Good Teasing Program Still Vital

Modern technology has provided the veterinarian and horse owner with many sophisticated tools. However, a good teasing program is still essential for insuring success in an equine breeding program, writes Les Sellnow in the February edition of The Horse.

According to Dr. Edward L. Squires of Colorado State University, where a great deal of research involving all facets of reproduction has been carried out: "Inadequate or improper teasing constitutes a major cause of poor reproduction performance in mares. Normally, cycling mares should be teased daily with at least one stallion. Mares that have not achieved normal cycles and mares exhibiting the first day of diestrus should be teased with two stallions. The mare should be teased by the stallion head to head, and at the buttocks and external genitalia."

The one-on-one teasing program recommended by Squires is not used at all farms. Another strategy involves housing the mares in pens and having an attendant lead a stallion along the fence. The reasoning is that mares in heat will come to the fence and make contact with the stallion.

That approach is fine for the bold, aggressive mare, but poses problems when mares are timid or shy. Sometimes mares of this type will hang back and not show any outward signs of heat even though they are in estrus.

Highly important to a good teasing program is the temperament of the teaser. A stallion which is overly vocal and aggressive might frighten timid mares. Needed is a stallion which will "talk" to the mares, but will make no attempt to bite or strike. However, he must be aggressive enough to elicit a positive response from a mare which is in estrus, but is slow in manifesting the classic signs.

"In group teasing, using a stallion cage, mares need 15 to 20 minutes of opportunity to demonstrate their behavior," said Dr. Martha M. Vogelsang of Texas A&M University. "In hand-teasing, several minutes should be spent with each mare."