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To breed or not to breed - need some advice from some first time breeders....

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  • To breed or not to breed - need some advice from some first time breeders....

    Hello everyone - thanks in advance - this forum is always very helpful.

    I was considering breeding my mare this spring. Timing works out well as my husband and I have been talking about a 3rd child, my mare has pretty intense heat cycles which - I've heard - can be helped by having a foal and I've always wanted a 2nd horse (in 5 years to ride). It would be nice to have my mare out of commission during the time I'm pregnant and have a newborn.

    I don't go about this lightly - my mare is a lovely mover and has good conformation - so her baby should be quiet nice. I would send the mare to a professional breeding barn to foal and stay until weened. Baby would then stay with professionals (where I would visit) until 4 or so when it was ready to be really started under saddle. I have no delusions that I can do this myself.

    I'm looking for feedback from those amateurs or maiden breeders about their experience. Was it worth it? Was it a difficult experience? Would you do it again? I've done a very vague budget of $6k for the "getting her pregnant" - which I'm hoping is about right.

    I have to say I've gotten nothing but negative feedback from trainer, vet and friend's regarding breeding. It's not the mare - they all say it's just better to buy a foal in a few years and not go thru the difficulty/expense of breeding. For me I see it as I have this lovely mare, I would like a 2nd horse, I will not be riding for a year and a mare who would benefit from foaling if it helps her heavy HEAVY cycles.

    Here is the mare if anyone has stallion recommendation. I've been looking at Paparazzi and Escudo I or II. 16hd out of Fabuleux (Fabuleux x Roxand VA/Rosentau/Weltmeyer). Here is a link to her picture:


    She is a beautiful mover and has quite a jump. Her biggest weakness is she is super smart - but can be quite opinionated under saddle. I wouldn't mind a carbon copy of her - with improvement on trainability part.

  • #2
    I say go for it! But be forewarned that it's addictive!

    I bought my SWB mare as a competition horse. She's a gorgeous horse, approved as a Class 1 mare with the Swedish studbook. She is as sweet as can be on the ground, but was a little opinionated under saddle. When I picked out a sire, temperament was (and still is) my top priority.

    I don't have my own horse property, so the mare and foal were (still are) kept at boarding facilities. When I bred her, I was boarding at a breeding barn that is also an equine clinic with full repro services, so I had peace of mind that we were in good hands for the breeding, birth, and initial care. Oh, I also have a full time job, so I'm completely reliant on others to provide the proper care.

    My little "science project" is 10 now. She was custom designed by me for me and is everything I had hoped for. She can be a little opinionated under saddle, but is never scary, and once she clicks into gear, she's a blast. Raising her from birth (with a LOT of help) was a blast. I enjoyed the whole process and the outcome so much that I'm getting ready to breed the mom again for my next riding horse.

    Sure, there's a lot of risk involved. Your mare looks gorgeous, so that's a great start. You'll pick a stallion that will give you the best chances for a good outcome, but it's still a bit of a crap shoot. You can eliminate that risk by buying somebody else's foal. On the other hand, if you breed her and everything goes well, it will be a fun and rewarding experience.

    If you do decide to do it, you might want to check out the thread I posted a month or so ago asking for input on dressage sires (not sure if you're thinking dressage or not) that pass on great temperaments.


    • #3
      Sounds like you have a good plan- I too, am a first time breeder, with my maiden mare. I didn't go into it lightly either, I bought her at 2.5 with the intention to breed in 2013. I never would have been able to afford her as a made show horse. Buying homebreds from my trainer is how alot of people (who have patience) can afford the really nice show horse down the road. IHad her inspected (as a filly and then again as a mare) and researched stallions that can improve her weaknesses and either add to or at least not take away from her strengths. I would be 100% ok with a carbon copy of my mare, but of course am hoping that what I get is an improvement and future top-level prospect (no pressure, haha). I had to be OK with the fact that I will be pushing 40 by the time I can really show this baby, and I am. Some people aren't patient enough for that. I will say, it helps to have people around you that are interested in your endeavor. I never would have gotten into breeding if my trainer hadn't been interested and we spent one Superbowl Sunday looking at endless videos of potential matches for my (and her) mares. I have gone to the 70DT, befriended the SO and other breeding experts which has really helped me when I have questions or panic attacks in the middle of the night. I will say, at least in my experience, a budget is a good idea but I blew through mine and then some. So always budget more just in case. I too, have no delusions that I can do this myself, and am relying not only on my breeder friends, but the vets, breeding facility, trainers etc. to help me out. I would love to put my mare back to work after this baby, and then when the time comes to retire her, hopefully she can keep having babies. I say if you're ok with a carbon copy and can be realistic that your budget might be a guideline, and you have people you can lean on, go for it, it has been a great adventure. FWIW, my trainer has a couple of Paparazzo babies and they're great little jumpers. I really like Escudo I too, but I needed a stallion to add bone and I was nervous to try frozen on a maiden- but thats just me. Good luck and feel free to PM me with any questions!


      • #4
        I am doing this very thing, this year as well. I am breeding a custom horse for myself, with the 5 year plan in mind. I have a baby and not much time to ride right now. I'm excited as well as scared since my mare was the last foal we raised and she will be 11 this year. I feel a little rusty in the breeding and foaling dept. Actually raising the foal is not an issue for me as dealt with a lot of young stock.


        • #5
          Without a doubt you can find a very, very nice young horse with the breeding you like for less than the full "normal" costs of breeding. That said, there is absolutely nothing like seeing a nice mare you love give birth to a foal that you researched ad nauseum for just the right stallion and then waited like Christmas morning for the foaling. All the what color will it be, what gender, will it be ok, will my mare be ok, etc, etc, are totally worth the anguish in my opinion!

          I stopped calculating costs from breeding to a 3 year old many years ago because the $ total will make you weary for days. We have always enjoyed knowing everything there is to know about our babies from day one. There are no secrets with a horse you have bred regarding results of poor handling, training, etc that you may get with buying from others.

          BUT, be forewarned as a previous poster mentioned, it is definitely contageous, particularly if the first foal is fancy or in our case, a really nice mare. Now we have mother and daughter brood mares who also compete. Live is good!


          • #6
            As long as you are prepared to spend more then your budget if/when things go wrong, prepared for something to go wrong resulting in the death of both mare and foal, and prepared for foal to be completely not what you are looking for a a riding horse. Two years ago a friend of mine did just what you are talking about and it took 4 tries to get the mate pregnant and then despite a normal pregnancy the foal was early and 20k + later at the vet died anyway. Another friend got her mare pregnant first try, normal pregnancy, but the foal was too big, stressful delivery and died shortly after birth. I could continue as could so many of us on this board.

            I started trying to have a small breeding operation three years ago and have been plagued with bad luck, lack of knowledge due to inexperience, and freak weird accidents. I have lost 10's of thousands and am more then a little bitter right now so that probably shades my perception. However, if all I wanted was one foal? I would not hesitate to go buy one and feel that the asking price (whatever it was) was more then fair.


            • #7
              am sure there are many that will disagree (because this is a breeders forum after all!) – but any time I think it might be fun to breed my mare – I immediately dismiss the thought, as I could not imagine losing her to some sort of pregnancy / birth complication. I am just much of a risk taker. That said, I have purchased a weanling to raise and train, and would do it again in a heart beat – even though there are no guarantees that the horse will make it to under saddle age sound and healthy, at least the horse has made over the initial hurdles, is on the ground, alive, and you can get an idea of what you are getting!
              APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


              • #8
                I did it and it was most expensive (both $ and time) horse related mistake I've ever made. Save your money and go purchase exactly what you want in 5 years; you will love that horse just as much as what I think of now as "the foal fantasy". Your trainer, vet, and friends know you better than some anonymous people on COTH, you should weight their advice accordingly.


                • #9
                  I'm not a maiden breeder so I hope you don't mind my chiming in. You have a lovely lovely mare btw. This is how I break it down for myself so I hope you find this useful.

                  I never allow a mare to carry her own foal that i'm not prepared to lose or lose the riding use of as there can be some very serious tendon damage done while carrying a heavy foal.

                  These mares I ET which is a lot more expensive.

                  Something to consider if you are hoping for 2 riding horses.


                  • #10
                    Unless you are set on having "her" baby, don't, just don't... You will spend way more than that 6K in five years for a horse that may or may not be good. Think 20K+ to be conservative, from the day the foal hit the ground. That is not even counting the stud fee, the vet fee, the foaling out fee, and all other fees just to bring that baby to the world. So much cheaper and easier to find a nice one in five years, and I guarantee you, you will end up spending only a fraction of what you plan to do. Unless if you are a breeding farm, already employing trainers to train youngsters, or if you are experienced, can start and train youngsters, just don't....


                    • #11
                      Could you explain her heavy heat cycles a bit more? Does this mean she is a heaty/temperamental/painful mare during heat or is just no denying she's in season?

                      What does your vet think about breeding her in regards to improving the heat cycle (not their personal opinion, but medical)?

                      What if you do breed her and she has a filly with strong heat cycles, what do you do then?

                      These are just some things that went through my head; good luck in whatever you decide, your mare is beautiful.
                      I LOVE my Chickens!


                      • #12
                        If you have truly weighed the pros and cons then I say go for it. It doesn't sound like this is about money, I think most would agree that you could just save the board fees for a few years and have enough to buy a youngster outright if that was what you wanted. However, if your willing to take the risks that come along with breeding and would be happy with a carbon copy of your mare, you have a flexible budget , then I think it's a good idea. While things can happen, breeding, raising, and riding your own homebred horse can be a very rewarding experience. Sometimes, it's not always about money.


                        • #13
                          My mare is at 327 days today, her first and my first . Perhaps I'm young and idealistic, and granted she hasn't foaled yet, but thus far I'm very happy with the decision to breed her. I'm 26 and budgeted as much as I could with the "emergency funds" set up, but all in all, the cost to breed and maintain her through gestation hasn't been bad. Granted I'm in Atlanta and not San Fran where everything is more $$, and I kept her on my acreage, and bought land for her, the baby, and the rest of the herd so external boarding costs aren't relevant to me anymore...but the experience and idea of carrying on a little piece of my mare was what I wanted most. I also asked both trainers and my vet- all of which (surprisingly) encouraged my breeding her. Lots of faith in my vet's experience though, as everything went by the book for AI and what have you- so that helped a lot.

                          That being said, if it weren't this particular mare that I wanted to breed specifically to carry on her gene pool as a keeper foal, I would buy. Just thinking about the years involved until I can finally ride it, let along finish and show it, makes buying one that is a little further down the road seem more appealing.

                          Also, I don't have 2-legged babies yet , and you seem like quite an experienced mommy planning your 3rd, but I would question my available time with young kids while balancing a growing foal/weanling/yearling, etc- But again, I have no idea from experience, was just a thought. Good luck either way! Lovely mare you have!


                          • #14
                            Just a few random thoughts:

                            1. I echo Megaladon's questions regarding your mare's heat cycles.
                            2. My experience (breeding more than once, however) is that it is generally less expensive to buy your next horse than breed it.
                            3. Otherwise, I think your plan is a good one.
                            4. What is your plan, should the horse you breed NOT turn out - in 4 years - to be the horse you want? Will you be prepared to put the same planning into training/selling?

                            Lovely mare, by the way. There is no right or wrong answer in general - just what works best for you. Best of luck, whatever you decide.
                            Hidden Echo Farm, Carlisle, PA -- home of JC palomino sire Canadian Kid (1990 - 2013) & AQHA sire Lark's Favorite, son of Rugged Lark.


                            • #15
                              I have my own set of problems with a young horse I bred a couple of years ago out of a leased mare. All I wanted was my very own foal and I got way more than I bargained for. In hindsight it would have been much, much cheaper to buy a foal or young horse already on the ground. There are many to choose from with the right size and temperament but if you breed you don't know what you'll end up with, even if both parents have everything you love. I've learned the hard way, but since I'm responsible for bringing this beautiful, but extremely difficult young horse into this world, I'm committed to give her the best chance possible, if necessary until the rest of her life to make sure she won't end up in a bad place. Just something to consider if you decide to breed.


                              • #16
                                The highs are the highest highs and the lows are the lowest lows.

                                If things go relatively smooth, there is nothing like it and the bond is different. But there have also been plenty of posts of people loosing mares along with the foal. I've had 3 friends loose 4 foals this season and it's been very heartbreaking. So part of the equation besides money is being willing to take the risk and accept possible consequences.
                                Epona Farm
                                Irish Draughts and Irish Draught Sport horses

                                Join us on Facebook


                                • #17
                                  If you can "afford" mentally to have your heart broken then it is worth a shot. She seems to be a nice mare but there is absolutely no doubt that you can buy one cheaper (mentally and possibly financially as well) than breeding your own. So it boils down to how sturdy your heart is.
                                  McDowell Racing Stables

                                  Home Away From Home


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Thanks! I can see why people say not to breed - particularly the part about possibly losing the mare. Funny how you hear stories about horses accidentally breeding - producing some funky horse and everything turns out fine - foaling etc. Then you hear about horses who receive the ultimate care and bam something bad happens. I'm leaning toward not breeding but it is something I'll be sad if I never get to experience.

                                    Anyway - what are people's experiences with breeding and helping with heat cycles? When in heat my mare show's very obviously - squirting, pinning ears, biting her sides etc. She's flaky to ride - spooky and difficult on the ground (will strike out - stallion like - when another horse is near). When not in heat she's manageable - but one must be careful as she'll fire out in the cross ties at neighbors and possibly try to kill other horses in the arena - it's a bit of a hit and miss as some days are worse than others. She is super sweet with humans (as long as no other horse is near) which is fantastic.

                                    She is currently on weekly depo which "seemed" to be helping the first 5 days of the week - but I've noticed as we've moved closer to spring the depo seems to not be helping. She had an injection yesterday and today - squealing, kicking in her stall, pinning ears, trying to kick neighbors, spookiness. She has not pee'd so I'm not sure if she is possibly coming into season again. Vet has suggested up'ing the dose of Depo to fix the issue. Regimate is not an option as I will not handle it (particularly if I'm going to get pregnant) and my trainer will not have her people (even male grooms) touch it - period. So that's that....


                                    • #19
                                      I've bred a grand total of once. It was a harrowing experience and I said I wouldn't do it again, however, it IS addictive. Stallion shopping!!

                                      Here are some things I don't want to deal with again:
                                      Wondering if my mare was even pregnant for probably 8 out of the 11 months
                                      Mare was almost an entire month late (later than I expected anyway)
                                      Tough delivery, Feet almost came through rectum
                                      Mare was showing labor signs for about 20 hours, including spraying precious colostrum all over, which leads me to;
                                      Foal didn't have enough antibodies
                                      Foal had contracted tendons behind, one so badly he couldn't stand, and even though they say you shouldn't help them up, after an hour I did, and had to get him up subsequently every 4 hours to nurse.
                                      He had to wear a splint to correct the tendon, which ended up giving him pressure sores, which left ugly scars
                                      Constantly wondering if he'll turn out like I want him to or if he's a lemon
                                      4 years of feeding and no riding!

                                      But at 4 he's still perfect and I love him to pieces!!!
                                      What I lack in preparedness I make up for in enthusiasm


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Dance_To_Oblivion View Post
                                        As long as you are prepared to spend more then your budget if/when things go wrong, prepared for something to go wrong resulting in the death of both mare and foal, and prepared for foal to be completely not what you are looking for a riding horse.
                                        Originally posted by Ticker View Post
                                        I never allow a mare to carry her own foal that I'm not prepared to lose or lose the riding use of as there can be some very serious tendon damage done while carrying a heavy foal.

                                        These mares I ET which is a lot more expensive.
                                        Well, those particular thoughts are worth repeating.

                                        I am not an inexperienced breeder and this year I hope to land 4 foals on the ground. I am a 3rd generation breeder. I've worked in large breeding facilities before breeding my own. Those above 2 quotes, especially the part I bolded, is the exact description of the breeding risk.

                                        Of the 4 mares that are pregnant this year in my gang, 1 is tantamount to the very description of every warning above. I have spent more money on her in 6 weeks than I have the rest of my entire herd combined for a year's worth expenses, including all of their breeding expenses and stud fees. So yes. Thousands. And we have 3 months to go yet. And I may yet lose her which would be the largest value of all. Through no fault of mine or hers, she is facing an uphill battle for survival and yet is fighting to live and so far keeping her foal.

                                        You might get lucky and have a classic breeding where she gets in foal in 1-2 cycles and only costs $1000 or less in vet fees, carries a pregnancy to term with no problems, delivers no problem and the foal is perfect and never needs vet care. This is the exception rather than the rule, meaning usually something needs vet care at one point. Vet care for foals seems to cost triple that of an adult horse for some reason.

                                        Technically speaking there are more successes, than losses, but the losses can tear you to pieces. There is a reason some of us drink a shot of bourbon (or rum, or wine, or tequila, or a beer) after a mare successfully foals.

                                        In 40 years, I've witnessed some delightful things. But the law of nature is there must be a balance - for everything good there is an equal representative of bad. I've also witnessed some horrifying things.

                                        I suggest you spend this spring watching Mare Stare and witnessing as many deliveries as possible.

                                        So, it bears repeating.

                                        If you're willing to risk the life of your mare, then breed her. How much of a gambler are you? When you put your money in investments do you go with the highest risk for the highest return? Or are you a moderate - medium risk medium return? Or low risk, low return? Breeders tend to be risk takers.

                                        Door #1 - You win it all - mare and foal are both healthy and beautiful.
                                        Door #2 - You could lose half of it - either lose the mare and raise an orphan, or you lose the foal.
                                        Door #3 - You could lose all of it - both mare and foal.

                                        Each door is unmarked and you have no say in either situation as you are playing with a deck of cards to which YOU are not the dealer and do not have the dealer's advantage. Which door will you get? Can you settle your heart and soul with the consequences?

                                        Flip a coin - the question is can you bear the burden of - heads the mare lives, tails she dies. Before that coin lands you know already whether you wished for heads or tails. And there is your answer.

                                        The innocence of a first time breeder is you anticipate all the beautiful things, but you really have no idea just how horrifying the bad stuff gets. There is some peace and tranquility in that kind of innocence.
                                        Last edited by rodawn; Mar. 13, 2013, 11:11 PM.
                                        Practice! Patience! Persistence!