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Selecting a Stallion
Your Stallion Selection Checklist
Check Your Mare
First, know what you want to produce. Make sure that your mare has enough strong points before you consider breeding her. The mare contributes to 55% of the foal's genes. If you are not sure if your mare has enough strong points to breed her, take her into a breed halter class at a horse show. Once the class if over, go and talk to the judge and ask the judge what he/she thinks about your mare's conformation, and ask to see the judge's notes. Or, you could take your mare to a breed inspection (these are held regularly by many breed registries). For an average of $150, the judges will rate your mare, scoring her on conformation.
Once you have done that, you become more aware of your mare's conformational imperfections. You can use this as a tool in narrowing down your stallion choices. You will know exactly what you need to improve in your mare's foal!
Check Your Pocketbook
You have to decide (before you start looking for a stallion), what you can spend. It is very foolish to go with your second or third choice stallion only because he is a couple hundred dollars less than the one you really want to breed to your mare. Keep in mind that the stud fee is the cheapest part of this investment! Also, remember that you can easily get a foal that has less desirable conformation from a stallion who's fee is $4,000 than from a stallion who's fee is $1,500.
Check Your Magazines
Once you have decided if your mare is worth breeding, and what price you are willing to pay for a stud fee, you can start looking! Pull out your dusty stack of magazines (some magazines have a stallion/breeding section), and start your search. Another good place to look is at breed registries, many registries have stallion books with the information that you need.
If there are local competitions in your area, you will be able to see the stallion's temperament and ridability. Be aware - when looking for a stallion in photo advertisements, many photos are retouched! Be sure to visit the stallion and observe his temperament while being ridden, and his manners while around the stable.
It is smart to keep a list of stallions that you like, rating them 1-5 or however you want to do it. This way, when you have to make the final decision, it will be a lot easier!
Check His Conformation
The stallion that you choose should have strong points where your mare is lacking. If your mare has short, stocky legs and you want your foal to have a longer legs, then select a stallion whose legs are long. Compare your mare's imperfections with the stallion's. This will give you a good idea of what to expect in your foal. However, some stallions will produce a foal that looks very different from them - this is why it is important to investigate the stallion's previous offspring.
Check His Bloodlines
Make sure that you study the stallion's bloodlines. Ask the stallion's owner what the stallion's offspring have accomplished (performance) and for pictures or videos of his offspring. Also ask for names and/or phone numbers of people who have the stallion's offspring. If the breeder is unwilling to give you references, be aware - there is always a reason! You might also be able to find information about the stallion's offspring from the Performance Horse Registry (PHR). Look for horses that produce performance, you may notice patterns in greatness. You may also notice that horses that have perfomed very well may have been foaled from the same sire or grand sire.
You'll need to check your mare's bloodlines while you're at it. You should have no problem getting her pedigree from her breed registry. Also ask if there are pictures available of her dam and siblings - which will help by educating you about what conformation imperfections are in her genes. Your breed registry may also tell you if she has been bred before, and what she contributed to her foals.
Check With Other Professionals
You could check with a bloodstock agent, giving him information on your mare's pedigree, size, conformation and goals for her offspring. With this information, he can recommend bloodlines likely to fuse well with your mare.
Visiting or calling an experienced Breeding Class judge or an experienced breeder, can offer you a lot of information on selecting a stallion for a winning combination with your mare. Ask them what they think of the stallions in your 1-5 list, and if they know anything about that stallion's offspring.
One more thing...a call from your veterinarian to the stallion's veterinarian can also fill in any missing details about the stallion's past and about his breeding.
Check The Breeder
Last, but definitely not least, check the breeder! Any devoted breeder will answer your questions as fully as possible, and will admit when he doesn't know an answer. Always make sure the stallion's breeder/owner is experienced...whether you are experienced or not. It really helps to do a little research here. Get references on the breeder: veterinarian, farrier, past buyers...etc. If references are not freely given by the breeder...beware! Any reputable breeder will be more than happy to supply a good list of references.
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