For horse lovers thinking of entering the world of thoroughbred breeding, it can all look a bit daunting. But it’s not all oil tycoons and multi-million-pound stud farms, there are ample rewards on offer to match all levels of investment.
Luck plays an integral part in the racing world. However, you’ll increase your chances of breeding success if you ask the right questions to begin with. After all it’s a big decision requiring careful consideration. It will involve the significant investment of both your time and money, so having reliable insurance for your horse is crucial.
As well as speaking to other breeders, read our guide to the 10 questions you need to ask before you create the next generation of champions.
1. Why do you want to breed thoroughbreds?
Some people will get into horse breeding on a recreational basis as part of their love of the sport. They see the investment they make as being justified by the enjoyment they derive. And if you set the very highest standards there’s no reason why you can’t realise substantial financial benefits, too.
2. Is commercial breeding for you?
Alternatively, you might decide to approach thoroughbred breeding from a more commercial aspect. While the rewards are more obvious you will be under financial pressure to produce foals for profit – sometimes selling them before they’ve even been ridden.
These pressures are substantial when you consider that nearly 80% of breeders have just one or two mares according to the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association (TBA). So, if your mare fails to produce a foal or it does not achieve the expected value then that will have to be offset against more successful years.
Breeders often decide to retain and race some horses they expect to enhance in value through racing or as a future broodmare.
3. Who will own the mare and her foals?
Just as with any thoroughbred racehorse there are various ways to own a mare such as:
- Sole ownership – You’re the only owner and have a 100% share in the animal.
- Partnership – A shared ownership allowing partners to decide how much of each racehorse they own.
- Syndicate – A group of buyers share in the ownership of a horse. A syndicate manager runs the day-to-day business of breeding.
4. Who will look after the mare and her foals?
Do you want to start your own stud farm or will someone else provide the day-to-day care for your stock? If you have the resources then many breeders prefer to look after the stock themselves as it is a significant part of the appeal. If you’re worried about issues such as covering (mating) or foaling then you could use another stud for those periods. Remember though, looking after mares and their young requires significant horsemanship.
5. What type of racing do you want to concentrate on?
You’ll probably have a preference for flat or National Hunt but it’s still worthwhile deciding beforehand which you’ll focus on as there are significant differences. According to the TBA 77% of foals are intended for flat, 13% for National Hunt and 10% for either.
Flat horses run over shorter distances, start racing earlier and may only race for two or three seasons. Therefore, the rearing stage tends to be shorter (around 18 months) and more intensive.
National Hunt requires more stamina so horses tend to train for longer, begin racing later and race for longer in life. This means breeders can give their stock longer to mature before selling.
6. Is my mare suitable for breeding?
Whatever your emotional attachment to your mare you need to ask yourself honest questions. First, is she a good candidate to breed, with a normal and healthy reproductive tract? Then, what are her objective strengths and weaknesses? Looking into her own breeding and damline is important to see if other foals her dam birthed have gone on to have successful careers.
7. What stallion will you look for?
Choosing the right stallion to complement your mare requires you to consider what type of foal you want to produce in terms of temperament, size, colour and more. If you’re breeding for a certain competition then look for stallions that have performed well and try to observe them in action.
8. Will the foals be sellable?
Providing you’ve a well matched mare and stallion, hopefully you’ll produce a prized foal. If you plan to sell the foal then you’ll need to consider when is best to do that. Investing in a sought-after stallion will mean you’ll attract buyers when the foal is still young. However, if you’ve opted for a lesser known stallion then you might need to wait until buyers can see the foal perform.
9. Can you cover the costs of breeding and care?
Stud fees for live cover or artificial insemination, vets’ fees both pre and post-birth, extra travel, feed and stabling makes breeding expensive. There’s no way to breed responsibly on the cheap. Just as with finding the best horse insurance, it’s not worth cutting corners on such important issues.
It’s important to note a horse cannot be registered as a thoroughbred unless it has been conceived by live cover.
10. Have you checked your contract?
Whether live cover or artificial insemination, ensure you fully understand the breeding terms agreed with the owner of your chosen stallion. Some contracts come with no guarantee that your mare will have a foal whereas others promise to try again if the first attempt is unsuccessful.
Protecting your thoroughbreds with horse insurance
With costs in the equine world always on the rise, specialist horse insurance is essential to help protect against any unexpected expenses. Rather than having to find cash in an emergency simply pay a regular premium to protect yourself and your horse.
From foals (31 days and older) to veterans, our specialist team at Equesure can provide a choice of cover to suit most budgets for any type of horse.
Choose Equesure and you could benefit from:
- Cover for vets’ fees up to £4,500 per incident with unlimited claims in the year
- Saddlery and tack cover available
- Loss of use cover available with all insurers
- Additional discounts for insuring more than one horse
Get the right horse insurance for your equine today.
Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.