Choosing A Stallion For Your Mare
Once you have made the decision to breed from your mare the time has come to choose suitable a stallion to produce the foal of your dreams! This article outlines a way to go about your search and what usually happens when you visit studs to view stallions.
Have a really good look at your mare and honestly note her strengths and weaknesses - not all mares should be bred from and any with serious conformational faults ought to fall into this category. Even if you use a stallion that has strengths where your mare has weaknesses, there is no guarantee that you will get the result you hope for - genetics is a complex area and nature has a rotten sense of humour sometimes!
Armed with this information, sit down with a notepad and pen and write down what you hope to breed - type/breed, size etc and what you hope him to be in the future - show horse, showjumper, allrounder etc. It's no good using a native pony stallion on your thoroughbred mare to breed a racehorse! A note on size, it is not a good idea to put a small mare to a stallion much larger than she is. This can lead to a large foal and cause the poor mare all sorts of difficulties through pregnancy and birth and could cost her life.
In my opinion there are two things which are of utmost importance in a stallion - good conformation and temperament - when breeding the aim should be to produce the best possible foal of its type and these two things go a long way to achieving this.
When you have an idea of the sort of horse you are hoping for start your search for a stallion - the internet, equestrian magazines and word of mouth are all good places to start. Breed Societies are also a good place to look, for example, if you wanted to use a Welsh B stallion on your pony mare, a search for the Welsh Cob and Pony Society on the internet will soon have you looking through a list of studs with the sort of stallions you are looking for. Look closely at the photos of the stallions and rule out any that have any weaknesses similar to your mares.
Once you have a few stallions you think you might like, contact the studs to arrange appointments to view. I use the plural here as I believe it is a good idea to look at several horses, even if you have your heart set on a particular one, just so that you can make comparisons.
Allow plenty of time for your visit and try not to be late - studs can be very busy and managing stallions is an art on a busy yard! When you arrive you may be taken to the stud office or straight to see the stallion. Most studs operate in a similar manner and will start your viewing with bringing the stallion out for you to meet - he may then be trotted up in hand for you to see his free movement. Next he will either be ridden for you, shown off on the lunge or loose schooled so that you can see his ability and way of going. If you wish to take photographs or videos do ask permission first and feel free to ask any questions - we stallion owners love talking about our boys!
If it isn't suggested, ask politely if there are any foals or youngstock that you may see - this will give you an idea of what to expect. Particularly note if there are any mares similar to yours - you are unlikely to get exactly the same result but you will have an impression in mind. At the end of the visit ask for details of fees, both for the stallion and mare boarding and for the terms and conditions. These should tell you what you have to do before your mare goes to the stud, such as CEM swabs etc. Thank your guide and off you go, there should be no pressure to make any decisions at that point.
When you have visited the stallions on your list, it's time to choose! Sit down with your photos and any documentation the studs have given you and go through it all carefully - the final decision is up to you.
With your decision made you should ring the stud concerned and discuss when you would like your mare to go there. Of course, if you are choosing artificial insemination at home you will need to contact your vet, as well as the stud, to start the ball rolling.