How old is it appropriate to breed a horse?

Glenda

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I was just wondering how old it was to breed a horse. On dream horse dot com these people said that the horse they were selling needed to be refreshed because it was only three and had, had a one year break for breeding. Is this old enough to breed, that means the horse was two years old when they bred it.

Glenda.
 

Mehitabel

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opinions do differ, but i think most people would say 2 is too young to breed. i certainly would. petal was put in foal when she was 3, and had the foal at 4. this is on the young side, and if we'd intended her to be a full time broodmare we'd have waited another year to ensure she was fully grown herself. we did it this way because the plans were to ride her and then to have a couple of foals when she'd retired from riding - it's easier to get an older mare in foal if she's had one when she was younger. we backed her when she was in foal, and then broke her in properly when she was 5, after the foal was weaned.

the problem with breeding young mares is that their bodies will try to do the best possible for the foals, and so they'll deprive themselves of nutrients to help the foal grow. with a young mare who's still growing herself, this can lead to problems with bone density and also stunt her own growth. if you make sure the mare has every possible nutrient she needs, and look after her very well, then young breeding is less risky, but 2 is still a very young age.
 

Wally

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I would not even consider breeding from a mare until her own growth plates were fused and complete, as ES says the mare wil neglect her own needs for that of the foal. There is no benefit from breeding from an immature mare, you will get problems in the long run.

2 and 3 is far to early to train as well, growth plate in the back and neck will still be growing, in some horses the plates in the legs too will be prone to damage.

There is a great deal to be said only breeding from trained horses, if the mother has proven to be a good riding horse then it is sensible to breed from her, what is the point in breeding willynilly from unproven stock?

I personally think that 4 at the very earliest but I would never breed in the hope of selling the youngster, I would only breed if I was going to use the resulting horse myself. There are far too many horses neglected and unwanted as it is......rant over....sorry;)
 

Glenda

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That is what I thought!

I thought that was too young to breed to. I mean the horse isn't even completely developed yet. I can't remember the name of the horse or owner though.
 

rocketman

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OK, I am going to stick my head up above the crowd and differ. I am a breeder of warmbloods for show jumping. The youngest mare I have bred was an unbroken 2 year old TB. I was looking for a 4 or 5 year old, but the one I liked was too young, but I bought her anyway. She was already 16.1 hands at two years. The vet checked her and she had not yet ever been in heat, but he agreed she was worth the wait. A few months later, she came into heat for the first time and I bred her. She had a lovely colt, who was weaned by the time the mare was three and a half. She went on to be broken and trained as an eventer, none the worse for wear.

The oldest mare I have bred was 26. She had had 11 babies but been barren for 3 years. My vet (the same one) had me worried to death that the foal would be aborted or a runt, etc. She was pregnant and past her life expectancy (27 when she gave birth). However, she gave birth without a problem to a big healthy filly, who went on to be a champion jumper in her own right (mom was a grade 'A' jumper, long since retired.) The old mare spent the rest of her days as nanny in the weanling field and lived to be 34.

I think it all depends. Thoroughbreds reach physical maturity very early. Warmbloods aren't full grown until the age of 5/6. The old mare continued cycling until the end of her days.
 

rocketman

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Hi Gracie -

Horses and humans can have spontaneous abortions. I guess I should have been more specific. It's just like a miscarriage, when something has gone wrong inside - with the baby or the mother.

Mares can also re-absorb the fetus. Sometimes this happens early on in the pregnancy, after the mare has been tested in-foal and then later, it is gone but not aborted.

Mares will usually miscarry if bearing twins, one of which normally dies 8 months into the pregnancy. As the mare's body gets to work to expel the dead embryo, the live one goes with it. I have seen this twice (unfortunately). In one case, the already dead fetus was putrified. In the other case, the mare was on Regumate to try and prevent her aborting, so it was 10 months before she miscarried. The already dead fetus as been almost dissolved, leaving nothing except a half coconut shape of calicium deposit.

Sorry about the gruesome nature of this post.
 

Jay.o

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some one i know is going to breed his moorland in a couple of years so then she would be - just over 3 years old !

i would wait that long - until about 3 but by the time i got round to it she would be nearly 4 !