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How young is too young???

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  • How young is too young???

    I read a post on another location tonight where the breeding indicated they just confirmed their coming 3-year-old in foal. Which means she'll deliver before she is 4.

    Although they are not biologically too young to be bred at this age, I'm curious to see what everyone thinks... is this too young? If so, what is a good age to start breeding mares?
    Piedmont Sporthorses
    https://www.facebook.com/BayMeadowsFarm

  • #2
    The WB breeding farms I've worked at all followed what they called "the German tradition" of saddle-breaking then breeding the 3yo mares. I asked one of the farm owners about this method, and he said he did it for three reasons. 1) He claimed foaling changed a mare's physique and temperament for the better. 2) It gives them approx a year off to further mature after the initial u/s training. 3) It gives the operation owner a chance to recoup his mares' training costs by selling the foal in utero.

    Not sure if any of this is valid, but that's the method the followed I'm waiting to breed my young mares until they're more established undersaddle.
    Piaffe Girl -- Dressage. Fashionably.
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    • #3
      I don't see a problem with that. I generally breed my fillies in their 3 year old year, to foal in their 4 year old year, but often they aren't *actually* 3 at breeding or *actually* 4 at foaling. It has worked great for me and I don't think it is all that uncommon.
      Already excited about our 2016 foals! Expecting babies by Indoctro, Diamant de Semilly, Zirocco Blue and Calido!
      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hills...h/112931293227

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      • #4
        I wait til five to make sure the mare is fully mature. I raise large horses that tend to mature slowly so that is something I take into consideration. I follow my own tradition

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        • #5
          I have worked for people who bred their mares as young as 2 1/2 to foal as a 3 1/2 yr old. I do plan to breed my (2nd) 3 yr old this year. I plan to also start her under saddle and have her presented for inspection and for her Mare Performance Test this fall. Then she can have the winter/spring off then get started back into work after weaning as a 4 1/2 yr old. (Provided I don't breed her again)
          Last edited by ElegantExpressionsFarm; Mar. 14, 2013, 11:11 PM. Reason: spelling...
          Elegant Expressions Farm

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          • #6
            this is not too young. I have purposely bred 3 YO mares and started them under saddle. At 4 they foal then go back to work u/s at weaning. Youngest I had get in foal was the 2 YO that jumped at fence and got in with Mr Studly...not an intentional breeding. I would NOT breed a 2 YO on purpose....but at least it was late in her 2 YO year so she was a long 2 YO/foaled in late July of being 3.
            Providence Farm
            http://providencefarmpintos.blogspot.com/

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              I have very much enjoyed reading everyone's posts! Thanks for the info! Although, and as a newer breeder, I have heard often of people breeding 3-year-olds, I never really considered it for my mares. But after hearing many of your experiences, I think it makes sense! I often don't really start my horses under saddle until they are late three or four anyway! So why not breed her as a three-year-old, get a foal, and then start her at 4 1/2. Great plan!

              With that in mind... question... (and forgive my "rookie-ness")... Does breeding them as a three-year-old effect their development and growth - for good or bad?
              Last edited by PiedmontSporthorses; Mar. 15, 2013, 08:36 AM. Reason: .
              Piedmont Sporthorses
              https://www.facebook.com/BayMeadowsFarm

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              • #8
                Originally posted by PiedmontSporthorses View Post
                With that in mind... question... (and forgive my "rookie-ness")... Does breeding them as a three-year-old effect their development and growth - for good or bad?
                Not if you feed them properly. I bred my Rascalino mare at 3 1/2, she foaled out this past summer, lost a little weight before the foal was weaned, bounced back and went under saddle again in the fall (had been started briefly the previous fall). This winter she grew a bit taller and filled out more, just as I'd expect any other coming 5yo warmblood to do. I suspect she's not done yet, but to me that's typical of wb growth patterns and has nothing to do with her having carried a foal.
                Kendra -- Runningwater Warmbloods
                Home of EM Raleska (Rascalino/ Warkant) and Donatella M (Furstenball/ Jazz Time)
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                • #9
                  As long as you provide proper nutrition a young mare's growth should not be negatively affected by breeding at 3/foaling at 4. I usually start the mares early in their 3 year old year, breed them, ride them a little more and then they have time off until the foal is weaned. Sometimes I will get them pregnant before starting them, but it just depends on the time of year and how lucky you are with the breeding! I think it can be managed so that the horse is not that far behind their peers. I have a mare who is currently five years old; she was bred as a 3 year old, had a foal in January of her 4 year old year (she turned a true 4 in February) was not ridden until the foal was weaned and just recently showed in her first YJC as a 5 year old. So it can be done, and without detriment to the mare.
                  Already excited about our 2016 foals! Expecting babies by Indoctro, Diamant de Semilly, Zirocco Blue and Calido!
                  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hills...h/112931293227

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                  • #10
                    I'm wondering though..why is a stallion expected to prove his worthiness to be a sire, and yet a mare does not? I am coming at this from the angle that EP Taylor felt that the mare was the greatest contributor to the future foal. Granted, a mare can only produce one foal a year, whereas a stallion can sire a large number...but it seems like a similar standard should apply, no?
                    Founder of the I LOFF my worrywart TB clique!
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                    • #11
                      I've got a filly here I am going to breed as a 3 year old. She is very mature looking in body (has not once had a "gawky" moment) and she isn't very tall. So, I think physically she is maturing well. Because of her size, I will be driving her in the future so she can go for training after a foal. She is only 12.3 at 2 years old (purebred Connemara). Hoping for at least 13.2!! Lol!!
                      She's gorgeous though, and I'm lookin forward to seeing what she produces.
                      www.muskokalakesconnemaras.com
                      Wonderful ponies for family or show!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by DeeThbd View Post
                        I'm wondering though..why is a stallion expected to prove his worthiness to be a sire, and yet a mare does not? I am coming at this from the angle that EP Taylor felt that the mare was the greatest contributor to the future foal. Granted, a mare can only produce one foal a year, whereas a stallion can sire a large number...but it seems like a similar standard should apply, no?
                        You don't state it, but do you mean because these mares haven't won competition? Or what are you getting at?

                        I am breeding my three year old this year for the reasons already listed. Although I personally don't put a lot of stock in foal inspections, she was a top five filly as a foal in her registry, and won in breeding classes as a yearling against older mares as well (I didn't show last year).

                        But even if she hadn't I believe (based on evaluating many horses over the years) that I have a pretty good, critical eye and I know she is a good mover, athletic and well conformed. She is also very well bred with a good temperment. I imagine the other breeders breeding three year olds are also looking at the same things: their bloodlines, siblings, mothers, etc. in addition to the (hopefully excellent) mare in front of them, so it isn't like they are complete unknowns. Also, if your job is as a broodmare, you prove yourself at your job. There are high level competition horses that are still not good choices for breeding stock. Many of the greatest mares in history were never competition horses, fwiw. Their value was as broodmares.

                        Finally, personally, I plan to have this mare be a competition horse, and I would like to see what she produces now, so in a few years if I am looking at doing embryo transfer I have some idea of 1) if it is justified and 2) what she throws.
                        DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

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                        • #13
                          I think by allowing the mare to produce a foal early on, even before she goes into sport (if she does) that you ARE giving her a chance to prove her worthiness as a broodmare. You can find out what she throws and perhaps even decide if she should remain in sport and not breed, or if she seems to throw the quality that a good broodmare should. No different than the warmblood model of breeding 2 and 3 year old stallions, really. They've not been "proven" yet, either.
                          Already excited about our 2016 foals! Expecting babies by Indoctro, Diamant de Semilly, Zirocco Blue and Calido!
                          https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hills...h/112931293227

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                          • #14
                            One other aspect that I did not mention that I consider is the mental maturity of a 4 year old filly raising a foal. Sometimes i think it is like a child raising a child. I know it is commonly done but there can be drawbacks. I much prefer to ET a young mare and let an older mare raise the foal.

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                            • #15
                              Years ago I knew an equine reproduction vet who bred all of his own mares at the age of 2. I don't think I would be comfortable breeding a mare under the age of 3, but he was an excellent repro vet so I really didn't know what to think. His horses all perform quite well at very high levels of competition - although I believe most of his broodmares are career broodmares. I guess I would just need proof that it didn't harm the mare (i.e. a scientific study in a peer reviewed journal) before I took my chances breeding a mare under 3 years of age.
                              Be firm, fair, kind, clear, consistent, patient, and, above all else, maintain a sense of humour.
                              www.stargazerfarm.ca

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                              • #16
                                I did this with the first horse I bred. I bred her as a three year old and started her at four (which I always do.) She went on to be my GP horse.

                                The last World Cup in Vegas they had a fabulous breeders forum with the best breeders from all over the world discussing things. This came up. A lot of the reasons for breeding three year olds was the same as here. They're not really carrying much of a baby until they're almost four, so it's not so young. One of the Dutch representatives did say she thought maybe doing it so young caused the tendons and ligaments to loosen up in the hip/pelvis areas before they really get strong and it can affect a performance career, but most people didn't think it was an issue.

                                If you have a really good mare you want to compete, I think it's a good way to go. You have something from them before you have to take them out of competition to have a baby, and it keeps you from pushing them by riding too much too young, which I think is a huge issue.

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                                • #17
                                  This is absolutely silly! :-) Mares in the wild would certainly be foaling by 4. Don't anthropomorphize animals---they hate that!

                                  Originally posted by Ticker View Post
                                  One other aspect that I did not mention that I consider is the mental maturity of a 4 year old filly raising a foal. Sometimes i think it is like a child raising a child. I know it is commonly done but there can be drawbacks. I much prefer to ET a young mare and let an older mare raise the foal.
                                  Chris
                                  Ladybug Hill--Hunters and Ponies
                                  WWSD? (what would Suerte do?)

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                                  • #18
                                    We have found that older show mares that have never had foals can be much worse mothers than young mares with no opinions who just naturally do the right thing (as nature intended).

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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by password View Post
                                      We have found that older show mares that have never had foals can be much worse mothers than young mares with no opinions who just naturally do the right thing (as nature intended).
                                      We have found this to be true as well. Older maidens also seem to have more difficult deliveries than young, "flexible" mares do.
                                      Patty
                                      www.rivervalefarm.com
                                      Follow us on facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/River...ref=ts&fref=ts

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Ladybug Hill View Post
                                        This is absolutely silly! :-) Mares in the wild would certainly be foaling by 4. Don't anthropomorphize animals---they hate that!
                                        I had to look up Anthropomorphize....but guilty as charged

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