Horse breeding is a multi-million dollar international industry, and some breeders earn millions in sire rights by breeding stallions that are outstanding in there breed. For purebred horses, careful selection of the male parent (the “sire”) and the female parent (the “dam”) is essential to successful breeding. From conception prior to foaling, horse breeding today is carefully managed through modern technology. Whether you are breeding horses for racing, competition or the family farm, a firm understanding of reproduction and foaling process will help ensure a successful outcome.
While nature has selected horses to breed and foal in the spring, breeding for most competition horses favors foals to be born as soon after January 1st as possible. The horse has an approximately 11 month gestation period, therefore breeding season in most competitive breeds starts on approximately February 15th. Since the horse is a "spring breeder", mares will not normally be cycling by February 15th unless they have been placed under lights during the winter. Once the mare is cycling normally, breeding can begin.
Much of modern day breeding is done using semen collection and artificial insemination. This allows the breeder to select a stallion from a great distance away and avoid the cost and difficulty in shipping the mare to the stallion. Preparation of the mare prior to breeding is usually a function of making sure your mare has a healthy reproductive tract to maximize her chance of conception. When she is in heat your veterinarian will be able to accurately predict the time of ovulation via ultrasound/palpation of her reproductive tract, and with good planning and some luck, she will conceive next spring's foal.
No matter if you are a novice or an experienced breeder Dr. Griffin can help you with this process. He has many years of experience preforming reproductive ultrasound, semen collection, artificial insemination (with fresh, cooled, or frozen semen), embryo transfer, and managing broodmares for live cover breeding. Please do not hesitate to call with your questions.