|This year's breeding season is almost at
an end... but the next is sure to come! To help you prepare for your stallion's future
rendezvous, we have asked several breeders to respond to a few questions related to the
topic of "breeding". Their answers are intended as guides for beginners who have
had no practical experience in dealing with stallions. We hope that the next breeding
season will become the unequivocal high point of the year for every stallion. So please,
read this article carefully - your stallion will be grateful!
Q: How many mares can a six to eight-year-old stallion breed in one week?
Heiner Buschfort, Kauber Platte Arabian Stud: A stallion breeds only once a day as a rule. When the need arises, he can breed twice on every second day.
Q: How do you protect your stallion's health?
Rosemarie Kolster, Altländer Araberhof: All mares, including one's own, should fulfill the following conditions: 1. Swab test result with the minimum sterility required for breeding. 2. Effective immunization (at least 14 days prior) against influenza and rhinopneumonitis. 3. General certificate of health for the mare, and the stable of origin. 4. Regular de-worming; one must be able to depend on the sense of responsibility of the mare's owner.
Champion stallion Nabeel (Maysoun x Bint Nabilahh), bred by Rosemarie Kolster
Q: Training for shows, presentation at shows, breeding... Are all of those compatible?
Cornelia Tauschke, El Thayeba Stud: The points mentioned are actually quite compatible with one another to the extent that the breeding activity of the stallion is kept within reasonable bounds. Most stallions lose weight during the breeding season and are therefore not in ideal show condition. Stallions don't lose weight due to breeding as such, but because breeding activity disquiets them and they eat less as a result. In my opinion, a good horse doesn't need to hide his flaws with fat. Of course, it is not easy to make this clear to judges, especially to those who prefer the Russion or the Polish type. But it is sometimes possible.
El Thay Mameluk (Ibn Nazeema x El Thay Mansoura)
Q: By the way - what does victory at a show mean today? No prize, no chance in the breeding business?
Peter Gross, Gut Dieckhorst: With the criteria that are applied these days in shows a championship means nothing to me at all! Apart from that, a stallion's ability to sire good foals can not be established from the phenotype alone. Despite a few faults a stallion can transmit good qualities that are anchored in his pedigree. No prize, no chance in the breeding business? Only the inexperienced are taken in by that.
Q: At what age should a stallion cover his first mare?
Heiner Buschfort: At age three as a rule. In exceptional cases at two-and-a-half, but with very few mares. And then it is important that the mares are quiet and experienced in breeding (older mares)!
Photo: van Lent
Peter Gross with his mare Saemah (Madkour I x El Samraa)
Q: To basics - how should the ideal breeding act progress?
Peter Gross: Ideal breeding act: There are no difficulties, and no extra equipment is required. The mare stands like an oak. Both horses are happy. And the mare gets pregnant at the first try.
Armin Münch, Schwarzwald-Baar Stud: Stallion's box open, mare's box open and they will get together! All joking aside, the first commandment here is: security for all participants! This begins with the choice of the proper place. The floor must be slip free and, for hygienic reasons, easy to clean. Extensive teasing, which, by the way, requires a very disciplined stallion, is the proverbial alpha and omega. Not only does teasing show whether the mare is ready or not, which significantly reduces the risk that she will kick the stallion, it also helps a fearful or inexperienced mare to lose her dread of the stallion, so that she relaxes and does not feel raped. If it turns out that the mare is really in heat, then the preparations for the mating act itself are completed. The mare's tail is put in a bandage so that its hairs do not make cuts in his or her genitalia. Her vagina, and (if already extended) his penis are cleaned with a mild disinfectant. When the stallion is led to the mare, the stallion's handler must be sure the stallion is kept under control. The handler must determine how the stallion approaches the mare, and, most especially, when the stallion covers her. When it is over, the mare should bewalked about ten minutes so she relaxes and keeps the semen in her vagina.
Photo: van Lent
Armin Münch and his friend Saddam (Gharib x Senitza)
Q: How does a "young man" ordinarily behave at his first breeding act?
Rosemarie Kolster: Depending on its temperament and personality, a young stallion can be insecure and hesitant or extremely overeager. An experienced, quiet and relatively small mare is ideal for the first mating. The libidonous stallion will have to be held back until he has extended completely, and he will have to be placed directly behind the mare. An insecure, hesitant stallion needs a lot of time. Neither one of them should be pulled too hard, but should beclearly warned in a friendly way. If the stallion misses his target at first, he should be encouraged to try it again. This can be repeated so long as the mare remains patient and calm and the stallion maintains his interest, or his courage. If he should appear disturbed after a certain period of time, he should be allowed to rest for a few hours. Things will normally go well afterwards.
Q: What are the most common behavioral problems in a stallion during the "act"?
Heiner Buschfort: Educating is important for every stallion, but most of all for the breeding stallion. The stallion must have been taught that he can't lead his handler. It is not acceptable to have man and beast run for cover because the stallion wants to breed the mare before the handler feels the time has come.Stallions with difficult behavior patterns often develop from spoiled, "sweet" colts, who were taught lack of respect for humans at an early age.
El Thay Thamam (Madkour I x Taghreed)
Q: How often must a mare be covered as a rule?
Cornelia Tauschke: If the length of heat is known, one or two coverings within a period of 36 to 48 hours is ordinarily sufficient. Frequent mountings increase the mare's susceptibility to infection.
Q: Does the stallion's psyche affect his fertility? What are a stallion's basic needs?
Cornelia Tauschke: No, ordinarily not. At the most, his desire to cover a mare will suffer. Nevertheless we do everything possible to ensure that our stallions feel their best. One has to realize that stallions in the wild run with their herds. This isn't possible at most stud farms. Therefore it is important to fulfill this important natural need of the stallion (to be near his mares). Our stallions are not kept in separate stables, but are kept in boxes without wire mesh among the mares. Nor is the stallion grazing area isolated, but shares a side instead with the mares' pasture, so that the stallions are in contact with their mares. This offers a considerable advantage in raising and training. For stallions kept in this way the mare is not just an object to be mounted as soon as human restrains her, but a partner as well, who is willing to mate at certain times. This in turns has positive effects, whether they become evident under saddle or during transport of stallions and mares together.
Heiner Buschfort: In order to be able to make a qualified statement on this topic, one would have to have recourse to good scientific data. I don't know whether or not these exist. It is surely the case that a well-nourished, regularly worked (ridden) stallion with a full day's plan of activities (including grazing), who is constantly well treated, will be a better adjusted sire than one whose only contact with humans takes place just prior to breeding.
Photo: van Lent
Q: Artificial insemination. What's your point of view?
Cornelia Tauschke: Positive. Protect the mare, easy for the stallion, but requires a lot of technical equipment. Because of the fact that European stud farms (especially with straight Egyptian horses) are smaller than most of the American farms the expense is not justified.