Horse-Breeding Tips to Get a Great Foal

There’s nothing cuter than a newborn foal. But getting one on the ground requires a lot of preparation and forethought. Stallion selection and mare care are just two of the elements you need to factor in.

Are you ready for a baby?

Follow these great tips when selecting a mare and stallion to breed.

There’s nothing cuter than a newborn foal. But getting one on the ground requires a lot of preparation and forethought. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Because it takes them longer to recover, older mares often have a harder time breeding back after foaling.

AQHA’s FREE Guide to Foaling report gives you all the information you need to know to welcome your new foal into the world. Download it now and share it with all your expecting friends!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Are you breeding a foal to ride recreationally? To sell? To show? Your goal has a lot to do with the stallion you select.

Learn more about keeping foals healthy with AQHA’s FREE Guide to Foaling report.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

18 thoughts on “Horse-Breeding Tips to Get a Great Foal”

  1. what do you think about breding a 3 year old male mustang well built with a 5-1/2 year old thorughbred in great shape

  2. First you need to ask yourself why you want a Mustang/TB cross. What do you expect to do with the foal? There are already a lot of throw away horses out there. It’s not fair to the horses to breed them just to have a foal. I’m not sure how this cross is going to benefit either breed. I would think you would be better to breed your TB mare to another TB, Warmblood, Quarter Horse, APHA, etc., and breed for a foal that will have the ability and confirmation to preform and have a meaningful life.

  3. I totally agree with Joanie. especially today when well bred babies can be had for next to nothing. Please, we don’t need any more throw-a-way babies and that’s exactually what you would be breeding.

  4. Steven, please, please, please consider what you are getting yourself into. Although you may think the match might be wonderful (which it very well may yield a nice horse) you must consider the future and well being of the horse. Gaze into your future and ask yourself where you see your riding goals. Will this horse meet your goal standards? Is it capable to perform at your riding disciplines standards? If not, are you ready to find this horse a wonderful home? Those are just some factors to think about before even THINKING about finding a stallion!!! I find it extremely detrimental to any breed when I hear about owners breeding just because a stallion looks good, but a mare doesnt or a wonderful pleasant mare matched to a stallion they found hanging out in a field. Find a trainer or breeder or go to a good auction with an educated horseman. They can show you good horseflesh that would benefit you better than a horse that probably won’t be eligible for a registry. Please, consider this because as Joanie and Florian said, there are too many throw away babies out there that came from backyard breeding.

  5. I can’t think of two worse horse breeds to cross! I love mustangs and have one myself but they are two totally different body styles and for different purposes. You will just end up with a very mixed up horse might not be good for anything. Geld your mustang and let him have a happy life in the pasture with friends. Then you could adopt another mustang or a thoroughbred off the track!

  6. There are too many backyard breeders and that is one of the reasons we see so many horses being sold and traded and ending up in the “killer lots” to be shipped off to other countries as food! Every horse person out there needs to STOP and think of the future of the foal that is being brought into this society. This is another reason there are so many rescues out there trying their best to save horses from slaughter! And, these rescues are struggling to support all the horses that they end up rescuing. The only way we are going to stop this endless slaughter is to stop over populating and saturating the industry. Steve, if you want to breed and have your own foal to raise and enjoy, that’s one thing. There is nothing more rewarding than to raise, train and developing a relationship with a horse you have raised (speaking from experience). Make sure this is a project you can take on and are willing to complete and that this will not be another “throw-a-way” horse.

  7. I am thinking of breeding my AQHA mare sometime in the future. She is only a two year old now and i would like to ride her a few years before i decide. I am looking for a conformationly correct Aqha stallion and i would also like him to be cremello or perlino in color. I would like to breed her with a stallion whose bloodline and conformation complement hers. Also no impressive breeding she does not have any i do not want the foal to have any either. I would appriciate any education on finding the right stallion. I intend to keep the foal as a riding horse for trail riding and maybe showing if i have the time. I also understand that i could just buy another already trained horse for as much or possibly less than what i am planning on spending for a stud fee and just might decide to do that instead.

  8. Thank you, I read the article and agree 100%. If I do decide to breed my mare it will be after she is five and I have ridden her more and to correct my earlier statement she turned three in May. I really like the way my mare looks already but want to evaluate her more after she is fully matured. I don’t want to make this decision half heartedly as I know how the market is. I feel I have plenty of time and I am not looking to rush so hopefully I can find the “perfect” Stallion for my mare if I can not i just will not breed her. I definatley appreciate any advise on the matter.

  9. I am thinking about breeding my australian stock horse mare/filly in a few years time. I am only fourteen and am going to do it the natural way for her. But what I was wanting to know was that is that (i have never experienced breeding before. and am guessing that it is a serious buisness with not only having a foal but what would happen in the future if i decided to sell it) But I really need to no a few good sites on everything to now like breeding, vet, fee’s the works, so I can study and prepare for the future. I really think I can get alot out of my girl. She is only four and is extremely quiet! She has quite good blodlines and is starting to show some great ability. Any idea’s? Thanks

  10. I want to breed my Belgian/QH cross mare in the future, not in any hurry. She’s 7 this year and was a PMU mare for the first 4 years of her life. All her babies were sent to slaughter until she stopped going into heat and was sent to the kill pen herself where she was rescued. She loves to take care of people and babysit other children, human and animal alike. I want a foal from her to raise into a nice all-around horse, possibly hunter/jumper. She’s only slightly over 16hh and I like that height, both getting on and off her back, grooming and while I’m leading her from place to place. I really like the build of Gypsy Vanners, but I also like the build and high stepping of Friesians. However, since she’s already a cross (with excellent temperament and conformation by the way) I wouldn’t want to create chaos in the build, conformation and temperament of the foal. I think she’d have beautiful babies, both physically and emotionally, but I don’t want to ruin the life of any of them by being rash and stupid about this decision. I’ve read the article on choosing the perfect stallion, but that doesn’t help when it comes to crossing a cross. Any suggestions? Should I just buy a foal instead of breeding? I’m in dire need of advice.

  11. Oh! I should clarify, I prefer Baroque Friesians, I like the draft and draft-like horses. Thanks for the help.

  12. Emily I would definately think about just buying a foal. You are never guaranteeded on conformation with a cross.

  13. Stephanie, does your mare have any particularly strong bloodlines (I see that you mentioned she is 96% foundation… We have a foundation stallion and I am always interested in those lines :))?

    Even though she’s not finished maturing, how is she now in regards to disposition / willingness / demeanor etc? And build?
    Sheila

  14. hi. I have an old Standardbred mare. She’s old (but I’m not sure how old..) and never was bred before..that I know of..but I was wondering if I should try to breed her though..should I?
    Thanks. 🙂
    –Rachel.

  15. As an amateur person who bred my older grade mare to a stallion I selected, I would like to weigh in with my comments – both for and against “designing” your own cross.

    Breeding because you want the offspring of a favoured horse is perfectly acceptable, if you plan on keeping the foal and don’t have high expectations for its abilities. Picking the best stallion for your mare is only expected, and may be of far superior or different breeding to your mare. I agree that throwaway horses are unacceptable, but denying someone the joy of breeding their next companion is a little harsh. Perfectly servicable horses can be bred this way, and the owner can have a lifetime of happy riding.

    I bred for sentimental reasons (I wanted the foal of my first horse), and, in spite of the quality of the stallion, I now have a mediocre horse. I love her, and will keep her for the rest of her life, but it wasn’t an intelligent choice. I can buy an untrained youngster with the exact conformation I am looking for and ride it in 6 months, instead of waiting 4 years and paying SO much more than I would have.

    Also, if you want to compete in a field populated with purebreds with ancestors were bred for 100’s of years to a particular standard, it is a pretty unlikely that you (or me) will be able to match that standard with a mostly random cross of two horse types.

    Just know what you are getting into.

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