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Spinoff from the "You cured me": How did you get started in breeding?

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  • Spinoff from the "You cured me": How did you get started in breeding?

    So, how did all the breeders here get your start?

    Did you have one special mare and then found a line on her?

    Or did you go out and purchase mares and established broodies from other breeders?

    Are you a small breeder or have a larger operation? Do you breed mostly for yourself or for the larger population?

  • #2
    Why did I start breeding, Oh Boy!

    I have always loved the process, the deciding who gets bred to whom, and then the foaling and the raising and later the training, always asking myself did I do well, have I made a better horse than either parent. Could I have done better?

    I love competing on the horses I have produced, seeing how far they can go and trying to match them to the right riders (if they are not what I want in the end).

    Other than that, I started with a great mare, plus I chose a breed that is rare and unusual. No-one else breeds them (at that time anyway), so if I wanted them I'd have to make them.
    It's a bit different now than it was 5 years ago when I started, now there are several breeders of them, but back then I had to go to Denmark and Germany to find my stock, because there just weren't any here.

    It's a long slow process but I really do enjoy the whole thing, from the selection of parents to riding what I have produced.

    I only sell cos I have to, I actually hate selling them, they are my babies and I raised them and caused them to be and I hate letting them go, but I have to or I can't make any more. And I can't ride all of them, much though I want to.

    So after all that rambling, disjointed perambulations. I do it cos I love it. I don't plan to make money at it, not that I have to, though it'd be nice to able to pay a few more bills!

    I'm a very small breeder, or maybe I'm actually a smallish breeder since there are those who breed fewer than I do.
    I produce 3-4 foals a year sometimes less, I expect to sell up to 2 of them and I keep 1-2 to raise and start and show.

    I'm happy to keep all 3 or 4 and will eventually have them all under saddle if they stay.

    Knabstruppers Rule Okay!

    Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
    Sign up for the Equine nutrition enewsletter on www.foxdenequine.com
    New edition of book is out:
    Horse Nutrition Handbook.



    • #3
      I'm smaller than Melyni, and am TRYING not to become bigger because I can't, but, well, it's FUN. I started because I had no money and no other way to get a really talented dressage horse.

      I was competing FEI on my Appy, who was about 16, and thinking what I would do when "he got old." (Ha!) I was working with an international level trainer who had ridden an international level stallion (not so many back then). I did not have a mare. I had a friend who had a nice TB mare who had bred her to some warmblood stallions and gotten good results, even though none of them ever were shown. I was watching my trainer friend work with GP rider whose horse was by his stallion, and the mare was I think a QH/TB. When I saw him work this horse, I was very impressed at what he could do. My friend/trainer also knew the TB mare. I asked him which was nicer, my friend's mare, or the mother of this GP horse. He said the TB mare. So . . . if I bred the TB mare to this stallion, I should get something at least as nice. That's how it started.

      My first try at breeding resulted in a mare I brought up to GP by myself (maybe 20 lessons with someone else) with legitimate scores to mid 60's. I bred her young, just in case to have another horse "when my Appy got old." Her daughter I bred to a friend's stallion who had just won the breeder championship. She was working all I-1 work when I made the disasterous decision to let someone buy her dirt cheap. Then my GP mare, pregnant to the number one dressage sire in the world at the time (who I bought semen from years back at a great rate because he had been competing successfully sound at the Olympic level for at least a few years then) died two weeks after a surgery (still pregnant.) All my breeding goals gone. The daughter was crippled and ruined. My Appy still sound and chugging along at 28, doing the FEI work.

      I about died. My Appy kept me going. I ended up looking for another horse as I sensed he didn't have much longer. I found another mare, completely what I didn't want--too small, too old, greenbroke badly, three babies under her belt. But, she reminded me SO much of my GP mare in mind and breeding. It was meant to be. I lost my Appy about six months later (still sound and doing FEI work well) at almost 31. Due to my own paranoia and knowing how great this mare was, I bred her right away as I trained her. Four years later I have 2 3/4 year old and a 7 month old full sisters that are SO nice. (The first one was so nice, I just had to, in case.) Now I'm contemplating WAY too seriously breeding her again (or maybe the older filly!) to go back to my dream of spots, as Melyni and other Knabstrupper fans all know.

      I breed for myself because I can't afford to buy the really nice ones, and I seem to have an eye that works for that. I breed that upper level dressage horse. And once you've lost a dream, it's hard not to hedge your bets as much as possible. And it's VERY fun to raise babies exactly the way I want to. I know mine are super conditioned by the time I ever get on, not raised in stalls or flat paddocks. The problem is I am not rich, nor have property, so having lots of horses is not a good idea. I could/should sell, but it's really hard, and I have a disasterous experience with this. One of the thoughts in my mind is, "well, if someone comes up to me and offers me a ton of money for this one, I should have a backup, just in case." Not a good way to think, but . . . I did have the worst case scenario. Sigh. If I just had some land, then I could really get out of control.


      • #4
        We are a small breeder. 2-3 foals per year. We hope to grow to 6 maximum per year. Before we started we researched the breeds and registries and decided we wanted to specialize in Hanoverians. As a rider in the Chicago area I grew up on T-breds. (hunter/jumpers) I wanted something different and highly marketable for our breeding business. We now specialize in dressage bloodlines as we are foal producers, we don't ever plan to raise them for sale, only our fillies which we hold back. (btw.. not riding alot anymore, need to get that back into the plan. Tough as a breeder. It's a draw back.)

        To start, I contacted the German Hanoverian Verband and they put us in touch with breeders to find our special mare. We found her and imported her as a 4 year old, already achieved her SPS title and was in foal. Her damline represents 7 direct generations of States Premium Mare titles. We went into this believing if you don't have the best mares you won't reach the right end result. We can't afford to keep buying more SPS mares so we keep back her fillies. We have been lucky to have them also become Elite (here in the USA). We did purchase one youngster that had been imported and also took her to Elite status.

        I might add that we also purchased a 12 year old broodmare in foal as our second mare. That was a disaster. She never got back in foal and it was money down the drain. She was sold as a lovely amateur riding horse and is currently going 2nd level. I'll never purchase an older mare again. IF I do purchase another mare in the future I will target 4 years old, SPS titled and in foal. However, breeding for our own broodmares is the plan to date.

        So.. we have 3 SPS/Elite mares currently. We have been lucky as they are all black (highly marketable) That wasn't the plan but its ok. We will take another coming 3 year old through the testing process next year and hope she will also make Elite. Then we will have 4. If she doesn't make Elite we will most likely sell her as a riding horse. (not the plan).

        We currently breed for our own future broodmares. If we get colts we sell. Although we did offer everything "inutero" last year and of course a beautiful well bred, correct black with chrome filly appeared (top filly at her large inspection as well) and we had no choice. She was sold and we lost her. Won't let that happen again and I remind my hubbie regularly about his "bad decision" on selling all last year.

        My husband and I both have other full time jobs so breeding business is a third job we share. We have planned 6 breeding mares will be our limit. We don't have "staff". We do it all ourselves, but are outsourcing the "foaling out" at this point since we have extremely experienced standardbred breeding farm 10 minutes away. They run staff over all three shifts and have foaledout 3000+ foals in their careers. They have the experience if problems occur.

        We created a business plan before we started. We review and update it every year. We were even audited by IRS.. 5 hours in accountant office plus a visit to the farm. They were very thorough, and we came out clean. Thank heaven!

        We rely on asking other breeders, etc. alot of questions and continued research to keep our program on the right path. We'll see how we make it in the future but this was our best year todate even in this bad economy so we are pleased with results so far.
        Imported from Germany, Assembled in Michigan
        Rare damline of 7 direct generations of Elite/States Premium Mares.


        • #5
          I started breeding mainly because I felt that the superior youngsters from successful breeding programs were ending up in the hands of top barns and agents. I thought that the only way I would ever get my hands on an above average horse would be to breed it myself. So far that has worked.
          Sentinel Hill Farm
          Home of VDL Windsor H


          • #6
            Originally posted by DancingAppy View Post
            So, how did all the breeders here get your start?

            Did you have one special mare and then found a line on her?

            Or did you go out and purchase mares and established broodies from other breeders?

            Are you a small breeder or have a larger operation? Do you breed mostly for yourself or for the larger population?
            It started when I went to look at a GELDING at a breeders. I did not care for the gelding when I got there. There was a newbon filly I loved. The seller said she was a BOGO deal: the dam was getting older/he didn't want her (AKA to carry a retiree) so the dam came free with the filly. We had just bought this farm and had 5 horses (my 1 and hubbys 4 polo ponies) on 34 acres. We had plenty of room and pasture to offer her a retirement home. So well now I have a broodmare. I might as well breed her. She didn't get in foal that year but did get in foal the next year. That filly was very nice and sold very quickly. Hey cool! But the mare was now in her 20s and really was too old to breed and was retired. So I got another broodmare on pupose. That foal sold quickly too. More mares followed. Now that you have a bunch of mares the stud fees are getting expensive. So I got a stud colt.....a coming 2 YO as older ones were out of my price range. I had been a MO for a few years now. No experience with stallions so I took the New Bolton class on stallion management. It helped some but really....common sense and expecting him to behave with the same manners as any other horse I think was key. I bought him winter of coming 2. Spring of coming 2 when da hormones hit I was re thinking the wisdom of this idea. But he settled down and was the best buy I ever made. I loved riding that horse. He was just coming into his own (late bloomer growth wise) at 5 when he had a farm accident and broke his leg/was euthanized. He did have a dozen foals first, so I have his last (now coming 4 YO) son here as a stallion prospect as well. Fortunately he has been as easy and sensible as his daddy was. I kept him intact as he looked like mini me of his sire. Hie persoanlity is too. Under saddle he is a not the same horse. His sire was dressage-y/the kid is an elastic but flatter mover so more of a hunter type. He is still sweet and a blast to ride though. Just in a different sort of way. He is smooth as glass instead of sproingy.
            The first mare: she was a successful open jumper before her retirement and a doll to boot.
            Mares bought after her: varied types. One I bought because she was an established broodie. One was a WB mare that got injured in a pasture accident/no longer riding sound. One was an OTT that didn't cut it at the track but had a fabulous pedigree for sporthorses. One was a Paint from excellent bloodlines that was offered to me in exchange for breeding her to my stallion and giving the owner a foal from her...so a breedback trade.
            At the biggest I had about 4 broodies at at time. I am down to 1 now with the bad economy. One is retired, one is coming 20 so I will try and breed her this year at her age to keep her in foal. The rest of the younger broodmares I sold off a couple years ago. However...I still have 4 fillies here that I bred. 2of those mares are currently u/s and 2 are 2 YOs. I have a replacement band in hand! With the slow economy I didn't plan to breed anything. But...ma nature had other ideas. This past spring (2010) we had problems with the electric fence shorting out and it took us a long time to find the problem. As noted there is a stallion on the property. He is good about respecting the electric but the electric wasn't working right. So......he took the opportunity to hop his gate. (So we know he can jump...ha ha ha). He bred one of the hubbys polo mares. So...at 3 he managed to get his test breeding off the ground. She is due in March.
            As to the breed...the fist horse I owned was a Paint. I loved him/always had Paints after that. Started with breeding Paints/that is what I knew. Not the halter types though...hunter jumper types with a lot of TB in them. That fist mare was a Paint/TB cross as well. As WBs began to dominate I shifted to pinto WBs and Paint/WB crosses. Still had to have my spots! The first stallionn was a pinto TB that I was taking through the WB approval process. At 3 he went to 2 WB preinspections. Both said he was lovely/got passing scores but too immature/please re present when he was older. He was about to be re presented when he had his accident. Sigh. His son is out of a Paint/TB barrel racing bred mare....he is a Paint that is 3/4 TB. Right now my mares consist of 1 TB broodie, 1 pinto WB mare (grand daughter of that original first mare I got 10 years ago), 1 full TB filly and 2 WB fillies.

            that one first mare turned into so much more!!I love the babies....but there have been bad times along the way too. One still born, 2 red bag deliveries (same mare one made it/one did not:mare was retired after 2 RBs), one dystocia birth (scary but that filly made it too).
            Last edited by camohn; Dec. 23, 2010, 09:01 AM.
            Providence Farm


            • #7
              We both grew up in horse breeding families, so just carried on the family tradition. We then made the switch to Wbs 20 some years ago as we got more serious about Sport Horses.
              Follow us on facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/River...ref=ts&fref=ts


              • #8
                Always figured that I'd have horses at some point. Getting an education, a marriage off the ground and a first child took some time. The marriage went south and there wasn't money for one then. Remarried and another kid..and another southward marriage. Done doing that so time to make my dream come to reality. Was fortunate that a friend was involved in POA's (was regional inspector for the NW) and had some great horses...got into them first and just loved the breeding and foaling and working with the babies, putting a foundation on them that would last their lifetime. Decided to go for the bigger horses so expanded into Appy's....bad timing. Was asked by a lawyer friend for suggestions on investment type horses and was introduced at the same time to cutting QH's...oh, my, these things were awesome!! Sold off the POA's and the Appy's and bought a weanling colt with great pedigree...showed at open halter just for hauling experience and ground training and did well. Next, of course, had to buy mares to complement...it sort of snowballed from there. Partner bailed and I stayed, expanded again to Paints with performance blood. Grown since not so much in numbers but in quality level...now dealing with some of the top performance lines available and doing it in Paint....been involved for about 30+ years and figure I may have another 15-20 if I'm lucky. Still love doing the foundation/ground work with the youngster...nothing so much fun as seeing them learn how to learn and become calm, quiet, confident in the face of all the weird stuff I throw at them.
                Colored Cowhorse Ranch
                Northern NV


                • #9
                  I started mainly because I couldn't find what I wanted out 'there' in my own performance horses.
                  Originally posted by ExJumper
                  Sometimes I'm thrown off, sometimes I'm bucked off, sometimes I simply fall off, and sometimes I go down with the ship. All of these are valid ways to part company with your horse.


                  • #10
                    I've always liked pedigree research and analysis, I like the connection between performance and and the pedigree.

                    A few years ago I had the opportunity to take on a mare who came from less than ideal circumstances. She came from a decent pedigree, and was actually well conformed. I initially had no intention of breeding her (just rehab and get to a home), but things just fell into place and I put a foal on the ground in 2009.

                    I think I did alright.

                    It is rare to see a rider who is truly passionate about the horse and his training, taking a profound interest in dressage with self-abnegation, and making this extraordinarily subtle work one of the dominant motivations of his life.\"