As a mare owner, are you planning to begin breeding? Before you breed your beloved horse to a stallion and begin waiting eleven months for a frolicking foal, be sure to choose carefully. Stallion selection is a critical component in successful horse breeding.
When it comes to breeding your mare, not just any stud will do.
Here are ten key questions to ask a horse breeder before beginning to breed your mare to any stallion that is standing at stud.
Ask the Horse Breeder: May I see the stallion?
Equestrian publications and equine breed association magazines overflow with glossy photographic breeding advertisements for strikingly handsome stallions. Leafing through these pages may be a good place to start looking for a stallion, but any mare owner ought to insist upon viewing a prospective stud in person before committing to a breeding.
The mare owner will want to see a prospective stallion up close, to watch him being handled and perhaps even to see him worked under saddle. This offers an opportunity to examine the stallion’s temperament, rhythm, cadence and fluidity of movement, as well as his physical conformation. All of these traits may be passed along to his offspring, so it is important to look carefully at any prospective stud.
Ask the Horse Breeder: What is the stallion’s pedigree?
Pedigree is paramount in horse breeding. The bloodlines of both stallion and mare can greatly determine the eventual worth of the foal they produce. The eventual marketability of the young horse may also require a proven pedigree.
In addition, genetic markers may make one stallion particularly attractive to a mare owner. If flashy color is desired, for example, the owner of the mare will want to inquire about whether the stallion tends to throw color to his offspring.
Other genetic considerations may raise red flags. Certain stallions have been removed from the breeding marketplace after the foals they sired repeatedly carried problematic physical or temperamental traits.
Ask the Horse Breeder: To what equine breed registries does the stallion belong?
The mare’s owner will likely wish to register her foal in one or more equine breed registries. The young horse’s eligibility will be greatly influenced by the sire’s own registrations. Any reputable stallion owner will be more than willing to share this information readily and to provide proof of breed registration.
Ask the Horse Breeder: May I see some of the stallion’s existing offspring?
Commonly, prospective horse breeding clients will ask to view existing offspring of a prospective stallion. It is not unusual for a mare’s owner to ask about a stud’s past foaling rate and what percentage of his breedings has resulted in live foals.
Most owners of prospective sires are willing to provide lists of references of previous breeding clients as well.
Ask the Horse Breeder: Has the stallion been shown successfully?
A prized stallion may also have horse show records, showing his prowess in the equestrian arena. Before breeding, a mare’s owner ought to ask about the various equestrian disciplines in which the stud may have excellent.
It is also customary to inquire about the abilities of the stallion’s existing offspring. Have any begun training and showing? What are their significant strengths?
Ask the Horse Breeder: Will you allow my veterinarian to examine the stallion?
Before breeding to a prospective stud, the mare’s owner may also ask to have a personal veterinarian check him out. In high-priced breeding operations, blood work and genetic testing may even be performed.
Ask the Horse Breeder: What will be included in the breeding contract?
No mare owner should enter into an equine breeding agreement without a written breeding contract. This document should specify all terms, fees and expectations – and it may be examined by attorneys for both parties ahead of time.
Ask the Horse Breeder: What stud fees and other expenses will be involved?
Of course, all fees and expenses should be spelled out before equine breeding occurs. The owner of the mare should ask such questions as “Who will be responsible for any pertinent vet expenses?” “What if the mare injures the stallion during breeding?” and “What if the mare should become injured in the breeding process?”
Ask the Horse Breeder: How will the breeding take place?
The specific equine breeding arrangements ought also to be specified in advance. Stabling arrangements, transportation, breeding methods (live cover or artificial insemination), horse handling and other details are essential.
Many mare owners insist on being present for the actual breeding. For thoroughbred horses, in particular, witnesses watch the process as a safeguard against fraud or stallion substitution.
For artificial insemination breeding practices, mare owners will want to outline the specifics of specimen shipping and preservation.
Ask the Horse Breeder: Do you offer a live-foal guarantee?
Many stallion owners offer live foal guarantees. Essentially, this usually means the breeder will offer repeated breeding opportunities, if the initial breeding does not result in full-term pregnancy. However, these specifics must be spelled out ahead of time. Breeders may differ in their actual definitions of what constitutes a live foal – and how long the guarantee holds after the initial birth, if an unfortunate circumstance claims the newborn foal’s life.
The selection of a stallion for breeding should be considered carefully and deliberately, and a mare owner ought to feel free to ask any pertinent questions. After all, the decision determines the sire of the mare’s offspring, and horse breeding can be a considerable long-term investment.