April 24, 2009
An AQHA Corporate Partner veterinarian tells you what to consider before breeding your mare.
The decision to breed your mare requires some thought and reflection. There are several questions that must be answered: What kind of foal do I hope to produce? Is my mare a good broodmare candidate? What type of care will she need before she is bred?
Dr. Thomas R. Lenz of AQHA Corporate Partner Fort Dodge Animal Health offers some pointers:
- 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 the age of 12, especially mares that have never been bred.
- Because it takes them longer to recover, older mares often have a harder time breeding back after foaling.
Whatever the age of your mare, don’t miss an opportunity to enroll her babies in AQHA’s Incentive Fund. The Incentive Fund is a multimillion dollar program involving stallion and foal nominations with paybacks to the stallion nominators, foal nominators and owners of competing horses.
- A mare’s body condition directly affects her breeding ability. Broodmares need a body condition score of 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 expensive 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.
- Are you breeding a foal to ride recreationally? To sell? To show? Your goal has a lot to do with the stallion you select.
- Find a stallion with solid conformation – solid but 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 on selecting a stallion.
A stallion’s enrollment in AQHA’s Incentive Fund will factor into your breeding decision. Whether you keep the foal as your own or sell it to a show home, you’ll continue to have the chance to earn paybacks for the rest of the foal’s competitive life. It’s a great investment!
- 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, too.
For more great information, download our FREE Mare Care: Breeding Tips report.