To Breed or Not to Breed

I have been asked a couple times lately for my opinion on the breeding suitability of certain mares. I’m no expert, but I thought I would offer up some thoughts on the subject.

Now I know how easy it is to simply say, “I love my mare. And having a baby around will be so fun.” Trust me. I have to restrain myself every year when I look at my mares and the colts I have already received from them. It is hard not to want to do it all over again. Foals are just so darn cute.

But I always have to sit myself down, be practical, and go over the pros and cons of doing so. It’s easier for me because I already know what I will get out of the mares I have. But if it will be a mare’s first foal there is a lot more thought that must go into it.

You may have noticed that so far I have not mentioned the stallion part of the equation. The reason I haven’t is that most people only focus on the sire: his build, temperament, bloodlines, etc.

And while it is vital that the stallion be an excellent horse, I have found that the mare is truly the one that needs the most consideration. After all, she is the one the foal will be learning all their habits from.

Here are a few things to ask yourself.

  1. How is her conformation? A mare with weak points is about 50 per cent likely to pass them on to her foal. No matter how good the stallion is.
  2. Her overall health. Is your mare prone to illness or injuries?
  3. What are the stallion and mare’s teeth like? Bad teeth are hereditary. And a horse with a bad set of teeth needs constant care just so it can eat properly. Why pass that on to the next generation? It’s expensive and a horse with bad teeth also has a shorter life span.
  4. Temperament. Look at your mare, are you sure you want a carbon copy of her? While personality comes from both parents. The foal spends all it’s time with Mom. If she has a bad habit, he will pick it up and quite often step it up a notch.
  5. Do you have the time? Baby horses are cute, but they require training from the day they are born. While it may be cute when he rears up at you when he’s small. It’s not so cute when he becomes a yearling and is around 500 pounds and can crack open someones head.

Having a baby horse around is great. But be sure you are really ready to take on the added work and burden. It might be easier and safer to go out and buy a young horse that has been taught good manners. At least then you’ll know exactly what you’re getting.

Contact Jaime Hanna with your questions at [email protected]


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