Words from a First- and Last-Time Breeder

Whether breeding is your business, hobby, or neither, continue asking yourself why you’re breeding your mare and what you hope to get out of it.
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Alice and Hannah
That neat idea I had eight years and thousands of dollars ago is only now paying off with what I originally set out to produce: My next show hunter. | Photo: Alexandra Beckstett

While I was interviewing theriogenologists Drs. Ben Espy (DVM, Dipl. ACT) and Ryan Ferris (DVM, Dipl. ACT) for the Responsible Breeders feature, several of their tell-it-how-it-is statements hit close to home. Their overarching message was along the lines of, “Please don’t breed your mare if she’s not going to contribute anything positive to the equine industry.” Ironic, considering breeding exams and broodmare care are these practitioners’ bread and butter.

Even so, they’ve likely seen enough drained bank accounts, disappointed owners, and unwanted offspring to justify their advice. Heck, I wish someone had convinced me not to breed my retired Brandenburg hunter, Alice, eight years ago. I went down that road not once, but twice.

The first endeavor was laughable, now that I think back on it. Alice, although beautiful and well-bred, was bull-headed and tough to ride, with a chronically late lead change. Her baby-daddy-to-be was a local aging dressage stallion that I picked for sentimental reasons–he was a half-sibling to one of the most successful hunters I’d ever shown

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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