What is Ovary Manipulation… Does my mare have PMS????
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The short answer to the above answer is YES- your mare could have PMS!!! Mare owners will be able to relate to this- I personally prefer the consistency and stability of geldings because in the past I have had the “Mare from hell”. In hindsight she was telling me her ovaries hurt!!!
Mares are like women- in as much as they have regular “cycles” or “monthly’s” that are about 18-21 days in length, but the major difference is mares don’t exfoliate their uterine lining like women (“bleed” like we do). They have the same hormonal swings and changes we do. Some mares can also suffer pain exactly as some women do.
I think everyone can recall a mare that exhibits hormonal signs/symptoms and is moody and unpredictable at times, but then other times butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. This pain can be actual pain from a physically twisted ovary or from “visceral pain” with nerve input “overload”.
I won’t bore you with the science but some nerves bring messages from parts of the body to the brain and some take messages from the brain to areas of the body and others just deal with messages locally- these all share the same “highway” so to speak and sometimes the signals collide or get in a traffic jam and the messages get muddled and cause pain.
Ovary manipulation is an osteopathic technique that is used to identify restrictions/adhesions and mal-positioning of the internal organs and reproductive tract along with he nerve and blood vessel pathways.
The mare reproductive tract is positioned in the body with the ovaries sitting just behind the kidneys and they are kept in place by the broad ligament. The broad ligament acts like a sling and holds the entire reproductive tract within. The ovaries hang from the top of the horse by a ligament (mesovarium ligament) and should sit between a 9-11 o’clock position on the left, and 1- 3 o’clock position on the right if you are standing behind the horse, with the point of the tail being the “12 o’clock” position and the pelvic floor being the 6 o’clock position. The nerve artery and vein that innervate the tract travel in this position also.
The ovaries also have a ligament (mesosalpinx ligament) that hold the fallopian tubes in place to allow for the egg or ovum to enter when ovulation happens. The fallopian tubes then travel to the uterine horns and the horns become the uterine body and then the cervix is at the end of the uterus.
Signs & Symptoms
hese can be quite varied and other causes must be ruled out also, before assuming it is ovarian/ reproductive pain.
- Lumbar pain
- Resentment to be tacked up
- Hypersensitive to touch particularly in flank/ hind end
- Resentment to rug
- Muscle tightness
- Reduced power from behind
- Unable to maintain canter leads or strike a particular lead
- Issue with circles on one lead
- Kicking at walls or nothing
- Hip rubbing
- Stallion-like behaviour
- Appearance of non-cycling (can’t tell when she is in season)
- Outwardly aggressive at certain times of the month
- Mild recurring colic symptoms
- Excessive urination
- Unexplained gait inconsistency- no lameness present “as such”
- Cold backed
So, what can you find inside my mare?
A LOT is the short answer!!!!
Some studies have found 10 per cent of mature mares suffer symptoms affecting their performance around the time of oestrus.
Each cycle the ovaries rotate towards the fallopian tubes so the ovarian fossa lines up with the fallopian tubes to allow the egg (or ovum) to exit the ovary at ovulation and enter the fallopian tube in the hope there is sperm waiting for them for fertilisation. The ovary then rotates back to its normal position, but sometimes this doesn.t happen and the ovary can keep rotating and twist on itself. This can then cause the ovary to become twisted and mal-positioned. Some ovaries can have an inflammatory response and adhere, or attach, to the abdominal wall. This can also cause adhesions between the bladder and uterus.
Other problems can be enlarged and heavy ovaries pulling on the ligaments, or the ovaries become entangled in the broad ligament- these mares are the ones that Vets struggle to find their ovary.
The malposition of the ovary can not only cause pain but can disrupt blood and hormone flow if the vessels are also twisted and kinked. The fascia around the ovary can also become constricted and prevent the ovary from expanding as follicles grow- also causing visceral pain.
The bladder may be adhered to the uterus and causing restrictions in emptying. The nerve that innervates the bladder also exits the spinal cord at the same point as the ovaries and can get caught up in the traffic jam and be unable to empty completely or properly, so this may need to be drained and reset.
What are the risks of having an Ovary Manipulation performed?
The biggest risk is perforation of the rectum during examination and this can be fatal if the tear is completely through the rectum. The other risk is your horse often needs sedation and is placed in a stock- they can react badly to both of these in some individuals.
Make sure whoever is performing the procedure is experienced in rectal palpation and is able to deal with any ill effects of the procedure- Oh and you need a long arm to be able to thoroughly examine the abdomen and palpate kidneys!!
Will my horse be sedated for the Ovary Manipulation?
In more than 95% of cases, it is necessary for your horse to be sedated to ensure we can perform the Ovary Manipulation as required. The horse will be able to be floated approximately 30-60 minutes after the procedure has been completed.
What if your vet won’t or can’t perform the Ovary Manipulation?
Vets are science based, as this procedure is not based on science the majority of vets can be closed minded and initially not open to learning. This is an osteopathic concept, and therefore not something that is taught to vets during their degree. In time when Covid 19 permits, Dr Louise Cosgrove will be heading to The Vluggen Institute in Texas, USA to further her knowledge in this space. Dr Louise Cosgrove is one of only a handful of Vets worldwide performing this procedure.
How often do you recommend this procedure for my horse?
Unlike geldings, this procedure is sometimes not a “one and done” thing. Your mare, like we females, are complex creatures and some mares will develop the same issue or different issues and may need to be revisited. The positive is the procedure will normally not need to be performed for at least 18 months, or never again, depending on your mare and the findings.