At the ripe age of three, a horse can be bred. While some say two, the recommended age is generally three.
When it comes to breeding, this is usually the first step in the process. Finding the superior match for your stallion or mare is not simple task. It requires a heavy analysis of the horse in question, and comparisons to other horses that you may want to breed your horse with. Sometimes owners will choose to breed their horse to receive a specific trait or phenotype. In cases such as this, they will try to combine stronger genetics of a stallion with a mare the presents more recessive traits. It is believed by some that getting stallions genetics may play a larger role than the genetics from a mare. Regardless, when people look at a horse to partner with, they look for the following traits:
- A horses genealogy to analyze the agility, breeding and physical characteristics of the horse’s ancestors.
- The breeding quality of the horse (example: have they damed/sired before? Were the foals healthy?)
- The likelihood of inheriting certain desired traits
- Anatomy of the horse
- Performance – especially if you are breeding for a specific discipline
- Coat Color
Now it is paramount to acknowledge that how these are considered vary greatly depending on the purpose of the breeder. In situations where an owner is trying to get a specific quality, or strengthen the lineage of a horse, they will explore the genetics behind the process to try and guarantee their desired outcome.
Different Types of Breeding:
The most common method of breeding is for purebred horses, and this is usually done with expensive, high value breeds to preserve the traits that make that breed unique.
Another common type is crossbreeding and is often used when you want to try to get certain characteristics of a pure-bred horse into a different one. Horses of this genre tend to be athletic, and hardworking.
Breeding can be accomplished in the herd, where a herd of mares and one stallion are left to take care of the next step. As one can imagine, using this method, it may take a while for a specific mare to become pregnant, but stallions typically know what to do.
Alternatively, horses can be bred in a pasture, where mares are pushed into a paddock and the stallions are sent to them. This method may be selected if it is believed that the stallion could be injured by joining the herd, or if they are too old to keep up with the mares.
In recent years, artificial insemination has gained popularity among breeders because it tends to create a higher yield of sperm to work with and can therefore be used to impregnate multiple mares. It is also a quicker, and much more controlled process, which can eliminate several risks such as the spreading of sexually transmitted diseases. It also allows breeders to inseminate a horse that may be very far in distance from the stallion.
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Barb. (July 8, 2019). “Everything you wanted to know about horse breeding.” Horse Properties. Retrieved from https://www.horseproperties.net/blog/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-horse-breeding/
Chris. (Copywrite 2022). “Horse Breeding Information.” Five Star Rach. Retrieved from https://www.fivestarranch.com/horse-care/horse-health/breeding/
Extension Horses. (January, 31, 2020). “Horse Breeding Basics.” Extension Horses. Retrieved from https://horses.extension.org/horse-breeding-basics/