Embryo Recipient Mares and Missing Mares

Embryo Recipient Mares and Missing Mares


At Stolen Horse International, we are always looking for ways to find missing, lost, or stolen horses. We had another by-product horse industry business practice brought to our attention this week.

Stolen Horse International received a call in our office recently where the caller asked, "Do you know about embryo transfer facilities? Is it possible that some of the mares used in these facilities could be some of the mares missing from your victims?"

Let us say upfront that we are not insinuating in any way that anything wrong or illegal is going on at any of the facilities in the US. We thought that the caller raised a very good question, one that we do not know the answer to but became curious enough to research the reproduction businesses online. 

We Googled recipient mares, hore embryo transfers, and a few more key phrases and found a treasure trove of information. Here are a few facts that we learned.

Embryo transfer technique exists when a donor mare conceives through natural or artificial insemination. The embryo is flushed from the uterus before it implants.  After a normal-length gestation period, the donor mare gives birth to a healthy foal. 

The equine industry has been primarily used embryo transfer to obtain offspring from mares with restricted reproductive potential (mares with undiagnosed subfertility, uterine pathologies, or simply older mares) or from performance mares that must remain nonpregnant to continue to compete. 

Regulations of some of the breed associations limit the number of foals registered from a mare in a year so it is a common practice in the horse industry and recipient mares are often used as donor mares for embryo transfers.

Weatherford Equine states the following on their website, "Weatherford Equine works diligently to maintain a fertile and healthy recipient herd.  Mares are screened for strep infections and quarantined until found free of infectious disease.  Weatherford Equine currently owns approximately 1,200 mares."

Another article, Another By Product Industry in the Horse World: Recipient Mares, states this information, "Just on one reproductive farm in the United States, over 500 mares reside. This is only ONE farm."

There does seem to be a lot of mares used in the numerous embryo transfer facilities around the country? Is it possible that some of these businesses get mares (legally) from horse auctions or horse traders? We don't know. Do You?

And if that is possible then it would be conceivable that some of our missing and stolen mares could end up in one of these facilities, right? Is it also possible that after they are used that they can end up in kill pens as well?

In one 2016 article by The Horse Authority, we found the following statement, "At least 21 recipient mares, formerly owned by [name withheld], landed in a Forney kill pen late last month. The ‘LA’ brand on the mares’ haunches identifies the business, and its owner, as [name withheld] a Texas equine veterinarian."

In conclusion, this is a legitimate resource for horse owners, one that could involve mares from many different places. Is it possible that one of the facilities could unknowingly end up with a mare that is missing or stolen?  Is there a way for victims to contact the facilities and have them be on the lookout for their mare? Perhaps this is another avenue for a victim to send their NetPosse Alerts? Let us know what you think in the comments below. 

Article Resources:

Embryo Transfer for Horses, The Horse, https://thehorse.com/14393/embryo-transfer-for-horses/

Another By Product Industry in the Horse World: Recipient Mares, https://heartofphoenix.org/2016/09/06/another-by-product-industry-in-the-horse-world-recipient-mares/

Breeding Blood Sport? https://horseauthority.co/recipient-mares-breeding-blood-sport/

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