To breed or not to breed . . . .With apologies to William Shakespeare, that is a question that perplexes many mare owners and is one without a single, simple answer. The problem usually begins with ownership of a mare which fits our equestrian needs–trail riding, jumping, cutting, roping, dressage, horse trials, whatever. Perhaps she is a stellar performer, and we want to perpetuate the bloodline. Or perhaps she is a serious disappointment in our chosen discipline, and we don’t know what else to do with her.

There are a number of factors that must be weighed in making the decision on whether to breed a particular mare.

At the outset, let it be said that I have raised foals for a number of years and intend to keep doing so. There is something captivating and even rejuvenating about the arrival of a foal in the spring, after months of anticipation. Watching them grow and mature into solid, sound, usable horses adds to the positive side of the equation.

That being said, not everyone should raise a foal, and not every mare should be bred. Included in the considerations are economics, quality of the mare, availability of proper facilities, and capability of the owner, to mention a few.

Considerations

Let’s start with some basic questions that involve these concerns and others.

First, why do you want to raise a foal from a particular mare? If you wish to perpetuate a great bloodline, that is justification in itself. However, if you have a mare which has failed to reach your expectations and you don’t know what else to do with her, that is definitely not justification for breeding.