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how do you evaluate your foals?

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  • how do you evaluate your foals?

    My mare is in her 5th month and starting to look pregnant -

    so... I am already trying to figure out what I am going to do once baby is born ( i like to be prepared ) - whether i re-breed her etc.

    so this lead me to think about her foal to come.... how long does it take to get an idea of what she will produce? i know it will take years to get a good idea of the ride-ability of her foals, but how do breeders make choices on who to (re) breed to when they haven't had their mares for long?

    what do you look for in a baby to tell you things?

    as a side question: if there was a stallion you were interested in but he was frozen only - no LFG and a bit pricey - what would be your method of calculating the risk of trying such a breeding?

    oh and one more: what things (besides shots/worming/etc that i already know about) do folks do as their mares progress in their pregnancies?

    thanks! i am sure i will have a million more ?'s as i get closer to May

  • #2
    One thing to think about is that you have only 30 odd days or less to re-breed due to next year's foaling time. I believe you can tell if the foal is pretty decent almost immediately but definitely by day 3. That's not to say they can't or won't blossom later, but I think you can tell. But that assumes you have some experience. If you don't, I suggest you take lots of video and send it to people you trust to advise you.

    And, most breeders constantly evaluate their stock. Every day, every interaction, every time the foal moves. Good foals, no matter what they look like conformationally, should ever make you wince and think - oh, eeew - when they move. They may not trot for months but the walk should be pure and the canter pushing with auto changes.

    None of this really helps with a maiden, but hopefully you know your mare and her bloodlines and what her family has produced so you should have a short list of potential stallions already in mind. It's not, or shouldn't be, a complete crap shoot.

    As for frozen, I personally would only do it if BOTH my vet and the stallion had a very good first cycle conception rate

    The mares I don't worry about unduly until the 8th month when I up their supplements. I don't usually increase grain until I feel I need to, which varies with the mares condition (we have hard winters).
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    • #3
      What MM says about foal evaluation. By 30 days you should have a reasonably good idea if you want to rebreed, based on conformation and movement of the foal, and temperament too.

      As far as frozen goes, I have bred with frozen for the last few years, no LFG. I don't know what your "pricey" is; what is pricey to one person is okay with another. With no LFG, I'm not going to bet the ranch on a breeding, but I will spend a bit on a proven stallion who I know has good frozen conception. I won't breed to a stallion with no LFG if there have been no frozen pregnancies, for any price and that includes inexpensive, because a frozen cycle is about $1k for me. And use a vet who has good track record with frozen, as MM says.
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      • Original Poster

        #4
        thanks! i guess i will need to ask folks for input..... of course i will be in love with it and totally biased!

        and yes, i will need to breed her right away if i choose to do so..... and as of today i dont know if i will breed her again to a pony or a WB..... just not sure what pony i would want to breed her too...... altho there are a few smaller WBs that have caught my fancy!

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        • #5
          One of my last foals was the most squished baby I have ever had--it took her months to unsquish. At rising three she is VERY impressive for her breed/breeding. But early on I had my doubts as she just seemed SO DOWNHILL SQUISHED Immature. So you may or may not know what you have for months (or years!). That being said--I think its more typical to be able to evaluate most foals for conformation, type and temperament from a fairly early age (3days, 3 months, 3 years). I will say this was my first 'wait and see" baby. Through all that squished-dom though there were glimmers---always little glimmers of what I believed was to come (breeders are THE MOST CRITICAL of their own stock). And on top of that she has always had a very very good temperament--ALWAYS easy, always sensible! I think you will know internally if you get a good foal or not--you will love it regardless. You will also have some inkling of temperament. Regardless of what you get--if the temperament is friendly and easy to work with (not flighty or nervous or whatever) chances are good you will have something you can enjoy. Most of the babies we have seen to maturity really are grown up versions of themselves at around three months!
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          • #6
            My .02 cents - if you are unsure about breeding back now, just plan to skip a year and take the pressure off of yourself.

            Here's why - your mare is a maiden and you haven't had gobs of offspring out of this mareline to have a greater sense of predictability in the crosses. Get to know your '13 foal and decide if it is a keeper in any sense of the word (weanling, yearling, raising to undersaddle age, forever). Take some time to see what/if anything you would rather see a change/improvement from and then have more peace of mind making a more informed choice.

            If your mare is sound and has a good post foaling check up - culture her at 30 days and treat/caslick's as needed. Enjoy your first foal and then you will have loads of time to choose the next stallion or re-breed. You can put her back to work or just allow her down time as a broodmare.

            Just MO. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
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            • #7
              Everyone here has given you good advice. You do get a feel early on and truly do have to make your choice in the next 30 days. I ussualy have a game plan of who I am thinking of next for my mares...but I wait to see the foal before deciding 100%. I have onlt done a repeat breeding twice...both times hoping for a very similar version of a foal...but a filly this time! Most of the time I am looking to try something new and learn more about what the mare produces.

              Lastly, something that was not mentioned is inspections. Although most breeders develop a good sense of how a foal will do at inspections, you still often learn something that is helpful in the future. In my opinion, breeding is as much an art as a science and you develop more skill and feel at making these decisions over time.
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              • Original Poster

                #8
                great input and lots to think about.

                I haven't decided yet to re-breed - i am leaning no, but i want to be prepared - just in case i change my mind

                When can i put her back to work once she has foaled? She is on lay up now due to an injury , but she should be good to go back to work in a month or so - so theoretically i could sit on her next month - realistically i will probably wait til she foals....

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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  oh! more questions :

                  when will i know how big the foal will be? will its birth size relate to what its mature size will be? i am hoping for 15 - 15.2 result but of course i could get something very different!

                  also, when we do inspections (GOV) will they put the foal in the pony book no matter what size due to the stallion being a Weser Ems?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Molly Malone View Post
                    And, most breeders constantly evaluate their stock. Every day, every interaction, every time the foal moves. Good foals, no matter what they look like conformationally, should ever make you wince and think - oh, eeew - when they move. They may not trot for months but the walk should be pure and the canter pushing with auto changes.

                    As for frozen, I personally would only do it if BOTH my vet and the stallion had a very good first cycle conception rate
                    I completely agree with both of these things.... And sometimes a foal will really "hit you" a certain way -- either positive or negative. This is NOT the "oh, it's so sweet, cute, etc" kind of thing, but some foals are just IT from the moment they are laying there all wet on the floor of your foaling stall.

                    If you don't have experience evaluating foals, make sure you are getting plenty of GOOD photos and video of your foal, to share with people you trust.

                    Like MollyMalone said above, evaluating foals is an ongoing process, but you should have a very good idea of what you have in the first few days.
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