres that use ET extensively now try to match the recipient and donor mare as much as possible in type.
Mount St John uses ET extensively and their recipients are all top quality mares in their own right. They only use them for ET to a certain age and then sell them on as their vet won't use mares over a certain age for ET - I was drooling over a couple they had on the market this year just on the bloodlines.
 

Alec Swan

Well-Known Member
Joined
20 October 2009
Messages
21,080
Location
Norfolk.
Visit site
Thanks for that Lgd. Finally, the ET centres are starting to wake up, it seems.

We had a known TB mare here as a recipient (before we knew better!) and she was odd. She'd canter down the field to see us, swinging her head from side to side and all-but touching her flanks. How she stayed on her feet is a mystery! She never did it whilst she had her carried foal at foot and she was in every other way a decent mother. Six months after weaning, the yearling foal came with others down to the gate to greet us, and she did exactly the same thing and in exactly the same exaggerated manner. Was it pure chance? I'd be most surprised if it was.

There's no question, in my mind that recipient mares DO have a greater influence upon the foal that they carry, and whilst it's within them than has been previously believed, and beyond the physical conformation.

Alec.
 

sallyf

Well-Known Member
Joined
29 March 2006
Messages
2,012
Visit site
That doesn't apply to all.
I have a very big coloured almost carthorse mare here at the moment waiting to foal and the foal is an exquisitely bred and very valuable dressage foal.
This came from a well know ET centre.
We try and match them closely in fact with my own the recipient is often related to the donor.
 

Blonde1989

New User
Joined
13 June 2016
Messages
5
Visit site
I did ET with Beaufort 4 years ago with my advanced event mare. The process was seemless and everything worked first time and it still cost around 3800 pounds. Then I also had the cost of paying for the recipient mare. You do need at least 2 recipients on stand by in my opinion. Unfortunately, as suggested in this feed, the cost VS risk really should be factored in here. I was breeding from my advanced event mare, not a 6 year, and despite everything going well with the transfer and pregnancy, I got a huge foal that was windswept and although she moves and jump brilliantly she is not going to do much under saddle -certainy not worth professionally producing or eventing as was our intention. Thank goodness she is a mare or I would have had a very tough decision.
I now hope she will produce something herself...
I would tread very carefully is my advice.
 
Top