Horse Breeding Facilities

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Horse Breeding Facilities

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  • Questions to ask horse breeding facility
  • Show me safe ways of making a small breeding fence for teasing horses

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    09-08-2013, 04:08 PM
Horse Breeding Facilities

So my lifelong dream has been to breed horses, and my husband and I are finally in a place where we can start to make that dream a reality. We want to buy a property, and build it from the ground up, so things are set up in a way that works for us. Now that we are ready to start looking, we have a few questions, to make this as successful as possible.

In a breeding and/or boarding facility, what do you look for in layout, size of pastures and stalls etc. What type of fencing would you most recommend, and while I'm not looking at housing stallions at least not right off the bat, how should the fencing be done? I am sure that at some point the I'm going to end up with a colt, and I may change my mind and decide to get or keep a stallion, and I want to make sure that it's safe. I've heard of the whole 6' high at least, and smaller spaces between railings, but I want to know what you who actually have stallions, have done to make it safe to turn your stallions out to pasture, and what type of fencing you use. How far away from mares do you keep the "stallion" pastures, and do you put geldings between the stallions and mares? I've worked at a couple of small breeding facilities, and while they weren't junky, they weren't necessarily set up for having stallions, or a breeding shed or anything. The one stallion was housed in the middle of the barn full of mares, and turned out on rare occasions, (he had a lame leg) right next to the mares. Same with the three colts, one 3 year old and two 2 year olds. I personally didn't think this was the best set up, but would like more opinions, and other options. Should I set up another smaller barn for any colts in the future, or is keeping them all in one barn safe so long as the colt or any stallions are well behaved? I've always thought that while you shouldn't isolate a stallion, you also shouldn't "tease" him by sticking him right in the middle of a barn full of mares, especially when some are in heat. I want any colts or stallions on the property to behave themselves, and have manners even if they are near a mare, and I don't want any on my property that can't behave themselves, but I just saw so many issues with the way these two places were set up even though both stallions were well behaved. As for the mares, how big should a foaling stall be? If I say only want maybe 3-5 mares pregnant at any one time, how many stalls should I have set up for foaling? One breeding place I went to had one main foaling stall, and the tack room/observation room was connected by a window. While definitely a bonus, how necessary is it to have an "observation" room, as opposed to just walking down the barn aisle and looking in on the horses?

Now for the horses part of the questioning. How did you start out your breeding place? I am thinking of purchasing a broodmare possibly either already in foal (if I like the pairing), or with a foal at her side as a package deal, and starting from there. I want to breed warmbloods, RPSI, Dutch Warmbloods, or maybe Hanoverians, just so you have an idea of what I'm looking at. I want dressage, and maybe jumping, though I'm not a big jumper. This is not an "I want to make lots of money breeding", this is an "I want to selectively breed a few mares a year, and really focus on improving the breed, producing great dressage or jumping horses. I don't aspire to being some huge breeding facility with a ton of horses, I just want to do what I love on a small scale, and really focus on the quality of the few horses I do have. Those of you who have a breeding farm, and have stallions, did you start out with both stallions and mares, or did you just start out with mares, and then determine later, if you wanted to keep a few stallions as well? When selling the foals, do you market them from the moment they are born, or before that, or do you wait until the horse has been started, and has some riding under his/her belt?

I know that in this economy especially breeding horses is a touchy subject, and that is why I am asking these questions. This is a 3-4 year project, and I want all the information I could possibly need, and maybe even more, so that I can make the best decisions. I have spent a lot of time reading up on bloodlines, conformation, current stallions, but I know that there is a lot more to learn about to make a successful breeding farm, and that no matter how much I learn, there is always still more I can learn if I keep asking. Sorry for such a long and slightly jumbled post.
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    09-08-2013, 04:28 PM
The best thing you can do for yourself is find a breeder and mentor under them for a while. Then start working from there.
xlionesss and Doodlesweaver like this.
    09-08-2013, 06:54 PM
I would have no problem working with another breeder, but I don't really want a "job" where I'm mucking out stalls, and just turning horses out, as that's what I've been doing for the last 6 or so years. I very specifically would want to learn more about the breeding side of things, help with more breedings and foalings, and ask more questions with starting my own place in mind.

There are not a lot of breeding facilities up where I live now, though I did find an Arabian and Sport Horse breeder who I'd love to chat with. Even though I want to get into Warmbloods, and not Arabians, I do think it would be beneficial to talk with this farm, do you agree with that, or should I really try to find a place that breeds warmbloods in particular? And how would I go about contacting and connecting with them? I'm a shy person by nature, and I have a hard time talking with people I don't know, and so I have a hard time deciding to just call them up and say "Hi, this is who I am, and this is what I'm looking for". I feel like they'll feel it's a waste of their time because I'm not currently interested in purchasing one of their horses, or breeding to any of their stallions. Would a lot of places be willing to talk, give a tour, etc., and is that just what I'm going to have to do, or is there a better or different way to connect with breeders, and ask questions, etc.?
    09-08-2013, 07:08 PM
I think you would benefit from working with a breeding facility in your local area regardless of what they sell. I would worry less about mucking stalls and what work you are doing and focus more on what is going on on the farm. You can learn a lot by just listening to horse people discuss their issues, while you muck out. The other option would be to shadow a local speciality hospital during the foaling season. There is an element of preparing but with horses you can't prepare everything. With respect to farm design, I would take a few tours of established warmblood breeding facilities. Take a list of questions and absorb everything they say. You may want to breed to their stallion. Unless you can afford to purchase a horse of the caliber of their stallion.

I would also say that from what I have seen (and its not the warmblood world) horses and foals are only priced well based on what they have done and the names associated with them. Warmbloods seem to be a very popular thing right now. Which is fine; however, it means lots of competition for young stock. You are going to have to pay out a pretty penny to get a brood mare of worth and you will need a good trainer, a great horse and a lot of luck to get a stallion that others want to breed to. The other question to ask before you start putting mares into foal is what will you do with foals that don't sell? You can easily end up with 3 of your 5 foals not selling and growing up. Then you have next years foal crop and soon you have three four year olds, two three year old, and two year old maybe four yearlings and next years foals on the way. You can't count on being able to sell your foals the first year, unless you buy a really high quality (read expensive, show proven, desired) stallion/mare combination.

I know its not about money for you, which is great because there is no money in horses. There is money spent on horses, so before you breed ask yourself if you have the finances in place to support the horses you produce? Do you have the heart to make the tough decisions that you may have to make (read: euthanizing mares and foals due to health issues). Do you have horses worth breeding? (make a list of pros and cons about each horse) Do you have people who want your horses?
    09-08-2013, 07:14 PM
It wouldn't hurt at all to get in touch with the breeder that is near you that you want to talk to anyways. That still gets you in "behind the scenes" so to speak if they are willing to work with you and teach you. I would, while working with the Arabian breeder, look for someone who you are comfortable with and is willing to teach you in the breed you want to get into. They would be able to help you with getting stock or what to look for in stock in the breed you want to get into, etc. Just remind yourself when contacting these people "what is the worst they can say?" That would be No. Don't be afraid to ask. You're going to need to ask a lot of questions and do a lot of research. Also going and learning from established breeders will also show you how they are set up and that in itself may help you with ideas for how you want to be set up.

Breeding isn't cheap, easy or for the faint of heart.
rookie likes this.
    09-08-2013, 07:32 PM
Welcome to North Arabians :: North Arabians - where the dreams come true

This is one of the top Arab breeders in the breed and she's fairly close to you. A more gracious and warm human being you won't find. She's extremely knowlegable and might agree to mentor you for the actual nuts and bolts of breeding and foaling. Can't help you with a recommendation for WB's, I don't know a thing about them.
Druydess and rookie like this.
    09-08-2013, 08:22 PM
I moved to Nevada City, so we are no longer in San Diego. But as our families are still in San Diego, I'll give her a call next time we are headed down, and see about asking some questions, and seeing her place. The more places I see the better.

I will give the Arab farm I found in the area a call, and see what they say. Like Nd said, the worst they can do is say no. I'm also asking and looking around for area vets, so I can call them, and start looking for a vet that I like, and who has experience with breeding and foaling. I will also look for warmblood breeders to talk to, even if I can't find any in the area to physically go see and talk to, I can at least talk with them over the phone, ask questions etc.

We are looking at getting a minimum of 50 acres, so if the babies don't sell immediately, it won't be an issue keeping them, and continuing to work with them. I will also be looking for a dressage trainer and a jumper trainer. I can do and love to do the basics with the youngsters, starting them under saddle, but I definitely don't have the training or know how to train them beyond the basics, so I will be looking for other trainers for that.

I know that breeding isn't always cute babies and roses, things can and do happen, and often not in a small way. I don't think anyone likes making the call to put a horse down, but if necessary, I can make that decision for the best interest of the horse. I've had to do it before, and I'm sure no matter what I do, being around horses I'll have to do it again. And I know that sometimes tragedy strikes and you don't get to make that decision, it's made for you, and I'm prepared the best I think anyone can be for the possible situations.

We are saving up money for purchasing a broodmare as well, and I am expecting it to be in the range of 10,000+, so I know that it's not going to be like our other previous riding horses we got that didn't cost an arm and a leg. And depending we may also end up having to pay for shipping as well depending on where we find the right mare.
    09-08-2013, 09:11 PM
You should have several Arab breeders fairly close to you, these folks have been doing it for years and are also very nice. About Lacey's Arabian Ranch

This lady is a very knowlegable breeder of Arabs (sorry it's what I know, LOL!): Coleal Arabian Horse Farm

Both of them ought to be within a couple of hours you. Just remember that 50 acres in CA is not like 50 acres where you actually have a lot of grazing. You may find that unless you have an aqueduct or water rights, that you can't water enough to have year round grazing for a bunch of animals and will have to feed them hay year round. Not cheap and in CA, I never saw a round bale.
    09-08-2013, 10:09 PM
Research the everliving crap out of the bloodlines you want to breed, registration requirements etc..

IMO MOST of the WB breeders in NA are producing horses not suitable for FEI levels. I see an endless supply of mediocre dressage horses on Warmbloods For Sale and it makes me livid.
Get some proven producers to start, until you figure out what bloodlines you like, THEN start breeding what you've produced, or purchase unproven mares because of their lines/achievements. Only once you are very sure what the market is like, then buy or keep a stallion. I am going to highly, highly caution you against standing anything you have produced. Chop the testes off of everything. If you have a rider who can consistently bring horses to an FEI level very successfully, then maybe pick a nice colt. If you don't, it's not worth it. Until the stud is consistent at small tour 70%+++ (so 8 years old at least) it's pretty well considered a nice gelding with jewels.

Having great riders is paramount to a successful operation, as is being able to pair a mare and stallion. These are things only a good warmblood breeder can help you with.

As far as set up, learn to inseminate yourself. You will need a tank, stocks and an ultrasound and probably other stuff (need to talk to a breeder). After that an outdoor round pen and an indoor arena should mean you're basically set up. For paddocks, make sure no horses share fences - each paddock should have its own 4 walls. Yes it's extra post pounding, but worth it. Stallions should be separated from mares, but can be near geldings.

IMO good lines to start with are Donnerhall, Rubenstein, Ehrentusch, Fidermark, etc... They usually produce good horses and are well known. Some of the more "fad" lines are difficult to cross (Quaterback is a great example)...

Good luck!
rookie and KigerQueen like this.
    09-09-2013, 12:20 PM
Anabel, I totally agree with you! Almost every young warmblood I see is a "great fei prospect" and in my opinion, much like breeding show dogs, only one or maybe two out of every litter are truly champion material, only a handful of what is for sale really has the ability and potential for fei. While the ultimate dream is to breed horses going to the top, if the horse isn't capable of doing that, it won't be marketed as such, no matter what the breeding is. Just another reason I want really good trainers who can help with an accurate assessment.
KigerQueen likes this.

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