A foal will begin to eat hay, grass and grain alongside the mare at about 4 weeks old; by 10—12 weeks the foal requires more nutrition than the mare's milk can supply. Foals are typically weaned at 4—8 months of age, although in the wild a foal may nurse for a year. Beyond the appearance and conformation of a specific type of horse, breeders aspire to improve physical performance abilities. This concept, known as matching "form to function," has led to the development of not only different breeds, but also families or bloodlines within breeds that are specialists for excelling at specific tasks.
For example, the Arabian horse of the desert naturally developed speed and endurance to travel long distances and survive in a harsh environment, and domestication by humans added a trainable disposition to the animal's natural abilities. In the meantime, in northern Europe , the locally adapted heavy horse with a thick, warm coat was domesticated and put to work as a farm animal that could pull a plow or wagon.
This animal was later adapted through selective breeding to create a strong but rideable animal suitable for the heavily armored knight in warfare. Then, centuries later, when people in Europe wanted faster horses than could be produced from local horses through simple selective breeding, they imported Arabians and other oriental horses to breed as an outcross to the heavier, local animals. This led to the development of breeds such as the Thoroughbred , a horse taller than the Arabian and faster over the distances of a few miles required of a European race horse or light cavalry horse.
Another cross between oriental and European horses produced the Andalusian , a horse developed in Spain that was powerfully built, but extremely nimble and capable of the quick bursts of speed over short distances necessary for certain types of combat as well as for tasks such as bullfighting.
Later, the people who settled America needed a hardy horse that was capable of working with cattle. Thus, Arabians and Thoroughbreds were crossed on Spanish horses, both domesticated animals descended from those brought over by the Conquistadors , and feral horses such as the Mustangs , descended from the Spanish horse, but adapted by natural selection to the ecology and climate of the west.
These crosses ultimately produced new breeds such as the American Quarter Horse and the Criollo of Argentina. Two more shipments followed, one in of 14 horses mostly mares, but with at least one stallion , and one in of 11 mares and a stallion. The shipments included a mix of draft horses and light horses, the latter of which included both pacing and trotting horses.
In modern times, these breeds themselves have since been selectively bred to further specialize at certain tasks. One example of this is the American Quarter Horse. Once a general-purpose working ranch horse, different bloodlines now specialize in different events. For example, larger, heavier animals with a very steady attitude are bred to give competitors an advantage in events such as team roping , where a horse has to start and stop quickly, but also must calmly hold a full-grown steer at the end of a rope.
On the other hand, for an event known as cutting , where the horse must separate a cow from a herd and prevent it from rejoining the group, the best horses are smaller, quick, alert, athletic and highly trainable. They must learn quickly, have conformation that allows quick stops and fast, low turns, and the best competitors have a certain amount of independent mental ability to anticipate and counter the movement of a cow, popularly known as "cow sense.
Another example is the Thoroughbred. While most representatives of this breed are bred for horse racing , there are also specialized bloodlines suitable as show hunters or show jumpers. The hunter must have a tall, smooth build that allows it to trot and canter smoothly and efficiently.
Instead of speed, value is placed on appearance and upon giving the equestrian a comfortable ride, with natural jumping ability that shows bascule and good form. A show jumper , however, is bred less for overall form and more for power over tall fences, along with speed, scope, and agility. This favors a horse with a good galloping stride, powerful hindquarters that can change speed or direction easily, plus a good shoulder angle and length of neck. A jumper has a more powerful build than either the hunter or the racehorse. The history of horse breeding goes back millennia.
Though the precise date is in dispute, humans could have domesticated the horse as far back as approximately BCE. However, evidence of planned breeding has a more blurry history. It is well known, for example, that the Romans did breed horses and valued them in their armies, but little is known regarding their breeding and husbandry practices: all that remains are statues and artwork.
Mankind has plenty of equestrian statues of Roman emperors, horses are mentioned in the Odyssey by Homer, and hieroglyphics and paintings left behind by Egyptians tell stories of pharaohs hunting elephants from chariots. Nearly nothing is known of what became of the horses they bred for hippodromes, for warfare, or even for farming.
One of the earliest people known to document the breedings of their horses were the Bedouin of the Middle East , the breeders of the Arabian horse. While it is difficult to determine how far back the Bedouin passed on pedigree information via an oral tradition , there were written pedigrees of Arabian horses by CE The nomads of the Mongolian steppes bred horses for several thousand years as well, and the Caspian horse is believed to be a very close relative of Ottoman horses from the earliest origins of the Turks in Central Asia.
The types of horse bred varied with culture and with the times. The uses to which a horse was put also determined its qualities, including smooth amblers for riding, fast horses for carrying messengers, heavy horses for plowing and pulling heavy wagons, ponies for hauling cars of ore from mines, packhorses, carriage horses and many others. Medieval Europe bred large horses specifically for war, called destriers.
These horses were the ancestors of the great heavy horses of today, and their size was preferred not simply because of the weight of the armor, but also because a large horse provided more power for the knight's lance. Weighing almost twice as much as a normal riding horse, the destrier was a powerful weapon in battle meant to act like a giant battering ram that could quite literally run down men on an enemy line.
On the other hand, during this same time, lighter horses were bred in northern Africa and the Middle East, where a faster, more agile horse was preferred. The lighter horse suited the raids and battles of desert people, allowing them to outmaneuver rather than overpower the enemy.
When Middle Eastern warriors and European knights collided in warfare, the heavy knights were frequently outmaneuvered. The Europeans, however, responded by crossing their native breeds with "oriental" type horses such as the Arabian , Barb , and Turkoman horse This cross-breeding led both to a nimbler war horse, such as today's Andalusian horse , but also created a type of horse known as a Courser , a predecessor to the Thoroughbred , which was used as a message horse.
During the Renaissance , horses were bred not only for war, but for haute ecole riding, derived from the most athletic movements required of a war horse, and popular among the elite nobility of the time. Breeds such as the Lipizzan and the now extinct Neapolitan horse were developed from Spanish-bred horses for this purpose, and also became the preferred mounts of cavalry officers, who were derived mostly from the ranks of the nobility.
It was during this time that firearms were developed, and so the light cavalry horse, a faster and quicker war horse, was bred for "shoot and run" tactics rather than the shock action as in the Middle Ages. Fine horses usually had a well muscled, curved neck, slender body, and sweeping mane, as the nobility liked to show off their wealth and breeding in paintings of the era. After Charles II retook the British throne in , horse racing, which had been banned by Cromwell, was revived. The Thoroughbred was developed 40 years later, bred to be the ultimate racehorse, through the lines of three foundation Arabian stallions and one Turkish horse.
In the 18th century, James Burnett, Lord Monboddo noted the importance of selecting appropriate parentage to achieve desired outcomes of successive generations. Monboddo worked more broadly in the abstract thought of species relationships and evolution of species. The Thoroughbred breeding hub in Lexington, Kentucky was developed in the late 18th century, and became a mainstay in American racehorse breeding.
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The 17th and 18th centuries saw more of a need for fine carriage horses in Europe, bringing in the dawn of the warmblood. The warmblood breeds have been exceptionally good at adapting to changing times, and from their carriage horse beginnings they easily transitioned during the 20th century into a sport horse type. Today's warmblood breeds, although still used for competitive driving , are more often seen competing in show jumping or dressage.
The Thoroughbred continues to dominate the horse racing world, although its lines have been more recently used to improve warmblood breeds and to develop sport horses. The French saddle horse is an excellent example as is the Irish Sport Horse , the latter being an unusual combination between a Thoroughbred and a draft breed. Colonists did not have racetracks or any of the trappings of Europe that the earliest Thoroughbreds had at their disposal, so instead the owners of Quarter Horses would run their horses on roads that lead through town as a form of local entertainment.
As the USA expanded West, the breed went with settlers as a farm and ranch animal, and "cow sense" was particularly valued: their use for herding cattle increased on rough, dry terrain that often involved sitting in the saddle for long hours.
The stock horse type, used in western events and as a farm and patrol animal is bred for a shorter stride, an ability to stop and turn quickly, and an unflappable attitude that remains calm and focused even in the face of an angry charging steer. The Canadian horse 's origin corresponds to shipments of French horses, some of which came from Louis XIV's own stable and most likely were Baroque horses meant to be gentlemen's mounts.
These were ill-suited to farm work and to the hardscrabble life of the New World, so like the Americans, early Canadians crossed their horses with natives escapees. In time they evolved along similar lines as the Quarter Horse to the South as both the US and Canada spread westward and needed a calm and tractable horse versatile enough to carry the farmer's son to school but still capable of running fast and running hard as a cavalry horse, a stockhorse, or a horse to pull a conestoga wagon.
Equine Breeding Management and Artificial Insemination / Edition 2
Other horses from North America retained a hint of their mustang origins by being either derived from stock that Native Americans bred that came in a rainbow of color, like the Appaloosa and American Paint Horse. Horses were needed for heavy draft and carriage work until replaced by the automobile, truck, and tractor. After this time, draft and carriage horse numbers dropped significantly, though light riding horses remained popular for recreational pursuits.
Draft horses today are used on a few small farms, but today are seen mainly for pulling and plowing competitions rather than farm work. Heavy harness horses are now used as an outcross with lighter breeds, such as the Thoroughbred , to produce the modern warmblood breeds popular in sport horse disciplines, particularly at the Olympic level. Breeding a horse is an endeavor where the owner, particularly of the mare, will usually need to invest considerable time and money. For this reason, a horse owner needs to consider several factors, including:.
There are value judgements involved in considering whether an animal is suitable breeding stock, hotly debated by breeders. Additional personal beliefs may come into play when considering a suitable level of care for the mare and ensuing foal, the potential market or use for the foal, and other tangible and intangible benefits to the owner.
If the breeding endeavor is intended to make a profit, there are additional market factors to consider, which may vary considerably from year to year, from breed to breed, and by region of the world. In many cases, the low end of the market is saturated with horses, and the law of supply and demand thus allows little or no profit to be made from breeding unregistered animals or animals of poor quality, even if registered.
The minimum cost of breeding for a mare owner includes the stud fee , and the cost of proper nutrition , management and veterinary care of the mare throughout gestation, parturition, and care of both mare and foal up to the time of weaning. Veterinary expenses may be higher if specialized reproductive technologies are used or health complications occur.
Making a profit in horse breeding is often difficult. While some owners of only a few horses may keep a foal for purely personal enjoyment, many individuals breed horses in hopes of making some money in the process. A rule of thumb is that a foal intended for sale should be worth three times the cost of the stud fee if it were sold at the moment of birth. From birth forward, the costs of care and training are added to the value of the foal, with a sale price going up accordingly.
If the foal wins awards in some form of competition, that may also enhance the price. On the other hand, without careful thought, foals bred without a potential market for them may wind up being sold at a loss, and in a worst-case scenario, sold for "salvage" value—a euphemism for sale to slaughter as horsemeat.
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Therefore, a mare owner must consider their reasons for breeding, asking hard questions of themselves as to whether their motivations are based on either emotion or profit and how realistic those motivations may be. The stallion should be chosen to complement the mare, with the goal of producing a foal that has the best qualities of both animals, yet avoids having the weaker qualities of either parent. Generally, the stallion should have proven himself in the discipline or sport the mare owner wishes for the "career" of the ensuing foal.
Mares should also have a competition record showing that they also have suitable traits, though this does not happen as often. Some breeders consider the quality of the sire to be more important than the quality of the dam. However, other breeders maintain that the mare is the most important parent. Because stallions can produce far more offspring than mares, a single stallion can have a greater overall impact on a breed. However, the mare may have a greater influence on an individual foal because its physical characteristics influence the developing foal in the womb and the foal also learns habits from its dam when young.
Foals may also learn the "language of intimidation and submission" from their dam, and this imprinting may affect the foal's status and rank within the herd. A purebred horse is usually worth more than a horse of mixed breeding, though this matters more in some disciplines than others. The breed of the horse is sometimes secondary when breeding for a sport horse , but some disciplines may prefer a certain breed or a specific phenotype of horse.
Sometimes, purebred bloodlines are an absolute requirement: For example, most racehorses in the world must be recorded with a breed registry in order to race. Bloodlines are often considered, as some bloodlines are known to cross well with others. If the parents have not yet proven themselves by competition or by producing quality offspring, the bloodlines of the horse are often a good indicator of quality and possible strengths and weaknesses. Some bloodlines are known not only for their athletic ability, but could also carry a conformational or genetic defect, poor temperament, or for a medical problem.
Some bloodlines are also fashionable or otherwise marketable, which is an important consideration should the mare owner wish to sell the foal. Horse breeders also consider conformation, size and temperament. All of these traits are heritable, and will determine if the foal will be a success in its chosen discipline. The offspring, or " get ", of a stallion are often excellent indicators of his ability to pass on his characteristics, and the particular traits he actually passes on.
Some stallions are fantastic performers but never produce offspring of comparable quality. Others sire fillies of great abilities but not colts. At times, a horse of mediocre ability sires foals of outstanding quality. Mare owners also look into the question of if the stallion is fertile and has successfully "settled" i. A stallion may not be able to breed naturally, or old age may decrease his performance. Mare care boarding fees and semen collection fees can be a major cost.
Breeding a horse can be an expensive endeavor, whether breeding a backyard competition horse or the next Olympic medalist. Costs may include:. Stud fees are determined by the quality of the stallion, his performance record, the performance record of his get offspring , as well as the sport and general market that the animal is standing for. The highest stud fees are generally for racing Thoroughbreds , which may charge from two to three thousand dollars for a breeding to a new or unproven stallion, to several hundred thousand dollars for a breeding to a proven producer of stakes winners.
As a stallion's career, either performance or breeding, improves, his stud fee tends to increase in proportion. If one or two offspring are especially successful, winning several stakes races or an Olympic medal, the stud fee will generally greatly increase. Younger, unproven stallions will generally have a lower stud fee earlier on in their careers. To help decrease the risk of financial loss should the mare die or abort the foal while pregnant, many studs have a live foal guarantee LFG — also known as "no foal, free return" or "NFFR" - allowing the owner to have a free breeding to their stallion the next year.
However, this is not offered for every breeding. After the mare is bred or artificially inseminated, she is checked using ultrasound 14—16 days later to see if she "took", and is pregnant. A second check is usually performed at 28 days. If the mare is not pregnant, she may be bred again during her next cycle.
It is considered safe to breed a mare to a stallion of much larger size. Because of the mare's type of placenta and its attachment and blood supply, the foal will be limited in its growth within the uterus to the size of the mare's uterus, but will grow to its genetic potential after it is born. Test breedings have been done with draft horse stallions bred to small mares with no increase in the number of difficult births. When breeding live cover, the mare is usually boarded at the stud. She may be "teased" several times with a stallion that will not breed to her, usually with the stallion being presented to the mare over a barrier.
Her reaction to the teaser , whether hostile or passive, is noted. A mare that is in heat will generally tolerate a teaser although this is not always the case , and may present herself to him, holding her tail to the side. A veterinarian may also determine if the mare is ready to be bred, by ultrasound or palpating daily to determine if ovulation has occurred. Live cover can also be done in liberty on a paddock or on pasture, although due to safety and efficacy concerns, it is not common at professional breeding farms. When it has been determined that the mare is ready, both the mare and intended stud will be cleaned.
The mare will then be presented to the stallion, usually with one handler controlling the mare and one or more handlers in charge of the stallion. Multiple handlers are preferred, as the mare and stallion can be easily separated should there be any trouble. Learn about the veterinary topic of Breeding Management in Pigs. Which can be fed to horses with metabolic issues, pregnancy and foaling as well as some! Practical information on the reproductive management of both thoroughbred and warmblood breedin This book is a must for any owner or manager of an equine breeding facility.
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Equine Breeding Management and Artificial Insemination / Edition 2
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