Should I breed my mare: Things to consider before breeding.

Newt foal cost

1-Commitment Are you breeding to sell or for your personal enjoyment? Many people own a mare that they love and would like to raise one foal out of. This decision is usually made more from an emotional level than from a selling stand point.

I personally made this decision with my mare when I was 17 years old. I loved her and wanted one foal out of her. I had no intention of selling and was willing to make a lifetime commitment. As much as that is possible anyway. In my youthful ignorance I never considered financial difficulties, unseen health problems or death.

Because I made the decision from an emotional level and was not well informed I bred a horse that would not have had much resale value. In hindsight, it is in the horses best interest if he is considered ‘valuable’ to a larger group of people than only me…that way if something happens to me he has more of a future.

A horse will be dependent on a human for the rest of his life.

2-Marketability-Some people breed with the intention of selling. All people should consider what would happen if the horse needed to be sold. Even people with the intention of keeping the horse forever should consider the fact that the future may surprise them. Job loss, financial difficultly, unforeseen health problems, job change, divorce, drug use and death affect many people, and horses, each year.

What will happen if you die? Try to imagine where the horse you create will or could end up. The larger number of people the horse would appeal to the safer the horses future will be.

3-Danger– Breeding has risks. That includes the breeding and the foaling process. There is a risk of a rectal tear during artificial insemination which leads to death. Older mares that have never been breed have a higher risk of uterine artery rupture. Delivering a foal that is not positioned correctly can be dangerous or deadly. Retained placentas can be deadly. Maiden mares are often confused by the process. My roommate from college nearly lost her mare to a uterine torsion which she caught early (colic type symptoms). The mare had to have emergency surgery to prevent death. Shortly after this surgery, similar to colic surgery, she went into labor and gave birth (c-sections are risky). The foal then required intensive care and medications that have had long term negative effects. And lots of money.

We nearly lost one of our mares during foaling just due to confusion on her part. She refused to lay down and was repeatedly beginning to deliver,  pushing the feet clear and between contractions the foal would slip back inside. Three of us, with foaling experience, were unable to help her until she finally laid down. She quickly delivered but the damage had been done.

In six hours it became evident that she had damaged all the nerves to her hind end causing the inability to pass manure or urine. Not good.

We were informed this could be permanent damage. We were advised that if it was permanent that the mare would require daily removal of the manure by hand; literally reaching inside to clean her out.

Thankfully she responded to IV drugs administered at Ohio State University.

4-Cost-If you have read this far you can do the math and see that often the stud fee is the cheap part. Artificial Newt cost 4 yr oldinsemination, sexually transmitted disease and infection from live cover, cost of ownership and potential problems all need to be factored in beyond just the stud fee. Increasing the horses value also involves training as they get older which is also costly whether it costs you in time or cash.

Information is power. Planning can also be prevention. Please use this article as a starting point and continue to gather information before making this decision.

As for me, I have bred and foaled out ten mares that we personally owned. Of that ten we still own five, one died as a weanling and we sold four. Three of the four we sold are in their forever homes…as much as that is possible. One has been trained and is currently for sale. We haven’t bred any mares in the last three year.

If we choose to breed again we will do so because we think we can improve the equine industry with the resulting foal.

But what if you really, really want one of those cute foals! Have no fear, there is still another answer. Adopt.

Check out somewhere like The Last Chance Corral. Victoria and the staff can show you how you can have the emotional experience of both raising and SAVING the life of one of those cute little foals.


  1. Jennifer Clements on March 3, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    LOVE this article! too many “back yarders” breeding anything (and everything) many also fail to consider that their new colt will make a fine gelding! Glad you give great info and insight. For myself I find I can hit an auction or a kill pen and find some classy 2-3 year old (or even older) and start there. good training helps horses find good homes

  2. Colleene on March 3, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    My vet told me that if you have a mare that you can’t live without…don’t breed them. He said too many things can go wrong. I have taken that advice to heart.

  3. Karen bockus on March 3, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Thank you so much for an article that really tells it ike it is. I’m going to share this over and over, hopefully it can stop senseless and thoughtless breeding. Awesome article!!!!!!

    I happen to have a lovely, pretty, nicely bred, well trained mare and the number of times I’ve been told that she would have pretty babies drives me crazy. I’m 64 years old, the foal would have to move on, can I in all good conscience guarantee it a good life NO I CAN’T, just like you pointed out.

    You and your husband are such good ambassadors for the Equine industry.

  4. Jennifer Willey on July 18, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Hi Stacy – I’d like to link this post to our website. Would you mind?
    Jennifer Willey
    MN Horse Council
    Education Chair

    • Stacy on July 18, 2014 at 4:03 pm

      Jennifer- Link away! It is great when the info gets shared. Thanks for reading:)

  5. akismet-c404ba248c660266be32931b8e08a206 on April 15, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Stacy, as someone working in horse rescue, I could not agree more with every work you have written here. I’ve shared your article with our supporters. Thank you so much for writing it!
    Bonnie Hammond, Save a Forgotten Equine (SAFE)

    • AnnMarie on April 11, 2017 at 11:14 am

      Thank you so much for keeping up the rescue business! I checked out your website, and it looks like you are doing a wonderful job with your horses. I had thought about rescue myself when contemplating a new horse, but didn’t find any good rescue facilities in my area beyond OTTB and I need something stockier than that. Ended up with a foal from Last Chance. Keep up the good work!

  6. Scott on April 4, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    Hi, I have a question. Do you know much about thouroughbred breeding?

    • Stacy on April 28, 2014 at 6:08 pm

      A fair amount…

    • Jenny Northcott on October 28, 2014 at 11:40 am

      If you are really interested in Thoroughbreds etc try the magazines “The Blood Horse” or “Thoroughbred Record”. You can find both by searching the internet

  7. Paula on January 17, 2014 at 1:07 am

    I agree with you, there is so much involved in foals. Not only financial but the time you need to invest to create a safe animal for the future. I have a 3yr old that’s going to reining cow horse training @ 850 per mo X 3…Ouch! I don’t think I want to add up my financial investment anymore.
    Thanks for the reality check Stacy 😉

  8. captkope on January 16, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    The rescue barn where I found the horse who rescued me (Speak up for Horses) has several more wonderful animals who need homes. Thank you for posting this.

  9. Stephanie Selby on January 12, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    I don’t know too much about horses, but this was an interesting look into the responsibilities of owning one. I’d like to have one someday when I can take care of their needs. I know horses are expensive, but I never realized THAT expensive!

  10. Tina Hirsch on January 12, 2014 at 8:21 am

    Great article; I wish more people would educate themselves before they breed. Horses are expensive, and in this day and age, it actually costs less to BUY a well broke horse than it does to raise and train one. Not to mention, the average horse person doesn’t have the time, skill or inclination to get one really good and broke. I have owned a mare for over ten years, and as much as I would love to have a foal out of her, we are not in a place where we want or need another horse to house, feed, train, etc. so we have not bred her and don’t have any immediate plans to breed. I hope that when we are ready, she is still able.

  11. LEE GALEN on January 12, 2014 at 7:36 am

    Thank you so much Stacy for bringing this issue up. I am horrified by all the backyard breeders producing poor quality horses and thinking that they are going to make money or breeding so they can have a “cute” baby to raise. Basically they are just providing more horses for the slaughter pens. Unfortunately the people doing this are exactly the ones that will pay no attention to this advice.

  12. Elizabeth W. on January 12, 2014 at 12:39 am

    I love this blog! Breeding my mare has been a dream of mine for years, but I am going to have to wait until im out of college. thank you for posting this, it definitely helped me stand by my decision.

  13. Joan Davey on January 11, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    What darling foals! But I am sad that they don’t have their Mums, they re so young.

  14. Deanne Sanderson on January 11, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    Stacy, I so appreciate all your blogs. You have a special way of eloquently presenting your point. I wish more horse owners (and other pet owners as well) would give more thought into the consequences of breeding. Adoption is so much better. I pray for the day that every pet will have a loving home and there will not be a surplus of animals who need forever homes. God bless you. I know you are officially “homeless” at this time, so if your travels bring you to warm and sunny San Diego County please look up the Valley Center Vaqueros. We are a fun group and would love to offer you a warm place to stay.

  15. Lindsey on January 11, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    I thought long and hard for years one whether or not to breed my mare. She was my first horse, and means the world to me. It took me a long time to make the decision just because I know about the over population of horses in the world and how many do not have homes or jobs. The thing that made up my mind was this: I could not live without MY mare. I wanted a little girl out of her so I could keep her with me forever. About a year later, I got my little filly. My mare has been retired from her mother duties now for the rest of her life, and I get to keep her with me in a way forever now. Breeding a mare is a huge decision. It’s one that would change my life forever, and it’s a decision that should never be taken lightly. So much goes into the process of choosing, conception, carrying, delivering, raising and training a horse. They are living, breathing animals that grow rather large and every option must be weighed.

    To sum it all up, please be responsible. Weigh all the options and decide what you REALLY want out of your choice. Can you live without it? I couldn’t.

  16. Janette on January 11, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    Wow!! So many orphans, and they are so young. I’m sorry, I can’t laugh at such a sad situation. It is acutely very distressing for me to see such a large group of babies. At least they need the security and stability of some adult horses (not just a dog). I think it’s DEBATABLE if they are doing the right thing, saving all those poor little innocent babies. Wow, my blood pressure has gone through the roof.

  17. susan talmge and chloe on January 11, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    My husbands horse Bubba was originally from Last Chance. He and my husband has a forever bond. I have been told by many that breeding Chloe would settler her down but I just cant add to the unwanted horse population even though I would want to keep the foal forever. Life just doesn’t always turn out the way we want or would hope the chance to possibly loose Chloe just isn’t worth the risk. Great Article!
    Susan Talmage and Chloe

  18. Anne Hunter on January 11, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    This is a wonderful article. I especially like the fact of what Newt has “cost”. That is a hefty sum for the majority of us. I am also very glad to see you give a plug to Last Chance Corral. They are a wonderful organization. They do also rescue adult horses. Thanks for all you are doing. 🙂

  19. Paul James on January 11, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    The world doesn’t need any more backyard breeders with little knowledge and often lack of time or money to train a horse to a good standard. As Tom Roberts, late of Richmond S.A, would say `a well educated and well breed horse will always find a good home’.

  20. irisvillagegirl on January 11, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Stacy-I am responding with tears in my eyes and a heavy heart! Thank you for writing about this topic! I know too many backyard breeders that never give a thought to what you have so eloquently just stated. I am going to share this on Facebook in hopes that someone may read this and think long and hard about their decision to breed. Love reading everything you post! You have a great talent and I enjoy everything you do!

  21. Tracey Smith on January 11, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Well said. I wish more people took the time to think this out before making such a decision.

  22. on January 11, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    My name is Molly Karlin and I was wondering if Stacy could do a demo on feed and what she likes to feed her horses and why???

    Thanks, and I love all the training videos they are really helpful!

    Sent from Windows Mail

    • Stacy on January 11, 2014 at 8:38 pm

      We have it scheduled to video on this topic in the spring! I will look at writing about it too.

    • Stacy on January 12, 2014 at 11:26 am

      I am planning to make some videos in the spring answering this question. Maybe I can work on some blogs before that.

  23. Barrie on January 11, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    I have loved breeding my two Rocky Mountain mares in the past. As you have indicated, it is not for the faint of heart, as sometimes the unforseen does happen. It is great to have two youngsters born around the same time so that they can frolic a bit with each other also. Unfortunately the horse market is still slow on recovery and you end up practically giving away your horses(even with fabulous bloodlines!) even after the many hours of training, vet bills,farrier costs, feed, wormers, etc. I really miss having the foals around………….so fun to watch them explore and learn. If you do decide to breed for the first time gain as much knowledge as you can so that you have the best possible outcome and get help with the foaling just in case you have a problem. There are some great videos out there. That way you can see what the process looks like and can plan ahead so that you have everything on hand that you will need. A good vet is always a blessing. Thanks Stacy for another great article!

  24. Nyan on January 11, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    There are so many horses that need a loving home and you can pick color and sex. I say buy or adopt. With hay expensive and kill facilities closed people are letting animals starve to death. We cannot let horses starve.

  25. Monica Huettl on January 11, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    Stacy, Great article. I was an emotional breeder, bred my mare because I love her so much and wanted to have another one just like her. Was boarding at a breeding farm at the time with a beautiful QH stallion. My colt, who is now 12 years old, is NOTHING like his mother, a polar opposite in personality. I worked intensively with a trainer for several years, first sending him for training, then trailering for weekely lessons myself. It was a long process but very fulfilling. I plan to keep all my horses for their entire lives and hope I outlive them.

  26. Rita on January 11, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Stacy, I love your blogs and the above video is cute, cute, cute…but it leads to a bunch of anti-BLM videos with ‘heart wrenching’ narration about mustang round ups in Nevada. While we are all aware that sometimes unfortunate things happen, the horse family stories are embarrassingly manipulative and overwhelmingly sappy.

  27. Sandol Johnson on January 11, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Thank you for this article.You gave very truthful information. People bred horses like dogs….”oh I love my mare, I want a baby out of her because it will be just wonderful!” Then they get a foal not the right color or temperament and they want to get rid of it. Look at all the high dollar horses (owner’s think they are) that cannot be sold. We are in a very depressed horse market and people just cannot afford or want extra horses. Horses have become like our excess stray dog problem….. The horse industry has so many unwanted foals (as the video above shows), that you can always find a foal to raise for little money and you do not risk your mare’s health.

  28. Rojana Turner on January 11, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Thank you so much for your blogs. I look forward to the perspective you bring to the this new journey we are on with owning a horse and I am in awe of your life changes and your positive outlook. Being a homebody your hitting the road with faith and a sense of adventure is commended.

  29. Laureen Guenther on January 11, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Thank you for an honest interpretation of breeding.

  30. annie1 on January 11, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Love it! 😉

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