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To those who've had ovaries removed from a mare...

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  • To those who've had ovaries removed from a mare...

    I have always had geldings, and there have been a handful of mares I have ridden that I like and that like me in return. I took on a sale mare (long story) because she is cute, showed a promise of being a cute mover, and most importantly, she had a great head on her shoulders. She was coming along lovely, and actually a lot better than I had first imagined.

    Fast forward a month, she goes into season again and her usual freshness and occasional moments turns into a full blown psychotic episode after a week. I have the vet check her, all seems normal, we decide to give her Depo to see if it will help get her back to her old self. NO change. Fast forward some more, turns out she has a tumor on her ovary. She had surgery yesterday and all went well. I told the surgeon to leave her other ovary if he felt it didn't pose as an issue or if he didn't feel comfortable with the blind grab and removal.

    My question is, for those of you who have gone through this, how long did it take for your mare to return to her normal self? This mare when from a dream to school and work with to zero ground manners, hyped up and horse aggressive in under two months. She's back at home in her stall and she still looks glazed over and I think that by morning she'll have dug her way to China from the circling. Granted, she's actually shown some improvement from pre-surgery.

    Please tell me that there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

  • #2
    Spaying mares is pretty darned rare. It will be interesting to see how many responses you get with experience. All I can say is I think you should have yanked the other one too.
    "Friend" me !



    • #3
      I don't have a whole lot of experience w/ it, but for a while I rode/worked for someone who owned a spayed mare. I must say, that mare was remarkably marish, grumpy, slightly aggressive, and generally unpleasant.
      I have no idea how the spay impacted that, as she was spayed pretty young, and I knew her as an old lady. According to the owner she was not spayed for health or temperament reasons, but because she was a Quarter Horse w/ the tiniest bit of excessive white and spaying her was the only way they could get partial registration and show her for points.


      • #4
        One of my mares underwent laparoscopic surgery to have a granulosed ovary removed. Like the OP I opted to not have the other ovary removed.

        Prior to surgery my mare was demonstrating 'roid rage. She returned to her normal super sweet self immediately following the procedure.

        She was 25 at the time. The surgery itself knocked her for a loop a bit, leaving her groggy and sore, and I suspect her advanced age didn't make things any easier. Even so, however, she was back to 100% (and under saddle again) in about a month. Definitely worth it, and I don't regret leaving in the other ovary at all.


        • Original Poster

          The plan was to remove both if the vet felt he could get the second without second guessing things. She was palpated and they took an ultra sound prior to surgery and her other ovary is normal. As a standing surgery, the second would be a blind grab and he could crush & clamp the blood supply to the second, but he could not guarantee that she would not have internal bleeding. Thus we agreed on playing it by ear.

          He has done this surgery plenty of times, and more often than not, he takes both. This time, however, he did not feel he could get the second one safely. So left it. This is a sale mare, is cute but nothing fancy, and we will disclose her vet records. She has a home, and is not in danger of being passed off to a trader or sold at auction. She just hasn't become what my boyfriend (also the owner) would like, and so he has passed her to me to bring along as a local small hunter.

          The mare is now 5 days post-surgery and has calmed down a ton. She no longer looks glazed over and is not running her stall or screaming to other horses. She is about 75% her old self. I'm hoping for a speedy recovery and that she won't have any further lady issues.


          • #6
            My ten year old mare just had both ovaries removed three weeks ago.

            She's been having issues for awhile but this past December launched into a full roid rage that's lasted for nearly five months. We did bloodwork and testerone and all other hormones were very elevated, but not the inhibin marker for the tumor. My regular vet had never had results that were "questionable" for tumor and when he palpated her the right ovary was large enough that he couldn't get ahold of it for a decent check, so he referred me to the large animal clinic here for further evaluation. Upon arrival there the repro vet palpated her and did another sonogram, and reported that yes, her ovaries were "slightly" large but nothing that alarmed her. She recommended a course of synthetic hormone (regumate or another compounded type) but given this mares recent VIOLENT behavior I opted to go ahead with removal of both ovaries. The next day a different surgeon removed both ovaries laproscopically. He said they were both very enlarged and quite abnormal and no QUESTION that they needed to come out. The results were negative for granulous thecal (sp?) tumor (or any other tumor) so he suspects that she has some sort of abnormal ovary syndrome where both ovaries were secreting large amounts of hormone and causing the erratic swings. he said her ovaries should never ever be as large as they were even during a transitional heat.

            He also told me it would take about a month to six weeks for the hormones to resolve and be out of her system. We began to see improvement after week one. She is not reactive to other horses and she is MUCH quieter. Before the surgery she had become so fixated and over reactive on mares specifically that she was becomming dangerous and alarming, even in her stall.

            Good luck to you and keep us posted!! Did they run pathology to rule out a tumor? FWIW we have two other mares at our barn who had the surgery done with the removal of just one ovary and they both returned to their "normal" selves within a month or so of surgery. Another friend who has a mare that had both removed and she had some other issues (ulcers and colic later on) but no more issues with hormone swings. They are all happy with their horses AFTER the surgery and say it resolved the issues.


            • Original Poster

              So far, the incision is healing beautifully, she has a good deal of edema on her belly, but with more hand walking and cripple pen turnout (soon), her body should hopefully re-absorb it. Her personality is almost 100% and she's being great about being on stall rest. Hopefully all goes well from here on out.


              • #8
                Many moons ago (about 25 years) I had my mare spayed.
                I was not in any way interested in breeding her and chose to have both removed. It was done under general anesthesia with an abdominal approach as the vet that did the surgery did not like the blind approach through the vagina. He developed his own procedure and she had a 5-6 inch incision on each side of her udder. This was way before the day of laparoscopy.
                She did not have a granulosa cell tumor but a solid tumor on her left ovary (found to be a leiomyosarcoma) and her heats were very painful when she was nearing ovulation. She was very unhappy and savaged (or at least tried very hard to) her pasture mate more than once (because in her mind the pain was all his fault).

                She was never on stall rest except for the 3 days at the vets...just in a small paddock (12 x 24 or so) for two weeks then hand grazing and hand walking for another two weeks then slowly back to work. Her sweet demeanor returned fairly quickly. It took her between 1-2 months under saddle to realize it didn't hurt to trot and canter. She had gotten very balky and pissy under saddle (kicking out at the leg) prior to the surgery. If I remember, she tried kicking out like once post op then she realized she was OK and progressed nicely from there.



                • #9
                  It helped a mare I used to ride a LOT. She was cranky and in pain, and bloated (it was long ago, I didn't own her so I don't know the exact condition) but we noticed a difference in her attitude as soon as she healed from the surgery. Her ovaries were really large and inflamed, that's all I remember. After she healed, she thankfully no longer looked like a pregnant saddlebred (she was half tb half appy, one tiny spot on the top of her butt) It made her easier to ride. She was a sweet, willing mare.


                  • #10
                    I am new here, but I thought my 4 yr old mare might be having an ovary issue. Had the vet out yesterday for another horse and asked him what was involved. He wasn't very interested in giving me the info. Tell me, did you have her palpated? I am sure you did, but will palpation clearly give the prognosis? I need to find out her problem. Always cranky, since she was a yearling, bucked me off in June, broke my hip...so now feeding her the PSSM diet. Sent her to a train for a month, he said she was ticklish..and never rode her, just desensitized her a lot, Hope this is okay of a reply..
                    I'm not high maintenance, I AM maintenance! EfS


                    • #11
                      We have actually had two mares that had it done. Interestingly, both are out of the same mare, different stallion.

                      The first was done quite a few years ago when the surgery was done abdominally and quite risky then. Fast forward about 15 or so years when the symptoms started again and the remaining ovary was involved and the vet went in through her flank, which was much easier.

                      Both mares went from very sweet quiet girls to raving lunatics. Both returned to their normal selves amazingly quickly.
                      \"Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it.\" Anne of Green Gables


                      • #12
                        Spaying Can Help!

                        Hi, we have some experience in spaying mares that might be helpful to you. We have spayed two mares with differing outcomes. The first mare we spayed was a Connemara pony, she’s a well trained pony that just became a different horse during her heat cycle. So I know you’ve probably heard from people with vastly different opinions on everything from cost to how invasive it is to recovery. I’ll address all of the different factors we considered. Cost, many people recommend using Regimate as an option. If you have plans of ever wanted to breed the mare, then that certainly is the best option, if however you have no plans on breeding the mare, spaying is a much more cost effective solution. Our vet charges us $300 for the procedure, roughly the cost of Regimate for 1 or 2 months. While it is a very delicate surgery, our vet performs it vaginally, so there are no outside incisions or stitches. There are different techniques for performing this procedure, if your vet isn’t experienced in performing the procedure, definitely check around and find one that is. The procedure is done under a sedative, but the mare is awake and on her feet the entire time. Complete recovery under our vets guidelines takes 3 weeks. The first week it is important to make sure the mare doesn’t lay down. We have a system we use where we basically make a run across the front of a stall. We have a bungee that slides across a rope the mare can still walk back and forth, eat hay, drink, eat, everything but lay down. Week 2-3 we keep her confined to a stall, but gradually increase time out walk and grazing on a lead. After three weeks we resume riding and just gradually build back up. This first mare had one ovary that was about the size of an orange, and one that was about the size of a walnut. Our vet said that was probably what was causing the very strong heat cycles. This mare can now be turned out with geldings and acts calm and is the same every day. We considered it a complete success. The second mare was a Westphalian/Dartmoor cross, she was and still is just generally grumpy all of the time with other horses. She also is a well trained mare and well natured with people. With performed the exact same procedure, the mare hasn’t really changed much. In both of these mares, both ovaries were removed at the same time.
                        So from our experience, I would say if you have a mare that only acts really mare-ish during her heat cycle, spaying is definitely a viable option. If you want any more information on our experience, please feel free to call. Hope this helps!
                        Richard Jacuzzi
                        You can find our contact information at :


                        • #13
                          We bought a mare once that was spayed when we bought her. She was a mareish wench and the only horse I ever heard my vet swear at in 25 years. I can't imagine her being any worse, but apparently spaying her had calmed her down some. She was very well bred so I'm guessing spaying was a last resort. She struck, kicked, squealed, spun without warning, not a pleasant mare to be around.


                          • #14
                            I am waiting on the blood test results from UC Davis to see if my mare may have a granulosa cell tumour on her right ovary. The vet could easily palpate the left ovary but the right ovary was nowhere to be found and the vet is worried a tumour is weighting it down. It was helpful to read the responses on this thread. I am very worried about her but after reading up on all of this online, so many of the symptoms sound like her.

                            Custom Painted Saddle Pads and Ornaments


                            • #15
                              I had my mare spayed when she was 16. She's now 22. I'm very glad I had it done. It was like riding 3 different horses, depending on which part of her cycle she was in. Now, I ride one horse. She's semi-retired now to trails, but we have a great time.

                              That said, even though she's spayed and my gelding is...gelded...when I brought him home from the winter barn last weekend, I had two very "happy" horses. Thankfully, there is a fence between them. lol


                              • #16
                                The vet clinic in Baker City OR, Tom Hill, has done the type mentioned by rjacuzzi. It isn't as invasive, but I think it may be a more painful healing process.
                                Hillary Rodham Clinton - the peoples choice for president.


                                • #17
                                  Coppertone - any update on how your mare acted post-surgery and later? Since this is a relatively rare procedure, I'm sure your experience will help others!


                                  • #18
                                    FWIW, I'm not surprised that the depo shots didn't work. Because they don't work on equines. For those readers looking for a solution, have your vet investigate BETPharm's biorelease Regumate long-acting injections.
                                    "No matter how cynical I get its just not enough to keep up." Lily Tomlin