Managing a Shy Breeding Stallion

My stallion shows little or no signs of libido with my mare. He won’t even talk to her. What can I do?
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shy breeding stallion
Exposure to mares promotes stallions' reproductive function, while isolation from mares and exposure to other stallions generally suppresses sexual behavior and other aspects of reproductive function. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse
Q.I have a breeding problem with my 13-year-old Quarter Horse stallion. He has tremendous bloodlines. He has four or five foals on the ground, so I know that he is not infertile. But recently I leased him to a friend out of state to use. He covered five mares while he was there, but was not an eager breeder. I have him home now, and he is showing little or no signs of libido with my mare, which is in full-blown heat. She is giving all indications that the time is right, but he has no interest. He won’t even “talk” to her. What can I do or try? I had tried to breed a friend’s mare last month when I got him home, but the mare was already out of heat. But he showed no interest in her as well. So while I don’t want my mare bred now, I would like to see the proper stallion response to estrus so I will be prepared for next season.

Eileen, via e-mail

A.It sounds like your stallion might be what is known as a shy breeder. You know he breeds, but not as enthusiastically and as indiscriminately as many stallions will. I would not worry at all that he showed no interest in the mare last month—the one that was already out of heat. Though it is unusual, you could argue that stallions that ignore such mares are just “smarter” than most stallions. I have known many highly efficient and fertile stallions which seemed to waste no time on a mare which wasn’t just about to ovulate. So even when we think the mare is ready to breed, maybe the stallion is better able to tell the best time to breed.

At this point, there are a few things you can do before the breeding season. First, it would be wise to rule out any major physical or medical problems that might be a cause of low libido. The best way to do that is to have a breeding soundness examination done by a veterinarian who specializes in equine reproduction. To find a specialist, you can ask your veterinarian

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Written by:

Sue M. McDonnell, PhD, is a certified applied animal behaviorist and the founding head of the equine behavior program at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. She is also the author of numerous books and articles about horse behavior and management.

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