November 2015

Winter Babies

November 13, 2015

Horse-Breeding Tip: Take care of – but don’t coddle – those early foals.

Follow these tips to take care of foals born early in the year.

Horse breeding experts Dr. Joe Carter, D.V.M, of Oklahoma Equine Hospital, and Barbara Helland, owner of Helland Ranch in Hutchinson, Minnesota, have years of experience in the horse-breeding industry. They foal out both ranch-owned and client mares in the winter.

Here, they offer their advice on the specific management needs of early foals. What they had to say centered around four major areas of concern. Read the rest of this entry »

Postpartum Impression

March 1, 2013

Your new foal can learn a lot in the first 72 hours of his life.

mare and foal

A foal can benefit from imprinting techniques within in the first 72 hours postpartum. Journal photo.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

The first few hours after a foal is born is a window of opportunity to shape that foal’s behavior for a lifetime, according to Dr. Robert Miller of Thousand Oaks, California.

A horse can be taught how to behave later in life, but it might take a lot longer.

Dr. Miller gets a head start on these conditioned responses before the foal stands to nurse.

“They actually have greater capacity for learning in those first hours of life than anytime in their lives,” he says.

Ideally, he suggest several follow-up sessions during the foal’s first two weeks.

Read the rest of this entry »

How “Halter Horse Breeding” Is Spelled

January 11, 2013

Meet the man behind those “JMK” American Quarter Horses.

James Kifer

James enjoys showing his product to others in the Quarter Horse community. Journal photo.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Piano player. Stock trader. Scholarship athlete. Business owner. Philanthropist. Family man.

At some point, all those labels have fit after the initials of J.M.K, aka James Melvin Kifer of Hartselle, Alabama.

Of course, if you’re into American Quarter Horses, you’d add “leading breeder” to that list. Horses with a “JMK” in front of their names have consistently sent James to the top of the list of leading halter horse breeders.

Truth is, it’s difficult to put just one label on James Kifer, and that makes him one interesting horseman to meet.

Man of Many Caps

“I’m not sure who I’m going to be every day until I get up and decide, or I see what the day’s problem is,” James says. “It just depends what kind of cap I’m going to get up and put on, if I’m going to be a farmer or golfer or piano player or horse breeder or trade the stock market or run my machine shop.”

James lives with his wife, Rita, on a 300-acre farm outside of town, about 30 miles south of the Tennessee line. On any given day, you might find him following stocks via the Internet, changing the oil in his tractors, on his bulldozer helping a friend or local church with a landscape project, or foaling out a mare. His breeding, stallion and show barns are just a short walk from the house, and he can see most of the mare pastures from there, too. Read the rest of this entry »

Bran Mash

December 13, 2012

Is this warm treat beneficial to horse health?

Feeding your horse

There are pros and cons to feeding your horse bran mash during the cold winter months. Journal photo.

By Dr. Thomas R. Lenz in The American Quarter Horse Journal

During these cold, dreary days of winter, a common discussion around the barns in this area is whether or not horse owners should provide their horses with a bran mash daily, weekly or at all. So I thought it would be a good idea to discuss the benefits and problems of feeding bran.

Wheat bran is a fluffy, low-density feed that is similar in nutrient content to oats. It has one-half the density of whole oats, around one-fourth the density of corn or wheat and about four times the phosphorous content of most grains. It’s relatively high in vitamins such as niacin, thiamin and riboflavin, but much lower in B vitamins. It is somewhat palatable to horses, once they’ve become accustomed to it, but expensive for the nutritional value it provides. Read the rest of this entry »

Foal Vaccinations and Health Care

May 24, 2012

Health and management tips to ensure a healthy future for your foal.

Foal health

Foals require careful monitoring to ensure that they are healthy and developing properly. Journal photo

From AQHA Corporate Partner Pfizer

With spring in full bloom, many American Quarter Horse owners are welcoming new foals into their equine family. Foals require careful monitoring to ensure that they are healthy and developing properly. To help owners as they raise their future champions and performers, we spoke with AQHA life member Dr. Jerry Black, director of the equine science program at Colorado State University and owner of Oak Valley Ranch, an equine reproduction facility in Oakdale, California, on his recommendations for caring for mares and young foals.

Dr. Black emphasizes that the health of the foal is clearly dependent on the health of the mare, particularly in the last trimester. Mares should receive booster vaccinations approximately four to six weeks prior to foaling and be on a sound nutrition and parasite control program, without being overweight.

“Administering booster vaccinations prior to foaling helps to ensure that the mare will have maternal antibodies to pass along to the foal in colostrum,” says Dr. Black. “If a good vaccination regimen has been applied prior to foaling, we don’t need to vaccinate foals until their immune system is ready to develop after maternal antibody levels start to decrease.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Planning Ahead

November 4, 2011

Breeding farm managers suggest steps to take now that can save time and money later.

Pregnant mare

Booking early gives early warning and helps prepare the breeding farm for any special needs your mare might have. Journal photo.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Whether you are breeding 100 mares or just one, breeding farm managers recommend planning early for next year’s season.

By thoroughly researching your favorite stallions and making your selection in the fall, you increase your chances of booking the stallion you really want. Read the rest of this entry »

Broodmare Health Care

October 27, 2011

Is your mare getting the care she needs to produce a healthy, happy foal?

Healthy Brood Mares

Are your broodmares ready for foaling season? Journal photo.

From AQHA Corporate Partner Pfizer

Many American Quarter Horse mares are now pregnant and waiting for the spring foaling season.

The goal of any breeder is to keep the mare healthy throughout the pregnancy and then deliver a normal, vivacious foal. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicado V

July 15, 2011

This little mare made a big impact on the horse industry.

By Richard Chamberlain in The American Quarter Horse Journal

Chicado V horse

When Chicado V died of an apparent heart attack in February 1972, she was the only mare who had produced five AAAT offspring. Journal photo.

Dark clouds are supposed to have silver linings. Consider, for example, Chicado V. Blessed with tremendous talent, Chicado V (chick ah doo vee) ran on her own dark cloud: legs fast enough to propel her to records, but calf-kneed and crooked enough that she could not keep it up. When the filly pulled up lame on a California racetrack, never to race again, the silver lining was her extraordinary ability as a broodmare. Chicado V had what it took. Read the rest of this entry »

Too Darn Hot

July 1, 2011

Guard your mare in late summer against heat, bugs and sparse pasture in Part 1 of this series.

By Denise Steffanus in The American Quarter Horse Journal

mares and foals

Take the appropriate steps to ensure your pregnant mare has a pleasant summer. Journal photo.

Being pregnant in the summer is no day at the beach for mares. Add a suckling foal at her side and you can understand why she pins her ears as sweat drips down her body and flies nip at her teats.

For a mare whose body is already stressed by nurturing a foal – on the ground, in utero or both – coping with heat, bugs and slim pickings in the pasture can put all of them in danger. Read the rest of this entry »

Foal Vaccinations

June 23, 2011

Helping protect the next generation of American Quarter Horses

From AQHA Corporate Partner Pfizer Animal Health


Protect your precious foal from the many infectious diseases it will be exposed to. Journal photo.

With the foaling season in full swing, many new American Quarter Horses are being born at farms, ranches and breeding facilities around the country. Early foals may be several months old now, about the time that owners and breeders should consider initial vaccinations. While most foals are protected from common equine diseases by maternal antibodies in the mare’s colostrum for the first few months of life, they need to start a course of vaccinations as soon as those maternal antibody levels begin to drop. Read the rest of this entry »

When Can a Mare Return to Riding?

March 18, 2011

After foaling, it may take several weeks for a mare to return to riding.

By Dr. Ben Espy for American Association of Equine Practitioners, an AQHA alliance partner

After foaling, a mare who was fit before pregnancy can usually return to riding sooner than one who was out of shape.

My initial response is the same as a human obstetrician’s answer would be to a patient who asks how soon she can start working out after having a baby: “It depends.”

What was her condition before the pregnancy? Were there any foaling complications? Like the professional human athlete who returns to world-class competition 60 days after having a baby, a fit, healthy mare can bounce back from a pregnancy fairly quickly. And, similar to those human mothers who are bedridden for months after a birth, mares who entered motherhood unfit or unsound may be incapacitated afterward for an extended period of time. Read the rest of this entry »

Foal Vaccination

March 3, 2011

These AAEP guidelines will help you make decisions on your foal’s immunizations.

This foal vaccination guide can also be found by going to

By Dr. Thomas R. Lenz for The American Quarter Horse Journal

In 2010 the American Association of Equine Practitioners revised its vaccination recommendations and expanded the list of core vaccinations that should be administered to every horse in the United States regardless of location or occupation. The core vaccines now include Eastern and Western Encephalitis, tetanus, West Nile virus and rabies.

There is also a list of “risk-based” vaccines that can be given to horses that may be exposed to these diseases, either because of their occupation or the part of the country in which they live. Those include Potomac horse fever, equine influenza (flu), equine herpes virus 1 &4, and strangles. Respiratory diseases like these are especially dangerous for traveling horses and should be vaccinated against.  Your equine veterinarian is your best source of information on risk-based vaccines for your horse.

Can you spot the signs of Potomac horse fever? Do you know how this devastating disease is contracted? Be prepared with AQHA’s FREE Potomac Horse Fever Report. Download and print it out today!

Schedule A (see table) is for foals whose mothers received a vaccine booster four to six weeks prior to foaling. Her high level of colostrum serves to protect the foal for several months, but could also block any vaccine given too early after birth. Schedule B, which can be found by going to, is for foals whose mothers were not boostered prior to foaling and, as a result, their colostrum may contain lower levels of antibodies; these foals will need to be vaccinated at an earlier age.
Read the rest of this entry »