For many horse owners, breeding that dream foal from their very own mare can seem a dream come true. After a suitable stallion is chosen, the next decision is whether to keep the mare at home after she has been inseminated or to send her away to stud until she has given birth to the foal. The downside of relocating the mare to a horse stud is that she will undoubtedly find the shift away from familiar surroundings a stressful experience, even if she has been through the process before. It also means that once the foal has been born, both the mare and her offspring will need to be transported back to the owner’s property at some point. Transporting foals is always a risky business as their balance is still not at its optimum. However, despite the cons, the benefit of sending a mare away is that at most horse studs she will around equine breeding experts who will be able to keep an eye on her fulltime and cater to her every need.
It is important to visit any horse studs that are being considered, to ensure that the mare will be in the best possible care. The checklist should be similar to when searching for a new livery yard, with the emphasis being on safety and professionalism. The facility should be nicely cared for, clean and free of anything that could injure the mare and young foal. Check that the fencing in the fields is solid and stable and there are no weaknesses. Keep an eye out for protruding nails and any potentially harmful rubbish hidden in the grass. Also check that the grass is of good quality and is well maintained. Good grass pasture is necessary for a broodmare both before and after giving birth, providing her with vital nutrients that she will then pass on to her foal.
If the mare is going to be kept in a foaling box for the final part of her pregnancy, it should be large enough for her to move around and lie down comfortably. The stable should be from 12ft x 12ft to 14ft x 14ft, depending on the size of the horse. It should be clean, warm, well lit, have good drainage, and include nothing that could damage a mare and foal. Some horse studs also use surveillance equipment in their stables which can be hugely valuable. The closed circuit television (CCTV) can be used to effectively monitor the mare as she nears labour without unduly disturbing her.
When the owner is happy with the horse stud and the stallion, all they need to do is organise a time to drop off the mare. Also bear in mind that horse studs will usually ask for details of the mare’s diet, when she was last wormed and vaccination information, among other things, so make sure this is all recorded and kept in a convenient, easily accessible manner. It can be a good idea to give the horse stud a file containing all the information they might need, and also sending them an electronic copy via email. After those final few details are handed over, the mare owner can rest easy and let the professionals do their job. Most horse studs will keep in touch with the owner and let them know how the mare is progressing and whether there are any problems. They will also allow the owner to visit the mare when they choose.
It is well worth taking the time to research all the available horse studs. Having the right team on board caring for the mare and foal when it arrives will make the entire breeding experience as stress free and enjoyable as possible.