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Photo: N. Sachs

Your First Foal

 

 

Horse breeding for beginners

 

 

 

Karin Kattwinkel

 

 

 

FOREWORD

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Photo: N. Sachs

FOREWORD

 

Seeing your own foal develop from an embryo into a promising youngster is one of the most rewarding experiences a horse lover can encounter. In this book, I aim to explain what you need to know in order for you to enjoy your foal to the full. Even if some of the subjects I cover might seem a little off-putting, my intention is always to give you the information you need that will not only help you to make an informed decision but also help you to recognise potential problem areas and hopefully prevent them before they arise. This approach will benefit both your beloved mare and the foal you plan to have from her and your own enjoyment of them.

But first you need to be really honest with yourself and ask: ‘Is my favourite mare actually suitable to be bred from?’ Only if you are absolutely sure that the answer is ‘yes’ should you proceed any further with your breeding plans.

Far too often, worn out or unrideable mares are used for breeding, based on the argument ’if I cannot ride her any more she should at least have a foal’. As many problems are hereditary, this is not an ideal way to select breeding stock, because progeny of such parents often have the same problems as their sires and dams. This is why the idea that breeding a foal from your own mare means that you can get a new horse or pony cheaply is often a false one. Breeding from a mare and raising its foal, delightful activities as they are, requires a lot of care, patience and knowledge as well as money and time. Being able to cope with problems – because set-backs and disappointments are part of every breeder’s life – and the support of your family or your partner are therefore essential.

You should also remember that mistakes made in the foal’s first few months will influence its whole life. It will be a good four years before the foal can be ridden, and in no other species is managing the growing phase as important as it is in the horse. This is because the early days determine the development of the skeleton and constitution and therefore its suitability for performance or pleasure. Incorrect management as a foal can finish a promising career prematurely. The temperament of the youngster may also suffer if it is not raised in a horse-specific environment including sufficient space in the stable and field and equine companions of the same age. Keeping a mare and foal on their own behind the house has nothing to do with animal welfare; it is pure egoism.

Affection, reason and careful attention to detail are other important requirements for a breeder. You should be a guide for your young animal. Only then can you shape its character and ensure that it is well-mannered and has a good temperament. Far too often, however, people do not treat their horses consistently. In successful human-equine relations, the human being has to be the leader from the start and needs to be shown respect at all times without compromise. The equine should always be an inferior herd member, a role that suits a herd animal well as it provides security and protection.

Last but not least, you should be able to recognise your own limits and ask for competent help and advice when necessary.

 

Enjoy this book and I hope that it helps you breed a foal that is all you wanted.

 

Karin Kattwinkel