How to Pick the Right Stallion for Your Mare

To produce the most valuable foal possible, it is vital to have a stallion that complements your mare, her qualities, and genetic make-up. The most sought after stallions often have a limited number of mares to breed each year, and some stallions are only available on certain dates. We’ve also included some considerations that could impact your breeding program. This is an important decision, so be sure to plan ahead!

  1. Genetic testing: All animals can carry genetic diseases, so it is important to know if your mare and stallion are carriers. These genetic conditions can range from manageable to fatal for the foal. The diseases listed below have the potential to be detrimental to a “normal” life for your horse and have simple tests available to rule them out.
    1. Quarter Horse genetic diseases:
      1. HYPP (Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis)
      2. PSSM 1 (Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy Type 1)
      3. MH (Malignant Hyperthermia)
      4. HERDA (Hereditary Equine Regional Dermal Asthenia)
      5. GBED (Glycogen Branching Enzyme Deficiency)
    2. Paint Horse genetic diseases:
      1. LWO (Lethal White Overo)
      2. Splashed White Overo 2 & 3
      3. CSNB (Congenital Stationary Night Blindness)
    3. Arabian genetic diseases:
      1. CA (Cerebellar Abiotrophy)
      2. LFS (Lavender Foal Syndrome)
      3. SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency)
    4. Warmblood genetic diseases:
      1. WFFS (Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome)
      2. Hydrocephalus in Friesian Horses
  2. Price of foal versus potential value of foal: This is a very important consideration if you are looking at your foal as an investment. If the foals from a similar mare/stallion combination typically sell for less than the cost of making the foal (stud fee, semen shipping fees, vet fees to get your mare pregnant, cost of foaling mare out, etc), that is not a good combination. For example, an unproven stallion that you can breed your mare to for free can produce a foal that might not be worth much monetarily and this “free” deal may not be a good investment.
  3. Physical attributes and compatibility: Breeding your mare to a stallion that will compliment qualities is paramount. Knowing the stallion’s production record and how its offspring perform, compared to the mare’s, can hep you decide if they make a viable cross. In the thoroughbred industry, utilizing the TrueNicks database can help compare your cross to others in the industry.
  4. Timing of breeding: If you desire a foal that shows early in its life, the closer to January the foal is born the better. Early foals are considered vital in the thoroughbred, halter horse, and western performance industries. The earlier in the year they are born, the more time for growth and learning the discipline before performing. If you are wanting the foal to be ridden or shown later in life, this becomes less important as the horse will catch up in growth by four years of age.

If you have any questions about how to choose a stallion to best compliment your mare, or you would like to schedule an appointment for breeding, foaling out, or other services, feel free to give our office a call at (979) 324-5822. We would be glad to serve you!

5 Things to Prepare for Breeding Season

Five things you can do this fall to get yourself and your horses ready for breeding season

Breeding season starts on February 15th and runs until June 15th. This only gives your mare a certain amount of time to conceive a foal. We want your mare to have the best chance possible to conceive and get an early baby and save you, the owner, time and money. All of these recommendations are for open (not pregnant) mares.

  1. Take care of their non reproductive needs! This includes annual vaccines (Rabies, EWT), the semi-annual vaccines (Flu/Rhino, West Nile Virus, Strep), and annual dental floats. Sometimes their teeth can be so abnormal that they can have difficulty gaining or maintaining weight due to pain associated with their mouth or a mechanical inability to digest their food properly. We want both our mares and studs to be at their absolute best when we are breeding them, which includes being current on vaccines and not having a painful mouth. It’s also important to get your horse to a good weight! This means if your horses have multiple ribs easily showing, now is a great time to get weight on them. This can be accomplished by increasing their caloric intake, via concentrated food or via forage (hay or grass). Sometimes this can be accomplished by changing feed to a higher quality, more nutrient dense feed. And if your horses are so fat you cannot feel any ribs, this is a good time to cut back on their feed intake and get some weight off of them. Both being underweight and overweight can be detrimental to the fertility of mares and stallions.
  2. Get a uterine culture on your mare(s)! Uterine cultures are a great way to see if there are any bacteria growing in your mare’s uterus (where the baby will live and grow) that could prevent her from becoming pregnant. It will also show which bacteria is in there and how best to treat it, valuable information for getting your mare ready to breed. Often, it takes at least one cycle to clean up a mare’s uterus. Which means doing a uterine culture in the fall can prevent you from wasting valuable time trying to get your mare bred in the spring.
  3. If you want to freeze your stud’s semen, now is the time! Freezing semen on a stallion so that it is available for any mare at any time is a laborious and expensive process for the stallion, owner, and the veterinarian completing the freezing. The ideal situation is to collect the stallion for freezing in the fall to give him ample time to recover for the spring breeding season. This also allows your veterinarian to give your stallion the time and training he needs for successful collections of his best semen quality.
  4. Put your mares under lights on November 1st! This is easily the most neglected step to helping you have a successful breeding season. Mares are seasonal breeders, which means that they physically do not cycle properly or ovulate a follicle (“egg”) when they are not in season. With our crazy seasonality in Texas, your best bet for your mare to be ready to breed by February 15th is to have her exposed to light for 14 hours a day. Sunlight starts rapidly declining in October, so supplemental lighting needs to be added to ensure your mare knows it’s breeding time. This supplemental light should be added by November 1st and can be added by automatic timers on lights in a confined area outside or in stalls, or a lighted hood (EquiLume). Lights should be bright enough to read a newspaper in the darkest area of the stall or paddock.
  5. Choose the perfect stallion for your mare! Some of the most sought after stallions can have a limited number of mares to breed to, and some stallions are not collected after a certain date. It is vital to have a good stallion that complements your mare and her qualities and genetic make up to get you the most valuable foal possible. Don’t make this decision lightly, and plan ahead!

If you have any questions about what you can be doing this fall to get your mares and stallions ready for breeding season, or you would like to schedule an appointment, feel free to give our office a call at (979) 324-5822 and we would be glad to serve you!