When you drive by a farm and see a bright, playful young foal romping in a lush pasture with his dam, it’s easy to forget how much work, money, and planning went into his breeding. Many people underestimate the planning that goes into a useful, profitable mating.

The first step in the process is getting the opinion of a qualified veterinarian as to whether your mare can and should be bred. You should also determine the approximate value and usefulness of the resulting foal, and the cost involved. Many horse owners fail to consider costs other than the stud fee, including care specific to the pregnant mare (such as ultrasound examinations) and the veterinarian’s charges for delivering the foal. There’s also routine veterinary care of the new foal, along with additional farriery costs, stable space, feed, and pasture.

Once the veterinarian says the mare is sound for breeding and you’ve planned your budget, you can begin selecting a stallion for your mare and agreeing to the breeding contract (see “Read the Fine Print” in the December 2001 issue of The Horse, article #3170 at www.thehorse.com). Naturally, you want to pick a stallion that’s strong in any areas your mare is weaker, but how do you do this systematically? You need to evaluate his conformation, performance of other offspring, pedigree, and any physical problems or unsoundness.

Choosing a Stallion

But how do you decide which stallion to use? Basic to all considerations is the stallion’s conformation.

“The anatomical structures making up the horse determine its conformation, including its size,” says Rowen D. Frandson, DVM, MS, retired chairman of the Department of Anatomy at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and co-author of Anatomy and Physiology of Farm Animals. For years this