Finding Mister Right

Selecting a stallion for your mare can be tricky, but these horse-breeding tips can help. Reprinted from The American Quarter Horse Journal.
Use these tips to select the right stallion for your mare:

  • Your decision depends on several things, including the goals you have for the foal. Are you trying to produce a future AQHA Champion? Do you plan to sell the foal for a good price based on impeccable bloodlines? Do you hope to raise and train the foal to become the horse of your dreams?
  • You need to choose a stallion based on traits that he could pass on to his offspring: conformation, athletic ability and disposition. Bloodlines are important, but a critical assessment of the stallion himself is probably most important.
  • A prospective stallion must have good, correct conformation. You want your foal to be able to keep doing whatever sport you bred him for without coming up lame.
  • You want your young horse to be a pleasure to work with, not a problem child. Disposition is partly created by a foal’s environment (his mother’s influence and your influence), but it is also partly genetic. Pick a stallion with the personality traits you desire in a foal, such as friendly, willing and mellow.
  • Don’t be swayed by the “extras” when stallion shopping, such as color. Color isn’t as crucial as conformation and disposition. The old saying goes, “You can’t ride color, and you don’t ride the head.” Also, try not to base your decision on breeding fees or popularity of bloodlines. The stud fee has to be something you can afford, but this fee is actually the smallest part of your investment in raising a foal. Remember, it costs as much to raise a foal by a cheap stallion as an expensive stallion.

Critical Assessment Tips:

Does a particular stallion complement your mare? You want him to enhance her good qualities and help correct her deficiencies or faults. What has he produced? The best test of a stallion’s abilities is his progeny, and it’s worth your while to see as many of them as you can. Do his offspring embody the characteristics and type of horse you’re breeding for? Does he pass on his traits, or do the foals take after their dams? What were the stallion’s parents like?

If he’s too young to have a lot of offspring, take a hard look at his ancestors and what they produced or how they performed in the field you’re interested in. The higher the proportion of successful individuals in his pedigree, the greater the chances of his being able to pass on those characteristics to the next generation. Even if he is the “perfect” stallion in your eyes, you want to make sure he has the genetic ability to pass on those desirable traits to his foals.