We can all enjoy a sunny day at the racetrack, lounging on the grass, with a glass of champagne in hand and betting on fast horses with the strangest names, but have you ever wondered how these creatures are bred and trained?
Breeding horses can be a taxing task, and we are certain that most people who want to ride or buy a horse do not have the basic knowledge for breeding one. The first step would be to choose the right female (broodmare) and male horse (stallion). While in the selection phase, the lineage of both horses is considered, from their bloodlines right down to their racing history.
Another factor to consider is the willingness of different breeders to collaborate. A horse might be born, raised and produced at one stud farm, but that doesn’t mean a single individual owns the animal. Every mare, stallion and foal has a price, and breeding racehorses professionally is pricey.
The ultimate objective is to breed a high-value foal to run famous races each year. For instance, the top racing calendar for 2022 features events like the Kentucky Derby, Breeders Cup, and the Preakness Stakes, among others. Breeders try and produce the best foals they can by breeding the finest, most talented parents together, all the while considering health problems and other issues. Significant time and financial commitments are involved, so obtaining trustworthy horse insurance is also essential.
This article will outline the seven (7) important tips for breeding a racehorse.
Nothing is more adorable than a newly born foal, however, bringing one of these delightful creatures into the world requires extensive planning, experience and money.
Aside from the other things to consider, first take into consideration the choice of stallion, as well as the mare’s gestational care and foaling down costs. For now, let’s take a look at the theory of breeding and practice.
There are two ideals when it comes to breeding horses: the Thoroughbred and the Standardbred. Although the fundamentals of horse breeding are the same for both Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds, specific rules and ideal horse physics are unique to each subset of the sport.
Standardbred horses often have heavier bones and long, flat muscles, which are suitable for hauling a cart. In contrast, a Thoroughbred horse has longer legs, a light to the medium bone structure, and muscular shoulders and haunches.
Another aspect to consider is that artificial insemination is permitted for Standardbreds but prohibited for Thoroughbreds. Thoroughbred horses are the best for racing when compared to Standardbred horses.
A Thoroughbred foal must result from a “live cover,” which is a naturally occurring mating. While embryo transfer and artificial insemination are feasible and widespread in other horse breeds, it is prohibited in Thoroughbreds. By doing this, the breed’s population is managed, guaranteeing the horses’ high market value.
Mares should foal as early in the calendar year before January 1 — the official birthdate of all racehorses, to assist the age groupings that define Thoroughbred races. This occurrence guarantees the foal has the most development period possible before racing and training.
The saying “Breed the best to be the best” has always been the guiding idea for producing winning racehorses. The true test for a stud horse is how well its offspring perform, but the requirements are pedigree, racing prowess, and physical conformation for horses that have not yet been tested at stud.
Looking back to the origin of horse racing, breeders have discovered that crossing lineages may help horses with their defects. If, for instance, one lineage is renowned for endurance and another for speed, crossing the two could produce offspring with a good balance of both traits.
Only about 25% of a racehorse’s achievement is believed to be attributed to genetics and heredity chains. The rest is left to nutrition, training, and sheer luck to determine continued performance. You can consider the following tips to help you on your quest for a well bred racehorse..
When examining the overall status of your mare, try to be honest with yourself. Do you only breed for emotional reasons? Getting a professional evaluation by an authorized veterinarian is advised as it will provide you with a fair appraisal of your mare’s attributes. Additionally, this will assist you in finding the ideal stallion.
Your mare must be at least 18 months old to breed, but it’s better to wait until she is at least 4 years old because by then, she will have fully matured. Look into your mare’s dam line and determine whether her dam had any other offspring. Consider whether the foal will be in demand in the future. Breeders that responsibly practice breeding should make sure their broodmare qualifies as a performance or pleasure horse with a track record for being mentally and physically sound.
Owners must first take note of a mare’s general health before concentrating on her reproductive health. Does she seem in good health? Are her feet in decent condition? What shots need to be updated? Will an egg count be necessary to view for parasites? Is the weight carried heavy or light? Does she require a dental checkup?
Do the same for your selected sire’s dam line as you would for your mare. Have an idea of the kind of horse you want to breed before picking a stallion. Take into account factors like discipline, size, color, and more.
Consider the stallion’s past fertility and pregnancy rates. If possible, personally see potential stallion candidates or their progeny. Consider talking to and soliciting other breeders’ candid opinions if this isn’t feasible. Looking into whether or not novices or experts have the stallion’s progeny will give you a better idea of the kind of foal to expect.
Seriously consider your selection of a particular stallion. Is it based on success rates or based on high demand?
Breeding is expensive, and you pay stud costs if the sire isn’t yours.
The cost of breeding your mare to a premium stallion will amount to hundreds and thousands, including pre-and postnatal vet expenses. You could settle for less expensive alternatives or buy a trained horse for nearly the same amount. Whichever way, it’s best to set a budget and weigh options on all scales for the most favorable.
Generally, breeders intend to breed out the flaws or hereditary problems while combining sires and dams with positive traits. Some argue that the dam seems to have a more bearing effect on the foal owing to acquired tendencies from its mother. They usually insist on the sire having a demonstrated competitive record. To others, the stallion’s past offspring might also be a reliable indicator of his capacity to pass on advantageous qualities.
Regardless of your train of thought, it would help if you had a goal in mind when breeding. The kind of racehorse you want to breed, the features, color, markings, and speed should all be documented and followed accordingly.
Your broodmare requires premium feed in addition to crucial vitamins and minerals to stay in top shape. Depending on your location, you may need to buy more concentrates or better-quality hay to maintain body health throughout the final stages of pregnancy.
A common error is to overfeed mares in the first trimester of pregnancy. Assure sufficient hydration for your mare. Depending on their surroundings and size, pregnant horses might drink up to 15 to 30 liters of water per day. If a mare becomes dehydrated and is suddenly given access to water, she can drink excessively which could result in colic, undue stress and ultimately, a miscarrige.
You’ll need a veterinarian to give the expecting mother the equine herpesvirus-1 vaccine at the fifth, seventh, and ninth months markers of gestation. Your mare will require the core immunizations ten months into the pregnancy to safeguard the foal.
Two of these essential vaccinations are:
Maintaining your mare’s health and fitness will boost the likelihood of smooth foaling; pasture activity should be sufficient. At 9 months, the mare can be ridden once in a while to keep in shape, but she should be left to rest as her due date approaches.
A novice may find it difficult, but not impossible, to breed a racehorse. The tips we’ve examined can help you achieve your goal more effectively while minimizing losses on the farm.