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Opinions on breeding, and where to start??

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  • Opinions on breeding, and where to start??

    Ok, I very well could be slaughtered for this, but that's why I am seeking the greater wisdom of COTH...((zipping up flame suit..))

    I have started to spin around the idea of breeding my mare in the next year or two. However, I want to make sure that I first have a clear idea of financial obligations, and second, whether it is even something I am capable of handling on my own. I know there are plenty of people out there breeding without giving these things any thought, but that's not how I roll...

    Mare is 12 or 13 (still narrowing that down for sure) Han/TB, sired by Dederick and out of a Romantico mare. Built very much like a TB, so would like to consider WB stallions. Would be breeding for a foal to keep, to be my future ride when she has to retire. I have one other horse on my own farm that requires significant maintenance, so I want to make sure I don't bite off more than I can chew here.

    My main problem is not having any sporthorse breeding mentors/trainers to rely on for help. How do you go about choosing a stallion, etc without this kind of expertise? Do breeding farms offer "consultation" on these types of things?

    Also - what implications am I NOT thinking of, being that I am a self-proclaimed idiot? I worked for a breeding farm for awhile here in NC, so I am comfortable handling mares & foals, have a trainer great with starting babies - all of that support system is in place. It's the initial breeding steps that I would be more or less alone on.

    So lay it out for me. I appreciate any advice, good or bad! I am only considering this, and have no plans in place to do anything until I am better informed. TIA!!!

  • #2
    You would probably get more responses if you asked more specific questions. What are you looking to breed for? When I asked about Trak stallions to breed to my Haffy for a lower level eventer I got tons of advise! Good luck!
    "It's never too late to be what you might have been." George Eliot


    • #3
      I would start with a full reproductive exam on your mare. Older maidens can be a bear to get in foal (dealt with one of those this year actually, 3 tries with SUPER vets).

      Then depending on the results of the exam I'd discuss with your repro vet fresh vs frozen. Because of the biopsy on our girl, my vet wanted to use fresh with a LFG. First breeding we did "normal." Second was agressive with oxytocin protocol and a lavage. Third we added regumate and got a pregnancy. Now I really hope she holds it to term! If your mare comes back with a questionable biopsy (pretty common for a 13 y/o maiden) then I would plan financially on multiple breeding attempts just to be safe, and I would also go with a live foal guarantee. Each rebreed, you'll still have to pay for collection, shipping, and vet fees - it all adds up, fast

      If they recommend fresh, that narrows your pool considerably. I'd start with what YOU want (what type of foal, what do you want improved on from your mare, etc) and make a list of those things. This will help narrow the pool down even more, for example, if you want dressage, registered Han, over 16.2h, and will improve the canter (just making some stuff up as an example) - that will help you drill down to a smaller list of stallions. Then it's finding ones that fit that and asking questions, looking at offspring, and ultimately picking your favorite. Keep in mind some SOs will recommend their stallion blindly for absolutely any mare, and others actually know and will help pair the stallion more realistically. I love Iron Spring Farms website because they list what their boys improve/don't improve on the breeding pages. Stallions with many offspring on the ground, their owners SHOULD know what they are producing with mares similar to yours. With unproven stallions you have to rely a bit more on the bloodlines to know what he may throw.
      Celtic Pride Farm
      Become a fan on Facebook!


      • #4
        Make sure you find a top notch repro vet too.
        Whispered Wish Weser-Ems: Breeding quality German Riding Ponies!
        Standing the stallion Burberry


        • #5
          Of course,there are also older maiden mares who are like fertility goddesses too. We bred my heart horse this spring--she's 13, never been bred, and she caught on the first time, no help from a repro vet at all. Of course, she's a TB being bred to a TB so it was live cover locally so we didn't have to be as exact with checking follicles and such like you would with shipping semen. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy, as my 6 year old son likes to say. She's now at 4 months and everything is ticking along just fine, with the exception of she's a super easy keeper and I'm worried about her getting too fat. I'm gonna be a nervous wreck when she foals, even though I never batted an eye for any of the other mares we have foaled. It's different, emotionally, breeding your heart horse.

          As far as picking stallions, I think most people who are breeding the foal to keep for themselves, need to breed for temperament first and foremost. Most of us need a good temperament more than we need Olympic level gaits or jump. I have one mare who is amazing physically, but temperament wise she is very much a pro kind of attitude, but at the same time, one of the very, very rare truely "one person only" horses. I'm lucky in that I'm a pro sort of person and that she decided I'm her person. My husband who feeds her on a regular basis is allowed to feed her and lead her to and from the pasture, but that is about all she tolerates from him and heaven forbid a stranger try to pet her. The one time an instructor tried to get on her to demonstrate something in a lesson, she tried to double barrel him on the way to the mounting block, for no reason at all--he was just leading her. I would love to breed her, but when I do, her baby's daddy is going to be mellow, mellow, mellow, and known for passing on mellow, mellow, mellow. LOL--although he will also have nice movement and a little jump too.

          So decide what you are breeding for (dressage, jumper, hunter, all-arounder), you already decided type (WB since your mare is very TB-y), decide height range you want the foal to be (although this is sometimes a gamble), decide if you want specific breed registry for the foal, pick out what you want to improve in your mare, and then just start looking at stallions. The internet is wonderful. I would keep a notebook with a page on each stallion that you like for all your notes. If at all possible go see the stallion in person. Ask the COTHers about foals they've had from those stallions.

          Good luck and have fun. Don't stress over it too much.



          • Original Poster

            Fantastic advice so far, and thank you for it all!!

            I would be breeding for an eventing prospect. As I mentioned, would like a WB stallion to temper her distinctly TB-type build, but in response to other questions - would like one that adds height, as she measures right at 16, and added bone would be a plus since she is a very light build. Mare is a lovely mover, tons of jump, and extremely bold cross country. Temperment is generally very steady, but she does have a bit of a fiery side, so a more mellow stallion that passes mellow on to his offspring would be a plus, or so I am thinking. There honestly isn't much to improve on in my mare, other than height, build, and temperment - a slightly more mellow version would be my dream horse. :-)

            Current vet is an experienced repro vet, and I am planning on picking his brain about recommemdations for a repro exam - thank you for that advice!!


            • #7
              As a complete novice at this myself, I'd first do the BSE and talk to your vet about whether to use fresh only, or if frozen is an option. That way, you don't waste your time falling in love with The Stallion only to find out he's only available frozen and your vet recommends fresh.

              I, too, was looking for something to add a bit of height (also just 16h) and to maintain the rideability that my mare has - although she's not TB, but Trak/Westphalian, and has good bone (and amazing feet!) to begin with, I wanted something that was going to compliment that.

              You might look at Buddenbrock. He was originally my first choice, but we ended up going with Festrausch this time around. I'm also hoping for my future eventer, something that can make it around the mid-levels since it doesn't seem like I'll ever make it to the uppers. I also dabble in straight dressage and so wanted a stallion that was going to add good movement into the mix (and a potential sale avenue, should the baby not turn out to be an eventer!).

              There's also Fred's pretty boy, A Fine Romance, although I can't say I know enough about him to know if he throws what you're looking for.


              • #8
                Though your mare is lighter type than you want, you may find that she will produce more substance than you expect with Dederick as her sire. You won't really know what she will reliably produce until you have bred her a few times.

                Assuming that she has AHS papers, the American Hanoverian Society offers a service to help mare owners make well thought out decisions in breeding their Hanoverian or Hanoverian approved mares. Check this link for more information:

                Mary Lou


                Member OMGiH I loff my mares clique


                • Original Poster

                  HomeAgain, I had actually wondered that - Dederick definitely has a significant build!!!

                  She actually is not registered at all. I had recently toyed with the idea of having her inspected with ISR/Old, but don't see much point in justifying the expense, with plans to only breed for myself.


                  • #10

                    Chestnut, that's great, but that is not necessarily the norm. It's always better to walk into a situation knowing what you are dealing with, and that is what the exam should tell them. ESPECIALLY if thinking about frozen. Some of the stallions I like are $2500 or more PER DOSE. Had we blindly gone that route we would have ate $7500 just on stud fees. Her exam may come back great (I certainly hope it does!) but I would want to know before I start racking up breeding expenses. That LFG may be well worth it!

                    Home Again - YES! Our 15.3h mare was a maiden foal (her full sister is 16.2h) and she throws very big babies.

                    Babyeventer, I'm assuming you are breeding for an eventer? Are you wanting a Hanoverian stallion? Do you have a photo of your gal?
                    Celtic Pride Farm
                    Become a fan on Facebook!


                    • #11
                      Oh, I forgot to add my experience with the cost...

                      My bill is up over $2k for a single cycle, and we haven't confirmed that she's in foal yet (21-day u/s Monday). That, of course, does not include the stud fee, shipping, etc. and is purely veterinary care.

                      How much size are you hoping to add?


                      • #12
                        OP: I would recommend many of things as those above including a good repro exam and uterine culture. For an older maiden mare, I would stick with a proven stallion who does fresh semen with a live foal guarantee. As a first experience, I think fresh is cheaper to deal with in case you end up finding out that your mare is infertile.

                        Definitely get the mare registered! ISR would be a good way to go because you have to start somewhere. Also you could consider the North American Studbook as they are trying to set a new standard of strong pedigrees and horses: http://www.northamericanstudbook.com/ I know you said the foal will be for you, but you can never guarantee you won't sell it. Honestly, you're going to get more money for a registered foal, IMO. Whichever registry you get her in will dictate somewhat which stallions you can use. So...I'd figure that out first then start stallion shopping.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by okggo View Post
                          Chestnut, that's great, but that is not necessarily the norm. It's always better to walk into a situation knowing what you are dealing with, and that is what the exam should tell them. ESPECIALLY if thinking about frozen. Some of the stallions I like are $2500 or more PER DOSE. Had we blindly gone that route we would have ate $7500 just on stud fees. Her exam may come back great (I certainly hope it does!) but I would want to know before I start racking up breeding expenses. That LFG may be well worth it!

                          I didn't suggest she forego the repro exam. I only wanted to point out that not ALL older maidens are very hard to get in foal. I did not say my mare was the norm. I did also point out that MY mare was bred live cover very locally. If I were not doing live cover, yes, we would have been more scientific about it, and if the stud fee were extremely high, again, more vet involvement. Just trying to encourage the OP.



                          • #14
                            Agree wih the others of getting a repro exam first and see what you have and go from there. Definitely budget for at least 2 tries - I forget what equine reproduction quotes as the success rate (and being under budget if she catches immediately is a nice suprise )

                            Take a critical look at your mare and think what you would like to improve. That will start you for figuring out what kind of stallion you need/want.

                            For eventing, might also look to Irish Draughts/sport horses. Both in Olympic show jumping and eventing a good number of horses with irish draught blood.
                            Epona Farm
                            Irish Draughts and Irish Draught Sport horses

                            Join us on Facebook


                            • #15
                              fwiw, i bred my 13 yo maiden this year and had many of the same questions as the OP. (mine took first try and cross fingers i will have a wb x sport pony next may!)

                              Even tho I had picked a frozen stallion that i adored, i switched to fresh w/LFG per comments here. I ended up sending my mare to a breeding station and the timing was very tight!

                              so here are some things i learned: most folks miss when their mare comes into heat by a day or two. so if you are thinking she comes into heat on day x bring her to the vet a few days before that - just to be sure! you dont want to cut it too close!

                              also go fresh with LFG just in case.

                              track your mares cycles religiously so you have a better idea if her timing.

                              as for stallion : i would go Irish.... my first thought was Connemara but since you want size i would go with an irish sport horse of some sort.....will def add temperament and bone and tb x irish is a classic eventing horse.

                              good luck!


                              • #16
                                Cost is the biggest thing. I'll throw this in here so you can get some other ideas financially...

                                Here's what we did this year:

                                2 Mares

                                Mare 1 is a 15 yo maiden mare. I opted out of the breeding exam due to time -- we started breeding late and I knew I was only going to try 1 or 2 times. Short-cycled her and bred a week later with fresh/LFG. She's now 60 days, took first time.

                                Total # of Vet visits for this mare: 6 (1 initial, 1 U/S, 2 Breeding, 1 Confirmation, 1 Heartbeat check)

                                Mare 2 has had 2 foals previously but is 17. Did not do breeding exam, though I will next Spring. She was also short-cycled and bred one week later with fresh, but came from a 28 yo Stallion (he has gotten mares PG this year, FYI). She did not take and we did have to give her oxytocin due to fluid retention. I decided not to breed her again this year. I am toying with the idea of breeding her next year to a different stallion.

                                Total # of Vet visits for this mare: 6 (1 initial, 1 U/S, 2 Breeding, 2 pg check -- first pg check flies were bad and we didn't see anything, but she also didn't show a good heat afterwards). My total vet bill for this breeding excursion:

                                $1714, plus $800 stud fee for mare that is in foal (no collection charges since we only needed one shipment), $67 shipping charges for Mare 1, $55 equipment charges for Mare 2 (container and extender), plus $167 shipping charges. There was no stud fee on Mare 2 because of stallions age -- only had to pay if foal stood and nursed. Bringing my breeding excursion this year to a grand total of...


                                That was worth it to me. I cannot buy a well-bred Trakehner foal for this amount of money and, even though I only have one mare in foal, it is something I wanted -- not something another breeder bred for and then ended up not wanting for themselves. I just posted this so you have another idea of costs, and the stud fee I used is relatively cheap. Also not frozen, which adds costs.

                                Good luck!!
                                Creek Ridge Farm
                                Trakehner Horses


                                • #17
                                  I am going to add my personal experience for after the foal is born. It turned out that my extremely well-bred WB mare was not a very good mother. Of course, you don't know that until foal is born. My mare was aggressive on turnout but a great mom in the stall. We ended up not being able to turn mom loose with baby and had to have someone hold onto her the entire time - otherwise she would go after the foal. I have no idea why, it was like a weird switch was thrown and then back in the stall all was fine.

                                  Anyhow, that meant limited turnout for the foal as someone had to just stand out in the field for a couple of hours at a time.

                                  Then, mom started getting indifferent in the stall - plowing foal over if she wanted to move around, stepped on her once when she was lying down. SO, weaned the foal at 3 months so everyone could go outside and be "normal."

                                  I know this if far from the normal situation, but I wanted to point out that you need to be prepared for the unexpected. EVERYONE told me my mare was a natural mother, it would all be fine, they know what to do, etc., etc. and while more often than not that is the case, it is not guaranteed.

                                  I will never breed this mare again except for ET - last fall we found her first foal fatally injured in the field and never knew what happened and rebred - after seeing her go after this year's baby, I am pretty certain I know what happened.

                                  So I guess I am saying, are you or someone available during the day should the foal or mare have special circumstances; what if the foal is ill or the mare is injured during birth? Not to mention the excruciating heartache of losing one of them. I think most of us happily go into breeding without realizing that it does not always go as planned.

                                  Just food for thought - I am thrilled with my filly and am still crazy about my mare, who is going back to her day job as a dressage horse; but the dream of breeding for me is gone and I am finally breathing a sigh of relief to get the foal off of mom. Now I just have to worry about every little thing like feeding, OCD, socializing, injury, etc. Breeding and raising young horses is not for the faint of heart!


                                  • #18
                                    Such an innocent comment: ". . .There honestly isn't much to improve on in my mare, other than height, build, and temperment. . ." Taken out of its original context I know, but it did make me laugh (just a little bit - more like a cough!) at your expense. But in the nicest possible way!!
                                    GreenGate Stables


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by GGStables View Post
                                      Such an innocent comment: ". . .There honestly isn't much to improve on in my mare, other than height, build, and temperment. . ." Taken out of its original context I know, but it did make me laugh (just a little bit - more like a cough!) at your expense. But in the nicest possible way!!
                                      That is going to have to be one magic stallion!
                                      McDowell Racing Stables

                                      Home Away From Home


                                      • Original Poster

                                        okggo - sorry for the delay; I am away from the computer all weekend and could not for the LIFE of me figure out how to copy and paste on a smart phone, lol.... Here's a link to some pics of her http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?s...3&l=e5bea7a757

                                        jmpergrl - Thank you for the suggestions on registering - those are some really good points to think over!

                                        creekridge, I cannot thank you enough. That gives me a much better baseline. I didn't want to be totally invasive but the cost is of course a primary concern, and obviously mine would total even more with an initial repro exam. I am encouraged to see that you had success with a 15 y/o maiden though, congrats to you!

                                        booboo; I am definitely prepared for a multitude of issues that could arise. And unfortunately I have gone through the heartache of losing one of our farm's foals at 3 days from a congenital defect. It was beyond heartbreaking to see that sweet mare screaming for her baby for days - so I do have the expectation that things don't always go to plan. But thank you for the gentle reminder, I promise to keep it in mind.

                                        GG - Seriously though, that's the "dream" list. As long as the foal is the same height as momma, I would be fine. Same with build in all honesty, I just think a little extra bone would be ideal.