Those of you who are considering breeding a foal should already be giving some thought to what sort of foal you want to breed from your mare and what sort of stallion would suit her best. Over the next few months some stallions will change hands or decisions will be made to stand them at stud in different parts of the country. With this in mind it may pay to make contact with any potential stallion owner so that you know where the stallion will be standing.
Every breeder should set himself a target as to what he wants to breed and why!
First of all list your aims and objectives in breeding a foal. What do you plan to do with it? Are you going to show it or do you want to compete in showjumping or dressage? Will it be a riding horse doing local shows and competitions or do you aspire to the heady heights of international competition? It is up to you to set the standard by which you judge both your mare and the stallion.
The next thing you need to do is to take a good long look at your mare. It is very difficult to be objective about your own horse but you need to have an idea of the bad points which you would like to try and improve upon in any off-spring. You also need to know what good points you wish to enhance! Sit down with a piece of paper and write a list; good points and bad points. Ask other people for their opinions but do be prepared for criticism!
Breeding a foal is not cheap and you should decide upon your budget. How much have you got to spend on the stud fee; what are the keep costs likely to be; what other costs are likely to be incurred such as vets bills, transportation costs and so on.
Having decided upon your aims and objectives the next thing to do is to decide upon a stallion. If you have a specific breed of horse in mind a good place to start looking is the breed society who should be able to provide you with a list of stallions standing at stud. Or look in equine publications where the adverts will give you an opportunity to see what the stallion looks like. Make a list of the stallions you like and which you feel will meet your criteria. Armed with this contact the studs and ask for stud cards and details of stud fees and keep costs. Once you have the stud cards make a short list of stallions and contact the studs and ask to visit to see the stallions; at the end of the day this is the best way of judging the stallion. Only by looking at him in the flesh can you assess his movement and temperament. Ask to see any progeny, as this will give you an idea of whether he stamps his offspring as being of a certain type. Ask about the stallion’s fertility.
Check with the stud what testing is required prior to your mare’s arrival at stud. The stud will normally ask that your mare be swabbed for CEM but they may also ask that she be tested clear of EVA. It is perfectly reasonable that a mare owner should ask that the stallion be swabbed for CEM and have been tested clear for EVA. This is standard practice on Thoroughbred studs. You also need to know what terms apply with regards to stud fees and pregnancy; e.g. no foal, no fee; no foal, free return; 1st October terms; straight fee.
If you are planning to send your mare away to stud, make sure you first visit the yard as this visit will give you an opportunity to asses the stud facilities and to decide whether you would be happy sending your mare to them. If there are any aspects of the stud which you are not happy about raise them with the stud owners; now is the time to do this not when your mare is already there.
Many studs now offer chilled semen for Artificial Insemination. You may feel that your mare will be more settled if she stays at home in which case this is an option that you should give serious consideration to.
This article is kindly provided by the AI Centre.
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