The Morals of Breeding
Ok, first of all I know this is a controversial subject, but I think that we are *mostly* mature adults who can talk rationally about this.
As ya'll know, I do rescue. It is basically drummed into our heads as rescuers that just one foal born is one foal too many. That each foal born takes the life from a horse that is headed towards slaughter.
And to some extent I do believe this to be true. But at the same time, there are people out there that will simply not purchase a rescue horse, feeling they are "damaged goods" and not worth anything. But we all know of horses pulled out of the kill pens that have gone on to be money winners. We also know of very expensive and valuable horse that have been slaughtered.
I've been sort of kicking around the idea of having my QH mare bred. She is a well bred, well put together mare with a good head on her shoulders. She is healthy, an easy keeper, a working ranch horse. I can take her on trails, or use her to move cattle and have done some mounted posse and crowd control at the county fair with her. She has never been shown and I don't intend to show her. She is a gentle, sweet horse who always gives 110%. She is registered, and foundation bred.
I kick around the idea, and one part of me says be selfish, breed her, retain the foal and train him/her how I want it trained. Belle is 16 so if I did breed her, with her advancing age I'd want to do so soon.
It is selfish on my part, because I want a baby out of her. I know the foal would not BE her, but it would be a part of her, and hopefully better than her.
But shouldn't I just take the money I'd invest, and help another rescue horse or 2?
I don't put this question out to hurt anybody, but how do you handle the morals of breeding horses when so many are being slaughtered or sit in rescues waiting for homes? Do you feel guilty about taking away a home that a rescue horse could have had, by selling a foal?
And I am sorry if I offend anyone, I don't mean it to. I am pouring my heart out here and asking for guidance.
*You is not ment to draftrider, just a you in general)
In my mind, it isnt selfish to breed for a wanted foal, that has good bloodlines and conformation- a foal that can be sold quickly and easily if need be.
I would feel guilty however, if I bred a foal that is not going to be worth money, and you think you can sell it just to get some money off it or whatever your intentions are. If you are going to breed for colour(for example), than I think this is irresponsible. You are taking away a home for a horse in a rescue because someone bought a 'pretty, beautifully marked, cheap foal' when they could have bought an already broke, cheap older horse that they can ride.
In your case draftrider, I would breed your mare. You seem like you know what you want to do, and you have seen what happens to unwanted horses. Be sure to get fully prepared though, foaling is crazy! And having a foal is too.
Just a couple questions:
1. Is your mare a maiden? If she is it may not be possible for her to become pregnant, or may be dangerous for both the mare and foal if she does become pregnant.
2. Are you ready for a foal financially?
3. Can you provide a forever home?
4. If you can't, do you think the foal will be wanted by potential buyers?
You dont have to answer the above questions, just think about them.
I know I may sound like I am a hypocrite because my filly is a grade and not worth alot, but she was an accident and I am not going to let her suffer because of someone else's stupidity.
Sorry for the novel!
In the end, nobody can make up your mind for you or even change your mind for you. A responsible and mature person is going to look at all the facts and make a good decision for them based on information and an irresponsible and immature person is very likely to just continue what they're doing regardless of what others say.
I know people jump on others a lot for breeding, and it starts a lot of arguments, especially from the crowd screaming "BUT SHE'S GOING TO DO IT ANYWAY." That may be so, but there are a LOT more people reading that thread then JUST the OP, and so when I respond like that, it's for everyone. Because if our responses have helped even ONE person make a better informed and responsible decision, the job has been done.
Hence, why I look fondly on threads like this one that have someone giving a lot of thought. In the end, it's NOT about all the slaughter horses and rescue horses - it's about making GOOD decisions. You can't save them all and you shouldn't try - it is NOT fair that you shoulder the responsibility of cleaning up everyone elses messes. You've done far more then the average person already, and can feel happy and proud of that accomplishment.
By no means does this mean you shouldn't breed - ironically, it's ALWAYS people like you who have a moral dilemma with breeding who are the BEST equipped to handle foals anyway, the type of person who SHOULD be breeding. You've already proven you're financially able to handle several horses, and you've obviously got the experience and educated up the ying yang to train a youngster and produce a productive member of equine society - a clean slate is ALWAYS easier then a scratched one.
At the end of the day, I really don't give a **** if your mare is considered fugly - it's YOUR decision, and you've got enough experience and educated backing you to know how to make the RIGHT one. It's your right to breed your mare, and I can't personally justify giving you flack for it because my number one criteria for breeding has ALWAYS been - HAVE A PLAN. I don't agree with breeding "only proven champions" - breeding is a total crapshoot and just as many "champion" foals will end up in the killpens because they didn't get genetically stamped. Of course it produces better chances, but there are JUST as many solid upper mediocre horses without glaring conformation faults that are going to produce fantastic youngsters if they're born to the right people.
It's like knowing the world is grossly over populated and wanting to have children - it's a tough moral dilemma to hash out, but in the end it's YOUR decision and nobody elses and if you can justify your decision with logic and confidence, you will always have my respect!
Thank you ladies! I cringed at first when I opened this thread- it was very late last night and my friend Jose Cuervo had come to visit when I wrote it. I was thinking... "What did I write!!!" But it does seem that I at least spelled correctly. :P
I could care less about color. The best color on a horse is fat. =) My mare is a bay, and I am perfectly happy with any color.
She had a foal when she turned 5. (I got her when she was 12). The foal was a horse colt, and it is my understanding sold for 7K for a working ranch gelding as a 3 yr old. She has not been bred since- her past owner quit breeding and just kept her 2 best mares for trails and ranch work.
Yes, financially I can handle it. I have 4 horses of my own, and usually 4-5 rescue horses here all the time. If I needed to, I would reduce the number of rescue horses if I hit hard times. I don't board- my horses are here on our family farm. I am here all the time basically.
I have had a LOT of experience with kidding, lambing, farrowing, and calving. I know its not the same species but it can't be much different than calving if a foal is stuck.
As for a forever home- barring illness or death, yes. Right now I am in remission for 4 years from cancer. I could get hit by a random bolt of lighting, or fall into a well. I could just drop dead. But other than that I think I'm good. And, if I die I have already made arrangements that one of my relatives will take my horses.
Potential buyers- that I don't know. There is always a market here for exceptionally well bred Quarter horses. A really nice yearling might bring 800-1000 $. I have seen them advertising and selling good mares and geldings for upwards of 5K. People want the ranch horses, more than the halter show type horses. There is a difference in their stature and breeding and people are starting to get away from the tiny head, tiny foot and Ahhnold build.
MM, and I do think that I feel like a hypocrite because I am constantly telling people "don't breed or buy when a slaughter horse might die" but I look at my mare aging, and how when she is gone, she will be gone forever. You know you have one horse in your life that is the most special, no one will ever replace it? She is that for me. And breeding her does scare me because what if she dies in birth, what if? Its the What If's that scare me the most.
Here is my Belle's pedigree- what do you think?
Sweets Valentine Belle Quarter Horse
I can't say it any better than MM already did. But I will add in your case, I don't think it would be a bad idea. You are financially prepared for it, planning on providing a home for the foal rather than attempting to breed for profit, and the fact that you are having a moral dilemma about it says a lot about you as a person, IMO.
The only additional thing I would point out is foaling is FAR different from calving - horses, for all their size, are more delicate than cows particularly in terms of breeding, and you can not so readily pull a foal the way you do a calf without causing potential harm to the mare.
Thank you Indy- I've never had a baby horse born or assisted in a birth- I do have a good friend 3 miles away that has 5-6 foals a year. I think I am going to call her and see if she'd be willing to help if needed.
Mine comes from an emotional standpoint so grab what you can from it.
I board and volunteer at a horse rescue. I've seen what over breeding and irresponsible breeding can do, as Im sure you've seen with your own eyes. The thing is, were not talking about over breeding or making bad choices here. This is a well bred mare who you love. Im sure you would love her foal just as much.
You only get one great horse in a lifetime. I lost mine 8 years ago and I honestly miss him like a sibling. If he had been a mare, I would have bred him just to have a piece of him here with me. I would hate for you to miss out on keeping your heart horses legacy alive
Draftrider, as an informed, mature adult who is aware of the issues, you're one of the people with whom I wouldn't take issue if you wanted to breed.
You know the problems of overbreeding, the fuglies because someone just wanted a 'kyoot baybee', the 'accidental' breedings that are hardly accidental, and the glut of horses already on the market.
I believe anyone who has a solid idea of what they want the foal for, and chooses a stallion whose bloodlines will nick well with the mare rather than the fact that he's 'purty', has balls, and has a cheap stud fee, are the best people to be breeding.
As long as you know ahead of time what your plans are for the foal and why you're combining certain bloodlines, then I have no gripe with you.
I purposely have geldings so I'm never tempted to breed anything. That's a personal commitment I made to myself a long time ago, and I haven't waivered from that path in 32 years.
I do not hold others to my own standards, but I do expect that anyone who wants to breed should it correctly, with a clearly thought out reason for what their future plans are for the foal, and knows going into it that they're risking not only their mare's life, but the foal's.
There are no guarantees that you'll have a live foal, or that the mother will survive the birth. I've never wanted to take a chance on the life of a dearly loved animal, which is why I've never bred my Great Dane, although she's a show quality dog.
Pick the right stallion for your mare genetically, have concise plans for the foal and its future, and be aware of the inherent risks in breeding. If you can do all of that, the only thing I have to say is good luck.
One of my biggest soap boxes in life is spay and neuter pets. No reason to breed for the sake of breeding.
But I see nothing wrong with breeding good animals to make better animals.
Breeding Dobbin to Star because they are pretty colors and wouldn't it be fun to have one of our own.....NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I have to add in the obligatory - Remember, breeding does not always end well. If you are not willing to accept the loss of your mare because of a birthing issue please do not breed her. (And yes, I know they can die of nine million other silly things, just saying it so it is out there.)
Yes I am extremely worried about the "What If's". I think that... before I decide anything I am going to talk to my vet and have a breeding soundness exam done and a uterine culture. That would be my first step. I've been kind of looking around the interwebs for nice stallions. So far I'm just finding "Ooooh look at my perlino guaranteed color!!!!!" or "check out the butt on this halter champ" so its going to take me some time to find the right stallion. Maybe research this year, and if everything works according to plan consider breeding her next year.
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