[photo credit: Cooper Quarter Horses]
There’s nothing cuter or more exciting than new foals every spring. Each foal is a promise of a new future and a new show career ahead of them. After all, the next world champions could be in that very pasture. If you’re a mare owner (or even if you just wish you were), it’s easy to want to have a foal of your very own. However, if you’ve never bred a mare before, it can be a very daunting venture. Who do you choose to breed to? Will it be live cover or AI? Is my vet the best choice for breeding options? Where will she foal out when the time comes? And perhaps, one of the most important questions to ask: should I even breed my mare at all? These are just a handful of questions that run through a first-time breeder’s mind.
We asked some of the most experienced breeders in the business what one piece of advice they would give to a breeding rookie in order to make some of the decisions a little easier. If you’re thinking that breeding a mare might be in your future, read on to learn more with these fabulous nuggets of wisdom.
Jane Backes- owner of Backes Quarter Horses and stallion, Good Machinery
DO NOT BREED TO A STALLION BECUASE HE IS POPULAR!!!!!!!
Look at YOUR mare, find her faults (and yes she has faults), then pick a stallion known to improve on those areas. Make sure you WANT to breed your mare Do not breed her because she did not make a good show horse. 99% of the time, the foal will not either. The foals are 65% of their dams, so you better love the mare, because you are getting a “mini me.” Do your research ahead of time for a great REPRO vet, not a local “give shots and worm” vet. Ask the stallion owner for their semen numbers to make sure you will be shipping on a good shipping stallion If they are not and you still like the stallion, make arrangements to haul your mare to their farm for fresh semen.
Debbi Trubee- owner/breeding manager, North Farm
Filly by Lazy Loper [photo credit: Debbi Trubee]
The first sound piece of advice I would give would be to be sure you have a good reproduction center available! There are lots of great vets out there, but it doesn’t mean they are a great reproduction vet. Take your mare to someone that specializes in repro work. Even if it’s a bit more expensive than your local vet, who only may breed a couple mares a year, it will be cheaper in the long run to end up with a pregnant mare instead of multiple shipments and your mare open.
It’s also really important for a first time broodmare owner to understand the importance of vaccinations for a pregnant mare along with nutritional needs and what the foal will need once it’s born. Broodmares and foals have completely different nutritional needs than an average riding horse.
When choosing a stallion to breed to your mare, don’t just look at bloodline, conformation, and show career. It is also important to consider the stallion’s fertility. Ask the stud farm what the stallion’s conception rates are, because it can be frustrating to enter into a contract and then have trouble with getting your mare in foal because of fertility issues. Also, it’s always a good idea to have a veterinarian who is trained in equine reproduction examine the mare before making any breeding decisions.
By Winnies Willy [photo credit: Debbi Trubee]
Courtney Battison- owner, Hot N Blazing
Absolutely you should pick a mare and a stallion with a good produce record and show record. Also, look at the lineage; they should have a long line of great horses. I loved Hot N Blazing as a breeding horse not only because he was super talented, pretty, and a AQHA World and Congress Champion, but also has great lineage: Blazing Hot, Hotrodders Jet Set, Zippo Pine Three, Zippo Pine Bar, Zippo Pat Bars, and The Prunner were all exceptional horses.