There’s nothing cuter than a newborn foal. But getting one on the ground requires a lot of preparation and forethought. Stallion selection and mare care are just two of the elements you need to factor in.
Dr. Thomas R. Lenz, a veterinarian with AQHA Corporate Partner Fort Dodge, offers eight tips to get you started in breeding for a great foal.
1. Mares should be bred after the age of 3, and can be bred well into their 20s. A mare’s reproductive efficiency decreases significantly after age 12, especially mares that have never been bred.
2. Because it takes them longer to recover, older mares often have a harder time breeding back after foaling.
3. A mare’s body condition directly affects her breeding ability. Broodmares need a body condition score of 5 (on a scale of 1 to 9, 1 being extremely thin, 9 being extremely fat). You should be able to feel her ribs, but not see them.
4. Make sure she has been dewormed and that her shots are up to date. Your veterinarian can develop a vaccination schedule that fits your specific needs.
5. Have your vet do a pre-breeding exam to make sure your mare’s reproductive tract is healthy. This exam is more extensive for an older or maiden mare, and may include a test to make sure her hormone levels are normal, as well as a uterine culture to make sure she doesn’t have a bacterial infection.
6. Are you breeding a foal to ride recreationally? To sell? To show? Your goal has a lot to do with the stallion you select.
7. Find a stallion with solid conformation — solid feet the right size for his body; straight, thick cannon bones; and good overall conformation. His conformation should complement your mare’s. Talk to breeders in your area and other mare owners for advice in selecting a stallion.
8. Disposition is important, too. The mare has a lot to do with a foal’s disposition because she raises the baby. But that doesn’t mean that if you have a quiet, easy-going mare and you breed her to a hot-blooded stallion that you’re not going to end up with a hot-blooded foal. Spend time with the stallion to get an idea of his disposition.