It seems like every year, once we get past all the holiday rush, people’s minds turn back to their horses with a sudden intensity. I begin to receive all kinds of questions about breeding mares.
The biggest factor for preparing for breeding is recognizing your mare’s cycling patterns. In Virginia many mares will continue to cycle through the winter though it can be erratic. Mares will usually start to cycle normally by March, but this can be affected by the age of the mare and weather conditions.
Once she is cycling normally, your mare should have a thorough reproductive exam to make sure ovaries and uterus are normal and conformation of the external genitalia is conducive to breeding. Mares over 5 years of age or mares that have been bred previously generally should have a uterine culture performed prior to breeding to make sure the uterus is a healthy environment for pregnancy to occur.
Once everything checks out, all that’s left is picking the perfect stallion. There are all kinds of options ranging from natural breeding with a local stallion to searching the world for an exotic breed and having frozen semen shipped to be used when you are ready. The most popular method we find is using chilled semen shipped overnight from almost anywhere in the United States. This requires artificial insemination with the assistance of a veterinarian, but does allow for more choices in stallions and is generally safer for all parties concerned. Frozen semen is becoming much more popular and new techniques have made it a much simpler process, so if the stallion that you want is only available as frozen semen, don’t be intimidated, it has become much more user friendly.
Hopefully this primer has been helpful in getting you started on a path towards a successful breeding season. Let us know how we can help.