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Another "small" embryo at 14 days thread

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  • Another "small" embryo at 14 days thread

    I have done a search here already and have some answers but could really use a bit of advice from you guys.

    Scenario: Maiden 11 year old mare, excellent health (general and reproduction wise) bred 16 days ago, ovulated 14 days ago (confirmed) and just checked this morning and found to be in foal but only showing a .5 cm embryo. Vet concerned and said it should be three times this size? It is absolutely perfect in every other way except for the size. This mare was bred using fresh semen.

    We will be checking again next week and again at 28 days to confirm this is going to be a viable pregnancy. I was told quite bluntly that this particular foal will "never catch up", will be small at birth and probably won't amount to much at all. Further that I should consider terminating this pregnancy now and start again.

    Other then the moral dilemna how in the world can a Vet tell at 14 days post ovulation how this foal might turn out? Curious to hear your honest opinions as to the probability this foal will turn out just fine and not be stunted in some way. Hoping this little guy or girl picks up speed before next Monday.

  • #2
    All I can pass on is my personal exp. I had a black dot that was small and irregular. Vet and I agreed to let it go and see what we had at a month. Vet told me not to expect to see anything. At the next check, vet was suprised to see an embryo, but still did not appear "healthy" and she said probably wouldn't result in a foal. Colt was born at 358 days and at 4 is just shy of 17 hh (out of a 15.2-15.3 mare)
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    • #3
      I was told Fergie's first pregnancy was small at 14 days. That filly is now 17.1hh, got high enough scores at her Haoverian inspection to be Elite Eligible and was competing at Wellington as a 4 year old.

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      • #4
        I'm sorry, I'm a little grumpy right now, so I'll be blunt: that's crazy. The only concern here is whether or not this is a viable pregnancy. As long as it continues to grow and develop a heartbeat, you are fine. There is absolutely no way to tell, based upon the size of an embryo, whether or not the foal will be small, etc. Complete and total nonsense.
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        • #5
          Originally posted by Hillside H Ranch View Post
          I'm sorry, I'm a little grumpy right now, so I'll be blunt: that's crazy. The only concern here is whether or not this is a viable pregnancy. As long as it continues to grow and develop a heartbeat, you are fine. There is absolutely no way to tell, based upon the size of an embryo, whether or not the foal will be small, etc. Complete and total nonsense.
          That wasn't grumpy at all! Very well said...

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Hillside H Ranch View Post
            I'm sorry, I'm a little grumpy right now, so I'll be blunt: that's crazy. The only concern here is whether or not this is a viable pregnancy. As long as it continues to grow and develop a heartbeat, you are fine. There is absolutely no way to tell, based upon the size of an embryo, whether or not the foal will be small, etc. Complete and total nonsense.
            I agree. What a ridiculous thing to say. The only thing in question at this point is whether she stays pregnant or not.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by Hillside H Ranch View Post
              I'm sorry, I'm a little grumpy right now, so I'll be blunt: that's crazy. The only concern here is whether or not this is a viable pregnancy. As long as it continues to grow and develop a heartbeat, you are fine. There is absolutely no way to tell, based upon the size of an embryo, whether or not the foal will be small, etc. Complete and total nonsense.
              Mary Lou
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              • #8
                Originally posted by Hillside H Ranch View Post
                I'm sorry, I'm a little grumpy right now, so I'll be blunt: that's crazy. The only concern here is whether or not this is a viable pregnancy. As long as it continues to grow and develop a heartbeat, you are fine. There is absolutely no way to tell, based upon the size of an embryo, whether or not the foal will be small, etc. Complete and total nonsense.
                This.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Hillside H Ranch View Post
                  I'm sorry, I'm a little grumpy right now, so I'll be blunt: that's crazy. The only concern here is whether or not this is a viable pregnancy. As long as it continues to grow and develop a heartbeat, you are fine. There is absolutely no way to tell, based upon the size of an embryo, whether or not the foal will be small, etc. Complete and total nonsense.
                  I'm with you on the grumpy thing and you were much more polite than my first thought. As Hillside noted, if the pregnancy continues to grow and is viable, there's nothing wrong with it. It could very well be the result of an asynchronous ovulation that your vet just didn't catch. In that case, the size of it is perfectly normal. Sometimes I truly wonder where people come up with some of the "facts" they spout off with <sigh>. And, if all goes well, you'll be on foal watch in ohh...350 days from now <rolling eyes>....Yeah...I'm grumpy. REALLY grumpy.

                  Edited to add, did your vet scan the mare's uterus prior to breeding to insure there were no cysts and map any cysts that may have been there?
                  Last edited by Equine Reproduction; Apr. 27, 2012, 08:42 AM.
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                  • #10
                    I bet cherham feels MUCH better this morning about her "small embryo"!!!
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                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      MUCH better this morning....thanks guys. In all my life, and 35 years of breeding I have NEVER heard such a thing. But then again I have not seen quite so small an image on ultrasound at 14 days either....(well OK since they started using ultrasound images for mares)

                      This is a new repro vet I have never worked before and perhaps not being that experienced (he is young) prompted the statements but really.......terminate a pregnancy that appears to be going well because "this foal will not amount to anything if it survives" I mean really!!!!!!

                      Yep I agree...what are they teaching in medical schools these days? Too much reliance on technology I suspect....but then that goes for the whole world these days....

                      PS Is it possible that this mare might have had a dual ovulation and the mare was impregnated on the second one that we did not see? That might account for a 14 day old embryo looking more like an 11 day old one would it not? Just curious on that one. Thanks again everyone. Much appreciated.

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                      • #12
                        This could start some interesting name choices for the foal-

                        maybe Against All Odds? Second Guess? Don't Know Jack?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by cherham View Post

                          PS Is it possible that this mare might have had a dual ovulation and the mare was impregnated on the second one that we did not see? That might account for a 14 day old embryo looking more like an 11 day old one would it not? Just curious on that one. Thanks again everyone. Much appreciated.
                          Note my comment above! Most definitely! Especially if your vet didn't follow the mare after the first ovulation or didn't note that there was another follicle coming up, as well. When using deslorelin, it can work on follicles as small as 30mm (and smaller in some cases). So if it is used to push say a 35 mm follicle, but the mare also has other smaller follicles, yup...the mare may have become pregnant not on the one that was targeted, but the secondary ovulation.

                          And again...was the mare's uterus scanned and mapped for cysts?

                          Good luck!
                          Last edited by Equine Reproduction; Apr. 27, 2012, 09:50 AM.
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Hillside H Ranch View Post
                            I'm sorry, I'm a little grumpy right now, so I'll be blunt: that's crazy. The only concern here is whether or not this is a viable pregnancy. As long as it continues to grow and develop a heartbeat, you are fine. There is absolutely no way to tell, based upon the size of an embryo, whether or not the foal will be small, etc. Complete and total nonsense.
                            ditto, well said HHR!
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                            • #15
                              In my experience, the vets who have brought up the "small embryo" comment have been neophytes with frozen semen (with which it is very common for the embryo to be a bit smaller than usual when first checked) and often fairly inexperienced with repro work in general. That comment is a small mental red flag for me, when working with a new vet. Not a big deal, but a definite heads up.
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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Hillside H Ranch View Post
                                I'm sorry, I'm a little grumpy right now, so I'll be blunt: that's crazy. The only concern here is whether or not this is a viable pregnancy. As long as it continues to grow and develop a heartbeat, you are fine. There is absolutely no way to tell, based upon the size of an embryo, whether or not the foal will be small, etc. Complete and total nonsense.
                                Yup. Totally agree here.

                                Some mares ovulate both ovaries several days apart so while you may have been watching the one ovary that ovulated 2 days post breeding, the other ovary might have been sneakily growing up a viable follicle and popped a day or so after the first one. I've had it happen a couple times - one mare ovulated a full 5 days after the first ovulation, was only bred the once just prior to the first ovulation, and she still turned up pregnant anyway. There was a noticeable size difference in the embryo. Semen can justifiably survive a number of days inside there, so as long as a viable swimmer meets and dances with a viable egg, you can get a pregnancy up to 5 or so days later than you had anticipated.

                                As long as there is progressive growth between ultrasounds, then the embryo is VIABLE, so do nothing. It just might not be as old as you thought it was. If it stops growing between ultrasounds then it might be time to go uh-oh.
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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by cherham View Post
                                  MUCH better this morning....thanks guys. In all my life, and 35 years of breeding I have NEVER heard such a thing. But then again I have not seen quite so small an image on ultrasound at 14 days either....(well OK since they started using ultrasound images for mares)

                                  This is a new repro vet I have never worked before and perhaps not being that experienced (he is young) prompted the statements but really.......terminate a pregnancy that appears to be going well because "this foal will not amount to anything if it survives" I mean really!!!!!!

                                  Yep I agree...what are they teaching in medical schools these days? Too much reliance on technology I suspect....but then that goes for the whole world these days....

                                  PS Is it possible that this mare might have had a dual ovulation and the mare was impregnated on the second one that we did not see? That might account for a 14 day old embryo looking more like an 11 day old one would it not? Just curious on that one. Thanks again everyone. Much appreciated.
                                  Well, Hillside and Kathy pretty much covered it, but I have to ask if this was your first experience with this vet? Some of his comments are concerning.
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                                  • #18
                                    I agree with Kathy on the question of whether the vet mapped out any cysts before she was bred? I've had more than one vet mistake the 'right' size cyst for an embryo. Follow up US will clarify things. Sorry, but I think some young vets can be less knowledgable about this sort of thing than an experienced breeder. I feel that trying to make a correlation between a small embryo of 14 days and the adult horse is just plain silly.
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                                    • #19
                                      Like others have posted here - we've had small embryos that matured into normal foals. I don't think I'd wait another two weeks to do the next ultrasound but would do one around 20 to 22 days.
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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Hillside H Ranch View Post
                                        I'm sorry, I'm a little grumpy right now, so I'll be blunt: that's crazy. The only concern here is whether or not this is a viable pregnancy. As long as it continues to grow and develop a heartbeat, you are fine. There is absolutely no way to tell, based upon the size of an embryo, whether or not the foal will be small, etc. Complete and total nonsense.
                                        I was thinking this exact same thing as above.
                                        But I'll add (and I'm not even grumpy), don't let that "person who thinks he's a repro vet" stick his arm in there AGAIN! Find someone who knows their stuff!!!
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