Don’t Breed That Mare!

By Don Blazer

The chances of making money by selling the foal are slim and none. Unless you can answer three questions with a very positive “yes” and you have figured a way to cover all the costs involved, you might as well just send me $5,000 and be done with it. Answer “yes” to the following questions, or don’t breed that mare!

Is your mare registered?

Does your mare have a “performance record”?   That means she performs a specific event (pleasure, racing, jumping, competition trail, etc.) and has won in competition resulting in a permanent breed association performance record.  Anything short of that is not a qualified record.

Can you identify a specific market that wants to buy the foal?   And if your answer is “someone who wants a nice horse” then don’t breed that mare.

If your mare doesn’t have a performance record, you are going to pay too much for the stallion fee.  (Whatever you pay is too much to breed a mare with no performance record.)

If you have a mare with a performance record, you can tell the stallion owner you expect (and you’ll get) some reduction of the breeding fee.  Try to pay nothing more than a “chute” fee (costs of collecting the stallion for AI breeding) and shipping.  If they want more than that, be prepared to show sale prices for the stallion’s offspring are not that great.  (Find horses by the stallion which sold at auction…most of the time the sale prices won’t justify the stallion breeding fee.)

No matter how great the stallion, you can almost always find an offspring which sold for less than what it cost to breed and raise the foal to his yearling year.

If the breeding fee is $1,000, you are going to spend another $1,000 in veterinarian and AI expenses.  Not figuring in anything for the cost of the mare, you’ll spend no less than 1,800 for the year caring for her.  Add in $600 for keeping the foal until he is weaned and another $500 for vet care and miscellaneous expenses, plus $200 in advertising costs.

Total cost to get the foal up to the point of selling is $5,100.

The chances are good to excellent that you won’t get $5,000 when you sell the foal.  (Oh, I know you say it won’t cost that much and you’ll easily get more for the foal…..but unless you answers the first three questions with “yeses” it just doesn’t work that way.

To prove my point, I am riding a filly that I bought at a sale.

The filly is registered, but the dam has no performance record.

The seller had no specific market in mind for the filly.

Two “no’s” out of three isn’t good.  The breeder (seller) is going to lose money.  Here’s how:

The stallion’s breeding fee of $4,000.

The care and board for the filly at the age of two was at the very least $2,000.  Let’s say they didn’t spend a dime on hoof or veterinary care, but they did put her in a sale with a $300 entry fee, and a 7 percent commission.  

I paid $2,100 for the filly.  The cost to the breeder/seller had to be at least $6,447.

Breeding that mare left the breeder/seller with a loss of $4347, or $2173.35 for each of two years.

Don’t believe my figures; go through any sale catalog and look at the sale results for yearlings out of mares that can’t answer all three questions in the positive.

You’ll soon be a believer and hopefully you won’t breed that mare.