Breeding any animal has its potential problems, but extra thought and planning should go into breeding horses. You need to have a plan for the foal and know where it’s going to live, how you’re going to feed it and who’s going to look after it. A pregnancy lasts 11 months for horses, during which time extra care and attention will be needed. Seek advice and consult a vet before jumping off the deep end.
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Timing is crucial if you are to successfully and naturally mate two horses. The mare – the female – must be biologically ready, known as being in “heat.” This usually starts in the spring with the coming of the longer evenings and they repeat every three weeks for around six days at a time. The mare should be at least four years old when they are first mated, although they can be sexually mature at just a year and a half.
You may want to get your mare checked out by a vet before breeding to make sure she is healthy and able to mate. You should check the willingness of both animals to mate by introducing them over a stall and allowing them to nuzzle each other first. The mare may then urinate or present her rear end to the stallion if she is ready. This reduces the danger of putting the two together when the mare is not ready.
When you introduce your stallion to your mare you should have your mare in the enclosure first and then introduce the stallion. The mare may again urinate to demonstrate a willingness to mate and the stallion may sniff, nudge and bite at the mare in anticipation of mating.
The natural method
You can simply leave the two together for a completely natural mating process during which the stallion may eventually mount the mare and copulate. Horses can become injured during mating, but if both animals seem happy to do so, you can leave them together for the entire time the mare is in heat to increase the chances of conception.
Many breeders choose to assist in the mating process, but this requires two experienced handlers – one for the mare and one for the stallion. Both animals must be comfortable with the handlers – especially the stallion as many don’t enjoy having their genitals manipulated by someone they don’t trust. One handler takes the mare and walks her round while the other takes the stallion and approaches from the rear. The stallion may nuzzle at the rear end of the mare before mounting. The handler of the stallion may have to help guide the penis into the mare. Afterwards, the two horses are separated.
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