Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A few things to consider before you breed

My first foal (ever) arrived last week.  After 8 years of waiting for the right place and right time, 352 days of pregnancy, and a long month of restless nights Pie (maiden) gave birth to a smashing red headed colt.

The arrival of this bundle of joy has inspired me to really think about what a potential breeder should consider before choosing to breed.

Things to consider before breeding-

A foal will generally take on the attitude and personality of their dam-  
The mare is your foals single greatest influence growing up.  Her approach to people and the rest of the world general will either have a positive or negative effect on your foal.  

The dam accounts for 50% of the foal-
To often would be breeders focus solely on what the stallion may or may not have done and they forget to honestly consider what the mare has to offer besides a open uterus.  I am not saying that she needs to have national wins to be worthy of being being bred but she should be broke to ride and good at her given job.    By knowing your mare by more than just her looks you can make a much more informed decision on the right stallion and have a better idea of how your foal will turn out long term.

They should compliment each other-
If you are looking to raise a ranch versatility horse don't breed to a halter stallion.  If your mare has a longer back than ideal back don't breed to a stallion with the same issue.  There are no guarantees in breeding anyway but by breeding a problem to another problem you are just setting yourself up for another problem. 

Know your faults, and decide what is acceptable-
If you breed to a stallion or mare with a upright shoulder which creates a choppy and short gait you greatly increase your chances of having a foal with that same trait.  There is no perfectly put together horse out there but by breeding your best to the best (that compliments) what you have you greatly increase your chances of having a foal built to excel at your chosen sport and remain strong and sound throughout it's lifetime.  I personally believe that any chronic lameness (permanent or off and on) with the exception of that caused by injury should never be bred.  If the dam is lame at 5 without an injury why set yourself up for a foal which has the potential to follow suit.  

The cost and the time-
Besides your breeding fee and other veterinary costs related to your mare's pregnancy you must also consider the long term costs of raising a foal to riding age.  This includes feed, hay, board ( if you do not have your own property), regular veterinary care, unexpected veterinary care, hoof care, and all other costs that go into having a horse.  For myself I will have spent 4 years growing this foal before I ever have a chance to ride him (I plan on waiting until he is 3 before starting him under saddle).  Once your horse is old enough to ride you must either have the skills and knowledge to properly start and train it or be willing to hire someone else to do it for you.  Done properly a foal is a serious and expensive long term investment.



Monday, April 1, 2013

Equestrian Spring Cleaning Checklist

Wildflowers are sprouting, the weather (in Texas) is heating up, and the horses are finally shedding.  It seems that spring has officially sprung and with spring comes a great time for some equestrian style spring cleaning.

Spring Cleaning To Do List-

1. Wash and put away all winter blankets.

2. Clean grooming tools.  (A bucket of water with several tablets of denture cleaner does a great job at cutting the grim, I then rinse and soak them in a diluted bleach solution, rinse again and let them dry in the sun)

3. Wash/rinse all saddle pads, sport boots, and other similar items.  (I do not wash my sport boots and a pads with soap.  Instead I rinse them very thoroughly with a sharp stream of water and hang them out in the sun to dry)

4.  Oil and clean all leather tack.

5.  Scrub out all troughs and buckets.  (You can do this with just water or a diluted bleach solution and a stiff brush, rinse thoroughly!)

6. Sort and evaluate all medications, lotions, potions, and other bottled products. (check expiration dates, be sure all products are still the appropriate consistency)

7. Consider your fly control options and methods and put them in place.  With spring comes the flies and with the rain comes mosquitoes.

8.  Evaluate, organize, and restock (or clean out) your first aid supplies.

9.  Do a thorough walk through of your horse pasture, fencing, and stalls and make note of any all repairs that should be taken care of before the summer heat sets in.  Also be on the look out for hornet/wasp nests that should be treated.

10.  Do a thorough inspection of your horse trailer and be sure that the tires are properly inflated, the lights are working, and be sure that your rig is ready for the trails and horse shows.

11.  Groom your horse(s) and help them shed their itchy winter coat.  After a good grooming hook up the hose and give them a head to tail spring bath.  (Beware of flowery shampoos which may attract bees and flies)