Contact: Gail Luciani
KENNETT SQUARE, PA – War Emblem, the 2002 winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and 2002 Eclipse Award winner, is responding well to therapy for a breeding behavior dysfunction according to experts at the University of Pennsylvania. "He has had fertile sperm, but for several years has remained selective about which mares he would cover," said Dr. Sue McDonnell, a specialist in stallion behavior and breeding management at Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center. "With intensive therapy by our international team, in recent weeks the stallion has begun breeding well and is showing promise of full recovery."
War Emblem's problem involved strong preferences, with a near normal response for a small number of mares and lack of interest or aversion with most others. As a result, the stallion sired only a few offspring from his five previous breeding seasons.
"When his first offspring to race showed extraordinary talent, interest in rehabilitating this stallion was renewed," said Dr. McDonnell. "His therapy program, which commenced in early spring, consists of a combination of (1) changes in housing and management to naturally build maturity and breeding confidence, (2) changes in breeding shed handling techniques to maximize response, and (3) carefully managed hormone supplementation as needed to boost libido to reduce his mare choosiness while his confidence builds." Since mid-May, War Emblem has bred one or more mares each day. He is now responding normally to most mares presented.
Therapy has been conducted in consultation with War Emblem's owners, the Yoshida family of Shadai Stallion Station in Hokkaido, Japan. Shadai's stud veterinarian Dr. Nobuo Tsunoda and War Emblem's grooms have been implementing innovative methods researched and pioneered by Dr. McDonnell at Penn Vet specifically for helping stallions to overcome such difficulties. Dr. Nicholas Mills, of Kent, England, an equine reproduction veterinarian, facilitated the Shadai-Penn Vet connection. The team also includes Penn's stallion handler, Jim Morris.
"This has been and remains an extraordinarily challenging case," said Dr. McDonnell. "I am grateful to translator Maki Watanabe and the entire team. It is especially satisfying to watch this fine stallion respond to therapy. Shadai, as well as all of Japan and the world love War Emblem, and we are confident that he has turned the corner to becoming a normal breeding sire. I sure don’t know how horses think about these matters, but observations of his behavior indicate that War Emblem appears to be quite enthused about his new direction."