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ELI5 Converting a riding horse into a broodmare

Okay, can someone explain it to me like I’m 5?

Let’s say you have a 11 year old mare who is a nice riding horse. May be a maiden (somewhat unknown history, came with a caslicks so unclear). Is on Regumate as a riding horse. You decide you want to breed her, ideally to time things right for a foal that will stand on the line and then go on to be a hunter.

Is step 1 a veterinary exam to make sure she’s able to be bred? Or is step 1 taking her off the Regumate first? And then when do you start trying to breed in order to time things right to be a foal after January but not long after January? And how do you decide if frozen is going to be an option or not (the stallion I really really would want [heads and tails over any other options] is mostly available frozen). And if you decide it is, when do you buy it (I assume you buy it and it gets shipped right to the repro vet and the vet just holds onto it until it’s time to use it)?

Is this a completely insane thing to even be contemplating? I’ve loved showing my 2022 on the line and I would like to have another one to show on the line when he’s getting under saddle (so 2025). I have a mare I adore who I would love love love to have a carbon copy of, and my trainer is also breeding for a 2025 so we could raise the foals together (she also bought a 2022 and our yearlings are growing up together).

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I would schedule a repro soundness exam for her this fall before you spend money on semen. I honestly don’t know if she would have to be taken off the Regumate for this, but I’m sure the vet could tell you.
Mares are pregnant usually for 320 - 360 days, or approximately 11 mo. So you would not want to start trying to breed until February if you wanted a foal born after the first of the year. Usually Feb is pretty early for most mares to be coming into heat naturally, so you may have to put her under lights to induce early heat if you wanted to breed that early.
The repro soundness exam may help you decide if it’s worth it to try frozen. If she doesn’t have any obvious issues then it could be worth giving it a try, but of course so much is also dependent on the quality of the semen. Often a repro vet can store frozen semen for clients, but you will likely have to pay a monthly fee for it to be stored. So you wouldn’t want to order it too early unless its very rare or you find a good deal.
Choosing to breed a mare is such a personal choice. Obviously there can be significant costs and risks involved. You should ask yourself if you are willing to lose this mare if the worst case happens? Also think now about how much money you are willing to spend trying, as it often can take multiple attempts to get a successful pregnancy, especially in a maiden or mare with unknown breeding history. I bred my first mare in 2022 and I was very lucky that all went smoothly, but that is often not the case. Read the Foal Watch threads to see all the heartbreak that can come with foaling and breeding (not to mention all the money spent).

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There are some great articles, from the basics to more in depth, at https://equine-reproduction.com. Kathy and Jos used to be active here but left awhile ago.

But here’s an example to get you started.


There are a lot of really good options in the mid-Atlantic area to board your mare for breeding.

Do a breeding soundness exam now before you get too far in. They should feel and U/S her ovaries, check the integrity of her cervix, culture, and biopsy.

If she looks good to go, your life will be a lot easier if you board her at a clinic or breeding farm used to dealing with frozen semen come next year. She can come home after she is in foal unless you want to board her out for the duration of her pregnancy.

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