The Right Blood: Americas Aristocrats in Thoroughbred Racing

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Horse racing

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.

The right blood : America's aristocrats in thoroughbred racing, Carole Case, (electronic resource)

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.

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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. 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.

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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.

The right blood : America's aristocrats in thoroughbred racing - University Of Pikeville

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.

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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.

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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. The Jockey Club , the organization that oversees the Thoroughbred industry in the United States, requires all registered foals to be bred through live cover.

Artificial insemination, listed below, is not permitted. By contrast, the U. No other artificial fertility treatment is allowed. In addition, foals bred via AI of frozen semen may only be registered if the stallion's sperm was collected during his lifetime, and used no later than the calendar year of his death or castration. Artificial insemination AI has several advantages over live cover, and has a very similar conception rate:.

A stallion is usually trained to mount a phantom or dummy mare, although a live mare may be used, and he is most commonly collected using an artificial vagina AV which is heated to simulate the vagina of the mare. The AV has a filter and collection area at one end to capture the semen, which can then be processed in a lab. The semen may be chilled or frozen and shipped to the mare owner or used to breed mares "on-farm". When the mare is in heat, the person inseminating introduces the semen directly into her uterus using a syringe and pipette.