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Barbaro's future breeding career discussed

June 3, 2006

The New Bolton Centre - where Barbaro remains in intensive care at the University of Pennsylvania School - has received many inquiries about the importance of a stallion's hind leg in the reproduction process.

"To register offspring from Thoroughbred stallions, all breeding must be done by natural service," said Sue McDonnell, of the Equine Behavior Laboratory.

"This means that artificial insemination and assisted reproductive techniques are not allowed."

McDonnell explained that mares must be mounted, which is a fairly athletic activity, requiring good hind-limb strength and agility. The stallion needs to be relatively fit and free from discomfort; therefore, after an injury heals, the stallion needs to re-build his cardiovascular and musculoskeletal fitness to the fullest extent possible.

"In a case such as Barbaro's, his medical team would plan and monitor physical therapy with breeding in mind," she said.

"Amazing things have been done to accommodate disabled breeding stallions, from custom-built breeding ramps to supportive splints or casts, to medications that reduce the amount of effort required. But in most cases, simple old-fashioned careful attention to detail, such as highly skilled stallion and mare handlers who can allow the stallion to compensate for his limitations, good athletic surfaces, and a breeding schedule customized to the stallion's fitness and fertility, can help sports injured stallions enjoy remarkably normal and successful breeding careers."

Veterinary reproduction and behavior have made great strides in recent years, and New Bolton Center has been a leader in developing methods of assisting aging and disabled stallions to breed.



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