Breeding your dream foal can indeed turn out to be a dream come true – however, buying the horse you want, one that suits your current situation, ability and needs, may well be the most successful, cost-effective and reliable option in the quest for the perfect horse.
Anyone considering breeding a foal for the first time should seek advice, guidance and mentorship from those experienced in this area, such as reproductive veterinarians and horse stud owners. Here we take a preliminary look at the key points to consider when deciding whether to go down the path of bringing an equine life into this world.
Breeding and raising a foal from birth through to adulthood is an extremely rewarding and exciting process – when it all goes to plan! After carefully choosing the right stallion and mare match, then the thrill of positive pregnancy scans and a long but worthwhile 11-month wait, the foal you have been dreaming of finally arrives! Hours will be spent delighting in the newborn’s antics as he or she finds his feet, learns how to co-ordinate those gangly limbs, and reaches key milestones with ease as he grows and develops into the horse you’d planned he’d be.
Unfortunately, the journey is usually not so straightforward. There are often curve balls, unexpected costs and sometimes heartbreak along the way; as the saying goes, “breeding is not for the faint-hearted!” For every true story about a wonderful mare who produced a beautiful foal possessing all of the mare’s and stallion’s best attributes, there are counter stories – also true – about mares with fertility issues, lost pregnancies, foals born with health challenges, tragic losses, and promising foals who nevertheless failed to grow into the horse the breeder hoped and expected they’d be. All of these stories need to be heard; the breeding process can be smooth sailing and yield wonderful results, and it can be a disaster. Understanding that both outcomes, and every range of scenarios in between, could occur is key; as is asking yourself, “Come what may, am I financially, emotionally and logistically able to handle it?”
START WITH WHY
Have an honest think about why you want to breed a foal. Is it because your mare is injured or retired and you therefore feel that you may as well? Is it because there’s a stallion standing at stud who you really like, and you desperately want to breed a horse by him? Is it because you want to go on the journey of knowing a horse from birth through to adulthood, and the opportunity to train that horse from scratch? It’s usually a combination of reasons, none of which are right or wrong.
However, take the next step and ask yourself how confident you are that you’ll feel and be the same in five years’ time, when the horse is four years old. Personal circumstances change and it’s not uncommon to see homebred horses on the market before they have reached ridden age due to a change in the owner’s direction or circumstances. That is life – however, if it happens to you, will the foal you intend to breed be marketable? This does not mean it needs to be by the fanciest stallion in your preferred breed or discipline, but when choosing to bring an equine life into being, it’s responsible and ethical to remember that this may be an animal that lives for 30 years. You may own that animal for the entirety of its life, however, if you don’t, will it be an animal that is likely to find a good home?