Deciding To Breed



As riders and horse lovers I think we would all be kidding ourselves if we said that we never had the grabby hands over baby horses. I have been having intense grabby hands. Just in case you were wondering perusing sale ads doesn’t help diminish this urge guys.IMG_0426

The bottom line is that I cannot afford to buy the made horse of my dreams. It is actually kind of hard to even find a well bred baby in my hypothetical budget. Which brings in the “maybe I could breed my own” down the road thought – as some fellow bloggers have.

Copyrighted by Xpress Foto. Any use w/o written permission from Xpress Foto is a violation of our copyright and subject to hefty fines, jail time, criminal record and legal fees. 920-619-8765Annie is a nice mare IMO. She jumps well, moves decently, and while sensitive has a good brain. She is a good height at just under 16.2hh and has acceptable conformation. She is a little over at the knee but all in all I think I have a pretty decent mare. For me she would need to be showing successfully bare min 1.1M before I would breed her. But is breeding my own horse really a good “deal”?

When thinking about all that would go into this process I bucketed the expenses out to get a cost of a foal up to weaning. Mind you these costs could be significantly lower if you have your own property but that is not my situation.

  • Breeding: $1500-$2500
    • Vet fees: $500 best case?
    • Stud fee: $1000-2000 (for most of the studs I would consider)
  • Pregnancy: $3500-$6000
    • Mare Board/Care: $3300-$5500 (11mo x 300-500)
    • Vet Fees: $200-$400
  • Pre Weaning: $2700-$4300
    • Board/Care: $1800-$3000 (6mo x 300-500)
    • Vet Fees: $200-$400
    • Registration Fees: $200-$400 (depending on association and membership)
    • Inspection Fees: $500

joker-burning-moneyJust those rough estimates have you paying somewhere from $7700 to $12800 just to get to the 6mo foal stage. The benefit to breeding is that you get to spread the cost out over a solid 1.5 years. The down sides include the risk and your mare being out of commission.

So this is where I ask you – have you considered breeding your own horse? Do you have your own farm or board? Are my numbers super off base for those of you that actually have experience breeding?

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  1. Those are close to accurate numbers from my own personal experience, assuming all goes well. Of course, worst case scenarios are thousands of dollars in vet bills for a mare that never takes, a mare that has complications and requires extensive vet care and/or dies, or a foal that has complications and requires extensive vet care and/or dies. I’ve seen people stick a $500 dose of frozen in there and never have a single problem, but I’ve seen other people sink thousands of dollars into breeding and end up with a dead mare and/or dead foal. It’s definitely risky, it’s just a matter of how comfortable you are with that risk. There’s also no guarantee that what you end up with is going to be what you wanted, whereas if you buy a foal at least you know what you’re getting.

    I think you have to be a little off kilter to try breeding. That said, I’ve done it twice now so obviously I’m twice as off kilter as most.

  2. My vet jokes that people breed horses until they run out of patience or money, haha!

    My vet numbers have been higher, as the breeding soundness exam turned up an infection that had to be dealt with twice. But I’d rather have that than have tried unsuccessfully to AI multiple times. I got a very good deal on the stud fee, so that helped.

  3. My mare is currently pregnant, which is wonderful because I spent a ton of money to get her that way. Ha. That being said, I’d add more to the breeding vet fee line. I’d say $500 in vet fees PER SHIPMENT. The odds of her catching on the first shipment vary based on how the stallion ships, but having shipped three shipments from two different studs and not having her become pregnant any of those times was beyond frustrating. All note that stud fees often don’t include collection and rarely, if ever, include shipment of the semen. So you’ll likely pay extra in addition to the stud fee.

    I can’t speak for pre-weaning yet, but the actual pregnant stage has been low cost, MINUS the need for special, fescue free hay. Paige won’t be allowed to eat the round bales that everyone else gets in winter, and will get straight orchard grass. If that’s something already in your feed regimen, that’s great! Also, thanks for making me appreciate my farm situation. Holy board fees! Will your boarding place charge you extra before weaning, or just after? I have no idea how that works.

  4. It s a good way to think about it. I bred my mare to have a foal out of her because I think she is great for reasons I will spare you. My intent was and is to keep the foal for life. He is 3 now and has far exceeded my expectations. Sure, emotions are in there too, but he is mine and what I think and feel about him are what counts. I have only done it once and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Nothing else is like it. I would recommend it if this is THE mare and you have experience with young horses. Your numbers are pretty close. My mare did not take the first time and when she took the second time, took with twins, so that was an added cost. I am not sure if it is typical, but for me, multiple breedings and re-checks were discounted. I am fortunate to have a family farm with great pasture to keep them which, as you pointed out significantly decreases the cost. I did board her somewhere for the foaling out because she was a maiden…and so was I! I did not keep up with the costs as well once he was born, but several vaccinations through the first year and castration were more costly.

  5. I am not in a position to breed nor have owned a mare nice enough and sound enough to breed. I think for me though just getting to 6 months with a goal is just the beginning. Then you’ve got to wait years and hope they don’t maim themselves growing up…then you get to start at square 1 with a green bean. With that said, I have done the yearling through trained route (with a crappy ending…) but it’s something to do where you learn a lot. I don’t think I’ll do it again tho. I feel like you can’t not factor in the costs of your own boarding, riding and showing of your going horse so you keep your skills up while u wait. All that to say unless there’s a heart connection to the mare you want to live on, I would save those pennies, enjoy riding my mare and buy a nice 3 or 4 year old in a few years. I just think the pay over time rationale is a risky one based on experience.

  6. Breeding does get surprisingly pricey fast. It helps a lot if you have your own farm, or at least have somewhere to board that isn’t a fancy show facility. Somewhere clean and safe, but that doesn’t come with the price tag of a trainer and facility set up for boarders who want to compete. We’ve bred twice, and even though we obviously didn’t know exactly what we would get, we knew we wanted something very much like the mare we had, and we were able to choose a stallion that complemented her well. It’s very rewarding to raise one from the beginning, but potentially so much more cost effective to just buy a weanling or yearling!

  7. I know pretty much nada about breeding. But I had to share that I did briefly consider breeding Jamp and/or collecting him before I had him gelded. Then I realized, that while I love him VERY much, he’s kind of a fruitcake and I really don’t need more than one of him.
    That said, someone else thought the world needed many of him as he was a breeding stallion in Europe before I got him. There are probably hundreds of him running around over there…

  8. To breed or not to breed…that is the question. I think your vet bill figures are definitely low. I’ve also considered breeding Emi (down the road) but I honestly think I’ll just buy something.

    1. That’s why I tried to over estimate in other areas and kind of came up with a wide range of cost. Totally understand your thought process though. I might have to pick your brain on the buying a foal process 🙂

  9. Certainly no plans to breed my current horse (to his great relief, I’m sure :-p ). I kicked the idea around when I had a mare, but never very seriously.

    I guess to me, there’s a lot more tied up in it–not even considering the cost, the risk factor of having a nice, well-bred baby running around a field trying not to die for 2-4 years just sounds rather horrifying. Plus I have to factor in what my ultimate riding goals are. At this point in my life (and things can change, they always do), I don’t really need anything bred to the hilt. I’m far more interested in my relationship with a horse than my competition goals. I realize you can have a relationship with a nice horse as well as a stupid one, but all the $$$$$ and risk raising a baby when I don’t even know what it would be purpose bred for?

    Yeah. Just doesn’t make sense in my personal economy at this point. Now if I buckle down and commit to a particular sport and set some large goals, obviously, this whole conversation changes.

  10. It’s such a crap shoot and long haul to the real reward if it happens. I’m not a big better in Vegas and would worry at my odds with breeding. That said when a really nice moving warmblood had some really cheap straws for sale, there was a moment of wondering of just how nice a foal I could get out of Holly. Even if I had money, I’d feel bad risking the mare for a chance at a nice foal. Now if said mare was lame, then I think the game changes. Realistically it would always end up cheaper getting a green but saddle broke horse for me them starting from breeding.

  11. I purchased my young horses at 6 weeks and yearling age. I prefer it. I know what I’m getting, including color and markings, and I was able to view siblings at different ages so I could know what to expect over time.

    It’s my experience that well bred foals can be had for less than $10k and if they’re bought before weaning, often much less. I have bought both mine from the same breeder, who also does custom foals and she has raised both of mine to riding age and broke them for me for a very reasonable cost.

    I’d buy another foal – but I wouldn’t breed my own. The costs don’t justify it when you can buy the product without the risk for less than it would cost to create it.

  12. I personally would never breed because there are too many nice OTTBs out there that I can train and enjoy that process versus spending thousands on a horse I can’t ride for 4+ years. Noooo thank you. But thats just me. I’ve always had zero interest in breeding.

    That being said, I bought a pregnant mini mare (didn’t KNOW she was pregnant) and the vet costs were a bit higher while pregnant and after the birth.. I think thats because vets in my area are guilty of highway robbery, but thats just my experience.

  13. I can’t envision myself breeding a foal. There are already heaps of nice horses out there & I don’t know nearly enough about it to feel confident. I prefer to leave that kind of risk to other people! 🙂

  14. When we bred our Morgan mare years ago, I would say the fees were more than that. She didn’t take for nearly 2 years of trying. We even sent her to live on the stallion’s farm so that we could use fresh, and not fresh/cooled or frozen. She caught, but then miscarried. Also, the foal could have issues at birth, maiden mares may not have milk come in right away, all sorts of things can go wrong. However she did eventually produce two very nice babies (both had mild issues at birth though). If Hampton was a mare, I would probably breed. And I think Annie is a fine candidate!

  15. What a great topic!!

    My sister is bred her barrel mares mom to a super nice barrel stud (she wins free breeding) and now that she’s prego it’s smooth sailing but the getting her there wasn’t a one pop stop lol… And she’s had many babies and we were told she’s easy to breed.

    IMHO you can get a nice 1.5-2 yr old for under $10k and then you can start it rather then having to wait so long. My trainer and I went to an ottb sale for 1.5 yr olds who hadn’t raced- there were shome really really nice ones here and they went for $4-$10k… Luckily I have a farm so I can get I wand turn them out for a bit for just the cost of hay.

    On the flip sideIt’s been super fun haveing Grayson since he was 6m and doing almost everything myself… But I didn’t want anything fancy with him 😜

    1. The idea of paying 4-10k for an unstarted TB just seems kinda crazy. I guess I got lucky with Annie. She was unraced but at the track for much less.

      I’m more thinking breeding to a warmblood or buying a weanling/ yearling

      1. It really is NOT crazy when you think how much it costs to breed, maintaining pregnancy and then expenses while it grows up. That price is actually quite standard for unraced TBs. Both my boys sold for about that BEFORE they raced. Its all about bloodlines and prospect. ONce they race, thats when their fate is decided and the price can drop steeply because they are rejects. The OTTBs are usually cheaper and come with more baggage though. You got VERY lucky with Annie, as I did with Yankee….but those are not commonplace.

        1. So I guess my feeling here is that there is a big difference in the racehorse market and the sport horse market. I don’t see a ton of people going to sales and dropping big money on an unstarted TB for a sport horse… But I guess that’s just my perspective. Annie might have been a fluke/ luck but if I wanted I’m sure I could find a relatively nice TB out there again for under 4K if I was patient. If I’m dropping 10k on something unstarted I want the horse to be bred for sport not just any TB that might work.

        1. Yes 10K would be unreasonable. I thought you were saying 4K was unreasonable, which it is not. Even up to 8K I would pay. Hell, I paid 5k for my insane B, and he turned out pretty damn awesome. It just depends on your individual preferences. But unraced TBs being used FOR racing (2-3 year olds) absolutely go for a lot more. Thats the point of yearling+ sales. If you’re going to a sale like that, you’re most likely going to pay more because you are competing against owners and trainers looking for the next big thing. If you’re looking online at adoption agencies (raced or unraced) or private owner sales, the cost will be much less because its targeting the sport horse arena. It is very easy to find unarmed TBs for “cheap”, you just have to know where to look. I don’t think I’ve EVER seen a TB listed for 10k that was already competing. That would be stupid and no one would buy that horse unless they were actually retarded.

  16. I bred my mare. Was expensive to get her into foal (fluid rentention issues), had a text book pregnancy, and then the baby came out with badly contracted tendons. That added on about $5k in vet bills. So honestly if you can’t buy made-buy someone else’s baby. Don’t get me wrong it’s fun to breed and I loved the experience-but it wasn’t worth it. I would rather buy something that has already hit the ground with the bloodlines I want and an idea of what they will turn out to be

  17. I could write an extremely long novel on this topic. My parents raised horses for many years. Racing QHs and then later performance QHs. The only complication I recall ever having was an older mare foaled twins and both died and later one foal had crooked legs. That is from 2-10 foals per year for about 10-15 years. I’ve had my recently retired QH since he was an embryo and he’s now 23.

    Fast forward to my own experience with breeding. I bought a KWPN mare who had previously had 3 foals. All 3 pregnancies she took on the first insemination and foaled without incident. Granted she was 17 or 18 when I bought her but 2 breeding seasons and about $35k later she never got pregnant, so I bought a weanling filly.

    I still wanted to breed and upon advice from the farm where I purchased my filly I decided to breed her when she was 3 so she would foal when she was 4. This would give me another horse for the future and her an extra year to grow up before going to work. My filly got pregnant on the first insemination and her black dot looked perfect at 28 days. Fast forward to March 2 and 327 days gestation when Coco “foaled”. I found her at about 3a with the foal’s nose out, but no feet. Long (and horrible) story short, we lost the foal but THANK GOODNESS my mare is fine. The vets have advised she never carry a foal again because it turns out her body does a terrible job of growing a foal she can actually get through of her abnormally narrow birth canal. This wasn’t something they say could have been examined before breeding/foaling.

    All that being said, I’m pretty sure I’ll only by horses on the ground in the future. We have many fantastic breeders in the US who have invested a tremendous amount of resources into their mares and stallions and I would rather support them AND let them deal with the heartbreak that inevitably arises from time to time. But I also completely understand why you would want to breed your mare. I still have pangs of desire to breed Coco and utilize a surrogate mare. I think my husband might leave me if I do that, though.