To Breed, or Not to Breed

With the feeling of spring upon us, I, like many mare owners, have the temptation to do something a little naughty.

It's time to set up my single friend!
Maybe no longer a single spinster? What man could resist this face?

Not everyone likes appaloosas. I’m sure there’s some of you looking at Vintage and thinking of appaloosa spawn…

It’s not my fault she always looks like she wants to destroy whoever she sees. I don’t pick her facial expressions, she is just open and expressive with her dislike of everyone and everything.

"I will destroy you when I get the chance."
“I will destroy you when I get the chance.”

I vaguely mentioned before that I want a jumper foal. I was thinking I was going to buy an American bred warmblood (note: not an American Warmblood) to support our American breeders. (Sure, those Europeans might know a thing or two about breeding, but Americans have to learn at somepoint!) I could find a nice, spunky foal to fill Vintage’s barefoot hooves. There are moments where Vintage seems to be feeling her age, and it seems like they come more and more. It makes me incredibly sad to think I won’t have my fiery little mare anymore.

As I pursue listings online, Dave says, “Well, if you want another Vintage, why don’t you just bred Vintage?” Yes, my husband is an enabler. This isn’t even a one time occurrence, this is whenever I’m feeling the urge, he says to just do it…and I’ve been hemming and hawing for 6 years over this.

I am a firm believer that just because a horse has a uterus doesn’t mean it should be used. There are so many mares that are bred just to be bred. I do not approve of this. I think a mare needs to be purpose bred, with a specific job or function in mind, and not just because, “Wouldn’t it be cool to have a baby horse?!” or, “Omg, foals are the cutest,” or even, “I really want to train a foal!”

I don’t care about the foal part – they are cute, but I’m not so easily seduced by adorable babies. I just want a younger Vintage. I love her sassy attitude, her work ethic, her spirit, her soundness (seriously, if she hadn’t jumped out a stall window and banged herself up, I’m sure she’d be 100% sound). She’s a great mover for being so small, and she’s a great jumper. But, if I got a great stallion match, I could improve on what she has, make her a bit bigger, get a bigger jump.

"I jump for you hooman."
“I jump for you, hooman.”

But, she’s old, and I might spend lots of money on what ends up being nothing. She’s a maiden late teens mare – not exactly an ideal breeding mare. The advantages I see here is that I’ll basically extend my time with a horse I love, and potentially not spend a huge amount of money…but also potentially spend a huge amount of money. Another con – I’d have to do it this year, because she’s not getting younger, and I didn’t want a foal next year. I was thinking a few years from now.

If I bought a foal, I could get exactly what I wanted, get it exactly when I wanted, and it would definitely be a high quality horse. But, I would definitely be spending a lot for it. There’s no cheap way of buying the foal I want. But…it would end up being the best horse I’d ever own. A professional breeder is obviously going to do a better job than amateur me.

I’m very torn. I don’t know what side to appeal to, my nostalgia side that wants to keep my teenage horse forever, or my desire for a very high quality, the only limit in competition would be me, type horse, but taking that with a grain of salt. I’m an amateur rider, I likely will never get to a high enough level where my horse is the one holding me back.

Then there’s a part of me that wants to see more appaloosa sporthorses in jumper competitions. They seem so under utilized. If I tried to buy an appaloosa sport horse foal, I wouldn’t even know where to start. Although honestly, I’d be pretty suspicious of anything labeled as an appaloosa sport horse. Maybe a fear of the unknown, verses what I know of my own appaloosa. Also, it seems very open to interpretation, as in, I’m sure some of these sport horses are basically regular appaloosas, or some bizarre cross they label as sporthorses. I googled it now just to check, and got results for a friesian/appaloosa cross. Yikes. Not what I want. (I’m feeling an itch for a slightly related post now…) The appaloosa posts I’m finding seem to be emphasizing the color part, when I could really care less about the color. To me, the color is an unfortunate side effect of being a cool horse, but not actually the reason to purchase. Wow, I can’t believe how prejudiced I’m being against my own horse’s kin. 

With all this rambling, I feel like my current course of action is to get a reproduction work up done on Vintage to figure out if it is even viable. I’m going to let medical science do some of the thinking for me. And hope this doesn’t end up really, really expensive. Hopefully if it’s not going to work, my dreams will crash down early, unless of having this be a long, drawn out progress and then crashing down.

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  1. The other option is a custom foal. Many breeders offer this as a slightly cheaper option to a foal thats already on the ground. You pick one of their mares, they get the mare in foal to the stallion of your choice, do all the care, etc, and you pay a flat fee.

    But there is a place that crosses Appy/Holsteiners to a small extent – Cloverlone Farm. Might be worth contacting them.

    Really though, the “App Sporthorse” has kinda become the Knabstrupper. I know, not really an app, but they’ve got the color. There are plenty of those floating around, and they aren’t super expensive. Granted, some of them are better jumpers than others. 😉 Avalon Equine could probably find or sell you a Colorado foal if you wanted something spotted.

    1. I was thinking about the custom foal – one of the breeding farms I’ve been investigating does that, and it does appeal to me. I worry that somehow I’ll be stuck with a bill and not get a foal, but there must be contracts to avoid that.

      I did used to board with a knabstrupper, but I don’t remember anything about it. It seemed like just a novelty type horse, as opposed to purpose bred. I’m not too concerned with the spots. From my personal experience, people always seem confused that my appaloosa isn’t like a stock horse, so really the only motivation with that was to show that not all apps are stock horses. Other than that, I’m biased about the breed myself, and I would pick a warmblood foal over buying an appaloosa foal. Jumping ability over color/pattern!

      I am curious though, so I’m going to look up those places! Thanks!

  2. breeding has never truly appealed to me bc of so many ‘what ifs’ and potential pitfalls… (tho if we’re being honest, the idea had crossed my mind with isabel lol). plus my need for instant gratification makes me want something *now* vs something that’ll take years to develop. i can see that the feeling would be totally different if i had my own farm tho. regardless, good luck figuring out the right choice for you and Vintage!

    1. Yeah I’m thinking what if’s too…it could go so wrong!

      Having my own farm does make it easier, although way to easy to just start collecting them. Ironically, I’m wanting delayed gratification in this case…haha I would like to put it off and build up my facility more, but her womb might be on its last leg. It wouldn’t be the worst thing if it didn’t work out, but I must satisfy my curiosity!

    2. That’s the thing that gets me about breeding too. You make a match, cross your fingers, and hope for something that meets you desires. For the majority of us ammies that’s not too hard — we don’t need the horse to be able to jump 7′ courses and gallop at warp nine, we just need them to be safe, jump 2’6″ to 3′ (which I’d say 50% of sound horses can do, or be trained to do — ballparking with no data here though), and not be little turds (also somewhat a training thing). But then you have to wait FIVE YEARS to see if you really got those things, and that’s five years of not breaking your own legs because you’re an idiot, falling on your head (too much), or any one of the hundreds of other things that can go wrong. Too much risk for me, I think.

      1. Not even gonna try to argue, this is all true. Breeding is phenomenally dumb when you think about it. Risky, expensive, and takes forever. I’m so dumb I’ve done it TWICE. LOL. Granted, in my case I want a Prelim/1* horse, not a 2’6″-3″ horse, so I need the kind of horse I can’t afford to just go out and pick up for a couple grand. Of course, if I was smarter I’d just buy a couple nice ones OTT and one would probably work out. See earlier note about being dumb. I like the baby/young horse process though! I’m not really sure why… it’s so tedious…

  3. I totally know how you feel, which is why I’m glad I don’t own any mares! I LOVE the stallion my friend has, but since she only has two crops, I’m waiting a bit to see what combo of mare/stallion I like the best and have some time to kill. I used to wish Ries was a stallion so I could breed him, but now I realize that would literally be the stupidest thing possible to do. Ever. It is a really hard thing to consider, especially if something happens while Vintage is in foal and her health becomes a risk.

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