So You’ve Decided to Breed Your Horse
Written by Loryn Lamport, our Equestrian Manager.
For many people who own a mare (female horse of breeding age), it’s natural to think about breeding her and having a foal. Perhaps you want to carry on the bloodlines of your favorite horse, or maybe you’d like to produce a companion animal for your family mare? Whatever the reason for breeding your horse, knowing a few tips can make the process smoother for both you and your mare.
The Breeding Process
First, you’ll want to evaluate your mare to make sure she is entirely healthy and in good condition to carry. This will help ensure the foal has the best chance of being in good physical shape and starting off their life without any medical conditions. Some owners who want to continue to show or ride their horses opt for a surrogate mare to carry the foal for them.
Next, you need to decide how to select the stallion (male horse of breeding age). The selection process depends on your goals for the foal in the future. In Thoroughbreds, your goal is likely to produce fast, competitive racehorses. There are records kept that list the ancestors of each horse so that inbreeding does not take place among the horses.
The gestation period for mares is 11 months and after the birth, it is ideal to keep the foal with the mother until they are about 6 months old. The foal will stand and nurse on their mother within the first few hours after birth. Baby horses, just like little puppies or kittens, spend most of their days sleeping, nursing and playing.
Getting the Horse Ready for Human Contact
Many people believe that it is important to “imprint” the foal as soon as possible after birth. “Imprinting” is the process of touching the foal all over so that they are comfortable with human touch. Most horses then will grow at a fairly fast rate and can be taught to accept a rider around the age of 2.
It is a wonderful experience to have a foal of your own if you have the desire and time to do it. In fact, we recently had a foal born at our Equestrian Center! Members, stop by our equine center any time to see “Derby”, the newest “member” of Golden Ocala!