Tuesday, 29 January 2013

When is a Broodmare not a Broodmare...

This ad is just full of contradictions...

Spotted the issue? Yes she's being described as a broodmare throughout the ad. And effectively she is- she's never been broken. She's had LOTS of babies. But you mustn't breed her. Because she's lame, and no one knows why. 

Question; why on earth decide breeding from her is not a good idea only when you finally decide to sell her? Maybe it would have been smart not to start breeding from her in the first place? Because the one thing the good old US of A is in dire need of right now is more chestnut quarter horses that are lame and unrideable. Without knowing why this mare is lame, there is a definite chance that she has passed some unseen defect on to her offspring. 

If the seller is serious about wanting this horse to go somewhere where she won't be bred anymore, they really should have taken the word broodmare right off this ad, because there are still people out there who are dumb enough to think breeding horses is the way to make money, and if it's got a functioning uterus, they'll have a go with someone's colt up the road. And they'll start by looking for cheap broodmares. And guess who'll pop up when they search for that- yep our chestnut friend up there. She could be hobbling on one good leg, and that wouldn't stop these people from thinking her foal would be worth millions (by some miracle) and getting her pregnant as fast as they can wheedle her away from her current owners with promises of lawn-mower duties. 

A REAL broodmare is actually a hard thing to find. The queries over the horse above are very obvious, but there are so many mares being touted as breeding prospects when they are anything but. Here are some things that DON'T make a horse a broodmare prospect, yet have actually been used on sale adverts as reasons for a mare being sold as one:

  • The fact that they've already had a foal in the past- this doesn't mean they should necessarily carry on doing it!! 
  • That they have strong 'mothering instincts'. Whilst it's true that not all mares do, most certainly will, very nice mares as well as the crappy ones.
  • They are so 'sweet, loving and caring'. See above.
  • 'She is stunning'. This is often a subjective comment. Anyway, just because the mare looks nice doesn't mean it's necessarily worth  breeding from, especially if she's proved utterly useless for anything else due to mental or physical issues. 
  • 'Difficult ride/not novice ride/won't tolerate ridden work so best for breeding'. Yep, it's too crazy to stay on, so lets breed it. Cos everyone wants to own a horse with a screw loose. 
  • Annnd our number one reason? They just can't be ridden anymore.
If a horse has never been able to stand up to being ridden, breeding would be a very bad idea- conformational issues can readily contribute to unsoundness and of course could easily be handed down to the foal. One of the most worrying things I've seen is the number of mares being offered as broodmares which can't be ridden because of navicular syndrome. This is a bit of a catch all description for a serious and often crippling foot disorder, but given that many experts feel hoof conformation is a major factor, why would you breed from a horse with this issue?

A good broodmare should be conformationally and generally correct for her breed/type (colour, height, build etc.), have a kind temperament, be fit and healthy (certainly no long term mystery lameness- although mares that are lame through accident and can no longer be ridden can have foals with vet clearance), and if she doesn't have impeccable bloodlines to speak for themselves and a family that have proven themselves in their field time and time again, have a good competition/show record. If that sounds like a lot to ask, take a look at the horse sale ads yourself. You can pick up an average horse for peanuts and there are already too many lovely horses unable to find a home. Why risk breeding something with little chance of at least producing a very nice foal when you could buy the same for less than the whole operation would cost?

Basically, if you ARE looking for a broodmare, I'd forget looking for freebies and expect to shell out at least as much as you'd pay for a competition horse of good quality. In the current economy, it's just not worth breeding from anything less. 


  1. But I never see sorrel/chestnut Quarter horses at the auction or anything.... oh wait! They're everywhere. Ugh.
    Maybe they just found out about the lameness thing and decided to stop breeding her? Maybe? One can dream, even if it's not likely. *sigh*

  2. You're absolutely right of course, and I agree that this is entirely possible, but my other immediate thoughts are that if they'd actually tried to do something- anything- with her i.e. broke her for riding or at least got the basics of this down with her, evidence of the lameness might have appeared earlier, certainly in time to stop her from producing mini-mes. The fact that many tests have been run in one way gives the owners credit for trying to pinpoint the cause- but also suggests this may have been a long term thing as in plenty of time to have one last foal while they are still convinced it's nothing and will pass.

    My personal opinion? I can't see the value in just keeping a pretty bog standard horse as a broodmare, and not having her prove herself as useful first. Unless you're sitting on a rare and special dressage blue blood or something- i.e the offspring of Totilas and Blu Hors Matine- or the equivalent in another discipline, I tend to believe a mare should be capable of something to be bred from.

    Thanks for your post! :-)

  3. I found this ad in my local gumtree classify (Australian version of Craiglist) and immediately thought of this blog.

  4. A minimal sale price as above would attract a lot of people (perhaps the wrong kind of people), too... it's scary to think about how things are put across by some owners, and yet can make you think that perhaps some horses are better off with a different owner... :S

    Definitely not all mares are broodmares and advertising them as such when advising that they shouldn't be is an interesting contradiction!