Foal Syndrome Appears Contained to Kentucky

Although foal loss syndrome seems to be contained to Kentucky, breeders in other states continue to monitor the situation as their mares return home.

"Just because we are not in Kentucky doesn't mean we are immune to this," said Larry Smallwood, farm manager of Swifty Farm near Seymour, Ind. "Until there is a definite cause, we can't be too optimistic."

Smallwood said of the 80 mares Swifty bred this year -- 40 in Indiana and 40 in Kentucky -- the percentage of successful pregnancies remained normal. Swifty reported just two foal deaths, one stillborn and one due to contracted tendons.

"We have brought some mares back after 45 days and so far they are all right, but we are continuing to monitor them. And there have been no problems with the mares bred in Indiana."

Besides Indiana, farm managers in Florida, Virginia, and Maryland continue to monitor the situition, but are reporting no losses.

Bridlewood Farm manager George Issacs said the Ocala, Fla., operation hasn't experienced any problems relating to foal loss syndrome. "We have been very lucky. Overall we are having an excellent breeding season."

Issacs said 10 mares in the 60 to 80 day range were returned to Bridlewood from Kentucky, with 10 additional mares waiting to be shipped.

"We are not changing any of our shipping procedures. After the mares are bred and checked after 42 days then we'll arrange to ship them back."

Per a recommendation from the Florida Department of Agriculture, mares returning from Kentucky are being kept isolated from those who did not travel outside the state.

In Virginia, Lazy Lane Farm manger Frank Shipp said so far Virginia is safe. "I haven't heard of one case reported here. Personally, we've lost one in Kentucky that was pregnant 60 days in and not pregnant 62 days in."

Shipp said Lazy Lane mares in Kentucky have already made their way home. "We are having them checked and then bringing them home. We've brought some back after 45 days and some after 60, which we've checked three times."

So far, Maryland is remaining safe from foal loss syndrome. "There is no sign of a problem here in Maryland," said Tim Capps, executive vice president of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association. "The only problem is Maryland breeders who have mares in Kentucky. They're not sure what to do at this point."

Capps said agriculture officials in Maryland are staying on top of the situation. "They are talking to their counterparts in Kentucky," he said. "If the Kentucky Department of Agriculture says to (consider imposing a ban), then they might look at it."

The New York State Thoroughbred Breeding Fund's 90-day residency requirement has been suspended until further notice by the Fund.