There are many considerations to be made when deciding whether or not to have your mare put in foal - among them:
- Are you prepared for the expense of breeding the mare and waiting 11 months for the foal?
- Is your mare healthy and free of hereditary conformation faults or diseases that may be passed on to her foal?
- Do you have somewhere safe to keep a mare and newborn foal.
Choosing a Stallion
Once you have decided to breed your mare, the next step is choosing a stallion. The stallion should be selected to complement the mare's conformation and personality, not to exaggerate any faults she may have. You may wish to breed to a specific breed, or your main concern may be height, performance or even color. If you are breeding for color, the book Equine Color Genetics by D. Phillip Sponenberg includes numerous photographs of equine coat colors and the probable genotype in each case.
Once, mare owners were limited to stallions that were kept close by, or faced the expense of sending their mares to far-off breeding farms. Nowadays, with the advent of artificial insemination with frozen semen, the geographical barriers have been broken down and mare owners may select the stallion of their choice, no matter where he happens to be.
There are many options in finding the right stallion. The Equisearch Stallion Guide is a searchable database, listing stallions by breed, by region and by name.
Care of the Pregnant Mare
Assuming you don't have any conception problems, once your mare is in foal to your chosen stallion, either by live cover or artificial insemination, it is very important to make sure that her nutritional requirements are met, in order to keep her healthy and to allow her to grow a healthy foal. In addition to feeding, there are many other aspects of pregnant mare management such as exercise, de-worming and preparing a safe foaling environment that need to be attended to.
Throughout the eleven months of your mare's pregnancy, your vet will need to make periodic checks to make to make sure all is well. It will be necessary for you to prepare early for the foal's arrival.
Mares are notorious for their unpredictability when it comes to giving birth. Many is the horse owner who has watched diligently over his mare all night, only to return from getting a quick cup of coffee at three a.m. to find she has given birth while he was gone. Many mare owners opt for a monitoring system which allows them to watch over the mare from the comfort of the tack room or office, while giving the mare the privacy she prefers.
Once the mare gets close to foaling, there are specific signs that the birth is imminent. It is important to acquaint yourself with the normal parameters and also to be prepared in case of foaling emergencies. The books listed in the box on the right will help you become more knowledgable about the foaling process.
Do you have a foaling story to share? We'd love to read your stories on the EquiSearch Discussion Forum. You can even attach your cute baby photos to your messages!