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When/If to breed a mare?

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  • When/If to breed a mare?

    ** Sorry this got really long...

    I have a question about when/if to breed a mare.

    I purchased a 4 year old mare last summer as an event prospect. She raced for a summer, was purchased by a polo barn and spent a winter in polo training before I bought her. They sold her because she didn’t seem to care for polo. I bought her based on her great personality (lots of confidence, not spooky, seemed very quiet, etc).

    She seems to be ridiculously athletic, but is still very immature and I am taking her training slowly. I had her with a dressage trainer from October until the end of January this year and she really seemed unhappy at the barn. There was nothing that I could really point my finger to, but she reacted poorly to the trainer (showed that she had both buck and rear which she had never showed to me). I don’t blame the trainer – she has another one of my horses and that mare is doing fantastic – I have full confidence in the trainer. The mare just seems to go much better for me than for anyone else. Since she seems to prefer me, I now plan on doing the work with her myself, under the guidance of a trainer, of course, but I’ll do the majority of the riding rather than putting a trainer on her full time. This will (I assume) slow down her training even more, but I’m confident this horse is worth it. My gut feeling is that this horse is really something special.

    For the past several weeks I have been toying with the idea of breeding her. I would be hoping to get another event prospect. The primary goal would be a prospect for myself, unless the horse turned out to be something quite special in which case I’d be looking for a more competent rider for the horse.

    So, I think I’m really questioning the timing. Obviously this is all hypothetical, but if she confirms the potential I see in her, I’m sure we’ll be competing for years to come. Do I wait until her career is over and then breed? Do I breed her now before I know if she’s really the horse I think she is and put her back in training later? Do we compete for a few years, take a break to breed, and then try to get back to it? Or is it silly to even consider breeding her?

    Pedigree for anyone interested: http://www.pedigreequery.com/dancin+daisy+queen

  • #2
    It's really a personal decision based on your needs and the horse. (Boy, that's really helpful, isn't it?)

    There are many breeders who say that breeding a young mare can settle her down, ground her, and let her mature, and you have a more focused and amenable riding/competition horse when she comes back to work. If you don't need the mare in work for the next 18 months, then this might be the time to breed her.

    But, before you do that, you do want to make sure that you know her well enough and that the mare has the kind of brain that you want to pass on to a youngster. In this case, that would suggest first pinpointing the reasons why she started bucking and rearing with the trainer; i.e., was it because she didn't want to work harder with the trainer, or for some physical reason, or what? I know that doesn't really apply to the timing question, but it is a relevant issue that you'll want to examine.

    In any event, good luck to you and your girl!
    "I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?" Dave Barry


    • Original Poster

      Thanks so much for the response.

      Yes, her behavior while in training is something that I'm considering and if she shows that this truly is her personality (rather than an adjustment issue she had at that barn, soreness, or other external trigger), than no, I won't be breeding her. All of my horses have been chosen based on quiet, solid personalities (I actually took this mare on trial for a month to ensure she really did have as quiet a personality as she seemed to when I tried her at the previous owners barn and I didn't see any sign of buck or rear from June through September when I was riding her).

      I'm an ammy - I have two other horses that I can ride/show right now, so I don't "need" this mare to ride/compete right now. She has a lifetime home with me, regardless of what happens.

      Breeding is not something I ever seriously considered, so I really want to make sure I make an informed choice.


      • #4
        We usually start ours at four, so have found breeding at three or four to work well. Just thinking that your girl had already been in training for racing, polo, and dressage by that age. Whether you decide to breed or not, maybe turning her out for a couple of months would be a nice mental/physical break.

        If you decide to breed her, mine have been great moms and gone into training focused and with good work ethics.

        Best of luck with her


        • #5
          Well - bucking/rearing could mean she needs more time to mentally mature (my mare started stopping so I had to back off in her training and it was worth it!). In my mnares case my trainer was pushing her too hard sinc she was very athletic and her body could do the work - it was her mind that lacked the discipline - at least until she was a bit older. (Ended up trail riding her for a few months then slowly moving her back into dressage work.)

          So if you have the time, space and funds for a baby, other horses to ride when she's too far along, I vote for breeding her. Will give her time to mentally mature - just continue working on building up (very slowly) her mental maturity while she's still pregnant.
          Now in Kentucky


          • Original Poster

            Thanks for the input!

            I do think she is immature. And, In my opinion, she was over raced She ran basically every ten days over the summer and they tried her at all distances. I know she went straight into polo training without much of a let down period . I had her between June and October (when I brought her to the Dressage trainer) only in light work, but maybe it was all just too much.

            I'm happy to hear that it's not out of the question to breed her and then put her back to work. I guess I really wondered if I bred her, if it I wouldn't get good results with re-starting her as an "older" horse.

            Your comments have been very helpful! Thank you!


            • #7
              Personally I see absolutely no compelling reason to breed this mare. If she is really something special, let her prove that before breeding her simply because she has become difficult to ride and has an empty uterus.

              Have you done a full workup on her to make sure she is really sound? Do you have a full set of xrays? Failed race horse, failed polo pony, now a possible failed sport horse, that is a reason to reproduce?
              On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog


              • #8
                Originally posted by Perfect Pony View Post
                she has become difficult to ride and has an empty uterus.
                I would just want to make sure that her difficult behavior under saddle is nothing temperament related. If it is due to an injury/health/lack of training whatever, then it is different... Although it would still need to be investigated.

                That difficult behavior, if it is really HERS, could show up in her foals or down the line. Not exactly what you want to breed down in future generations.
                Breeding & Sales
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                • #9
                  I'm worried about her attitude too. Maybe she has a bad work ethic or some undsoundness leading to the behavior? It would be a shame to pass that on.

                  Just going off the info provided...

                  I hope to breed my mare as a 3 year old, but that is only after she is lightly started and demonstrates she has a good mind for age-appropriate work (and has continued to grow w/ good conformation, etc.--mine is much younger than yours).
                  DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


                  • Original Poster

                    Totally agree - if she does prove that she's a bucking/rearing menace to society - then no I don't have any interest in breeding her. Based on the fact that she showed no buck or rear for the four months I was riding her, I'm inclined to think there was another issue while she was in work with the trainer (and not that this is the "real" her, but I could be wrong). The trainer chalked it up to tantrums and immaturity and thought the mare would grow out of it. The bucking/rearing was not a constant thing - over the time she was with the trainer, she was doing it less and less.

                    She did have x-rays at her PPE last year, and the vet will be out later this month and decide if he thinks there are any physical issues.

                    I wouldn't necessarily call her a failed polo pony - the owner sold her feeling that polo wasn't suited to her personality - not that she didn't have the athletic ability. She bonds with her person - and she is not suited to being in a string.

                    I would also say calling her a failed sport horse is a little premature. The dressage trainer really liked her movement, she shows very nice form when free jumped, shows quite a bit of balance & coordination. She has a bold personality, isn't spooky, seems to be very clever.

                    But is she proven - absolutely not. And yes, that is part of my question - if I breed her now I am breeding a horse of unknown sporthorse quality. If I were breeding to sell, then I think this is an unacceptable risk, however I'm breeding for a personal horse. The horse will have a lifetime home with me regardless of talent. But I don't know - maybe it's still not an acceptable risk?


                    • #11
                      The problem with these situations is always that you can not absolutely guarantee 110% that the horse will be with you forever.

                      What if YOU die tomorrow? How will that horse fare if it was only made to suit YOU?

                      Extreme example, yet, it is what it is. Life is unpredictable and the best life insurance you can offer to your horses is training, good temperament and soundness. There will always be a home for well ajusted, well trained and sound horses. The others... not so much.
                      Breeding & Sales
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                      • #12
                        My question is, what are you hoping to accomplish by breeding her? You just got her, you say she is special, you say you want an eventing prospect, it sounds like you have one. If she doesn't work out why breed a failed sport horse with an attitude when you could buy another prospect with good breeding that is on the ground for probably less money than it will cost you to breed this mare and raise the foal?

                        Do you just want another horse to take care of? There's about 100,000 horses out there that would love to have a home for life.

                        I don't know, it just comes across as if you happen to have a mare that isn't really working out and has a uterus, so what else do you do with her? I guess I don't see why that is any reason at all to bring another horse into the world when there are so many out there who need homes.
                        On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog