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 Should you get a stallion?

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PostSubject: Should you get a stallion?   Mon Dec 28, 2009 11:20 am

That’s a VERY good question. One that every horse owner, weather you own a stallion or not, should ask themselves. But lets dig a little deeper into this question.

Do you have the facilities?
Some stallions, especially those colts who have been raised from birth to adulthood, do not need fancy facilities to house them in simply because they are not violent or actively trying to get at other horses. It is usually recommended to keep stallions in at least 5-6’ fencing that is sturdy. My fencing consists of posts every 8-10’ with no climb wire and boards and a strand of hot wire going along the top of the posts to keep the stallions from reaching over the fence and potentially knocking it down. My fences also do not have space between them. Some of the nicer facilities who house multiple stallions have similar set ups to mine but will have 12’ between the fences so the stallions can’t reach each other.

If you are going to stall a stallion, the larger the better. A typical 12 x 12 stall works great but for stallions who’s hormones build up, pacing becomes a real problem. My stalls are 16’ x 12’ which allows them to be able to walk around. They are also fully lit either naturally or with lights during the winter so that the stallions are not in the dark. It’s also nice, if your stallion doesn’t strike at people, to have an area for the stallion to look into the aisle or outside. Of course if horses are going to be going through the aisle or if you have a busy barn, make sure to close the openings so that your stallion doesn’t try to reach the horses that are in the aisles.
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PostSubject: Should you get a stallion?   Mon Dec 28, 2009 11:21 am

Why do you want a stallion?
There are millions of reasons to have a stallion. Many don’t want to pay the sometimes outrageous breeding fees associated with breeding to outside stallions, they want to improve their breed and they love the look of stallions.

Some things to think about when deciding to get a stallion:
Where are you going to get him from? Are you going to keep a colt of yours and raise it as your own in hopes that he will be your dream stallion? Or are you going to purchase one from someone?
Is he papered? This is really important for the simple fact that hundreds of thousands of horses are born each year, more than half do not have paperwork and show up in auctions and are given away for free.

Horses without papers are statistically shown to have a higher risk of being lost to the woodworks than one with papers. Stallions without papers are not marketable. 99.9% of breeders will never breed to a stallion without papers, even if papers are possible.

What do you want to breed for? Many horses now are specifically bred for certain types of professions and stallions from those lines are expected to throw foals that can perform in that profession. An example of that is in the Arabian industry, a stallion named Baske Afire produces excellent Park and English Pleasure horses and every once in a while, when bred to a western bred mare, will throw a hunter. You would never expect to see one of his foals in a western pleasure class simply because they are to flashy and wouldn’t perform well in that field.

Also, can you afford to get him tested for genetic diseases? Many breeds of horses have their own sets of genetic deformities that cause issues with horses. Paints and Quarter horses are known for their HYPP issues with the Impressive line, Arabians have SCID and there is also many others. If your breeding horses, as a responsible horse owner you should have all your horses tested for these diseases not only to keep yourself informed but also to help promote your breeding program because others will take you more seriously if you test.

Are you breeding for color? I am a color breeder. My breeding program focuses on producing dilute and double dilute Half-Arabian horses with Arabian type but the beautiful colors that the dilute gene produces like palomino, buckskin, and so forth. Despite what some people say, there is a responsible way to breed for color which includes taking into account the horses bloodlines, temperament and trainability, conformation and then color. There are also tests that can be done to find out the color genetic make up of your horse. Again as stated above, people who test for these and have a better idea of what they are breeding are typically taken more seriously then those who don’t.

What will you do with the foals that you breed? Stallions who don’t have a show history or have foals that have shown well typically do not sell foals fast unless it’s to people you know personally who have met your stallion and fell in love with him and his foals. Even then you typically can’t sell these foals for much simply because they have nothing behind them. First foal crops, if left unshown, can take forever to sell even if their bloodlines are full of champions. But lets say you keep the foals. You can’t breed them back to your stallion, so what do you do? My rule of thumb when first starting is only breed what you can afford to keep and show because you never know when you might have to.

What will you do with him when you can’t use him anymore? This is the number one thing most people don’t think of. You bought a stallion and bred him to all your mares and got some great babies and kept them because they were better in quality than the mares. Well now you have a huge herd of horses you can’t breed because it’s inbreeding. What do you do with the stallion? We’ll touch more on that later.
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PostSubject: Should you get a stallion?   Mon Dec 28, 2009 11:21 am

Where do you plan to advertise the stallion? There are hundreds of places to advertise a stallion online and in tack stores, feed stores, magazines, and other publications. Advertising is the best way to get your stallion out there and get people interested in him and his foals. Keep in mind that some people will not be looking to breed to him but may be interested in buying one of his foals.

Are you going to show him? Or is someone else? Shown stallions that succeed well have higher stud fees and breed more mares then a stallion who sits in the barn and does nothing all day. But keeping that in mind, a stallion who shows successfully one year and then never shows again may get a decent amount of breedings for the first couple of years and then will regress back to nothing. Even though I personally hate halter classes (or conformation classes and called in some breeds) they are almost a necessity in having a breeding stallion. The purpose of these classes is to judge your horse based on it’s conformation. But keep in mind that judges are humans and they have opinions. It doesn’t make them right but if you are consistently being faulted at each show for certain faults, you should take them into consideration.

How will you breed him?
Live cover is the easiest and most of the time, the cheapest way to breed a stallion. The downside to breeding strictly live cover is that you won’t reach as many mares, only those who are willing to bring their mare to you. There is always the risk of infection unless you specify that a mare has an exam prior to insure she is free from infection and there is always the danger the stallion may be injured while trying to breed a mare, or vice versa.

Artificial insemination (AI) is a safer but more costly method of breeding a stallion. Most breed registries and organizations require you have a certificate that allows you to breed your stallion using AI which depending on the organization, can be spendy. Some organizations require the same forms and fees for shipping semen. Some organizations also require that you do dna tests on the mare, foal and stallion to insure that the correct semen was shipped. Then there’s the added cost of collection, freezing or cooling and shipping. Or if you are going to AI the mare, the cost involved with that as well. Will you bring him to a facility to collect him, or will you do it yourself with your own equipment? These are all things to consider.
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PostSubject: Should you get a stallion?   Mon Dec 28, 2009 11:22 am

So what are some alternatives?

The most obvious alternative is to breed to outside stallions within your budget. If you can afford it, breed to stallions who have show histories and no foals, no show history but foals with show histories or if you can afford both, always go for the best. You get the added benefit of having these foals have something behind them without going through the hassle of showing the stallion they are by. If you choose to sell them then they have the history to back them up. Watch out for “sons of”. Sons of are stallions who are by stallions who have awesome histories. Unless these stallions have show histories and foals that perform well, watch out. Foals by sons of sell for close to nothing and do not have solid histories to base your training off of. You might as well be breeding to an unknown stallion.

Partner with someone who has a stallion. A friend of mine owns somewhere between 6 to 8 stallions at a time. She works out partnerships with someone who is interested in a particular stallion. That person has a certain number of breedings per year to that stallion that they can use or market. This works great for someone who is looking to breed to establish a baseline for their program but doesn’t want to settle on a specific stallion because he will be unusable within a few years. You will probably be required to buy into the stallion by paying a yearly fee but the responsibility and care of the stallion is on the owner. All you have to do is have the mares.

Leasing a stallion. Similar to partnering with someone on a stallion, leasing a stallion is something I do quite often. Leasing a stallion gives you the opportunity to take a stab at owning a stallion without having the responsibility of selling him if it doesn’t work out. Like partnering, there is typically a contract which spells out how many mares the stallion can breed in a single year, how long the lease is for, cost of breeding and other important things. The difference between the two is the care and advertisement of the stallion is in the hands of the lessee not the owner.
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PostSubject: Should you get a stallion?   Mon Dec 28, 2009 11:22 am

Some last minute thoughts.

Mares produce one foal a year unless they twin
Stallions can produce anywhere between 1 to 500 foals or more a year depending on their popularity

As a breeder you control the lives of the mare and the foals she produces, even after they are sold.

If I think of anything else to add to this, I’ll post it. If you think of something else to add… please do so. It is a forum after all. Very Happy
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