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To breed or not to breed my once-in-a-lifetime mare

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  • To breed or not to breed my once-in-a-lifetime mare

    Bear with me. I have a 6YO TB mare whom I bred. She is the first and only foal from her dam, who died when this mare was 3 months old.

    So we raised this horse as an orphan. I feel EXACTLY about her like I would a human child. She had tons of problems as a baby. Despite two stunning parents, she turned out all sorts of wonky due to illness and injury.

    She did not race and was never put into race training. I broke her to ride and took her to a very small benefit show where we had a blast. She has a WONDERFUL mind, super smart and willing, but also a mind of her own. She'll give the odd pony ride to little kids. She hasn't been doing anything for a year but rule the roost in her pasture due to my health problems and lack of time.

    So....we breed TBs for racing. My mare's closest relative, a half-sister to her dam, is a 100% producer of race winners at a high level in California. The race record of my mare's four "cousins" stands at 31 starts, 10 wins, 6 2nds, 3 3rds, one of them stakes-placed, with cumulative earnings of $192,498. And there should be bright things to come, as the youngest made her racing debut last week and won. Not easy to win the first race of your life, and it didn't come vs. slouches, either. As far as I can tell, the owners of said recent winner dispersed ALL of of their horses but this one last year, which makes me think they have very high hopes for that one.

    I have foaled out a couple hundred mares. I have seen how terribly wrong things can go. It would take a very long time to forgive myself if something happened to my girl as a result of breeding her. I love her like she is a part of me. She IS. And yet it would be tremendously fun and satisfying to see what her babies could do on the track...and for her and her mother to have a legacy of sorts.

    What would you do? She isn't going anywhere...will never be for sale...I am not a rider so she isn't going to be a riding horse of any consequence. And the race performance of her closest relatives keeps getting better and better.

    My apologies if this sounds stupid or doesn't make sense. Any thoughts are most welcome.

    It's a uterus, not a clown car. - Sayyedati

  • #2
    Oh I think that's a decision that only you can make. I know how much you love her. Heck I adore her and I've never met her.

    That being said, the enabler in me says go for it. Are you thinking of breeding her to TT?

    Comment


    • #3
      How about an embryo transfer?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by catzndogz22 View Post
        How about an embryo transfer?
        Can't do ET with the Jockey Club.

        I'd lean towards breeding her, but only if you can use a good, solid race sire; not breeding "above her class" necessarily, but someone who will likely nick well with her and gets a good winner on the track. (what are her cousins bred like?)

        Just remember, on the catalog page, the 1st & 2nd dam of the resulting foal will be a bit blank; only the 3rd dam will show your "cousins," and in today's TB world that will be easy to overlook. Not that you will be breeding for sale-- but if that horse ends up at a TB auction down the road (for whatever reason), you'd want them to have the best page possible for hopes of a good future. If you're certain you can give lifetime homes for the offspring, then disregard the page and listen to your own reasoning.
        “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
        ? Albert Einstein

        ~AJ~

        Comment


        • #5
          It doesn't sound stupid to me at all,slew. I know exactly how you feel.
          And I don't have the answer either.

          I have a young mare here, she is in foal and due in May. She is the only daughter of her dam, who was one of the worst mothers but one of my most loved and best producing mares.
          I loved that mare, despite all the heartbreak she brought me, and when I looked at her I saw 'beautiful'.
          Tess is her only daughter - the only chance to carry her legacy on into the next generation, and I am worried sick that she will have foaling problems, or be the kind of Mommy Dearest her dam was.

          I did go ahead and bred her, but if something goes wrong, will I ever forgive myself? Not a chance.

          Good luck with your decision.

          We do know that most foalings go well, that the law of averages is on our side.
          A Fine Romance. April 1991 - June 2016. Loved forever.

          Comment


          • #6
            I have struggled with this same decision for the past three years.

            I cannot afford to do ET, which I could do, because my mare is not a TB. However, the thought that Tess (yes, my mare's name is Tess, too) might not make it has outweighed the thought that the world would be a better place with another horse who has her temperament, heart, movement and jumping ability.

            I had a DVM and a dressage instructor, at the Adult Rider camp, ask me if I had ever considered breeding Tess?

            Tessie's Dam popped out a foal a year for many years. She was a good Mom to all of them. Tess is quite like her Dam, but the fear that I could lose her is still too great for me to try.

            Back in 1994, when I was younger and much less informed, I bred my TB mare "Belle's Secret" to a QH. She foaled "Incredible Secretz" in the barn in my backyard in Hudson, OH. I slept in the bed of our pickup truck for two weeks and was there when Izzy was foaled. I did not read COTH back then. I did not know the percentages back then. Everything went textbook.

            Now, because I read COTH and live in KY, I am much more aware of what can and does go wrong with breeding. Back then, I was blissfully unaware.

            Fred: I will be praying that your Tess has a safe and uneventful delivery and produces a healthy foal. I wish that I had your courage.

            OP: I hope that you decision has a positive outcome. Sorry that I could not be better help.
            When in Doubt, let your horse do the Thinking!

            Comment


            • #7
              I am breeding my once in a lifetime mare for the first time this spring. I am terrified, but oh so excited.... and I don't have a quarter of your experience dealing with births.

              I am very scared about losing my mare. I had a long chat with my vet about it, whether I should send her out to foal, if it was even a good idea, etc. My vet actually encouraged me - said I had a lovely mare deserving of breeding (knew that, lol!) and that I had plenty of experience to deal with all involved (I did work for a vet all through college). She is very close by, and I have several friends who are either near or able to be called at any hour to assist.

              I will say that I have insured my mare. Not that she could ever be replaced, but I do not want financial reasons to hinder me doing everything possible to save her (and the foal) if something should go wrong.

              Comment


              • #8
                That's a very personal decision, and one I've struggled with as well.

                I have a mare who has been a horse of a lifetime for me. She was a consistent winner for me at the upper levels of the jumper ring and brought home a championship just about every time we went to a show through the 1.40m jumpers. She's a pleasure to be around, the most fun horse on the planet to ride, and basically as close to being me in horse form as a horse could be. I have no doubt that she would be a great mother, and she's my "nanny" horse to my youngsters because I want them to be as influenced by her way of thinking as possible. I have several friends who have gone the breeding route who have pushed me to breed her with the comment that we need more successful jumper mares having babies.

                Now, the part that makes it a tough decision. The reason she was such a spectacular show horse is because of her heart. Physically, she should have maxed out in the 1.20m range. Her heart and the fact that she trusted me is what pushed her up to 1.40m, and it was definitely hard for her at that level. Her conformation isn't ideally suited for jumps that big, and even more so, complicated course that big. In other words, if I had a pasture of 20 nice mares to pick from (completely objectively), I would never select her as a broodmare prospect. And I think part of the reason she has such a huge heart and such a huge level of trust in me is because I "rescued" her from an awful situation.

                In the last few years I've been buying young holsteiners, focusing on well-bred youngsters whose breeders have had a very specific view of what they want. In doing that, I've come to the decision that breeding my mare is not something I want to do as it wouldn't follow the rules of the breeders I admire. I'd rather focus on youngsters out of "real" breeding stock (meaning mares with the brains, pedigrees, AND bodies that give the best chances of making that one-in-a-million-GP prospect). And I will keep my mare in the position she is now.....the raiser of those babies. That way I get to have my cake and eat it too. No risk to my [emotionally] valuable mare, but her influence where I want it.

                Part of me wants to have a "piece" of her to continue the legacy she started here. But I don't want to risk her life or the possibility of bringing her weaknesses to the table when it's purely for the emotional attachment I have to her. I have also toyed with using her as the ET recipient out of my bred-to-the-nines young mare. But I think that may be going a bit too far (for me, as a non-breeding farm).

                But again, it's a personal decision when you're talking about a youngster you'll keep either way. Especially if you're not pinning competition hopes and dreams on it, and would be willing to keep for the long haul regardless of what it turned out to be.
                __________________________________
                Flying F Sport Horses
                Horses in the NW

                Comment


                • #9
                  As a fellow Tess (a human one at least ) I feel obligated to jump in on this one haha!

                  My once in a lifetime girl is much like all of these stories (and is on day 333 today for the record). I've enjoyed my blissful first-time-breeder-with-maiden-mare barn sleeping and monitoring ignorance before the COTH nightmares arose, and despite not knowing how the foaling will go, I'm still hopeful.

                  My mare is a bit of a mystery generation as well. Dam was a TB from a racing barn up in Wisconsin apparently (decent winnings on short distances IMO) and I would give a kidney just to find a picture of her somewhere, but at least I can try to keep the family tree alive. With your knowledge, breeding expertise and support system- I think it's worth a try.

                  Follow your gut, but I vote BREED!

                  -Tessa... "Tess" to close friends

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    If you know she is "wonky" due to illness/injury and not family predispostion to unsoundness/confo issues then yes. On the plus side: 95% of the time foalings go just fine so the odds of things going badly are only about 5%. on the 5% end...I did have my heart horse I was only going to breed once colic post foaling with a intestinal torsion and I did lose her/did not survive to colic surgery...so it isn't without any risk. There have been a couple more "heart horses" along the way after that....sadly I lost one of those 2 to a broken leg in a really freak barn accident....the moral of that story being that although foaling carries a risk.....other freaky things can also happen too that don't involve foaling.
                    Providence Farm
                    http://providencefarmpintos.blogspot.com/

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Thank you all for the thoughtful responses. This was just the type of feedback I was hoping to get. Sadly, my girl's name is not Tess. That would be too perfect.

                      Jennywho, yes TT is #1, I think the other guy would make a pedigree too turfy for these parts. Actually she carried on an extensive love affair from afar with Demon, wish he were still around here just because it would make her happy. You've got a standing invitation to come out and meet her any time you like.

                      Catzndogz, I would be going for a TB for racing so ET isn't an option. I've got a standing offer to breed her to the teaser ANYtime for a sportpony, which is demeaning, horrifying, and hilarious all at the same time.

                      EventerAJ, yes, the catalog page would be pretty bleak but the foal would not go through a sale. FWIW, my girl's granddam has some graded blacktype which is pretty far back but at least it's *there.*

                      Fred, the VERY best of luck with your girl. Please post when she foals!

                      Auburn, I know exactly what you mean about being young and uninformed. That's very similar to how I was when the mare in question was foaled...I went waaay overboard and had the BEST time. I worried about everything, and everything that could go wrong, did...and yet she and I both made it through.

                      PNWjumper, such an insightful post. Thank you. The most remarkable thing about my girl is also her heart and try.

                      IrishLove, hope your dream baby arrives SOON.

                      Camohn, thank you as well for posting the flipside that we all dread. You never know how long or short a time you'll have with these creatures.

                      I was encouraged to breed her last year and it was out of the question, so I have moved more towards the center/ambivalence at least this year. At that time, once I expressed my abject terror at the prospect of my "child" having a child, I was guaranteed that my compatriots would lock me in the house during the foaling and come let me out once it was all over.

                      Here is a picture of her...she has a slight clubfoot (neither parent did) - she was born very stilted as a baby and went a round of tetracycline as a result. I still think she fractured her withers as a baby although two vets poo-poohed that. Anyway everyone says she's got the most unusual withers they've ever seen. The judge at the show we attended (as well as random people in the parking lot) made it a point to ask what breed she was. LOL.


                      http://i820.photobucket.com/albums/z...psc2e7ca6e.jpg

                      Again. Thank you all. It hasn't helped me make up my mind one way or another but to know that others have been in the same boat and experienced the good and the bad (or are highly anticipating a good outcome!), or opted NOT to breed and aren't sorry for doing so, is what I needed to hear.
                      It's a uterus, not a clown car. - Sayyedati

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I bred my once in a lifetime mare twice. Her first foal, a beautiful colt, we lost at the age of 9 days. Foal #2, a filly, is 4 years old this spring and was zone hunter breeding champion and was ranked 6th in the nation last year.

                        I am currently on the fence about breeding her again because she has returned to a performance career. I am considering ET.

                        Breeding isn't for the faint of heart but it has been the most rewarding endeavor I've experienced.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I guess another part of the equation is are you in a position to keep the foal for life if, for any of dozens of reasons, it turns out not to be a good prospect for or successful at anything? I just can't help but thinking about all those TBs out there that were wanted in the beginning but at 3 or 4 or older end up going for $100 at some low end auction. Heck I had two mares show up on my FB page today in need of rescue from slaughter pens that did well. One made $140,000 and the other made $300,000. But now they are both throw aways. I know that you would never do that but the only way to ensure it doesn't happen is to keep the foal for life. Sorry to be Debbie Downer.
                          "The captive bolt is not a proper tool for slaughter of equids they regain consciousness 30 seconds after being struck fully aware they are being vivisected." Dr Friedlander DVM & frmr Chief USDA Insp

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Auburn View Post
                            I have struggled with this same decision for the past three years.

                            I cannot afford to do ET, which I could do, because my mare is not a TB. However, the thought that Tess (yes, my mare's name is Tess, too) might not make it has outweighed the thought that the world would be a better place with another horse who has her temperament, heart, movement and jumping ability.

                            I had a DVM and a dressage instructor, at the Adult Rider camp, ask me if I had ever considered breeding Tess?

                            Tessie's Dam popped out a foal a year for many years. She was a good Mom to all of them. Tess is quite like her Dam, but the fear that I could lose her is still too great for me to try.

                            Back in 1994, when I was younger and much less informed, I bred my TB mare "Belle's Secret" to a QH. She foaled "Incredible Secretz" in the barn in my backyard in Hudson, OH. I slept in the bed of our pickup truck for two weeks and was there when Izzy was foaled. I did not read COTH back then. I did not know the percentages back then. Everything went textbook.

                            Now, because I read COTH and live in KY, I am much more aware of what can and does go wrong with breeding. Back then, I was blissfully unaware.

                            Fred: I will be praying that your Tess has a safe and uneventful delivery and produces a healthy foal. I wish that I had your courage.

                            OP: I hope that you decision has a positive outcome. Sorry that I could not be better help.
                            Auburn, thank you.
                            Update. Things did not go well. My beautiful Tess went 361 days, but was looking well and my vets assured me that all was well.
                            She had almost no udder development, as of the Friday before she foaled, and then started streaming milk, losing all her colostrum.
                            Other than that, she showed little sign of impending parturition, no softening behind, no loosening of the vulva..
                            She delivered on the Tues am, 2 weeks ago - very rapidly, again with a very tight vulva, and a detached placenta.
                            Her beautiful little baby was tiny, showing many signs of being dysmature.
                            Things have been rocky, and we thought we might lose him, but he is a tough little guy, and is still with us.
                            I don't think we are out of the woods yet, but we hope that the trees are thinning.

                            Now, we have to try to determine what went wrong, why this happened.

                            My courage has taken a beating though.
                            While we were going through this with the foal, we found out that my brother had rapidly advancing, inoperable lung cancer.
                            He died on Thursday.

                            A Fine Romance. April 1991 - June 2016. Loved forever.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I am so sorry Gail.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Life sure is hard sometimes. Godspeed Gail's brother.
                                McDowell Racing Stables

                                Home Away From Home

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I would say if you would love to have her baby, breed her.

                                  And will add that feeling "exactly the way you would about a child" and being in "abject terror" about this "child" for whatever reason, while it may be very real, is not a 100% healthy way to think about a horse if that is the prevailing emotion.
                                  Click here before you buy.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    So sorry about your brother.
                                    I hope your new colt gets past his issues.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Gail, so sorry for the loss of your brother and the difficulty you are having with your new goal.
                                      Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved. - William Jennings Bryan

                                      http://www.halcyon-hill.com

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Is her neck really that short or is it a bad photo? The rest of her is really pretty (yeah, interesting withers! May very well have been broken or maybe malformed?) but if her neck is that short that might be heritable.

                                        Honestly if she means that much to you, I would advise against breeding her. PROBABLY everything will be OK but if it isn't you will be both crushed AND guilty.
                                        Every mighty oak was once a nut that stood its ground.

                                        Proud Closet Canterer! Member Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.

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