Friday, January 30, 2009

Breeding farm or concentration camp?

Breeding season is swiftly approaching and if you are breeding this year, one thing you'll want to think about is what kind of care your mare will receive at the stallion's farm. I was asked to do this topic and it's a good one. We all remember the mares that came back from Gerry Trupia looking like they were about dead (and the ones that didn't come back), but it's not such an unusual story. I've seen a friend's mare come back from breeding 200 lbs. underweight with a skull fracture.

I've seen people here say, well, who sends their mare so far away they can't check on her? Hey, nearly everybody. It happens a lot. First of all, the Jockey Club requires live cover. Second, it's harder to get a mare in foal using A.I. even if your breed association allows it. So it really does make sense to take the mare to the stallion even in these high-tech days.

How do you ensure your mare will be safe? I'd start by saying communication is really important. Your definition of "good care" may not be the stallion owner's. Will your mare be turned out by herself or with a big group of mares she doesn't know? How does your mare do in a new herd? Will she be fed separately or are they all fed together? Is your mare used to having grain? What kind? Does she need alfalfa or does she thrive on local grass hay? Does she stress out over being in a new place or is she the kind who quickly adapts to any new environment? Make sure that you ask for all the details - what kind of fence, for example. You'd be shocked at how many luxurious-looking barns have 3-board fence all across the front and tons of sagging barbed wire out back behind the barn.

Make sure you're honest in return. If your mare is Queen Alpha Bitch of the Universe, that's something the stallion owner needs to know. Understand that if she has special needs, like being fed separately twice a day, that this may cost more than standard mare care. And send your mare for breeding only if she's in proper condition. I recently heard from a barn that had to send a mare back and tell the owner to fatten her up first - that she was way too thin to breed. Hooray for that farm!

Visit the farm at least once before sending your mare there. I can't stress this strongly enough. People tend not to bother, but really, even if it's far away, wouldn't you rather drop $500 on a plane ticket than lose your mare? I assume she is a valuable mare if you are sending her far away for just the right stud, so protect your investment.

All right, so who has a breeding farm horror story to tell? Who has sent their mare out and received a skeleton back? What have you learned over the years to ask and to require to keep your mares safe and healthy?

It's Friday so of course we have a Friday Featured Rescue. This one is guaranteed to have come from ol' Photoshopped Ass's large collection, which makes it practically an internet celebrity at this point! All joking aside, this was represented to be a Trakehner gelding but we're not sure if that's true or he's just a Thoroughbred. Either way, he is very cute - as you can see. He is currently in training in Renton, WA and looking for a home.

Rio is described as both light sided and light mouthed and will need a sensitive rider to bring him to his full potential. He is in excellent weight and health, up to date on everything and gets along very well with other horses. No soundness problems so this guy has no limitations - he can go as far as you can take him!

E-mail for more information.

Finally, today and tomorrow are the last two days to vote in the Care2 Animal Shelter Contest. The winner gets $10,000 and we have an opportunity here to ensure that money goes to a very reputable EQUINE rescue. Let's make a final push for the Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation - click on the banner below if you haven't already voted. If you have, please broadcast the direct link out to your facebook, livejournal and myspace friends or e-mail it around to everybody you know. They are in second place but could be in first if we all get everybody we know to vote. I know you all have a ton of friends so get them voting, today and tomorrow and let's push MWHF into first place.

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