From the Foaling Barn

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The Older Mare: Redux

Darrell Hanson commented on my last blog post, wondering if it makes economic sense to spend the extra time and money it takes to breed older mares. He raises an issue that I grapple with often. I took a long time to put together my broodmare band. I tried to get representatives of the great reining lines. I also tried to buy mares that had earnings or offspring earnings. I think I have a good bunch of mares. However, they aren't all created equal. With a few of my mares I would consider pulling an embryo, most I would not. And for some I'll go to much greater lengths to get a foal, i.e.,if they've been especially good producers.

Right now, I am trying to decide whether to keep trying on one of my oldest mares, 23 year-old Pappita Sunrise, who was the very first mare I bought. She is a daughter of the great Hollywood Jac, and out of the great mare Paps Glo, two legends in reining history. One of Pappita's foals, Whale of a Whiz, has earnings in excess of $90,000 and was the alternate on the US Gold Medal team at last year's WEG championship. Several years ago, Pappy had colic surgery and developed a hernia which made it unwise for her to carry her own foals. At first, I had good luck pulling embryos from her, but last year I struck out. On our first try this year,we did not get an embryo. Since then, I've been reading up on problems of older mares, and I'm really ambivalent about trying to breed her again. Pappita looks fantastic for her age. She's in good weight, well-muscled and completely sound. But what pushes me toward trying one more time, is Pappy's two-year old filly, who looks to be one of the most promising prospects we've ever produced. I'm still thinking about it and talking to my vet. I'll have to decide in the next few weeks one way or another.

But, back to Darrell's original question. I do think that good regular maintenance saves breeding expenses in the long run and helps keep older mares breeding sound. Last year of my fourteen mares, 10 took on the first breeding, three on the second and one took three breedings (coincidentally, this was my youngest mare). For mares younger than 15, the chance of a successful pregnancy resulting from a single breeding is 60%. For older mares, the percentages may fall to 40%. I say "may" because, once again, all mares are not created equal.
Some young mares may be tricky to breed, while some like BH are baby-making machines.

I, also, think it saves on expenses to keep really good records, so that you know what each mare requires without having to cast about blindly for the answer to a breeding problem. For example,I can look back several years at my records and see that we've been successful breeding a given mare when we do a post-breeding lavage. I'm willing to spend $100 on a lavage or a Casslick to ensure the money I've put into the breeding will produce a foal.

I consider an open mare to be the greatest expense of all.

Juiced in Hollywood (Smart LIke JuiceX Pappita Sunrise)

 

 


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