Spring — a time for new beginnings and unrealized potential — might be the most enjoyable season of the year for a mare owner. The sight of a healthy foal romping with its dam in the field can easily push aside memories of the endless hours of hard work that got you to that point, at least until it is time to start again.

An essential, but sometimes overlooked, part of the breeding process is the contract used to finalize the mating of your mare with a selected stallion. After putting in a substantial amount of time and effort picking a stallion, then getting an initial commitment from the stallion manager, it is tempting simply to give the breeding contract a cursory reading, sign it, and drop the document in the mail.

Haste often truly makes waste in situations like these, however, and time spent familiarizing yourself with the terms of the contract before you sign will be well spent. The intent of this article is to present to you as a mare owner an overview of some, but certainly not all, of the important provisions and concepts you might encounter in a breeding contract. However, this article should not be a substitute for review of the breeding contract by an attorney (preferably one with expertise in equine matters).

Stud Fees

The amount of the stud fee, and the circumstances under which it must be paid, are of vital importance to the owners of both mare and stallion. The amount of the stud fee is straightforward, and should be set out in the contract.

The majority of breeding contracts specify that the stud fee is payable on a “live foal” basis. Under a live foal contract,