There are lots of commonly repeated myths about breeding, but they aren't always true. Below are some of the more common ones, and remember you can download our leaflet here...
Although it is possible to make money from breeding, this has become increasingly difficult over recent years, and there are certainly no guarantees. If you are hoping to make a profit, it is crucial to consider all possible costs before breeding. It is also worth remembering that it becomes harder to make money as the number of breeders, and therefore horses, increases.
This is not necessarily the case – see the 'Why do you want to breed?' section of our leaflet for more details.
Although this will almost certainly increase the chances of producing a good foal, there are any number of problems the foal could have.
People often believe you can breed out any problems in the mare by choosing the stallion carefully, and vice versa. Again, this will almost certainly reduce the chances of these problems appearing in the foal but it is not a guarantee and, in fact, may be contributing to the overall continuation of these problems.
Although it was previously believed that pregnancy reduced a mare’s chances of getting laminitis, experts now believe it can actually increase the risk. Mares with chronic laminitis are at greater risk of lameness, particularly towards the end of gestation, due to the extra weight they are carrying, and they may also be at greater risk of abortion or delayed foaling due to decreased blood flow to the placenta as a result of pain.
Although it is a natural process, this doesn’t mean it’s easy or stress-free. Even in a straight-forward pregnancy and birth the mare is still put through a lot of physical stress, but they tend to hide it well so it is easy to underestimate the effect.
If she has been retired, is it because she was no longer physically capable of exercise, or because you felt she had earned a rest? If it was because of her capabilities, maybe those same reasons mean she isn’t suited to carrying a foal either. And if she had earned a rest, perhaps she deserves just that – remember that having a foal is not restful for the mare.
If the mare is out of work due to injury, either permanently or for a set time, consider whether it is right for her to carry the extra weight of a foal. Most mares will gain around 15% of their bodyweight during pregnancy, which is the same as carrying a rider 24 hours a day. Will this extra weight potentially make the injury worse or prolong the recovery time? It is also important to consider the cause of the injury – if it is due to a problem or weakness that could be inherited, it may not be appropriate to breed from the mare in case she passes this onto the foal.
Because horses take up a lot of time and money, it is easy to think, or to be persuaded by others, they need to do a job of some kind in order to ‘earn their keep’, such as being ridden or used for breeding. This often leads people to breed from horses that are no longer being ridden. But many owners enjoy keeping their horse even if it doesn't have a 'job' to do, and most horses are just happy to be horses.
Whilst there are a lot of good homes out there, it is increasingly difficult to be certain where a horse will end up. There are currently more horses than there are good homes and sadly it is all too easy for horses of all types to end up with unscrupulous people.
You can make plans and have the best of intentions, and it is certainly possible to give a good chance at a home for life, but sadly, no one can give this sort of guarantee. It is important to acknowledge this before breeding so you can make appropriate plans and are better able to cope if the unexpected happens.