Tuesday, 05 January 2016 00:00


PART 1 - Breeding a horse isn't something to take on lightly.

Essentials that will help guide you through the challenges that you will face, including financial, physical, and emotional

In The Beginning...
Wild horses naturally produce their offspring in the late spring because of the flush of new grass which increases the milk production and longer warmer days which greatly increase the chance of survival.

It is desirable for domesticated horses which are bred for competition especially horse racing to be born as near to January 1st  in the northern hemisphere and August 1st in the southern hemisphere, in order to give them added maturity against others in their age group.

This of course is not always ideal for non-commercial breeders as the threat of cold weather when foaling in winter means that more human input with the nursing and care and availability of suitable stabling for a mare and foal is generally required. 

Mares become more sexually receptive during the spring and summer months with the cycle lasting between 19 - 22 days. 

This activity is affected by the length of daylight hours and is the natural survival gene of insuring the birth will be in the warmer months of the following year.

Commercial breeding stud's may use artificial lighting and heat lamps to encourage the mare's receptiveness earlier in the year and so producing an early foal. 
There is currently a problem with unwanted horses being abandoned and shipped abroad due to financial difficulties or just because there are too many horses and ponies with no real purpose being bred.
Please be responsible and honest as to why you are considering bringing another life into a very well stocked environment.
There are of course many good reasons for breeding whether it is a business as in commercial studs or to replace a dearly loved horse.

mare.foal loving2

 Does the mare have good basic confirmation, no vices and a reasonable temperament? 
All these characteristics may well be inherited. Know what you wantin  the potential future outcome of the prospective foal - eventer, racer,
jumper, hunter or any
other discipline.

Be aware of the costs to breed, grow, maintain and produce a foal.

  • Seek advice to choose the right stallion for the discipline or use youare aiming for.    
  • Investigate the pro's and con's of artificial insemination, walking-in or livery at a stud.  
  • Consider the mare's fertility. Age is an important consideration; younger mares may well conceive
     acouple of cycles however an older mare particularly over 16 may have reproductiveproblems which
    may require medical intervention.
    Arrange for a full examination by your veterinary surgeon to check the internal uterus and to eliminate any
  • risk of infection.  
  • Research and gather as much information as you can about maintaining the mares health during pregnancy.
    (Feed, supplements etc) 
  • Never be afraid to ask for help. 
  • Consider booking the mare into a professional foaling place in case of difficulties during birth.
    Check your worming programme is up to date and be vigilant with dosage all the way through the pregnancy

Choosing the stallion

There is an increasing use of artificial insemination (AI) particularly in high competition circles however
we are going to concentrate on the natural service.
Locality and cost are very important in this decision however there are other vital considerations. 
Remember the stallion must be proven to produce the stock you want. Do not be overcome with
beauty alone. 
Temperament is very important, especially if you will be bringing the youngster up at home.
If you can ask to see his progeny or talk to people who have had previous access to the horses
descendants and history.
The foal will inherit physical characteristics and conformation; therefore study the stallion's confirmation
and paces carefully.
Poor limbs, feet, teeth and motion will affect the serviceability of the foal and in some cases their progress. 
Discuss the covering contract with the stallion owner and be totally sure that if you are made aware of any
possible implications which may occur later that they are explained thoroughly.
Who is responsible if an injury is sustained by the stallion and or to the mare during covering (Insurance)? 
What are the vet's fees you may incur and is there a scheme which covers your mare for the duration of her stay. 
If the mare needs to presented again to the stallion on the following cycle  (between 19-22 days)
how much is the stabling, is it cheaper to travel her back to the stallion or leave her there for the
veterinary team to complete any swabs and internal examinations.
Would you prefer the mare to stay at the stud until she is scanned to confirm the pregnancy? 
Is the stallion fee NFNF which is No Foal No Fee - can you pay in instalments or is it a one off payment.

Breeding Part 2 - Care of the Pregnant Mare, how does the foal develop Read more    
Breeding part 3 - The Big Day Arrives Read more
Breeding part 4 - Caring for the new born foal and the mare Read more
Breeding part 5 - Common problems in newborn foals Read more