I think you are wise to keep a lid on spending. Throwing money at horses does not EVER guarantee ANYTHING. Live cover tends to be cheaper, and has great success. I don’t play the AI game either. But it will limit your selection to a more local stallion, which is fine, there are nice horses everywhere, if you have the experience to be able to identify one when you see it.
But I do agree that you need to narrow down your goals in terms of performance. Whichever breed or individual you choose as a stallion must be on point for what you are looking to produce, whatever that is. Not just “whatever”. If your mare has competitively jumped well, and has many positive aspects as a potential mother, look for a stallion that has also done this sort of work and will also aide her flaws (everyone has flaws). If she is a bit sensitive for your liking, look for a stallion that produces a calm trend in his offspring. You need to see and interview his offspring to be able to ascertain this. Don’t just take someone’s word for it. Since so many of the non TB stallions these days are NOT available live cover, you may indeed be looking for a TB stallion who is well known for producing a quiet disposition, if you are wishing to stay away from the AI game. That’s OK, there are TB stallions out there who will fill this bill. QH stallions may not have jumped, or may be more suited to western performance. WB stallions tend to be strictily AI these days, unless you can find one locally who is not. Personally, I would NEVER breed to any stallion who can not or does not live cover a mare. A stallion that appeals to me is one who has the disposition and trainability to both live cover AND compete and be sane doing both, both at the same time is best. A stallion who does not savage his mares, because he is a nice guy, not a creep. A stallion who is safe from injury while breeding his mares because he is a nice horse who the mares actually LIKE. Live cover proves that. AI does not. Stay and watch the sexual performance to see what sort of stallion he really is. Romantic and gentle with his mares, or a rapist? I don’t want to be raising and training the offspring of a nasty stallion who can not live cover because he is a horrible beast. Many people criticize the PMU industry for their breeding decisions, BUT, all their stallions are/were horses who were good with their mares, not savage, not crazy, with good fertility. As were their mares, fertile mares who caught and carried their foals without veterinary work or drugs, foaled alone, and successfully raised their foals. Mares who did not require flushing and infusing, any uterine infections were expected to clear up on their own- and they did just that. The resulting horses produced tended to be stoic in nature, sensible, easy to work with, fertile and pleasant natured. I raised quite a few myself, and was also told this by one of our local veterinarians, who had made this observation in his veterinary travels. Selective breeding for fertility, and disposition, with a solid and emotionless culling process for those who did not make the grade. Mean stallions, mares who did not catch pregnant or hold pregnancy, or were difficult to handle were sold for meat. The performance producing sport industry could take a few lessons from this industry.
AI in other species has proven that males and females who should not be breeding due to reproductive or social skill deficiencies have resulted in offspring who similarly can not reproduce without veterinary help. Is this really where we want to go with horses? Like it is with some breeds of dogs now? And cats? Who can not breed or give birth without a veterinarian involved? Does it need to cost $10,000 in vet fees to get your mare in foal? Or should we be selecting stallions AND mares who can make a baby by putting them together in a field for a month or so, and no outside help needed? I vote for the second option. It’s lovely to breed to the current highly marketed superstar, with unlimited cash to do so. But it does not guarantee that the offspring will be what you are hoping for. In many cases, it does not. I raced one of my horses against a son of Storm Cat who could not break his maiden (stud fee was only $250,000 when they bred to him, it went to $500,000 later). The more veterinary intervention that is practiced in the breeding industry, the worse the situation becomes. A mare or a stallion may be a superstar in competition, but if he/she can not reproduce successfully, they are NOT breeding stock- Rachael Alexandra. Throwing money at the breeding game does not help with getting a winner. Pinching pennies doesn’t help either, but spending wisely can.
So if you wish to breed your mare, you are free to do so. It’s a free country, you can choose whatever stallion you wish, keep your costs in line with what you can afford, and explore the theories of breeding, raising and training horses that interest you. How you do with this will be judged, by you and others, at some time in the future. You will learn in the process, and make different choices as you learn. Good luck, and I hope you enjoy the process.
You will always get negative comments here, and views that you do not agree with, or were looking for. Welcome to the internet, an CoTH in particular.