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Champion show hunter - from back pain to broodmare....

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    Champion show hunter - from back pain to broodmare....

    Question. I have a 14 year old registered & branded STUNNING Westphalian mare with a miles-long show record in the "A" hunter rings all up and down the East coast. Just one problem....we are now treating her for some back issues, so I feel like her jumping days may be over, which is sad, considering that she isn't old.

    She is absolutely my heart horse, and while I would be completely content to keep her just as a beautiful pasture puff & trail horse at my private farm, I wonder if her full potential would be better served now by being a broodmare? I however, know NOTHING about breeding, and really have little to no interest in, or time to train a foal. That in mind, I feel like injured "could-be broodmares" are a dime a dozen, but with her branding, impeccable bloodlines, and the fact that she's just plain gorgeous, I wonder if there would somehow be an opportunity for her there. Do people lease out broodmares? Is that a "thing"?? Would I just have to outright sell her to be a broodmare?? I just worry about her ending up in a kill pen somewhere down the line and have heard horror stories.

    Forgive me if these are dumb questions, but breeding is just not something I'm at all familiar with! Again, I'm still hoping for her to pull through her rehab, but it got me thinking about the potential for breeding. Thanks for any input!

    #2
    Why would you want to breed and add weight cis pregnancy to a horse that has known back pain/issues? I wouldn't.

    What exactly are her back issues?

    Comment


      #3
      Yes, people do breeding leases, though not super common since broodmares tend to be plentiful. If she is truly as credentialed as you say, you may be able to find an interested party. Of course, you need to do your homework on the lessee, as with any lease.
      Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

      Comment


        #4
        Personally, I wouldn’t breed a horse that was retiring from its intended job pretty young, for a soundness issue that wasn’t clearly and definitely due to outside factors (e.g. pasture accident).

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by GatesRiverFarm View Post
          Question. I have a 14 year old registered & branded STUNNING Westphalian mare with a miles-long show record in the "A" hunter rings all up and down the East coast. Just one problem....we are now treating her for some back issues, so I feel like her jumping days may be over, which is sad, considering that she isn't old.
          What are the back issues, at least as best you know?

          She is absolutely my heart horse, and while I would be completely content to keep her just as a beautiful pasture puff & trail horse at my private farm, I wonder if her full potential would be better served now by being a broodmare?
          She certainly doesn't care

          I however, know NOTHING about breeding, and really have little to no interest in, or time to train a foal. That in mind, I feel like injured "could-be broodmares" are a dime a dozen, but with her branding, impeccable bloodlines, and the fact that she's just plain gorgeous, I wonder if there would somehow be an opportunity for her there.
          It's possible, for sure

          Do people lease out broodmares? Is that a "thing"??
          They do, and it seems to go badly just as often as it goes well. There are some super scary "breeders" out there. I would never send her off site for a breeding lease

          Would I just have to outright sell her to be a broodmare?? I just worry about her ending up in a kill pen somewhere down the line and have heard horror stories.
          I would worry about an unsound horse being sold, period. I wouldn't do it. If you're happy with a light hacker or pasture puff, she is not going to loose sleep over not producing beautiful babies

          Forgive me if these are dumb questions, but breeding is just not something I'm at all familiar with! Again, I'm still hoping for her to pull through her rehab, but it got me thinking about the potential for breeding. Thanks for any input!
          Not dumb questions at all.

          The first thing I might do is reach out to her sire's owner, and her own breeder, and see if they know of anyone right off the bat who might be interested in a custom foal out of her. If so, there are options.

          1 - You can do an on-farm breeding lease if you decide you are ok with her carrying a foal, and are ok raising a foal to weaning.
          2 - You can offer embryo transfer, which lets everyone win and doesn't jeopardize her life carrying an foal - also on-site

          #1 sounds out of the picture given your "no interest in..." comment. It's also not something I would do, regardless, if her back issues are not fully resolved. But that does somewhat depend on what this issue is. Lots of broodmares have multiple foals with back/hind end issues that preclude a career, but don't interfere with pregnancy

          #2 is a lot less risk to the mare

          In the end, you don't owe the horse world anything from her. You are not selfish to just keep her as a light pleasure horse for the next 10+ years if that makes you happy
          ______________________________
          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

          Comment


            #6
            Something else I would consider that I didn't see mentioned. You said she is your heart horse. Totally get that. Breeding is not without risk to both the mare and the foal. One way to mitigate risk is to do embryo transfer so another mare bears the brunt of the risk. Another way to mitigate risk is to just not breed her at all. If you do choose to breeder her and she becomes a statistic, will you be able to deal with the loss and your decision?

            Most can and do decide to breed because the reward can be fulfilling in many different ways but always bearing in mind the risk that goes along with it.
            Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; John Gilliespie Magee, Jr

            Comment

              Original Poster

              #7
              Sooo....no. Got it. Pasture puff it is.

              Comment


                #8
                I just retired my best hunter mare with a legitimate show record at age 14. Due to the uncertain show schedule this year and the fact that the mare's rider is off to college, I elected to breed her now instead of waiting until next spring.

                Several reputable breeders would be interested in your broodmare, provided she does in fact have a legitimate show record. I know of a couple breeders whose entire broodmare band is comprised of retired competition horses.

                I am definitely interested in retired competition mares, BUT, I get offered 2-3 such mares a month. Because breeding is such a crapshoot (especially for hunters), I'm pretty picky as to the type of mare that I'd be willing to bring into my breeding program. What I generally find is that most mares simply don't have the show record their owners advertise.
                "Some people are good at finding data, but not very good at understanding or analyzing it." -- foursocks

                Comment


                  #9
                  Regardless of why a mare is being retired due to unsoundness, the choice to breed or not to breed will depend on a lot of factors. Yes, some breeders like myself lease out mares for breeding. It is often done on a free lease basis. I too have heard horror stories of breeding leases gone wrong....but they don't all go sideways. We have leased quite a few mares over the years, and when the lease is done, they often go home in better shape then when they got here (and the ones we have leased over the years have been in great shape when they came). So not all leasing is bad. There are several things an owner can do to help ensure a positive lease experience such as making sure a contract is in place and getting lots and lots of references for the breeder.
                  www.DaventryEquestrian.com
                  Home of Welsh Cob stallion Goldhills Brandysnap
                  Also home to Daventry Equine Appraisals & Equine Expert Witness
                  www.EquineAppraisers.com

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Daventry View Post
                    We have leased quite a few mares over the years, and when the lease is done, they often go home in better shape then when they got here (and the ones we have leased over the years have been in great shape when they came). So not all leasing is bad. There are several things an owner can do to help ensure a positive lease experience such as making sure a contract is in place and getting lots and lots of references for the breeder.
                    This reminds me that I actually leased the mother of the hunter mare I mentioned above! The mother was a really nice imported Hanoverian mare owned by folks that had stopped breeding and had left this mare benignly languish in a field. The mother had some medical issues and was definitely better off in our care. I ultimately bought her after she produced two foals for us (we lost a premature third one).
                    Last edited by Bent Hickory; Jul. 14, 2020, 07:31 AM.
                    "Some people are good at finding data, but not very good at understanding or analyzing it." -- foursocks

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I just retired my best hunter mare with a legitimate show record at age 14. Due to the uncertain show schedule this year and the fact that the mare's rider is off to college, I elected to breed her now instead of waiting until next spring.
                      Bent Hickory, what stallion did you choose?

                      Comment

                        Original Poster

                        #12
                        Bent HickoryDaventry THANK YOU for your considerate insight. Some of the responses prior to yours seemed rather curt. To answer the questions posed:

                        1.) She has what the vet considers to be "low-grade" ODSP. We are currently treating aggressively with SME therapy along with cold lasering, Osphos, Adequan, hock injections, physiotherapy, etc. etc. etc. rinse and repeat. KS is *NOT* heritable and MANY broodmares have this condition and are able to carry foals comfortably. Also, we have isolated this as the issue affecting her, so it is "known" and "clearly defined" - perhaps I should have been more specific in my OP.

                        2.) I am doing everything humanly possible to get her comfortable to very simply be able to just W/T/C again. She *IS* perfectly rideable and happy to walk under saddle currently. However, *IF* she does not come comfortably through this, my options are either A.) turn her into a walking only trail horse, B.) breed her, or C.) pasture princess.

                        3.) Perhaps I under-represented how little I knew about breeding. At the very least, I am well aware there is an inherent risk involved, as with anything relating to horses. I'm just trying to explore ALL potential options for her to have some "purpose" in her life other than being a pasture princess. She is a very "keen" show horse - I do worry a bit about her becoming "bored".

                        4.) Her show record is indeed USEF-verifiable and over 30 pages long with top placings at "A" shows all up and down the east coast. She is Westphalian inspected/branded and was imported from Germany with stellar bloodlines. Her sire is a top jumper and some siblings are owned by USET riders and shown by them on the LGCT circuit. All that said and with her looks in mind as well, I have NO doubt I could free lease her out as a broodmare. I've had offers from people to purchase her as a broodmare, but I'm not willing to sell her.

                        I want her to continue to have a purposeful life...but right now I'm just not sure what that looks like, which is why I'm trying to be the best "mom" that I can for her, and explore any and all possibilities.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          We don't actually know that KS isn't heritable, and as a result, I would not breed a mare with it.

                          You say she's West inspected/branded, but is she approved anywhere?

                          Without that, not a lot of breeders will want her unless maybe it's very easy and convenient for them to get her approved. I have no idea the status of registry approvals this Summer and Fall, but to increase her value a bit, you might consider seeing of there are any close enough to you to make it worthwhile AND if you think she's sound enough to do well. Otherwise, that's something you might consider next year. At 15 then, she's pushing it going into a first time pregnancy, though certainly not unheard of at all.
                          ______________________________
                          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by flake View Post
                            Bent Hickory, what stallion did you choose?
                            My mare was bred to Coconut Grove for two reasons: 1) my mare's true half sister produced one of the nicest CG hunter-type horses that I've ever seen -- super type, super mover, super brain; and 2) my mare has historically been difficult to breed (albeit via ET while competing), so the 10 doses of CG that I already have in the tank looked pretty appealing.
                            "Some people are good at finding data, but not very good at understanding or analyzing it." -- foursocks

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I guess the positive aspect is that it sounds like she had a heavy showing career, if she has 30 pages, and was not sidelined by this condition until 14 which is not young in my mind for a well used performance horse. How many 15 year old and up are still out there competing at A shows?

                              Comment


                                #16
                                Originally posted by GatesRiverFarm View Post
                                Bent HickoryDaventryI want her to continue to have a purposeful life...but right now I'm just not sure what that looks like, which is why I'm trying to be the best "mom" that I can for her, and explore any and all possibilities.
                                Obviously, I would need more information to ascertain a level of interest, but I will share some candid deal-breakers for me -- others are free to disagree. I've seen quite a few USEF records that were miles long but only 3' high, and so I passed on those mares. I also would pass on mares under 16 hands -- the market just wants taller horses. And any mare that needed to stay with the owner would be a non-starter -- it's just not practical to remotely manage breeding. Any mare that was only available via ET would also be a non-starter unless she was truly exceptional or had already produced exceptional offspring -- otherwise there just isn't enough money in breeding in this country to absorb those extra costs.

                                On the flip side, the injury as you've described wouldn't bother me at all.
                                Last edited by Bent Hickory; Jul. 15, 2020, 07:57 PM.
                                "Some people are good at finding data, but not very good at understanding or analyzing it." -- foursocks

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