ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Signs You Are Dealing With A Backyard Horse Breeder

Updated on March 6, 2013

Buying from a breeder

Not everyone buys a horse from a breeder. Unlike dogs and cats, horses often change hands throughout their lives. However, if you want a foal or yearling, then you are going to need to look for a breeder. Knowing how to find a reputable one is important. Watch out for these warning signs that the breeder is a 'bad' breeder. Not every small-scale breeder is a backyard breeder and some large ranches do all the things below.

Every mare on the property is bred

This alone isn't enough to cause concern. Many operations breed every, or almost every, mare every year. Mares aren't as vulnerable to problems caused by back to back pregnancies as smaller animals.

However, ask yourself the market supporting all the foals this person is supporting? Or are they simply breeding as many foals as they have room for and hoping somebody will buy all of them?

Extra bonus points if they are all bred to the same stallion - no matter how good he is, you need to put more thought into horse breeding than that.

None of the stock is proven

This doesn't necessarily mean the stallion has to have a fantastic show record, but is he any good at anything other than getting mares pregnant? Does he trail ride? Does he do ranch work? Are the mares even broken to ride? Many backyard breeders don't bother training mares as it takes time out of their real job of having babies.

Always buy a foal who has relatives that have done what you want to use the horse for and done it well. You can make an exception for a mare who was injured in training, but in that case, have her offspring done anything? Her siblings?

The prettiest thing about them is their color

There's nothing more gorgeous than a good palomino or a smart pinto. However, backyard breeders often put color first, other traits second. An ugly and poorly conformed horse that is 'wrapped' in gold is a likely sign that color is the only thing the breeder cares about. A red flag for this is if the stallion ad goes on about homozygosity for color and doesn't seem to have much else to say about the horse.

Horses are underweight or poorly cared for

A backyard breeder may not realize just how much a mare eats when pregnant or nursing. Or they may simply have more horses than they can afford to feed. Often, they will use the excuse of the foal being hard on her to explain a mare that's a bag of bones with an udder attached. And while it's not uncommon for an actively breeding stallion to lose a bit of weight towards the end of the season, he too should not be malnourished. Also look at the hooves. Are the broodmares being trimmed regularly? Even if all they do is make babies, their hooves need care.

The breeder doesn't know the ancestry of the horses

You can't ride papers, but you also should be wary of a breeder who doesn't seem to know anything about the pedigree of any of her horses. It is fine to breed a well proven and trained grade horse, but it is also a bit of a risk. The genetics may combine in ways that are not expected, and this can be either good or bad. If the horses are supposed to be purebred, but have no papers, why not? A regular owner may not want to pay transfer fees, but a breeder should be willing to do so to increase the value of her foals.

The horses have a genetic defect

HYPP, HERDA and PSSM are just three of the genetic defects backyard breeders tend to either ignore or actively breed for because they want other traits. HYPP, for example, is found in Quarter Horses that descend from Impressive, and is associated with heavy muscling that some find desirable.

All three can be tested for. Also, a responsible breeder tests all pinto horses or horses with known pintos in their ancestry for the Frame (Ov) gene. One copy of frame makes a pretty pinto. Two copies makes a dead foal.

In Arabians, lavender foal syndrome is also a concern. Just as with any animal, horses with painful or potentially fatal defects should not be bred. HYPP often makes a horse unrideable, so never buy a foal that goes back to Impressive without testing it. If testing is 'too expensive', a common excuse among backyard breeders, how are they affording the other expenses of breeding? $50 or $25 paid out once is nothing compared to the costs of a positive foal.


Trust your instincts. If something seems wrong, it probably is. Low quality breeders produce low quality animals. Their farms or ranches are often untidy, and they may use barb wire fencing (although note that in some parts of the country everyone does and the dangers of using it with horses are under-recognized).

It's worth paying a little more for a foal rather than supporting a bad breeder (and there are such things as foal mills, too). A breeder should be asking a lot of questions and making sure you know what you're getting into when buying a foal, not simply handing you the lead rope and maybe a set of papers.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • jenniferrpovey profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Oh, I agree. This is intended for people who really want to buy a weanling or yearling.

      I disagree on ex riding school horses, though...a lot of the time they change totally when worked more lightly and ridden on their own more.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Best bet is to buy something about four years old. You pay a bit more but you can see what you are getting for your money. You may think you are buying something reasonable as a foal but by the time you have spent feeding it, gelding it etc, the cost's do rise.

      Best bet for someone who is just starting out and wants to gain confidence is to buy an ex riding school horse. Who has seen it all. May have some age about it but will be use to lots of different styles of riding.

      In Ireland people are breeding just for breeding sake, no matter what the mare or stallion looks like. Most end up for slaughter if they are lucky, the unlucky ones end up in the wrong hands and get neglected.

    • TeriSilver profile image

      Teri Silver 

      6 years ago from The Buckeye State

      Interesting hub, a lot of good information. Nice!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)