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What are the costs for breeding a mare?

I need a second opinion on a situation!

I’ve got a pony who was injured last fall. She is out of rehab and sound w/t/c but can no longer jump. She’s 8 years old, good conformation, and a very good mover. An absolute doll on the ground.

I’d love to try and breed her. However, I’m still in school and do not have the time, facility, or experience to be able to do so myself. So I’m wondering if there are any places that would not only board a mare, but also do all the steps for breeding, foaling, handling the baby, etc for me. And most importantly- what would it cost!

That is one of those “how long is a piece of string” type of questions. The only answer is it depends. Depends on where you live and what amenities you want. How well things go or do not go etc. You could find full care pasture board for $250 in some places and $1000 in others. More if you want a stall. To board at a vet hospital type of place starts around $60 per day.


A lot.

You are going to figure in stud fee, vet fees, then board and care for mare from at least late pregnancy to weaning.

And then board and training until maybe is what? Yearling, 2, 3? Do you need saddle broke?

At this point you are likely approaching the cost of buying a young prospect in 3 years when you are out of school.

Of course you can just throw mare into a field with a stallion and let nature take its course. But much more risky.

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Just in vet bills, I am $2,832 down the hole to get my mare to 28 days in foal. She has been very easy to breed this mare, needed minimal scans before being bred, and took on the first try.


Very simple, catches on first try, no extras. I estimate 5k in expenses directly related to the act of breeding. Add in all of the expenses of owning and maintaining momma…hope she holds, hope for a successful foaling and that the foal will be what you had planned for…???

I just don’t do the math anymore.


Last year, I spent $8k trying to breed one mare and never got her pregnant…:roll_eyes:

A friend of mine bred a mare for the first time this year. She bought the stud fee in an auction, and her vet did less than I would consider to be the bare minimum for a typical breeding. Result? Mare is pregnant after one cycle for less than $2k, all in. Go figure!


Lease the mare out for someone else to breed first, see how it goes. Breeding lease. If successful, second time round comes with some partial guarantees, less risk. And gives you time to save up some money to cover costs.
As far as AI versus live cover… amazingly, equines have been having sex for many thousands of years, and seem to have got it done adequately most of the time. The current fad of requiring a lot of vet work and collection and shipping increases the price, and does not guarantee quality or success. An unpopular view these days I know, but when I see AI and narrowing gene pools ruining breeds, I’m so glad that thoroughbred breeders avoid this like the plague. The most valuable stallions on the planet do live cover. If a stallion can’t manage to successfully do live cover without fear for his life or health, or the mare’s life or health, maybe he’s not breeding stock. A smart stallion with a nice disposition learns how and when things will progress without drama. It’s not difficult. It’s natural. Don’t breed to a stallion who is not smart, or who does not have a nice disposition, because those things are hereditary.

Good luck with your decisions. When it all works out like it’s supposed to, it’s a thrill for you. The highest of highs. Also, the lowest of lows when things go wrong. Risk, the acceptance of risk versus pay off.


Do you know her breeding? Her genotype (how her genes have physically expressed themselves) may be perfection, but without knowing her parents you could be in for a surprise or two with her offspring.

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If all goes well, about 10k from insemination to foaling including initial vet care for the foal and care for the mare during the duration of pregnancy.

This is assuming you get lucky and get a healthy foal on the ground. Maidens can be maddening and risky.

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This is live cover TBs.


This is such a tough question. It all depends on so many things. I did have to lease a mare last year so I had that extra cost. I cringe when I look at it but it cost me $15,000 to have my foal on the ground here. Besides the lease fee (which is a small amount of the total) I had to breed the mare 2 x (AI) as she didn’t take the first time. So extra cost for the vet (as she was bred at the vet clinic) and to re ship semen. They then flushed the mare (extra $) the second time and she did catch (thank goodness). The foal needed the vet out a couple of times (was a dummy foal and had one foot casted as it was a bit crooked). Vet back out to check IGG and remove cast. Then had to come back out a few months later for an infection. Vet bills alone for the mare/foal were over $6.000. I had to pay board and insurance on the mare/foal (it was very reasonable). But I do have an unusually bred foal that I do love. I really don’t think anyone would breed this cross which is why I did it myself (and he’s for me as well - not a sales project).

I know others with their own mares who do live cover and they catch the first time, no issues and minimal costs (pretty much stud fee and low vet bills for a check up). That can cost around $2,000. Not including board etc of course.

The mare I leased also had 3 previous foals and was a great mom. So I went into it a bit more comfortable that way. I was looking at a different mare with similar bloodlines but she never had a foal before, so I was a tad worried in case something happened.

So this spring for some reason both FB and IG are turning up more stories about orphan foals and nurse mares who lost their foals. These are on groups I’ve been following for years in some cases, so not the algorithm. It’s scary!

Even the wild horse monitoring group has picked up 3 foals this spring to raise in captivity. One was completely separated from any mare, mother nowhere in sight for days. Another had been abandoned by it’s mother and was being driven out of the herd. The third had an attentive mother but had such loose tendon problems she was walking on her fetlocks and getting open sores and was bound to be coyote bait soon.

This is a group that usually doesn’t interfere but they scooped the 3 foals. Two of them are on nurse mares who lost foals, and the one with tendon issues is in braces and bandages and is being bottle fed. They didn’t want to give her to a nurse mare if there was a chance they’d need to euthanize her for the legs, and deprive the mare a second time.

Anyhow nothing is guaranteed

Unless your registry requires LC, nobody should be doing LC anymore, though I know they are, especially when someone owns the stallion (or 2) and has their own mares. The risks to the mare and stallion aren’t small.

And yes, the odds of someone finding the perfect stallion they can walk their mare down to, or trailer a short distances, is pretty slim. Get too far out, and you’re looking at adding boarding costs in addition to gas or other hauling fees

If you do all the ultrasounds at home, and use drugs to time and induce ovulation, so the LC is hopefully a one and done, then all you’re saving is the collection fee which really isn’t that much relative to everything else.

That doesn’t mean it’s a bigger problem this year though, especially if it’s all around the country or continent. More visibility of the situation, more willingness to seek help in groups (ie outside their local territory), is easily more prevalent as years go on.


Yeah I know more visibility isn’t more events, but the stories really do make you stop and think about breeding. Even the idea that it should be “easy” for mustangs. Nope. Nature needs to provide for all the litters of baby coyotes after all.

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You have to look at the total cost of the foal and how you want to market it to decide what you want to spend on a stud fee. The stud fee is probably going to be the cheapest cost of the breeding and it costs just as much to feed and care for a cheap foal as it does a better bred foal. If your mare isn’t registered and doesn’t have a good show record it might not make sense to spend a lot of money on a high priced stallion. Unless his get are in high demand and his name recognition will help market the foal. Around here there are only cheap QH stallions that stand live cover. But you will only get a cheap foal when you go to sell the foal. If you keep it till it is 3 and start it under saddle the selling price for a grade horse will be less than you have invested in it.

And if you have to transport a mare and board it somewhere for live cover that isn’t going to be any cheaper than A.I. Few higher priced stallions do live cover because of the risk of injury. If you are selling it as a foal pedigree makes a big difference in marketability and getting a good price because that is all the buyer really has to go from. If you plan to keep the foal until it is under saddle it needs to be worth more than the expenses to take care of it for 3 years and training costs.

At the local horse auction there was a farm that brought in and sold 50 weanlings for under $2k each. I guess they had a small profit because the mares and stallion all ran loose together and they rounded up the semi feral weanlings with no shots, etc. and sold them. So they didn’t have much cost in them. My philosophy in breeding is to better the breed - not just add more horses on the earth. Lots of low cost ones already here.


Just buy a young horse when you have the time to invest in it. You can spend thousands of dollars breeding and never get a foal or get a foal that isn’t what you want. There’s no guarantees. Babies can die and so can mares during birth. Young horses take a tremendous amount of time and energy to become well behaved adults. By the time you spend all that money, you could buy yourself something finished.


I’m not really in it for a dream foal, tho I’d love to show on the line some. This mare likely will need to be retired completely to stay sound, and she’s so young that I’d like her to have a job. I figured she’d enjoy being a mom more than just sitting around and that if the costs seemed reasonable- it might be worth getting a few babies from her bc she’s such a nice pony.

Definitely sounds riskier and more expensive than I had originally considered tho so I guess I’ll need to reevaluate some things!


Horses don’t need jobs. She will be happy living on a field with a compatible herd in a low cost of living area. Also she might make someone a wonderful low key trails and pleasure riding and training level dressage horse. You could free lease her out to a small adult (if she’s really a pony) or well behaved junior, take her back if it doesn’t work out. Not everyone wants to jump!!

Getting a foal out of her to give her a job is a potential money pit and more risky and expensive than pasture retirement or a free lease to a good home.


I would definitely not breed to give the mare a “job”. Are you prepared to lose your mare to foaling complications? That is a real risk, and you need to go into any breeding with the understanding that losing her is a possibility.


Yes. This. Also that you may lose the foal or may get a foal that has health issues. One of the posters here had a sad saga of breeding her beloved mare and getting a somehow dwarfed colt that had a deformed penis and was a lifelong pasture pet and died youngish due to chronic urinary tract issues. It can happen.

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