Updated: Mar 22
The A, B, C’s of Breeding Your Mare
by Rebecca Courtney
For mare owners, making the choice to breed their mare is a big and exciting decision. There’s nothing more fun than enjoying a lively, playful foal, but getting to that point can take a lot of planning and work. If you want to breed your mare in the future, here are a few things to know about the process.
Before jumping into the breeding process, it’s essential to do your research. There are many factors that play into a successful breeding. Make sure to spend time considering the following:
Mare History: How old is your mare? Mares can be bred into their early 20's with no problem, but it’s important to understand that older mares who have not foaled recently can be a challenge to breed at times. On the flip side, if you have a young mare, you need to ensure that she’s sufficiently developed to carry a foal. The preferred age at first breeding depends on who you ask, but generally it is recommended to wait until the filly is at least 3 years old, to foal as a 4 year old. If your mare has foaled in the past, consider whether she had any issues conceiving, delivering or raising her foal. These may might be red flags for a future pregnancy.
Consider Your Resources: Breeding and foaling a mare is a big commitment, especially if you decide to breed using Artificial Insemination. You will need a vet that is comfortable with ultrasounding the mare and understanding the breeding cycle. Talk with your local vet about their experience. If they, or you, do not feel confident in managing the breeding, you may want to inquire about offsite breeding facilities for your mare, or hauling her to a reproductive specialist.
AI vs Live Cover: Determining whether to use Artificial Insemination or Live Cover to breed your mare often comes down to the resources you have available. Live Cover is often cheaper and requires less involvement from the vet, but if you don’t have a stallion nearby, you will have to make arrangements to get the mare hauled to him. Artificial Insemination opens the door to a wider stallion lineup. However, it requires excellent care from a vet, or reproductive specialist, to time the breeding correctly. It can become expensive when you consider mare prep, collection/shipping and vet fees in addition to the stud fee.
Stallion Selection: Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your mare helps to select a stallion that will complement her. In addition to conformation, consider items such as the ancestry of sire and mare, to minimize inbreeding, any health testing that has been done, and whether the stallion has a Leg Health Report on file with the European Brabant Registry of America.
Test A Mating
The European Brabant Registry of America's comprehensive herd management software, Grassroots, allows Members to test their mares' pairings with stallions for any common ancestors. This helps avoid undesirable breedings and narrows the field of stallions.
Below you'll see a European Brabant Stock studbook mare, Leah, paired with a European Brabant studbook stallion, Victor. Grassroots' calculation indicates no immediate common ancestors on the pedigree chart, so Victor would be a good "genetic" match for Leah.