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How much does the mare contribute to offspring?

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  • #21
    Every horse I've had from a mediocre mare yet a top stallion was basically no better than the mare it came from. Those that I picked from top show jumping mare or a mare that produced high level showjumpers ended up being a top horse. Europe has this already figured out. The US is finally starting to catch on.


    • #22
      Breeding goals for most of the Warmblood registries state that the goal of the breeder should be to always improve the mare. I have one Hanoverian mare that I would have loved to get the carbon copy of but in 5 breedings never did. I got close to her abilities because of the stallions used, but not even 50% heritage could be attributed to her. I have a Dutch mare that I got as a crap shoot. Most quality breeders would have never bred her, let alone have her in their pasture. She has offspring going intermediare. I heavily researched stallions before breeding to give her the DNA she needed to make up for her insufficiencies. She delivered quality foals in 4 o/o 5 breedings. The lesser quality foal ended up as a child's mount. She never throws what she is at all and I considered her my cash cow. I have a TB mare that I have crossed with three different all around stallions and got talented jumpers nearly every time. Another Dutch mare seems to throw very close copies of herself both in personality and conformation.

      Unless you know 20 years of bloodlines, you aren't going to know what your mare should produce. If you can't get to see the stallions in person, you can't know the subtleness of personality and perhaps conformation either. The heritability study done by the Hanoverian Verband was the closest tool I have seen to assist breeders in assessing conformation traits. For personality evaluation, we are on our own.


      • #23
        In my limited experience (and general observations) the mare contributes a good deal to the temperament of the foal. I have had several foals seem very much like their mothers, and one who behaves the exact same way under saddle, requires the exact same warm up, etc. Yet, this same horse only got her mother's face and neck; the rest is all papa's. Conformation is kinda a crapshoot. I agree wholeheartedly that if you would not be satisfied with a carbon copy of your mare, you should not breed. Especially if you don't like her temperament!


        • #24
          From these responses (and my observations--not only of my own, but also of other breeder's mares and their offspring), it would appear that the answer to this question is: "it depends."

          I've often heard that the mare's contribution is over 50% (though genetically, as mentioned in earlier posts, can it logically be over 55%?), but how much of that is environmental? Maybe ET transplant foals would be the best subjects for evaluating this if one were to want to do a long-term, double-blind study.

          Of course since it varies from individual mare to individual mare (some create carbon copies of themselves, some seem to be simply "vessels" for the stallion's dominant stamping tendencies), how can it be qualified and or quantified? It also depends on the stallion, since while some stallions are known for reliably stamping their get, others produce babies with varied characteristics, and/or who tend to take after whatever mare they are bred to.

          The damline studies seem to be the most reliable predictor (among breeders) of what you're going to get, but not all broodmares have a damline that can be tracked and studied (for performance factors) going back for generations.

          This is a fascinating discussion, and I look forward to hearing from more breeders!
          "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

          "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")


          • #25
            Originally posted by Canterbury Court View Post
            I usually figure the mare contributes about 60% to the foal not just in terms of genetics but personality and tractability. A mare's position in the herd and her attitude toward her handlers and surroundings definitely have an impact on the foal.
            There are both stallions and mares that are prepotent to the point that you wonder if they haven't figured out the secrets to cloning all on there own. Most foals will have a combination of both parents. Figure out your mare's strong points, fins a stallion who is her equal in those points and that is even stronger where she is weak.
            This has always interested me; my mare and foal were by themselves from the filly's birth until her weaning, so in spite of the fact that my mare is a bossy Alpha bitch around other horses (though a pussycat towards people), her filly never got to experience that side of her, since they weren't in a herd situation. Obviously she was unable to "copy" this behavior (or be influenced by it), but she is an opinionated little thing, and her mom was a big marshmallow Softy-Pants around the filly as she got older, and allowed her to be a pushy brat--which resulted in the filly becoming more pushy in her interactions with humans as she approached weaning age After said filly was weaned (and introduced to a foal herd of two who already knew each other from birth, and who immediately started bossing HER around), she got a BIG attitude adjustment; she is now at the bottom of the pecking order--and subsequently much more tractable in general. When she changes herds, will her dam's bossy tendencies start to emerge, even though she was never exposed to them? Will her mom's submissiveness towards humans have been passed on, or will I have to work on this with her daughter (as I do whenever I handle her, of course ) As mentioned, I see both similarities and differences, in many subtle ways. I wish I had had a chance to meet the sire in person, but he is on the other coast.

            Food for thought!
            "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

            "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")


            • #26
              Originally posted by Noodles View Post

              How much does the mare influence their offspring? The stud?

              work ethic?


              simple answers:

              genetically: always 50:50

              realistic: you only ever know afterwards

              relative assumption: since there is more information available about any given stallion(line) than here is about any given mare(line) for the simple reason that you can only breed one foal per year o/o a mare but many foals from any given stallions, experience about mare production is of higher value because it is rare. that, however, does not mean that mares automatically contribute more to any given foal.

              what parent dominates a foal in the end is always a 50:50 outcome per any of your above listed features (and every other feature, too).

              only very few mares and stallions really stamp their offspring dominantly with respect to the one or the other or a collection of features. to the good or the bad. i.e. think of stallion(lines) we know to be destroying walk. those have proven to be dominant with respect to that unique feature.

              however, any kind of genetic dominance can change to the good or the bad once a different partner is chosen whose genetics overrule the other partner's genetics in that specific cross.

              so there is really no specific answer to your question.
              if there was, breeding was predictable and very simple.
              it isn't.



              • #27
                If, as breeders, we don't start following some of the more simple guidelines, then we will not succeed.

                Start with a great mare who is genetically proven through her mother lines, then decide what she few traits she needs improving on, and pick the stallion that can possibly improve what she lacks. That being said, not many stallions can improve a slew of lacking qualities in a mare. Treat each mare as one of a kind and get rid of the notion that you can creat one "just like her". Not even cloning can do that I'm afraid. Treat her as a vessel for making something greater. Only then will we see more consistent quality.

                Anything else is nonsense.
                Hyperion Stud, LLC.
                Europe's Finest, Made in America
                Standing Elite and Approved Stallions


                • #28
                  Originally posted by HyperionStudLLC View Post
                  If, as breeders, we don't start following some of the more simple guidelines, then we will not succeed.

                  Start with a great mare who is genetically proven through her mother lines, then decide what she few traits she needs improving on, and pick the stallion that can possibly improve what she lacks. That being said, not many stallions can improve a slew of lacking qualities in a mare. Treat each mare as one of a kind and get rid of the notion that you can creat one "just like her". Not even cloning can do that I'm afraid. Treat her as a vessel for making something greater. Only then will we see more consistent quality.

                  Anything else is nonsense.

                  I agree. Any good breeder sets out with the plan of "making something greater" from their mare. After all, the point of breeding is to improve the next generation.

                  That said, one's mare should still be nice enough overall that if she only produces herself, well, this is much better than going backwards and producing worse. Broodmares all started out as maidens and we know that not all great mares from genetically proven motherlines will also turn out to be good producers. It should probably increase the odds.

                  Whether one should keep that particular type of mare for breeding.... well, that's a whole other discussion :-).
                  Westbrook Farm


                  • #29
                    Hi, I'm a new member and this is my first post.

                    I have limited breeding experience, but lots of observation experience.

                    As a scientist I know that it's fifty fifty, but in practice it seems to vary so much. In my most recent example, a friend bred a foal that I bought at three weeks of age. The TB mare is sweet, but not startling. Definitely a nice type, but you would most certainly be wanting to improve her. She was bred to an imported ( to Australia) WB stallion, and her filly popped out a spitting image physically and movement wise to her grandsire Sir Donnerhall. Last week she was assessed by a German assessor through the Australian Continental Equestrian group, and was the third best moving foal of the year out f about two hundred. And that was certainly not from mum.

                    Best impulse buy I ever made


                    • #30
                      Hey Pin, welcome aboard. Always glad to hear of prepotent Donnerhalls for the simple and stupid reason that I used to pet Donnerwetter frequently while he lived out his sunset years in Connecticut. However-- while I have your attention-- don't underestimate the strength of your Australian thoroughbred mares. There is a secret faction of us here in North America praying that the lines that brought us Eros, Jox, Slinky, Apache and Rolling Thunder will continue. There's something special about Aussie TBs, which you often don't find out until they are on course and the jumps are getting bigger. Even if trotting is not often their thing, their gumption and intelligence are pearls beyond price.


                      • #31
                        Originally posted by SCMSL View Post
                        Genetics tells us the mare contributes 55% to the foal. The obvious answer would be 50% because the mare gives the egg, the stallion the spz, so 50:50. But actually it has been discovered some genetic material in the mitochondria present in the egg.

                        Also, you need to consider how the uterine conditions will affect the development of the embryo. Another factor is also how the mare will raise the foal. Is her milk enough in quantity and quality? Does she try to protect the foal or does she ignore it? Does she set boundaries for him/her or does she let them do all they want?
                        This has been the most obvious observation for me: I think the mare's handling of the foal as a young horse makes a big difference in the foal's temperment later on. I have one mare who is very bossy to her foals. Often raises a leg to them if they nurse too agressively, only allows them small bites at her bucket, reprimands them for rearing or playing on her. This mare's foals are easier to handle, more respectful of their handler and less spooky. I have another mare who is the 'fun mom' she allows the foals to eat what/when they want, stand on her, nurses other foals. She is completely compliant to their wishes. Her foals are very opinionated and have no reaction to being disciplined, whereas the 'mean' mare's foals are very receptive to discipline.