Step 1: Should you breed your mare?
I have a mare, so that means I am obligated to breed her, right? HELL NO!!!!
It should come as no surprise that I have decided to breed Lady MacJazz (Freja) this year, but before we get too far into this adventure I wanted to give a strongly worded warning about breeding. This is definitely NOT a decision to take lightly, and if you're considering it I highly recommend doing LOTS and LOTS of homework and thinking it over at length - I've been contemplating this decision and educating myself for more than a year now. The decision to breed your mare will not only be very costly but it also can be very risky so it should never be taken lightly.
First and most importantly, TALK TO YOUR VET! Then seek out experienced breeders - not ones that have only bred a handful of horses but ones who have a strong professional reputation and a history of breeding foals that become successful athletes. If you're only breeding for temperament, reconsider your decision. You cannot guarantee anything about a foal, but you can confidently assess the temperament of a horse that is already alive and waiting to meet you. While I obviously take temperament into equal consideration with athleticism, I would never breed a horse strictly for her personality. It's important to assess health, conformation, pedigree and temperament equally.
In addition to speaking with your vet and professional breeders, I also recommend taking lots of time to research reliable sources such as this article from TheHorse.com
“Foals are cute and majestic, but foals will cost you $15,000-20,000 before you even know if they’re an athlete,” Espy says. “If you know the foal will be worth more than $15,000, then great. But if you’re looking for a $5,000 trail horse or kid-friendly horse, then you might want to go buy a 7-year-old gelding that has proven he’s got what it takes.”
Step 2: Goals for the Foal
Now that I've done my research and confirmed that breeding Freja is the right decision, I have started evaluating stallions to identify the one that will not only best match with Freja but also best suits my goals for the foal.
I have decided to breed Freja to a Thoroughbred stallion so that I have the option of training the foal for the racetrack, and I am only considering Ohio stallions because, as an Ohio resident, I want an Accredited Ohio foal. Thoroughbred racing has a very bad stigma, and I want to get involved as an active owner (and possibly even licensed trainer) in order to help show more people the positive sides of racing. Of course racing will only ever be a hobby for me with a very small barn of runners, but I truly believe that good racing trainers help develop sporthorses who excel in their second careers.
I have been fortunate to work around some amazing professionals in the racing industry, and I want to keep highlighting their stories while creating some stories of my very own. Of course I do think there are opportunities for improvements in racing, but I also think similar opportunities exist in every other competitive equine sport.
But debating the ethics of racing is not the point of this post; I only point it out because knowing what future I hope for my foal is helping to determine which stallions I consider. I want the foal to have the option to be a racehorse before going on to have a second career as a Dressage, Endurance, Eventing, Trail, etc horse with me. Maybe the foal will love racing and have a 10-year career at the track, or maybe she will make it very clear before her first start that racing is not her cup of tea. No matter what, she will always have a home with me.
With all of this in mind, no different than my list of criteria for shopping, I have a VERY GENERAL list of criteria for my foal:
Step 3: Stallions - Conformation and Temperament
.After doing lots of research and having some awesome telephone conversations with the owner of Poplar Creek Horse Center in Bethel, Ohio, I made the decision to focus on the stallions standing there. Robin Murphy (the owner of Poplar Creek) is a wealth of knowledge and has 13 Ohio-registered stallions who all happen to have very nice pedigrees and several of them are over 16.2 with conformation that is very well-suited for dressage and jumping.
This past Saturday Poplar Creek hosted its annual Stallion Open House event, and I was like a little kid in a candy shop as I met all the stallions and some of their offspring. You can see the full lineup of stallions at Poplar Creek at OhioStallions.com, but here are some videos and photos of my Top 4 choices (in alphabetical order). My next blog post will focus on how their pedigrees match with Lady MacJazz.
Who would you choose? Add your thoughts in the comments below.
This big chestnut guy is laid back and boy oh boy did he have an awesome racing career with $622,816 in earnings. With wins at long distances, he's also proven he has stamina which is key for sporthorses.
Pictures really don't do this guy justice. He was a TANK in person. Laid back and quiet just like all of the stallions I saw at Poplar Creek Horse Center, but he was definitely the bodybuilder of the bunch. And who doesn't love some chrome...
A fun goofy personality; he had his head out over his stall gate with his tongue hanging out begging for people to grab it. And with that build he's sure to produce a nice Dressage prospect.
This guy is a true 17.1 hands and definitely caught my eye when I walked down the barn aisle. He was gentle and inquisitive with just a little bit of spunk to make him fun and entertaining. And he looks like he's ready for Rolex just standing in his stall.
And to increase the cuteness factor, here is a 2016 filly by Vertiformer who I also got to meet.
Stay tuned for Part 2 which will go into detail about each stallion's pedigree, racing record and how I think each one matches with Freja.
By Kyle Rothfus
This blog is dedicated to providing insight about OTTB re-training, Thoroughbred pedigrees and general equine care. You can also track the progress of horses I have for sale through posts here.