Having a foal before breaking

soloequestrian

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Just interested in opinions on this concept - if it does ever happen, it's a few years away yet! Considering possibility of youngster having a foal so that she would be inseminated at 3, have the foal at 4, be broken in at 5 once foal is a year old and has some independence. With all the reading I have been doing, she won't be sat on until at least 5 anyway.
 

Spring Feather

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It's not uncommon for 3 year olds to be put in foal, although many are very lightly backed prior to breeding and then the year they are in foal is the turning away period. I always wait till my young mares are 4 years old before contemplating breeding them though, and they are already backed by this time.
 

PorkChop

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I have done this once, with a big ID x mare that I had, so covered at three, foal weaned and broken at four.

It worked out really well for us and she had her second and last foal when she was ten I think.
 

soloequestrian

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Thanks for these. SF - any reason why you wouldn't breed at 3? Is it a consideration for them physically, or to see whether they turn out nice enough to breed from?
 

Spring Feather

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Thanks for these. SF - any reason why you wouldn't breed at 3? Is it a consideration for them physically, or to see whether they turn out nice enough to breed from?
Both really. I don't think you see the whole picture at 3 years old so I prefer to wait another year before breeding them. I also like to see how they are under saddle and how clever/trainable etc they are and find out what type of disposition they have. Not all mares are good enough to be broodmares, I think true broodmares are something to be treasured and I don't think all mares should be broodmares. Can you tell I'm ever so slightly passionate about my broodmares?! :smile3:
 

windand rain

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Both really. I don't think you see the whole picture at 3 years old so I prefer to wait another year before breeding them. I also like to see how they are under saddle and how clever/trainable etc they are and find out what type of disposition they have. Not all mares are good enough to be broodmares, I think true broodmares are something to be treasured and I don't think all mares should be broodmares. Can you tell I'm ever so slightly passionate about my broodmares?! :smile3:
This with spades to be honest Broodmares are very special they have to have wonderful temperaments and almost perfect conformation so you really need to know what she is like ridden before breeding so you know her babies especially should they be male will have a market as trainable and valued geldings
Spring Feather has a wonderful mare who is just about the perfect broodmare, the crime being that the breeders with great mares and a sense of responsibility are cutting down and the breed anything with a womb or balls brigade are causing a huge problem
Highland ponies became critically endangered last year with only 273 foals registered and probably a lot fewer this which is a serious problem for already rare breeds in fact I think they are now getting rarer than Giant Pandas in the pure bred and gene pool sense
 

Char0901

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Personally I think at 3 they are too young to have a foal. Obviously each mare is different though. And by young I mean immature.
However I do know of a very well bred mare by Arko III who was backed and started her career at 4 (started British Novice) but she was very hot headed. She was put in foal.
After having a foal and coming back into work she was like a different horse. Whether it was having the foal that made her grow up and relax or the extra year off I don't know.
I bred my first foal from my late made last year. She had good confirmation and nice breeding. I bred for myself though and her foal has a home with me for life no matter how he turns out. He's a smasher at the minute but who knows!
If you're going to be selling the foal just make sure its worth it. I know a lot of people who put their mares in foal because they don't really know what to do with them... Personally I think its a bloody expensive option if its just done for the sake of it!
You know your made though and you know if she'll be mature enough at 3. There isn't really a right or wrong answer. Guess its personal opinion at the end of the day.
 

soloequestrian

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I'm interested to know more about reasons for deciding at what age it's okay to have a foal and how that compares to backing - interested, not looking to start any sort of argument! My current view is that I wouldn't want to back before 5 because vertebral growth plates don't fuse until at least then, possibly later. Backing involves relatively sudden introduction of weight ie that of a person. Obviously being in foal also involves carrying a weight, but it builds up very gradually. Given that sexual maturity in female horses is around 2-3 years, presumably wild horses can become pregnant at 2 and give birth at 3, which is earlier than I'm suggesting. I know that selective breeding have changed things a bit in that the horses are much bigger but does the wild argument count for anything? If I did breed, it would just be for me - I'm hopelessly sentimental about my animals and couldn't let anyone else have one of them! I can understand the practical point about breaking before breeding, but surely it's possible to tell how trainable a horse is from doing groundwork?
 

Feival

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NO! 3 is too young to breed from. It does them no good. My mare was put in foal at 3, before I bought her, she is a year behind most other 6 year olds now, both physically and mentally. It should not be allowed to happen. Yes Wild horses have foals at such a young age but they are never ridden so it doesn't mean the same thing for them. PLUS there are far to many horses already in the world, why add another, just because you own a mare. Rescue an unwanted foal/yearling if you really want a little one.
 

cundlegreen

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NO! 3 is too young to breed from. It does them no good. My mare was put in foal at 3, before I bought her, she is a year behind most other 6 year olds now, both physically and mentally. It should not be allowed to happen. Yes Wild horses have foals at such a young age but they are never ridden so it doesn't mean the same thing for them. PLUS there are far to many horses already in the world, why add another, just because you own a mare. Rescue an unwanted foal/yearling if you really want a little one.
Sorry, don't agree..... Every horse is different. I put my 3 yr old in foal as she'd got Elite as a 2 yr old at the Futurity. She ended up 2nd highest two year old out of the whole series. She was very mature, and her dam who we'd lost was a 2* eventer, so wanted her as a broodmare of the future. There was nothing for her to do at 3, so off to stud. She's now 8, eventing well, and may even have her 4 year old son out this year in age classes. He's very mature too. Pic of her at two.....
http://rs714.pbsrc.com/albums/ww146/cundlegreen/befpics1.jpg~320x480
and competing last year........
http://rs714.pbsrc.com/albums/ww146/cundlegreen/Beckypoplarpark2013_zpscdcee08e.jpg~320x480
 

soloequestrian

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Sorry, don't agree..... Every horse is different. I put my 3 yr old in foal as she'd got Elite as a 2 yr old at the Futurity. She ended up 2nd highest two year old out of the whole series. She was very mature, and her dam who we'd lost was a 2* eventer, so wanted her as a broodmare of the future. There was nothing for her to do at 3, so off to stud. She's now 8, eventing well, and may even have her 4 year old son out this year in age classes. He's very mature too. Pic of her at two.....
http://rs714.pbsrc.com/albums/ww146/cundlegreen/befpics1.jpg~320x480
and competing last year........
http://rs714.pbsrc.com/albums/ww146/cundlegreen/Beckypoplarpark2013_zpscdcee08e.jpg~320x480
She looks great! She looks very grown up at 2!
 

windand rain

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As much as I love having foals about the place it is far from a cheap way of getting a new horse My highland foal bred to keep and to keep her breed alive (rarer than a giant panda) done properly cost me £3000 before she hit the floor all that money would have been lost had either the mare or foal not survived. Horses have an infant mortality rate similar to a human in the third world so not good odds and of course you risk losing your mare. No one should breed a foal without these facts in mind and be prepared to lose a much loved mare or large amounts of money with no foal at the end. Done properly foals are expensive even without accidents. If you really want a foal you can buy a weaner the correct size potential, the colour you want, the sex you want and the temperament you want for far less than breeding your own. Even if you go to a good breeder the blood lines you want
 

Pigeon

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Given that sexual maturity in female horses is around 2-3 years, presumably wild horses can become pregnant at 2 and give birth at 3, which is earlier than I'm suggesting. I know that selective breeding have changed things a bit in that the horses are much bigger but does the wild argument count for anything?
Not really, because life expectancy for a feral horse is about half that of a domestic horse. So although in some ways we could look for reasons the feral horse thrives (lower incidences of colic, more stable herds etc) in reality they're not completely comparable.
 

mandwhy

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I don't see the point in breeding before you see what a mare is like, and I don't like to see them never doing anything but be a broodmare. I wouldn't spend proper money on a youngster that didn't have both parents doing something at one point. I can see the point if you are carrying on specific and highly prized family lines I guess. I think 3 is physically Ok but not ideal and 2 is a bit too young physically.

I think it is really sad when broodmares are just treated as a vessel for some special stallion, and I hate to see elderly broodmares up for sale or rehoming that have never ever done anything but breed and the ad is like 'you could probably squeeze in one more foal or she could be backed' yeah or you could have done it ten years ago and given the poor thing some options!
 

maccachic

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My mare was 7 when I got her (now 8) she had had 3 foals - broken her in and she is about to start a ridden career. Been an interesting journey she is a lot more mature and balanced than the youngsters I have done but being her own boss for so long threw up new challenges.

She was bred as a dressage horse (By Brentano 2) but was small so not suitable for her breeder and was swapped with a stud who backed her and bred from her, she was sold as a broodmare to her old owner and then I got her.
 

soloequestrian

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Thanks for the relevant replies here! She is quite a special foal - I wouldn't just be breeding for the sake of it, and the offspring would be for me anyway. Presumably correct nutrition has a huge amount to do with whether a youngster is set back due to pregnancy or not - lactation particularly requires huge amounts of energy so if they weren't supplied the horse could have its own growth compromised.
 

cundlegreen

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I don't see the point in breeding before you see what a mare is like, and I don't like to see them never doing anything but be a broodmare. I wouldn't spend proper money on a youngster that didn't have both parents doing something at one point. I can see the point if you are carrying on specific and highly prized family lines I guess. I think 3 is physically Ok but not ideal and 2 is a bit too young physically.

I think it is really sad when broodmares are just treated as a vessel for some special stallion, and I hate to see elderly broodmares up for sale or rehoming that have never ever done anything but breed and the ad is like 'you could probably squeeze in one more foal or she could be backed' yeah or you could have done it ten years ago and given the poor thing some options!
Totally agree!!
 

soloequestrian

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So the original question was whether it could be more harmful to have a foal at three (give birth at four) as opposed to having a foal at an older age. Answers seem to be getting off topic a little now!
 

Fox07

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Mine was put in foal at 2.5years :/ before I got her... she now has separation anxiety issues and I have spent a year putting right all the physical damage she has suffered (I believe) as the result of her being bred from so young- OCD, navicular...IMO bigger slower developing horses are not developed enough at a young age to breed from physically or mentally but every horse is an individual
 

AdorableAlice

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With so many things to factor in before making the decision I can't see that there is a correct answer to this one.

For me the final decision would hinge on temperament of the mare. The foal spends the first 6 months of life with the dam and will inherit and learn her temperament, so if the mare is a hissy fence walker so will be the foal.

We have an old mare who was a tricky character to break and then challenging to ride. Her then owners put her in foal in the hope it would settle her down. It did but her foal was a carbon copy of her to break and ride away. Sadly he remained tricky before being pts at 9.
 

Spring Feather

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So the original question was whether it could be more harmful to have a foal at three (give birth at four) as opposed to having a foal at an older age. Answers seem to be getting off topic a little now!
Physically and psychologically, possibly not, possibly yes. Way too many 'depends' to give an absolute answer. I wouldn't breed a 3 year old, others would.
 

Asha

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Why not speak to a top repro stud like Twemlows, I'm sure they will be able to give you a warts and all explanation of the best age to breed from a mare?

I must admit it's something I can't quite decide one way or another. I have a lovely 5 yo, who is well bred for jumping. When she was 3 I did think about putting her in foal, but changed my mind and she's now under saddle. She has the easiest chilled back temperament to handle, but under saddle she's quite sharp , in a good way ! But it has made me rethink about potential sires for her.

Even if the foal is for you, try and make it as commercial as possible as you never know your circumstances could change.
 

Alexart

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I wouldn't breed from a 3yr old either, irrespective of how mature the animal 'looks' on the outside their skeleton matures at the same rate as every other horse, so technically the weight bearing growth plates don't fuse until they are 4 so could be damaged by carrying the extra weight, also they will need to strip nutrients from their own body, which they should be using to grow, to nourish the foal instead, it takes a lot out of an adult horse let alone a growing one! Being in foal is like carrying a rider 24/7, so I don't see why there is this rush - so what if the horse is sat doing nothing except being a horse for another year, they live 20+ years so unless you are doing it for a tiny possible profit - which never happens!- I don't see why you'd need to breed that young? Mentally they're also not all there yet either and then what example does that give the foal to learn from? In the wild they aren't expected to carry a rider/compete etc and not expected to live very long, they start cycling at a year old so technically could get in foal then! - their only point is to eat, poop and reproduce!:D
I also like to see wether a horse turns out as I hoped before I breed - there's often quite a difference physically between a 3yr old and a 4/5yr old.
 

Merry Equimas

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personally no. i believe mares should have a career first, they need to show and be good at it and need to ride and be a good ridden horse and show promise in something or have good bloodlines. im not a fan of breeding because it has a vagina. my mare has good lines and has shown well and her previous foals have all done well in the ring (they are unridden)
 
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