Reproductive Issues

While horse health in general is important to any breeder, the reproductive system is probably the biggest concern. If the system is not working properly, there is little to no chance of healthy foals being born. There are many different diseases that affect a horse”s reproductive organs and each has specific causes and symptoms. Understanding these diseases is the first step to protecting your horse and their foals.

Types of Horse Reproductive Diseases

Orchitis, or the inflammation/congestion of the testicles, is one of the more common horse diseases. It can affect even the healthiest and youngest horses, even when they”re getting the best feed possible. It usually happens when a male horse is around mares often with no breeding taking place. Blows and wounds to the area can also cause it, along with hot weather and a diet heavy in grains. Kidney problems can also cause this.

Hydrocele, also known as dropsy of the scrotum, is another disease of the horse reproductive system. While it may be a side effect of dropsy of the abdomen, there are other causes. Any disease of the testicle, spermatic cord or the walls of the sac can also cause it. Check with your vet before trying any treatment to get an exact diagnosis.

Sterility is one of the main reproductive diseases. This disease affects both male and female horses. There are many things that can cause sterility. Badly formed testicles, inflammation of the testicles and injuries to the penis are just a few of them. For mares, it can be caused by the ovary not being developed. Tumors in the ovary, poor feeding and overwork are other causes.

Dropsy of the womb is probably one of the trickier reproductive diseases. Usually, a horse”s womb has become diseased or an infection has set in after breeding. Because of the timing and symptoms, it”s usually mistaken for pregnancy. If you think your mare is pregnant, it”s a good idea to get that confirmed as soon as possible, just in case.

One of many reproductive diseases affecting mares is leucorrhea. This disease is caused by the inflammation of the womb”s mucus membrane. It causes a white discharge that contains bacteria that can affect male horses as well.

Other diseases affecting the reproductive organs include varicocele (an enlargement of the spermatic cord), sarcocele (gland inflammation) and premature labor pains.

Pregnancy in Horses

Pregnancy is another important horse health issue. To ensure a healthy pregnancy, there are a few things that can be done. First, a clean and spacious stable is good for a pregnant mare. She will also need to have plenty of healthy and well-prepared food and exercise.

Some possible complications to look out for in a pregnant mare are extra-uterine gestation, prolonged pregnancy, abortion and carrying the foal in an unnatural way. Regular checkups can be very helpful in spotting and treating these conditions.

Recognizing a Reproductive Problem

There are many ways to tell if your horse may be suffering from reproductive diseases. Swollen or hot penises are a sign of trouble, along with stiffness of the hind legs, spasms and reddish urine.

If a mare refuses to mate or does not display signs of heat, then she may be pregnant. Laziness and flabbiness are other signs of pregnancy. You can prevent these problems by making sure your horse is well-fed, injury-free and not overworked. It”s a good idea to report these or any other symptoms to your vet.


Law, J., F.R.C.V.S; et al (2007). Diseases of the Generative Organs. Retrieved March 8, 2008, from from the Project Gutenberg Web site: