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Breeding Young Horses

This is a discussion on Breeding Young Horses within the Horse Breeding forums, part of the Horse Breeds, Breeding, and Genetics category
  • Horse mating young horse
  • Breeding live cover with a young stallion for the first time

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    10-03-2013, 11:15 PM
  #11
Weanling
The earliest I would breed a mare would be her 5 year old year. Looking at her physically, that year is the year when her joints (including the ones in her pelvis) finish growing. Her growth is starting to slow down, so there won't be such nutritional demands on her as she grows a foal. By the time she has her foal she will be 6 and filled out or nearly filled out and will be physically able to support a healthy foal.

In terms of training, I will have 3 years to train and ride her. Her 3 year old year will be light, as she's still a baby. Her 4 year old year will be free for normal training, and her 5 year old year will just build on that until winter time when she starts to feel the physical demand of being pregnant. In the spring when she foals, she will have had enough training under her belt that it will be ok to give her basically that season off, save back to work riding/training late in the summer/early fall when she can start to be taken away from her foal.
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    10-03-2013, 11:41 PM
  #12
Showing
Now, keep in mind that this is coming from someone who has never had a mare bred.

Personally, I likely wouldn't want to breed any mare before 6-7 years old. By that point, they should be old enough to have proven themselves finished at some discipline. AND, at that age, their back should be fully matured so the stress of carrying a foal isn't likely to cause damage to their back and make them more prone to a sway.

I sometimes wonder if there's ever been a study done about the severity of a broodmare sway as compared to how early she became a broodie. I would think that if she was started young at 2-3 years old and had a baby every year until she was 20, that her back would be much worse off than a mare that was bred first at 6 and carried a foal every year until she was 20.
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    10-04-2013, 12:11 AM
  #13
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by MsLady    
I may not know much and am fairly new to this, but 3 is way too young to breed!
Posted via Mobile Device
100% agree. To me, breeding before they are AT LEAST 4, is like a 15 y.o. Human girl having a baby. 15 may actually be being generous, but you get my drift. 4 is even kind of early for me, but if the mare was OUTSTANDING, mentally, physically and temperament, I might consider it. I really prefer to wait til 5 or even later, to give them time to be fillies and mature themselves.
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    10-04-2013, 12:47 AM
  #14
Green Broke
I believe 5 or so would be acceptable. Being bred at that age, there's little nutritional demand until nearly the 6th year.
My Solei I didn't breed until 7, because she didn't stop growing until then. Watching them closely and determining whether they are ready for being a matron is paramount. Each horse has to be looked at individually.
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    10-04-2013, 01:38 AM
  #15
Trained
I bred my guy before he was 3, I want to see what he's going to put on the ground and whether I will continue having a stallion or a gelding. Unfortunately the mare miscarried that foal, so his first 2 are coming this coming spring, bred when he was 3. Still the same easy going, big goof he was when I got him before he was a yearling. Still goes on trail with the mares and behaves, still rides at shows with the mares and behaves.
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    10-04-2013, 01:55 AM
  #16
Green Broke
Back to the actual topic-- here's an article by a Vet that may be in conflict with some opinions, ( I would not breed a mare at 2) but offers some good advice:

EquiSearch’s Ask the Vet: Mare Breeding Age

It is certainly possible to breed a regular horse at the age of 2 for a foal at 3. That is if the filly is mature and on a good plan of nutrition. She needs to not be too fat or too thin and should have a good source of free choice minerals, high quality hay and grain as needed. You have to remember that being in foal and growing at the same time put additional stresses on the filly. Does she have good conformation and temperament? Does she have a healthy shape to her back or is it long and weak? Are you planning to try to ride and break her to saddle during this time? If you are going to breed a young horse, she really should not do much else during that time except get some light exercise and have plenty of pasture time.

If her temperament is poor, and you are hoping that breeding her will sort her out, it is best not to breed her. If she passes her temperament along to her foal, then you have two of them with difficult personalities.

This letter came to EquiSearch.com very late in the breeding season. Mares are at their most fertile in the spring and early summer and the gestation time is about 11 months. So a breeding in September or October can result in an August or September foal. It is safest to have a foal in the spring before the weather gets too hot. A foal has a fairly heavy coat naturally and the summer heat can be an extreme stress. Certainly foals can be born at other times of the year, but it takes much more careful management and the risks are greater. Since it is late in the year, it would be best to wait until next spring and be really ready to breed in late March or April.

Perhaps the ideal age to breed a mare for the first time is when she is 3 to foal at 4, or 4 to foal at 5. However, there are many factors that can change that ideal age. Mares that are starting a show career may be in training at that time and should not be asked to carry a foal, grow and train. Pick one or the other. She can be ridden and educated while in foal at that age, but should not be in hard training. Mares who are a bit older (5-6 years old), fit and working hard can be bred and kept in work until they are too heavy in foal to be comfortable working, but even then they can go for easy trail rides.
     
    10-04-2013, 01:13 PM
  #17
Trained
When I first started breeding several big breeders told me to put my filly in foal at 3 years. So, I tried. She wasn't having any part of it. She'd cycle but she was not interested in being bred and absolutely wouldn't settle. I tried several cycles, and we used an excellent repro vet but finally had to quit for the year. The next year, at 4, sent her to the stallion and she caught the first try. So, I thought, "Well, she was young."

Next mare to come 3, goes to the breeding shed and same result. Wouldn't even tease for the stallion and even though they collected and inseminated right away, no go. As soon as she was 4, first shipment and boom, she's in foal.

So over the years I came to the conclusion that I'd rather wait til they're 4 or even 5 before I even try. All those attempts cost money and I hate wasting money. Now that I've downsized so much, I even just do live cover with my own mares, on farm. We do all the pre-breeding vet work, but just bring them to the stallion when it's breeding time.
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    10-04-2013, 01:53 PM
  #18
Green Broke
Waiting a few years and putting training into them allows you to pick up on things you may not have noticed before they were started. For example, a filly might be OK on the ground, but not well suited to work under saddle. Or a soundness issue may show up. One filly was started for the track but didn't want to run at all, so my BO ended up with her. She turned out to have a heart defect, and died of heart failure. The vet didn't detect the defect, it was only with the demands of being ridden that it showed up.

I have seen a few other horses show up with joint abnormalities upon being ridden that were hereditary, and you would not have know unless you had an extensive exam done, they showed up with the stress of being ridden.
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    10-04-2013, 01:59 PM
  #19
Foal
For me, 5 is the absolute earliest and that is only if the horse has excellent conformation and temperament (if they are unproven)... but I would much rather wait until they are 6-7 years of age.

There is no reason to breed prior to 5 and doing so is breeding a horse whose muscular-skeletal structure isn't fully developed.
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    10-04-2013, 04:11 PM
  #20
Foal
Although I don't breed myself, I have a couple of friends that are experienced horse people and the had similar experiences with young studs. As the studs started to mature, they became aggressive and unmanageable and had to be gelded. Since temperament is something breeders hope to pass on, I'd think you would want to wait to make sure it is a temperament you WANT to pass on. Another breeder I know had a nice young stud that she started breeding and he became so unmanageable that she had to make the decision to send him to boot camp. If he didn't straighten out, he was going to be gelded. IMO, any breeder that has the horse's best interest at heart will wait until the horse matures at age five or more.
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