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Breeding an Older Mare

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  • Breeding an Older Mare

    I have a mare that just turned 22 and I am contemplating breeding her. She has had a foal before, but that was when she was 9 and she was a very easy foaler, and a great mom. She is in great health, no arthritis, nothing. I am just worried if her age might make her have complications. I just need a more experienced opinion, is there anyone who had been in my situation? Or may have advice from experience? Thanks for all of the helpful advice in advance.
    My 22 year old mare that I want to breed.

  • #2
    My vet discouraged breeding after about 18... he told us that nutrition needs change and can cause problems.


    • #3
      I've had success breeding older mares, mid 20s. If she has already had a foal earlier in life, that helps. Obviously, she must be in good health. Weather she gets in foal, keeps the pregnancy, and foals out successfully is always the question, no matter her age. If you don't try, no foal will be produced. If you do try, you might be successful. These risks are always present, no matter the age of the mare. Birthing is by definition a high risk sport for both foal and mare, no matter the age of the mare. If you are looking for a "sure thing", don't breed horses, because there is no such thing as a sure thing. Risk is inherent and unavoidable. You accept the risk of failure, of disaster, of death, do what you can to avoid these things with good horsemanship, and hope for the best. If your mare is of superior quality and has earned the right to reproduce in your opinion, then you decide if you want to accept the risks of breeding her. You may win, you may lose.


      • #4
        Get a breeding soundness check up done before jumping in. She may have hidden issues that will prevent getting a foal on the ground. Pre-check could actually save you money and heartache. We had two mares, both about 15, had foals previously, though one not within a year. Both failed the checkup. Uterine condition was a very low score, did not think either would carry the foal to term. This IF we could even get them in foal.

        One mare had lost her last foal after getting her third Rhino shot, so too late to rebreed that year. Uterine condition never returned for breeding again come spring Other mare had foaled at age 10yrs, worked as a performance horse 4 years, and then was not breeding sound, poor uterus condition when we wanted to breed her again. Husband still kicks himself over waiting to breed her again. Her only foal is an incredibly talented horse, great work ethic. Having several more like him would have been pretty wonderful! Mare continued working, great performance horse. We used her regularly until she was in her twenties, just not used as hard later. Stayed sound with many miles under her hooves.

        Our chances of getting foals from these two were very low, so we did not invest the money in stud fees and associated expenses. We saved a lot of spent money for no foal, with the pre-check inspection.


        • #5
          Ditto. Find a repro vet and schedule an exam. He/she will do an ultrasound, and run a culture/cytology to see what your chance are of a successful pregnancy. If the odds are decent, you can then discuss costs for each breeding attempt, medications, frozen/fresh semen choice, etc.


          • #6
            22 isn't too old to carry and deliver a healthy foal, and many career broodies have done it.

            But it IS pretty old considering she is all but a maiden - her foal from 13 years ago is pretty irrelevant at this point.

            You'd definitely want a cytology first to see if there is anything that needs to be cleaned up. If there is, then even if you started all that tomorrow, you're probably still looking at another month before you could breed.

            I would never do LC to begin with, but given her age, I especially wouldn't do it with her, as there is an increased risk of tearing tissues that are probably starting to thin. I'd also not use frozen on a mare like this, as it takes a really competent repro vet for that, and "maidens" are trickier to begin with.

            That leaves you with fresh/fresh cooled, and then also a good repro vet who knows how to monitor follicle development and follow the timed ovulation protocols to ensure the best timing of breeding and ovulation possible.
            The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


            • #7
              Is she really exceptional enough that you'd want to risk losing her? If her breeding and/or performance record are that exceptional, have you considered an embryo transfer?

              I think that's an important consideration with any broodmare, but even more so with an aged mare who hasn't foaled in over a decade. It's one thing if you'd waited this long because she's had an incredible performance career and take that risk versus going for it because of an emotional attachment or vague interest in seeing what she'd produce.

              Personally, I would never risk breeding a maiden (more or less) mare in their 20s but I know that there are experienced breeders who take the chance. What I always come back to is that the cost of breeding and raising to riding age is much more expensive than purchasing a 3/4 year old. Unless I am in the position of breeding something worth $20k+ as an 3 year old, I'd rather save for 3 years and buy exactly what I want.


              • #8
                Someone we knew tried it. Almost the exact same idea, Story was 19 and had foaled with no problems 8-9 years prior.

                Story died at 10 days post due trying to foal a deformed filly, who did live after some boarders managed to free her from her dead mother, but even after several surgeries, is not going to make a show horse, and is probably not going to be rideable.

                I am so tempted to breed my mare, just once- but I just couldn't stand to lose her like that.
                ~Former Pet Store Manager (10yrs)
                ~Vintage Toy Dealer (
                ~Vet Tech Student
                Mom to : 2 Horses,3 Dogs, 1 Cat


                • #9
                  I know a breeder who just lost mare and foal, after 20 years of breeding with no losses, due to a severe dystocia. Deformities and dystocias happen at all ages of mare, unfortunately. I wish I could unsee the picture of a stillborn (but nearly mature) foal whose body was lovely, but whose head and neck were truly grotesque All ages of mares can have foals with issues, unfortunately.
                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET