Everything You Should Know Prior to Breeding a Mare

If you are thinking about breeding your mare, take some time to study up on the subject.  Broodmare is a term commonly used to refer to a female horse that is relied upon to rear foals.  Broodmares are chosen with the anticipation that they will pass their genes down to their offspring and so on.  However, not every single mare qualifies as an optimal broodmare.  If you have a mare and are considering breeding, there are a number of things to consider prior to moving forward with the actual breeding.

“Breeding is more complex than most assume” says Richard D. Schibell, owner at Richard Schibell Racing.  This process requires more than bringing a mare and stallion together then raising the foal that results from the union.  Keep in mind there are countless undesired horses living in foster homes and rescue farms.  The sad truth is some such animals are riding the truck to the slaughter house right now.  The unfortunate reality of the situation is there are more horses in existence than welcoming homes.  So be sure to keep the following in mind when considering whether to breed your mare.

Consider the Cost of Breeding

The idea of breeding a mare to generate a foal might seem like a cheap means of obtaining another beautiful horse that has the potential to be a racing superstar.  However, it will cost a considerable amount of money to breed to an elite stallion.  It might take a couple thousand dollars to set up such a meeting.  There will also be vet costs related to the breeding.

Certain stud farms charge additional for mare care.  If the mare does not catch on the first try, more money will have to be spent to cover the extended stay.  Additional hormone injections and other necessary vet care will cost money to boot.  There is also a minor but very real chance of injury that has the potential to lead to even more vet bills.

Breeding is not the Same as Cloning

Plenty of people who are infatuated with their mare assume that breeding it will generate a foal just like the mare.  This is a commonly held myth.  The truth is there is no certainty that the foal will have the same size, hue or other attributes as the mare.  However, it will certainly help to select the proper stallion.

Breed in a Responsible Manner

Every single mare that is bred and each stallion used to breed has to be worthy of reproduction.  If mares that are poorly conformed are bred in an irresponsible manner simply with the hope of generating a coveted foal, problems will result.  The bottom line is mares and stallions must earn the right to rear a foal.  Broodmares must prove themselves as either a performance or pleasure horse, display coveted traits and show their genetics are worthy of being passed on.

Mind the Risks

There is the potential for things to go wrong when the mare is in foal, amidst the birth process itself and during the period of time following the foal’s birth.  Though the majority of such potential problems can be rectified with assistance from the vet, you won’t be able to identify the problem unless you know what to look for.  Furthermore, you will need the financial resources necessary to cover vet bills.  Add in the fact that caring for a sick foal requires additional time and it is easy to see why people to go great lengths to keep their horses healthy.

Caring for Broodmares During the Pregnancy

Successfully transitioning through a pregnancy will take some time, effort and additional consideration.  The mare should be examined for twins early in the pregnancy.  This early examination will also provide the vet with the chance to check for infections and additional problems.  Once the mare is about halfway through the period of gestation, it will be necessary to feed her in a manner that empowers her to maintain her health as well as the foal’s growth.  The mare’s workload will have to be reduced at this point.  Once the 9-month mark is reached, the mare should be ridden infrequently.  All riding should cease immediately prior to the foaling date.  The mare should be analyzed by the vet who will explain which vaccinations are necessary.

A Space to Foal

If you do not have a place set up for your mare to foal, do not panic.  You can easily establish a fairly spacious stall that measures 12 feet by 12 feet.  Make sure this space is deeply bedded, sturdy and well-protected.  Check the stall for safety hazards that have the potential to hang up your foal.  Make sure  your foal will be completely safe from other horses that have the potential to steal feed or harass the youngster.  Once the foaling date nears, monitor the mare to gauge the point at which the pregnancy will occur.

After the Foaling

Once the mare has foaled, you will have to do certain things.  For one, you should verify the foal is healthy, whole and breathing.  If the foal looks sick or anything else is wrong, contact the vet.  Furthermore, the mare should be examined for injuries that might have occurred during the birth.  Watch the foal in the days after the birth to ensure the little one is properly hydrated and not suffering from an infection.

It will take upwards of several years of training before the foal can serve any meaningful purpose.  There is the potential for injury or illness to derail the young horse’s progress.  Make sure you have a backup plan in place just in case something were to happen to you or the horse’s caretaker.  This way, the money, time and effort you have invested in your young horse will not be put in jeopardy due to a temporary setback.

Breeding your first Mare is one of the biggest and most difficult decisions that you can make with your horse. Continue to read the Richard Schibell Racing blog for more information and tips regarding breeding and raising your foal.