Breeding a Mare: Anyone? Anyone?

Now that I’ve decided that nope, no way, not at all would I ever ever consider stepping into the breeding arena, I’ve begun thinking about it.  I guess I hate the thought of missing out on something that I would always wish I’d done.  And one of my fondest memories of childhood is the time my mother woke me early in the morning, grinning from eat to ear, to annouce that our Siamese had just given birth to four little black bundles of fur. 

Now, there’s 3 pregnant mares at the barn who are due in April, May and June so it’s not like the Joy of Life is going to pass me by.  And considering how things have gone with Gabby so far, the whole enterprise of breeding her seems doomed to many, many medical bills.  And I have no illusion about growing rich or even recouping costs on the sale of a foal (which would certainly have to be sold because I cannot afford the board on two horses).

So, if anyone wants to tell me what it’s like (finding a stud, boarding or insemination, the misery and/or terror of the birth of an already large animal), please feel free to chime in with whatever you’d like to share. 

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Breeding a Mare: Anyone? Anyone?

  1. I think if you’re not so inclined don’t do it. You should trust your gut and head on down the road. Breeding horses is hard work and expensive. Selling the horses you breed can take more luck than sense and selling foals is near impossible. Being in a big public barn can make the selling part a little easier but there are no guarantees. If you can’t afford a second horse, DON’T breed one. Chances are you’ll end up with it and you’ll be in a real mess.

    With your problems with this mare, I’d say it’s time to find her a home (even if that means cutting your losses and giving her away) and move on to something that suits your needs. Maybe think about leasing a horse before you buy it to be sure it’s going to work out. And if you have an experienced horsey friend or someone like that you may not know but respect, see if they will help you find the right horse for you.

  2. This week one of the foals was having a baby night–no attention span whatsoever. He tried to run over me and when that didn’t work he wanted to buck in circles around me, and when I wouldn’t let him do that he tried to rear/paw at me. He wasn’t being intentionally mean or naughty–he just wanted to run and play and had no interest in the whole training thing. It was all the exuberance of a six-month-old puppy, in a bigger–much, much bigger–package.

    If Gabby has a foal, do you have someone who can teach you how to train/handle the foal? Even if you do, do you want to be the one on the end of the lead line when the foal’s attention span completely disappears and it just wants to “play”?

    Getting the foal on the ground is expensive and exhausting enough–but it’s nothing compared to the work that comes after, with training and handling. And as MiKael said, you don’t know how long it would take to sell the foal–so you have to be prepared to handle the training somehow (you do it, or you pay someone to do it).

    Personally, I’d take advantage of the three already-pregnant mares–talk to the owners, see if you could help out somehow. Learn from them what goes on during breeding and after the foal is born and such–hands on is so much better than stories over the net. See if it’s something you really want to go through–it might be, or you might realize you really aren’t interested in the work.

    I know the issue is Gabby needs time off now, so now is when you’re thinking of breeding–not next year–but it would not be fun to breed her now, see those three foals born this summer, and realize you really don’t want to go through raising a foal yourself–and yet, have a foal on the way. That situation wouldn’t be any happier than the one you’re in now.

    If you really, really want a foal–sure, breed. Otherwise, live vicariously though the three pregnant mares. It’s just as much fun!

  3. Erica

    Both of the above comments are smart and sensible — I totally agree. Another thing you might want to consider is the number of horses already in this world that desperately need a home. I volunteer for a horse rescue, and I see horses available all the time going for very little money that would make great riding horses. Unless Gabby’s bloodlines are impeccable and sought-after, I would advise finding her another home and, as MiKael suggests, leasing a horse for a while to help you decide what qualities you want in your next horse.

  4. So…just a few things to think about:

    A few years back a friend of mine would breed a mare every year. One of those foals was supposed to have been mine in exchange for riding for her. He ended up being a ‘barker’ foal; he’d bark like a seal instead of whinny. He lost all of his natural reflexes; we had to feed him through a tube before he leaned to drink from a pan (he never figured out how to suck.) He died at about a month old, not from symptoms related to his ‘barker’ syndrome, but because the mare had gotten too much selenium while carrying him.

    A couple years later, the mare was bred again…and died.

    If the usual risks aren’t enough, start thinking about the slaughter issue. I’m actually for slaughter, because it beats the alternative of horses left starving and abused for months (or years.) Don’t get me wrong, I can’t abide by what most of those horses are put through on their way to slaughter, but it’s short lived in comparison to those who are ‘loved’ too much and allowed to die from neglect out behind the barn.

    If you can get the baby experience through those around you, go for it. It’s hard (I know!), but it’s probably best if you’re not looking to get something in particular from this breeding. I don’t know your mare…but you’ll need to determine if she’s exceptional enough for the foal to be desirable to people. Not because you’re wanting to profit, but because you want people who are willing to make the commitment for a lifetime.

    JMHO 🙂

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