Many equine enthusiasts would like to start breeding horses. This is a great project, but it should not be taken lightly or improvised. It is important to remember that a crush on a horse or a breed is not enough. A minimum of knowledge is necessary in the equine domain and in management because breeding horses means running a whole herd, a real business.
Horse breeding : how and why become a breeder ?
To breed horses, it is essential to have acquired some of the following skills :
- mastery of breeding and farming techniques (professional degree in horse breeding and development)
- knowledge of horses and animal biology
- a good grounding in management and accounting.
The breeder can work on his own account or in a stud farm. He manages and supervises his herd of equines (horses, mules, donkeys), watches over their health and provides them with the daily care they need. He must know the basic and preventive health care to be provided (minor injuries, intramuscular or intravenous care, antiparasitic care).
Breeding requires a lot of time, attention and investment, both personal and financial. Unless you know a trusted and experienced person who can easily replace you, forget about going on holiday abroad or over several weeks. Your horse requires daily attention.
Tasks in horse breeding
The horse breeder looks after his livestock, but also the maintenance of his farm and his meadows. Generally, he works with purebred horses. However, depending on requirements and the market, some breeders crossbreed to obtain a foal combining the morphological qualities of two complementary horses.
If he is a breeder, he must choose good breeding stock (stallions) and brood mares. A good breeder will choose a stallion that compensates for the mare's defects. A keen eye is therefore the breeder's main asset in choosing mares. Their quality is essential because broodmares pass on 70 to 75% of their aptitude or performance to their offspring.
A thorough knowledge of heritability is essential and allows the best crosses to be made. Let us remember that the perfect horse does not exist.
Selection criteria for good breeding
In order to select good breeding stock, the selection criteria are essential, such as the horse's morphology, performance and genetic and sporting indices. However, beware of fads !
Model and gait competitions are used to judge the quality of the horses (3-year-olds, foals or breeding stock). The judges will first evaluate the quality of the horse's morphology, followed by the progeny, which will give an estimate of its qualities and defects.
Some breeds are predisposed to certain activities or uses :
- a draught horse can be considered as a working horse.
- the thoroughbred is considered to be a racer-jumper.
- the fjord is an excellent walker, harnessed or not.
Purpose of the horse breeding register
It is essential that horse breeders keep a breeding register. The main objective is to have a sanitary follow-up of the animal. It also allows the traceability of each equine on the farm to be followed. It is a real health monitoring tool.
Each breeder must have the following documents in his possession
- identification papers for each horse held on his farm.
- certificate of declaration of the place of keeping.
- up-to-date register of the movements of each animal.
Good to know : even a private individual who keeps one or more horses at home must keep a breeding register, on pain of penalty.