Breeding has lots of important steps that you need to follow when you are considering breeding your mare or your stallion.
Getting the mare ready for breeding is an important step in the breeding process. You should get your mare ready for breeding about five to six months before the breeding season as with also the decision to say which mares will be breed so that they can be properly prepared. You need to also choose the stallion or stallion's early, selecting them on their bases of conformation, diposition, bloodlines, availability, and your budget. This means you need to book early to make sure you have the appointment because most breeders are booked for a while.
Before breeding the mare she needs to have a exam done. This is very important if it is the first time a filly has been breed to determine if she is reproductively normal.
Your veteranarian will begin by evaluating the mare's reproductive history and by noting any problems that she might have, such as failure to concieve, irregular cycles, foaling problems with her last pregnancy, or failure to carry a pregnancy the whole term.
The veternarian's next step would probably be a rectal examination, here, he will reach a gloved hand into the rectum. Feeling the rectal wall, he can determine alot about her rectal tract. The cervix is also examined to see if it is normal. Many veteranarians can tell whether the animal is ready to ovulate or not.
He may examine the mare's vagina and cervix with a device which holds it open and allow him to look in. When doing this he may take a bacterial culture from the cervix with a long swab.
4 to 6 months prior to breeding- Select the stallion in which you will be breeding your mare to and make the neccessary arrangements to breed her to him.
6 to 8 weeks prior to breeding- Call your veteranarian and arrange for a general health check and a reproductive examination of the broodmare. This needs to scheduled for the first or second day of a heat period, if possible.
3 to 4 weeks before breeding-If the mare showed any infection on the first culture and was treated, she should be recultered to be sure that the infection is cleared. The second set of vaccinations (if neccessary) should be given at this time. Blood should be taken for a Coggins test, required by most stallion owners,and generally manditory for interstate transportation.
Delivering the mare- Plan to deliver the mare to the stallion four to seven days before she is scheduled to come into heat, if at all possible. This needs to be done because taking her to a new place might cause her not to come into heat and then causing the owner to wait 21 more days. This time allows her to adjust and to get rest and to be ready to show heat when she comes in.
When the mare is clearly showing signs of heat, she should be moved away from the teasing horse to the breeding area. Breeding the horses should usually be done away from the stallions pen and the mare's pen. Having a special breeding area fixes in the stallion's mind what he is supposed to do there.
Wrap the mare's tail to get her ready for breeding. There are rubber tail wraps that can be used. This helps keep hairs from being carried into the vulva as the stallion enters her, thus cleaning and helping to prevent an infection.
Rinse your mare well with Betadine or other mild disinfectant. It is important to watch what you use in this area. It is easy to scald her in this area by usng to much or too strong of products. After cleaning she should be rinsed with clean water. If any disinfectant is left on her perineum, it may be carried in as the stallion enters and may kill the sperm.The stallion should be led to the breeding area. When he has an erection, his penis should be washed in the same manner and rinsed well.
The breeding procedure from this point is pretty much a matter of personal preference and depends on the handler and how the stallion has been trained.
It is imprtant to keep the stallion under control as he approaches the mare. A stallion who rears or who waves his front legs is hazordous to his handlers.
Now you would take the stallion out to the hitching post and wash the penis as you did the mare. Then you will bring the stallion to the mare's left side to prevent him from being kicked. Then he would sniff of the mare's flanks and nuzzle and talk untill he was fully erect. Then you will give him slack and say "UP!" He would mount the mare from the left side, then swing himself around and enter the mare.
Ejaculation is often signaled by a sharp jerk or two of the stallion's tail, called "flaggig". If you can see the underside of the stallion's penis, you may notice the urethra pulsing as he ejaculates. Some stallions may flag and become limp without ejaculating. Most stallions show sharply decreased sex drive and interest after they have ejaculated. As he comes out of the mare, you may see a few drops of fluid on the end of the penis.
The stallion usually relaxes at this point and slide off the mare. It is important to back the stallion away from the mare immediately to avoid him from being kicked. Mares do not often kick, but it is to be safe and to train the stallion of safe habits.
After this is over take the stallion and put him back in the stall. Take your mare and walk her for five minutes. This helps prevent the mare from squatting and getting rid of some of the semen. By the time you have walked them for five minutes, they have generally lost the urge to squat.
Pregnant mares should have adewuate exercise to help keep them in good condition and ready for parturition (the birth process). Mares may be worked hard early in pregnancy if they are accustomed to long days.During the last month or two a long walk would be perferable to more stenuous work.
Good nutrition is also very important to grow a stout, healthy foal within a mare. The mare should have a booster of tetanus toxoid four to eight weeks before she foals to make sure that she has good immunity and that she passes the immunity on to the foal.
While the foal is in the uterus, it is nourished by the blood vessels of the umbilical cord (at the naval). Oxygenated blood is brought via these vessels from the mother; the foal does not breathe until after it is bron. Urine from the foal is dumped into the space between the membranes around him.
During gestation, the pregnant mare will usually become progressively larger. The size of the animal varies with the individual. Some mares become so large it looks likeit is going to have twins.
Other mares will not appear preganant at all. As foaling time approaches, the mare's udder enlarges. Some horses do not shoe any udder development at all, only suddenly have it fill with milk after the foal is born. Older mares usually show udder development and become quite tightly filles with milk as parturition approaches.
Within 24 hours of the foaling, the vulva relaxes and begins to lengthen and look sloppy. The mare may "drop". This refers to a sucken apperance in the muscles on each side slightly above the root of the tail. "Dropping" is due to a relaxation of the ligaments of the pelvis. The flank area may appear sunken in. The mare may wander off by herself or she may be irritable with the other horses in the field.
The mare should be prepared for foaling by wrapping her tail in vetrap. Be careful not to wrap it to tight or you will cut off the circulation and may cause skin problems. The purpose is to keep the hairs out of the birth process.
You should wash the horses udders and the genital area with water and a gentle soap and then rinse this with a mild disinfectant. This prevents the foal form eating the material when nursing off of the udders. All areas that were washed should be rinsed throughly so that the foal does not digest any disinfectants.
If you are foaling in a pasture it is now time to get the geldings out. They are sometimes the cause of the loss of the foal because they were either maliciously or whether they are just curious and injure them in a way that is not known,
The mare's entry into serious labor is usuallt restlessness. Some mares show these signs for several hours, while others may show almost no signs prior to labor. The mare may sweat either in patches or all over, she may paw at the ground and look at her flank much like an animal does with colic. She may be uneasy and anxious, pacing her stall or she may get up and down.
Some mares go through this series of actions several times without going into strong labor. She may do this for several hours or even days before going through the process again.
As the mare goes through her secong stage of labor, her "water" will break. This fluid may be slightly yellowish or brownish and is often thickened with mucoid. Some mares will only have a small hole in the placenta with the fluid escaping so gradually that it is unnoticed. An alert owner may notice the mare passing a cervix plug. When the cervix plug has been passed foaling will occur a couple hours later.
When the mare has begun steady labor contractions, she should foal within the next hour. If she does not call a veteranarian IMMEDIATELY. A normal foaling might take 15 minutes and no longer than 45 minutes.
If the mare is lying down when the foal's head passes through the vulva, she will usually continue lying down. After the major portion of the foal has passed out of her vulva, she will stop straining and lie there quietly for about 30 minutes or more. This is normal.
When your mare does rise, she will generally lick her foal. Some mares will bite or paw at there foal this may be because there is humans around and she needs to mother her foal. The mare needs the first two or three hours to be a mother to her foal, and also so the mare and foal can bond.
The mare's milk is the starting food for a young foal. It is very nutritious and easily digested. It is rich in calcium and phosphorus. This is very important in the first few months of the foal's life when the most physical growth occurs.
Milk is not the perfect food for feeding by itself for a long period of time. It is low on Vitamin D,very low in iron, and short of Vitamin C. It is also low in copper, which is needed for the bone growth. It is the natural food for the foal but is lacking in nutrition when used as a sole feed for the older horse. This makes it extra important that the foal be started on supplemental feeding as he will eat usually by two or three weeks of age.