Courtesy of American Quarter Horse Association
Heed this veterinarian’s advice when preparing to breed for your next foal.
There’s nothing cuter than a newborn foal. But getting one on the ground requires a lot of preparation, forethought and proper horse health and care. Stallion selection and mare care are just two of the elements you need to factor in.
Dr. Thomas R. Lenz, a regular columnist for The American Quarter Horse Journal, offers eight tips to get you started in breeding for a great foal.
- Mares should be bred after the age of 3 and can be bred well into their 20s. A mare’s reproductive efficiency decreases significantly after age 12, especially mares who have never been bred.
- Older mares often have a harder time breeding back after foaling because it takes them longer to recover. Download the free Horse Breeding: Older Maiden Mares e-bookto learn more.
- A mare’s body condition directly affects her breeding ability. Broodmares need a body condition scoreof 5 (on a scale of 1 to 9, 1 being extremely thin, 9 being extremely fat). You should be able to feel her ribs, but not see them.
- Make sure she has been dewormed and that her shots are up to date. Your veterinarian can develop a vaccination schedule that fits your specific needs.
- Have your vet do a pre-breeding exam to make sure your mare’s reproductive tract is healthy. This exam is more extensive for an older or maiden mare, and may include a test to make sure her hormone levels are normal, as well as a uterine culture to make sure she doesn’t have a bacterial infection.
- Your breeding goals have a lot to do with the stallion you select. Are you breeding a foal to ride recreationally? To sell? To show?
- Find a stallion with solid conformation: solid feet the right size for his body; straight, thick cannon bones; and good overall conformation. His conformation should complement your mare’s. Talk to breeders in your area and other mare owners for advice in selecting a stallion, or peruse the com stallion directory and use the “nick your mare” feature to find stallions who have crossed well mares who have similar bloodlines to yours.
- Disposition is important, too. The mare has a lot to do with a foal’s disposition because she raises the baby. But that doesn’t mean that if you have a quiet, easy-going mare and you breed her to a hot-blooded stallion that you’re not going to end up with a hot-blooded foal. Spend time with the stallion to get an idea of his disposition.