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A guide to horse breeding

The prospect of producing a foal with qualities similar to its mother, or even better, has many attractions, and this is generally the reason a horse owner will choose to put their mares in foal.Before any decision to breed is taken, however, prior knowledge about normal breeding behavior, what should happen at foaling, and how a newborn foal should behave and develop, is essential. For this reason, it is probably best for a novice to seek professional help with mating and foaling from a stud.


Breeding is an extremely expensive business.  First there is the stud fee of £500 plus; then there is stud livery and routine vet's bills of £1000-2000 and another £500 plus if you intend to send your mare to foal at the stud. These items do not allow for the cost of something going wrong with the pregnancy, birth or the foal's first few days.

Choosing the Mare and Stallion

When thinking about breeding there are lots of factors to take into account. The first thing being the mare you wish to breed from. If your mare has any serious conformation faults breeding would not be advisable as these faults are likely to be passed onto her offspring and may, in some cases, hinder her during pregnancy. Your mares bloodlines are also of importance as a foal with good breeding will be easier to sell and fetch a higher price.  The foal is likely to inherit its parents’ temperaments so it is important – breeding from a mare of a difficult disposition is therefore unwise. Finally consider the intended use for the foal once he is an adult, if you intend on breeding an eventer or show jumper, proven competition experience is essential in the parents. Ask your vet to make a pre-stud check if this is the first time your mare has been bred. You will also need to supply the stud with a vaccination certificate for flu and tetanus and proof that she is free from infectious diseases, like Equine Herpes, Equine Viral Arteritis, and Contagious Equine Metritis. As mares tend to live out at stud make sure yours is roughed off before you take her to the stud. Some studs may also ask you to remove the hind shoes.The next thing to do is to choose the Stallion. There are hundreds of studs to choose from and details can be found on the internet, the British Horse Database, and specific breed societies. When choosing a stallion it is important to search for one which will compliment your mare. You should check his performance record, his size and conformation and the terms and conditions of the stud. Most studs offer a live foal guarantee on their stud fees.