What is YOUR criteria for keeping or selecting a mare to breed?
Basically, as stated. What are the most important factors in selecting a mare to keep as a broodmare? Do you have a checklist? Do they just have a "look?" Do you go on pedigree only in some circumstances?
Obviously, in some cases it is going to be a different (if young, or had injury) but along the same lines, if they did have an injury would that affect your decision as well?
In no particular order . . . (keep in mind that I am breeding for dressage)
1) The mare must be registered and have a warmblood pedigree for at least 4 generations. I will make an exception for an "unknown" that is several generations back there in the pedigree if the mare is exceptional (ie proven herself well in sport). I would not breed a mare than has anymore than 1/8 unknown blood.
2) She should have reasonably good conformation. I am willing to let small limb deviations like toeing in and out go if I like everything else about the mare. I wouldn't breed a mare that has scary pasterns, is extremely downhill or has a very weak topline, low set neck or hind legs that trail way out behind.
3) Movement-this is probably my number one priority. I will accept less than perfect conformation, but the mare must move! I wouldn't breed an average mover.
4) I won't breed mares that are too crazy or lame to ride, unless their lameness is not due to any conformational or genetic problem.
5) competion record-It's a nice to breed a mare who has shown successfully herself, but for young mares or career broodmares, I would breed them anyways if they have the pedigree, conformation and movement.
6) Pedigree-this is important to me. I want to see bloodlines I like and particularly a strong dam line.
7)For older mares, what have they produced? If I don't like what they produced before, I wouldn't breed them again.
8) Inspection and MPT scores. I don't think that these are the be all and end all, but I am more likely to give a mare that is Elite or SPS a second look.
NOT in order, because some of these things are equal to me...
Conformation - balanced (#1 for me in conformation), correct, good limbs, adequate bone, well shaped neck, good depth of body, excellent hindquarters, to name a few of my most import criteria.
Temperament - I don't care how beautiful an animal is, I don't do bad temperament or difficult. I want to enjoy what I'm doing, and bad temperament is a real downer.
Movement - on a scale that goes poor, fair, good, great, excellent, and OMG -- DID YOU SEE THAT???? They need to be at least "great".
Pedigree - must be bloodlines that I know produce the type and quality of pony that I like. There are a number of bloodlines I won't consider at all, and some that I like to see in a pedigree in different ways. For instance, my ideal pedigree will have Downland breeding not before the 3rd generation. I prefer it to be 4th, but I do have some mares with it closer than that.
Breed type - since I'm breeding purebred animals, they need to LOOK like their breed, and have the attributes that mark them as such.
Show record of mare herself, full siblings, parents, family, etc.
And last.... I have to LIKE them! Sometimes, even when I am most definitely NOT looking, I come across something that I absolutely cannot stop thinking about. Some of these have become my best and/or favorites over the years.
I like to know about the mare's family history; particularly - what her dam and her sisters have produced. Without that history, breeding a mare is like shooting pickles in a barrel.
This. Obviously the mare herself must conform to points listed previously (breed type, conformation, movement, temperament, competition record or inspection scores and esp. willingness to work) but it's the mare FAMILIES that will always be the deciding factor for one I want to breed.
If I'm looking for a particular bloodline and I have two mares similarly bred, I will ALWAYS pick the one who's dam, granddam, "aunts", sisters, etc. have produced exceptional offspring. That increases my chances of getting a good BROODMARE vs. a very nice mare.
Owner of ATA and Verband-Approved Trakehner stallion, Tzigane *Pb*, breeder of ATA-approved Semper Fidelis
For our jumper program, first and foremost, she absolutely must come from an exceptional motherline. Her dam, granddam, great-granddam, etc. must have produced 1.5 meter plus jumpers and approved stallions or be siblings to 1.5 meter plus and approved stallions.
She must have lovely type, correct conformation, and athletic gaits. She must be sane minded. She must be at least 16.0 hands and no larger than 17.1 hands. I prefer a medium framed mare who is leggy and slightly rectangular with a very active hind leg.
Attached is a photo of our best mare so that you can see what type we look for.
I also just have to like the mare. There are certain things I look for (harmonious neck/wither connection, sloping shoulder, uphill build, and good hock and stifle angles, oh, and I really like the 'D' line), but ultimately it's what impression overall the mare makes on me.
My best producer is an old fashioned mare with a big head, long back/weak topline overall, and short legs. People make negative comments about her all the time (or, they tell me how much the stallions I breed her to improve her in her offspring). It used to really bother me, but now it doesn't, because her offspring have been so successful. I almost didn't buy her because of her type. Then, I rode her, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. She really uses herself, is super supple, light in the front and powerful in the hind end, naturally balanced, delightfully sensitive, and has an amazing willingness to work. I breed riding horses, so they have to be good to ride!
I will say that I would never breed a mare who does not move correctly (i.e. winging, paddling, etc.), nor would I breed a mare with a nasty temperament.
Edited to add that the mare must be registered with a reputable warmblood registry (prefer Hanoverian but I like other registries as well). I also prefer to not have an F1 mare (unless she is by a warmblood approved TB stallion), but there are always exceptions.
Last edited by Callaway; Jan. 14, 2011 at 08:31 AM.
Mare must be registered/approved and I do pay attention to the bloodlines - not only for their performance/qualities but I also actively look for different lines than what I have, might be harder to come by, and that will compliment MY stallion.
I have a few mares right now (that were my "base" starting out) that do not have a performance career themselves - due to injury or because they are from the "old school" of breed the best/ride the rest train of thought) but they are from lines that produce well and they themselves have/are producing well.
TEMPERAMENT - seriously, while everything else is important and I do look at it, THIS is prob my #1 thing. My parents help me out on the farm and I have youngsters that come over to visit.. I CANNOT have anything on the property that has a nasty temperament or that produces a nasty/hard to handle temperament. Period.
Everything else that everyone has mentioned goes as well... confo (can forgive some things of course - no horse is perfect), movement, etc.
And I also agree with the "just have to plain old LIKE the mare" - we spend a lot of time with our pregnant mares and if I don't like the horse it isn't going to be fun for me.