Horse Breeding

Seeing Silver

May 22, 2015

Learn about horse-breeding crosses that can produce various foal colors including silver, a gene that dilutes black horse hair.

Close examination of the legs of a bay silver shows that they are not truly black. Many change to silver-flaxen on the lower part of the leg. Photo courtesy of Lesli Kathman

Close examination of the legs of a bay silver shows that they are not truly black. Many change to silver-flaxen on the lower part of the leg. Photo courtesy of Lesli Kathman

By Lesli Kathman in America’s Horse

If you ask the average person about the color of a horse, you will most likely get a very literal answer. To them, a chestnut horse might be brown, a grulla might be gray and a light gray horse might be white. As horse people, we have our own language that describes horse colors more precisely. Brown refers to a very specific horse color, and there are more terms – sorrel, chestnut, liver, bay, dun – that communicate just what kind of horse we are describing. Read the rest of this entry »

Fescue Toxicosis

May 8, 2015

Your grass could endanger your mare’s pregnancy and your horse-breeding program.

A fescue pasture with a close-up of the grass and a microscope picture of the endophyte. Dr. Thomas Lenz photo

A fescue pasture with a close-up of the grass and a microscope picture of the endophyte. Dr. Thomas Lenz photo

By Dr. Thomas Lenz in The American Quarter Horse Journal

Tall fescue is the most common perennial grass pasture found in most parts of the eastern half of the United States.

It was brought to North America in the late 1800s from Europe and became popular with the release of the “Kentucky 31” strain in 1943 because it is easily established, toler¬ates close grazing, stands up to heavy horse traffic, Read the rest of this entry »

A Horseman’s Eye

April 24, 2015

The late Hall of Famer Charley Araujo sheds light on evaluating American Quarter Horse conformation for horse breeding.

Charley Araujo looked for horse that was wide between the eyes, with eyes set low on his head. Journal photo

Charley Araujo looked for a horse that was wide between the eyes, with eyes set low on the head. Journal photo

By Charley Araujo in The American Quarter Horse Journal

Editor’s Note: Charley Araujo, a member of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame, wrote this piece in 1970, but his timeless wisdom still holds true today.

Since I was a child, I have observed horses. I grew up in a time when horses and cowboys were the admiration of the day in our country. We lived here in California up in cattle country in the mountains, and that was all there was to admire. We used draft horses to work, and I still admire draft horses, and I judge draft horses, too. Read the rest of this entry »

Contagious Equine Metritis

April 10, 2015

Learn about this disease and its effects on horse breeding.

Contagious equine metritis is a true venereal disease and is spread primarily through breeding or artificial insemination. Journal photo

Contagious equine metritis is a true venereal disease and is spread primarily through breeding or artificial insemination. Journal photo

By Dr. Thomas Lenz in The American Quarter Horse Journal

Contagious equine metritis was first diagnosed in Thoroughbred breeding horses in England and Ireland. In the years that followed, the disease was subsequently diagnosed in most of the European countries, as well as Australia and Japan. The United States banned importation of breeding stock from the affected countries.

Despite the ban, CEM showed up in Kentucky in 1978 in a mare that had been bred to an imported stallion from France. By the time the outbreak was brought under control that year, nearly 500 breeding horses had been quarantined and the horse-breeding season thoroughly disrupted. The Read the rest of this entry »

Scoping for Horse-Breeding Issues

March 6, 2015

The endoscope can help veterinarians see reproductive problems in horses that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to accurately diagnose.

The endoscope allows veterinarians to directly view the inside of a hollow body cavity, such as a horse’s reproductive tract. Illustration provided by Dr. Patrick McCue

The endoscope allows veterinarians to directly view the inside of a hollow body cavity, such as a horse’s reproductive tract. Illustration provided by Dr. Patrick McCue

By Dr. Patrick McCue in The American Quarter Horse Journal

The vast majority of reproductive abnormalities in horses can be detected using common procedures. However, there are a few problems that need specialized procedures and equipment for an accurate diagnosis.

One of the techniques is endoscopy, which refers to directly viewing the interior of a hollow body cavity, such as the reproductive tract, using an endoscope.

Endoscopes are commonly used in equine veterinary medicine to observe Read the rest of this entry »

The Orphaned Foal

February 13, 2015

When this foal’s nurse mare rejected him, an unusual therapy eventually helped with adoption.

When a foal is orphaned, it might take a few tries and even a little therapy on the nurse mare to get her to accept him. Journal photo

When a foal is orphaned, it might take a few tries and even a little therapy on the nurse mare to get her to accept him. Journal photo

By Dr. Patrick McCue in The American Quarter Horse Journal

Felix was an orphan at less than 10 hours of age.

His dam was a 19-year-old mare who had given birth to several foals previously. The birth was unassisted and uneventful.

The mare began to show signs of shock early the next morning and eventually died.

Felix was brought to our clinic for nursing care and management. We collected a small blood sample for evaluation of passive transfer of antibodies when he was about 12 hours old. We knew that he had nursed from his mother, but we did not know the quality or quantity Read the rest of this entry »

Horse-Breeding How-To: Labeling Your Stallion’s Semen

January 30, 2015

Make sure there are no mix-ups by putting correct labels on collected semen.

A very important part of getting your stallion’s semen packed up and ready to ship is making sure it is properly and thoroughly labeled. Photo courtesy of Dr. Patrick McCue

A very important part of getting your stallion’s semen packed up and ready to ship is making sure it is properly and thoroughly labeled. Photo courtesy of Dr. Patrick McCue

By Dr. Patrick McCue in The American Quarter Horse Journal

Throughout the country, stallions are collected for on-farm breeding, shipment of semen to the location of the mare, or for freezing. Some farms or clinics stand multiple stallions, whereas others may have a single stallion. Collection schedules vary with mare book size and management practices. A majority of Quarter Horse stallions with a large book of mares are collected on a routine basis, either every other day (i.e., even or odd days of the month), or on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday (and possibly Saturday) basis.

Breeding managers go to great efforts to promote or market their stallion(s), take pride in the way their stallions are housed, fed, groomed and handled, and are rightfully concerned about semen characteristics (especially sperm numbers and motility). The vast majority of farm personnel that collect, handle and process semen are well trained and efficient at their tasks. Read the rest of this entry »

The Changing Landscape of Quarter Horse Genetics, Part 2

December 19, 2014

What does the flattening genetic landscape mean for the future of the American Quarter Horse?

individual horse in a crowd

“Any time we take a single individual and increase its ability to generate offspring, that is going to decrease the genetic pool that is reproducing,” says Dr. McCue. Journal photo

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

In Part 1 of this series, you were introduced to the research team from the University of Minnesota that analyzed the genetic diversity of six Quarter Horse performance subgroups: halter, western pleasure, reining, working cow horse, cutting and racing. The 2012-2013 study was partially funded by the American Quarter Horse Foundation.

Now, we continue with the rest of the findings and what they mean for the future of the American Quarter Horse. Read the rest of this entry »

The Changing Landscape of Quarter Horse Genetics, Part 1

December 12, 2014

Certain populations of the American Quarter Horse are losing genetic diversity, as revealed in genetic research supported by the American Quarter Horse Foundation.

horses in a cluster

“We were able to prove quite clearly that horses were in a specific genetic cluster, depending on what performance group they came from,” says Dr. Molly McCue. Journal photo

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Talk to an equine geneticist long enough, and you are bound to hear two assertions made about the American Quarter Horse breed that sound like opposites: First, it is one of the most genetically diverse equine breeds in the world; and second, it’s becoming increasingly inbred.

Beginning in colonial America, the breed began from a diverse genetic base of largely Thoroughbred and Spanish blood that was added to and developed for roughly 200 years, focusing on producing quickness and durability. But fast-forward to the modern era of specialized American Quarter Horse performers – especially at the highest levels – and you find specialization in the horse-breeding herd, too; specific groups of individuals used to produce those top performers. Read the rest of this entry »

Stallion Reproductive Evaluation

December 5, 2014

It’s always a good idea to have a reproductive evaluation performed on your stallion so you’ll know what to expect and can identify potential problems.

Knowing your stallions reproductive health is important to the success of any potential breeding program

Knowing your stallion’s reproductive health is important to the success of any potential breeding program. Journal photo

By Dr. Patrick McCue in The American Quarter Horse Journal

Reproductive evaluations are typically performed on stallions for three reasons:

  1. Estimate future reproductive potential
  2. Evaluate prior to purchase
  3. Determine causes of poor reproductive performance

The evaluation should encompass general health of the horse, behavior, mating ability, genital examination, semen evaluation and other parameters. In most cases, the examination can be performed in one day. Here are the important components of a stallion reproductive evaluation: Read the rest of this entry »

Horse-Breeding Dilemma Resolved

November 21, 2014

Sometimes all it takes to manage mare reproduction problems is working closely with your veterinarian to find the program that works for your mare.

mare and foal

With proper care and management, a problem mare can conceive a foal. Journal photo

By Dr. Patrick McCue in The American Quarter Horse Journal

In the January 2011 issue of the Journal, I presented the case of a 15-year old mare with a history of subfertility. A series of tests yielded a final diagnosis of fungal endometritis – the mare had a yeast infection in her uterus. This column will describe the treatment and outcome after the first breeding of the year.

Fungal infections of the equine uterus can be difficult to treat and will often recur if all of the organisms aren’t eliminated. Read the rest of this entry »

Stallions That Accumulate

November 14, 2014

Proper management can help stallions with “sperm accumulation syndrome” still have a successful horse-breeding career.

stallion sperm mobility chart

In stallions affected by sperm accumulation, sperm numbers in the first collection will be very high and sperm motility will be low. The number of sperm per ejaculate typically decreases and the percentage of live, motile sperm increases after two to four days of daily collection. Courtesy of Dr. Patrick McCue

By Dr. Patrick McCue in The American Quarter Horse Journal

A 3-year-old stallion was referred to the clinic after an initial semen evaluation at home suggested that there were no motile spermatozoa in the ejaculate. It was the first time the horse had ever been collected.

The horse was in excellent body condition. The total scrotal width was measured at 9.3 cm, well above the minimum of 8.0 cm for a breeding stallion. A semen collection attempt was performed at 10 a.m. Read the rest of this entry »