Horse mating successfully


  • What You Need to Know About Breeding a Horse
  • 8 Steps for Breeding Your Mare
  • Horse Breeding Basics
  • Because of this, many of us have heard about artificial insemination in horses. But you may have wondered how these large mammals mate with one another naturally. How do horses mate, if left to procreate naturally? How do horses mate? Horses mate like many other mammals mate — through courtship, followed by the stallion male horse mounting a receptive mare female horse.

    Mares will show signs of being in heat during her most fertile days, which are days during the beginning of her cycle. This is the ideal time for horses to mate to produce a foal.

    How Horses Mate: The Receptive Mare Like most male mammals, stallions are willing and ready to mate throughout the year. This means that the timing really depends on the female. So how does a mare show a stallion that she is ready to mate? When a mare is fertile and in heat, she will show physical signs such as discharge and a swollen vulva.

    When a stallion is around, she may urinate in front of him releasing pheromones that will tell him she is ready to mate and might position herself in a straddling pose. Stallions will sense a fertile mare through the signs that she will give him. To test whether or not a mare is receptive, a stallion may sniff the mares or even bump against them to test their readiness. Once a stallion has discovered a receptive mare, he will elicit the Flehmen Response — in other words, he will lift his head back, with his nose in the air, and may curl his upper lip.

    He may prance around, and show off for the mare. He will then often do a sort of dance, lifting his hooves high off of the ground and twirling in tight circles. After this display, he will get close to her and may bite or nuzzle her.

    If the mare does not rebuke him, he will then start sniffing her backside, legs, and tail. At this point, the mare will likely have lifted her tail to him, and he will then mount her. The act of courtship is usually a longer display than the mating act itself, which is only a couple of minutes long.

    Want to learn more about female horses? How Horses Mate: The Aftermath If you are supervising a breeding for the first time, do not be alarmed if your mare falls onto her side after the mating act. It is very common for the mare to fall over after mating, and happens more frequently with first-timers — though many mares will fall over every time after mating. There are many theories as to why a mare may fall over and need some time to recover after mating: Hormones Hormones may come into play here.

    Hormones are fluctuating throughout the estrus cycle and will reach a peak during fertility. Regaining Balance While the weight that the stallion does place on a mare does not typically cause any harm, it can certainly throw her off balance. When he dismounts, she may find herself losing balance and will lie down to recover. Stallions can be aggressive and hyperactive when courting and mating, and horses are socially sensitive creatures. When a hormonal mare is faced with an excited stallion, her body and mind may become stressed, leading to the need for a brief rest.

    When Do Horses Mate? Most horses have a seasonal breeding cycle, going into heat for the first time of the season in early Spring and ending in late Summer. Mares go into heat every 21 days during this breeding season and are fertile and receptive to mating during days out of their cycles.

    Mares begin their breeding season gradually, with the first cycle of the year often being irregular and unreliable for breeding purposes. Why Are Horses Seasonal Breeders? Late Spring and Summer are the ideal seasons to give birth, as these warmer, temperate months help to ensure the greatest chance of survival for young foals. For this reason, mares usually stop going into heat in late Summer or early Fall so that they do not fall pregnant in the late months of the year, forcing them to raise a young foal in the harsher Winter season.

    Many breeders who can ensure proper foal care in the Winter choose to encourage an extended or early breeding season among their mares. It is the lack of daylight that prevents many mammals from going into heat during the winter months — and is also the reason that chickens and other fowl stop laying eggs in the colder seasons as well.

    Just as putting a light in your chicken coop can encourage Winter egg production, exposing your mares to artificial light during the Winter can trick their bodies into going into heat.

    How much light do mares need? If you would like to encourage Winter fertility or a reliable early Spring cycle, you will want to aim for 14 — 16 hours of artificial daylight per day. When Are Horses Sexually Mature? Sexual maturity is a term applied to an animal that has started puberty. A mare usually goes into her first heat at around 12 — 15 months of age. This early age of puberty onset should not be interpreted as a filly ready to mate, however.

    The age of 2 is the absolute earliest that fillies can be bred safely, and many breeders consider this age much too young for the health and proper growth of the filly. Horses are not fully physically mature until around the age of 4 to 6 depending on the breed, and there is still a lot of growth and joint development happening in a 2-year-old filly.

    Many believe that breeding a filly at 2 years of age will stunt her growth and lead to abnormal development. We must keep in mind, however, that the gestation period for a horse is 11 months, and so a filly bred at 25 months will not actually give birth until she is 3 years old.

    Most of the physical toll that pregnancy takes on a mare is occurring in the last months of gestation, and so the first months are relatively easy on her body — in terms of joint and bone development at least. Still, breeding a horse under the age of 4 should be done with great caution, and only after getting the all-clear from your veterinarian.

    In addition to the physical demands of pregnancy, most breeders agree that a horse needs to be mentally mature enough to make a good mother to her foal. A horse under 4 or 5 years old may not have the mental capacity to respond to her foal appropriately, and this could be detrimental to the development of the foal after birth.

    Think about the mental preparedness that a year-old human mother may have in contrast to a year-old human mother. Both women would have been fertile and able to conceive, but the younger mother may have had a more challenging time taking on the demands of motherhood.

    While the decision on when to breed your mare is highly individual and will be based on a number of factors, most agree that the prime broodmare age is between 5 and Of course, if you would like to breed your mare more than once you will want to start on the earlier side of that range. If you want to breed your mare, it is a good idea to have a veterinarian give her a thorough exam to ensure she is of optimal health to carry a healthy pregnancy.

    It is important not to breed your mare too young, and it is important to give her extra care and calories during her pregnancy. Though the month gestation may seem long, it will be worth the wait when she gives birth to her foal.

    Working with baby horses is a whole different ball game compared to working with their adult counterparts.

    Figure 1. Spermatozoa are produced in small coiled seminiferous tubules in the testes that can be extended to feet in length. Since these developing cells cannot live at body temperature, heat regulation of the testes is critical. Scrotal muscles contract and expand as temperatures change in the normal process of temperature regulation. Since this condition is hereditary, it should not be propagated, as castration of a cryptorchid horse is usually a serious operation.

    The accessory sex glands are the seminal vesicles, prostate and bulbourethral gland. These furnish alkaline fluid secretions that neutralize the urethra, through which spermatozoa are transported from the epididymis to the end of the male genitalia glans penis.

    Only in highly irregular or exceptional cases does it exceed this time span. Sperm has been found in the Fallopian tube 15 to 18 minutes after coitus, but the normal time to travel from the site of deposit to the Fallopian tube is five to eight hours.

    The average egg life is also only five to eight hours. Because of a long estrous cycle and short life span of the spermatozoa and egg, it is not uncommon to have a lower than 50 percent conception rate. Care and use of a healthy stallion Breeding rates Yearlings should not be used for breeding. Two-year-olds may settle 10 mares; 3-year-olds, 30; and mature stallions, 50 mares when hand-mated. About half this number can be pasture-mated. A short breeding season will reduce the number, and sexual individuality of the stallion will greatly affect his siring ability.

    Feeding and management The breeding stallion should be fed like a horse at hard work. If he is worked under saddle, more feed will be required. Because of diverted interests, a ration high in palatability may be necessary for some stallions to get adequate intake. Regular exercise usually results in increased vigor libido and fertility. Regular grazing of good grass, even for short periods of time, is recommended. Methods of mating Pasture mating, hand mating and artificial insemination are the three methods used, with variations of each.

    Breed registry regulations vary regarding the use of artificial insemination. Information on constructing a breeding stall is given in Figure 3. Information on constructing a teasing stall is given in Figure 4. Figure 3: Breeding stall. The end of the rope is securely held by an attendant who can release it if necessary in an emergency. Figure 4: Teasing stall.

    If stall is positioned against a building, be sure the roof overhang cannot be reached by a rearing horse. A colt pen feet in front of the mare is very desirable. It has the disadvantage of reducing the number of mares a stallion can serve and obscures breeding dates.

    Some risk to the stallion exists. Stallions should be hand-mated a few times as 2-year-olds, then turned in a large pasture with a few older mares when they are to be used in a pasture breeding program. Even so, they are likely to carry some scars from their experience. For this reason, pasture mating is seldom used with breeds whose owners discriminate against blemishes, whereas it is extensively practiced with stock horses in the range country.

    A combination of hand mating followed by pasture mating will extend the number of mares bred and increase settling percentage. Group teasing mares. Hand mating is practiced under a wide variety of conditions, ranging from rather casual selection of mares and sanitation conditions to those that are highly supervised with a veterinarian in attendance. Stallions used with hand mating should be adept at teasing mares. This may be done at a teasing pole, over a stall door, or any other sturdy fixture that does not injure the horses or attendants.

    Signs of heat are frequent urination, vaginal discharge and intensified interest in the stallion. As ovulation approaches, hormones released by the ripening follicle cause an intensification of these signs. The character of vaginal discharge may change from limited amounts of stringy consistency to profuse amounts of liquid consistency. After the mare has been teased and found in heat, she may be hobbled or placed in a breeding stock. Hobbles have the advantage of convenience and safety to the mare but may entail some risk to the operator.

    Stallions also have been known to become entangled in them. The stallion is allowed to mount quietly from directly behind the mare when ready. A stallion should not be permitted to be rough in the process of breeding. Front shoes should be removed before the breeding season.

    How to increase your percent foal crop Breed only healthy animals. Breed as often in the heat cycle as possible. Pasture breed when practical. Have mares in good condition, but not fat when bred. Tease mares regularly after breeding. Have mares pregnancy-checked by a competent veterinarian. Reference Andrews, F. Estrus, Ovulation and Related Phenomena in the Mare.

    Missouri Agricultural Research Bulletin University of Missouri-Columbia. Loch, Wayne and John W. Horse Breeding Basics.

    Step 3: Get the mare cycling. Now that your veterinarian has diagnosed and treated any possible reproductive issues, you must make sure your mare is cycling normally before breeding. Mares are seasonally polyestrous, meaning they cycle and come into heat during periods of long day length, such as during the spring and summer.

    However, some mares cycle year-round. Many breeders, especially Thoroughbred breeders, try to get their mares pregnant in late winter or in spring so they foal early in the year. For more on getting a mare to cycle, see TheHorse. As nights become shorter and daylight increases or as artificial lighting or hormone therapy takes effectsays Wolfsdorf, melatonin levels in the body lower, prompting gonadotropin-releasing hormone GnRH secretion.

    Ovulation occurs during the last 24 to 36 hours of behavioral estrus.

    What You Need to Know About Breeding a Horse

    Knowing when a mare is in heat is important to determine when the veterinarian should start examining the mare for follicles, which can help determine ovulation and time of breeding, whether via natural cover or artificial insemination AI. Signs a mare is unreceptive to a stallion include pinned ears, tail-clamping, aggression and striking toward the stallion, and disinterest. For more on teasing, visit TheHorse. Step 5: Determine when to breed the mare Once a mare has started cycling, the owner must decide whether to breed her on the first heat—the less common approach, says Wolfsdorf—or wait for subsequent heats, which have higher pregnancy rates.

    Breeding method—live cover or AI—also dictates breeding timing. Cooled semen viability is stallion-dependent but is usually good for 36 to 48 hours from collection to insemination.

    With these methods the veterinarian should prepare the mare to ovulate within 24 to 40 hours of insemination see step 6. Frozen semen can be even trickier, because insemination must occur within six hours pre- or post-ovulation and, therefore, produces the lowest success rates. The veterinarian will do this by administering exogenous not derived from the mare prostaglandins to bring her back into heat sooner.

    Once a stallion has discovered a receptive mare, he will elicit the Flehmen Response — in other words, he will lift his head back, with his nose in the air, and may curl his upper lip. He may prance around, and show off for the mare. He will then often do a sort of dance, lifting his hooves high off of the ground and twirling in tight circles. After this display, he will get close to her and may bite or nuzzle her.

    If the mare does not rebuke him, he will then start sniffing her backside, legs, and tail. At this point, the mare will likely have lifted her tail to him, and he will then mount her.

    The act of courtship is usually a longer display than the mating act itself, which is only a couple of minutes long. Want to learn more about female horses? How Horses Mate: The Aftermath If you are supervising a breeding for the first time, do not be alarmed if your mare falls onto her side after the mating act. It is very common for the mare to fall over after mating, and happens more frequently with first-timers — though many mares will fall over every time after mating.

    There are many theories as to why a mare may fall over and need some time to recover after mating: Hormones Hormones may come into play here. Hormones are fluctuating throughout the estrus cycle and will reach a peak during fertility.

    Regaining Balance While the weight that the stallion does place on a mare does not typically cause any harm, it can certainly throw her off balance. When he dismounts, she may find herself losing balance and will lie down to recover. Stallions can be aggressive and hyperactive when courting and mating, and horses are socially sensitive creatures. When a hormonal mare is faced with an excited stallion, her body and mind may become stressed, leading to the need for a brief rest.

    When Do Horses Mate? Most horses have a seasonal breeding cycle, going into heat for the first time of the season in early Spring and ending in late Summer. Mares go into heat every 21 days during this breeding season and are fertile and receptive to mating during days out of their cycles.

    Mares begin their breeding season gradually, with the first cycle of the year often being irregular and unreliable for breeding purposes. Some risk to the stallion exists. Stallions should be hand-mated a few times as 2-year-olds, then turned in a large pasture with a few older mares when they are to be used in a pasture breeding program. Even so, they are likely to carry some scars from their experience.

    8 Steps for Breeding Your Mare

    For this reason, pasture mating is seldom used with breeds whose owners discriminate against blemishes, whereas it is extensively practiced with stock horses in the range country. A combination of hand mating followed by pasture mating will extend the number of mares bred and increase settling percentage.

    Group teasing mares. Hand mating is practiced under a wide variety of conditions, ranging from rather casual selection of mares and sanitation conditions to those that are highly supervised with a veterinarian in attendance. Stallions used with hand mating should be adept at teasing mares. This may be done at a teasing pole, over a stall door, or any other sturdy fixture that does not injure the horses or attendants. Signs of heat are frequent urination, vaginal discharge and intensified interest in the stallion.

    As ovulation approaches, hormones released by the ripening follicle cause an intensification of these signs. The character of vaginal discharge may change from limited amounts of stringy consistency to profuse amounts of liquid consistency.

    After the mare has been teased and found in heat, she may be hobbled or placed in a breeding stock. Hobbles have the advantage of convenience and safety to the mare but may entail some risk to the operator.

    Stallions also have been known to become entangled in them. The stallion is allowed to mount quietly from directly behind the mare when ready. A stallion should not be permitted to be rough in the process of breeding.

    Horse Breeding Basics

    Front shoes should be removed before the breeding season. How to increase your percent foal crop Breed only healthy animals. Breed as often in the heat cycle as possible.


    Horse mating successfully