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Tips on Picking the Right Stallion for Your Mare – with Leading Breeders Kim Dean & Joan Schroeder

The time of year has come around again, and you can hear the chirp and buzz of the birds and the bees every time you go out to the barn. It is the breeding season and, much like the online dating scene, choosing a stallion for your mare can be overwhelming.

We spoke with expert breeders Kim Dean of The Breeding Barn and Joan Schroeder, both hailing from Texas, about how to pick the perfect mate for your mare.

Most Important: Identify Your Weaknesses

Both specialists agree that before someone decides to breed their mare, they need to take a hard and candid look at what they have. This is not always the most natural thing to do, especially when human emotions are involved and an owner is love-blind. This is where consulting a professional trainer could be helpful.

“They need to know what they’d like to change about their mare – maybe her mind, movement, build, attitude so that they can add more depth to the bloodlines of the foal,” says Kim Dean (pictured right). Dean has worked with such greats as Only In The Moonlite, Certain Potential and Huntin For Chocolate. “Once they know this, they need to narrow down the list of stallions to the ones who have as many of the things their mare is lacking as possible.”

Joan Logan Schroeder, the manager of legendary stallions such as Blazing Hot, accentuates with passion about the most important aspect of choosing a stallion. “Bloodlines, bloodlines, bloodlines! It’s pretty simple. There are weaknesses in everything. It is important to identify them honestly. When we bred Blazing Hot’s mom, we looked, not only at her weaknesses, but the weaknesses of her family.”

Agreeing with Dean, Schroeder continues, “As a breeder, we are trying to create a better product with the crosses in our bloodlines. Cross strength to weakness first. Then, if possible, cross strength to strength, positive to positive.”

Step Two: Identify Your Goals

Schroeder (pictured left) encourages mare owners to have a roadmap to their breeding goals. What would the breeder like to accomplish?

“The offspring needs to be a great horse for them [the breeder]. Whether they are breeding for personal reasons, to have a show horse, working horse or for income or business,” she explains. “It is necessary before breeding, to have an idea of what the offspring will be used for to choose the best stallion to match the mare.”

Dean suggests that once a mare owner has identified the needs to be improved on the cross, then they need to consider other factors.

“If they find several stallions that fit the bill, they can narrow it down by the popularity of the stallion, bloodlines of the stud, the price of the stud fees, the price of the shipping and location of the breeding farm. Also, other considerations could be – do you get to speak to a ‘live’ person or do you have to text them, will the stallion owner/representatives or breeding farm help market your baby, etc.”

Getting Started

So how should a mare owner begin the consideration process? It is simple – study. Both ladies concur – do research. Dean explains, “Look at the ads and see what the trainers are riding. Ask people who have babies by the stallions they are considering about the minds and movement of their babies. Go to YouTube and search the stallion’s name, and you’ll find multiple videos of his babies going around. See if they have shared traits that you like your baby to have.”

Dean adds, “A great resource that is under-utilized is, where you can get a report of the performing foals by the stud you’re considering. This report also lists the dam’s name and the dam’s sire. If your mare is similarly bred to several of the performing offspring, chances are, your baby has a good chance of being a performer too. On the stallions I work with, we provide this report on the stallion’s website, or we can offer it to our breeders free of charge. It’s a very under-utilized, but a valuable way to help choose the right stud for the correct mare.”

Schroeder also encourages the use of various databases. “Research the cross. Good bloodlines increase the chance of good bloodlines. It doesn’t matter the amount of money spent on a breeding fee. Look at family genealogy. You can make a great cross of a mare and stud, both with beautiful heads, and the foal can be born with an ugly head. After tracing it back, you may find the grand-mare had an ugly head. Just like humans, flaws and strengths can skip generations, so research is fundamental, especially looking back in the history.”

Designer Babies

The abundance of stallions being advertised on social media can result in a mare owner getting overwhelmed when making a choice. So, how important is it that a mare owner choose a ‘brand name’ stud? According to our experts, it is not necessary.

Kim Dean clarifies, “High stud fees do not always mean that your baby will be worth the money it takes to get them on the ground, especially if it’s a junior stud that has no babies being ridden yet.”

Dean continues, “For example, we used to own the stallion, A Good Machine, and while we owned him (for the first ten years of his breeding life), his stud fee was never higher than $1,500. He had AQHA World and Reserve Champions, Congress Champions in multiple events and was on the leading sire’s list. A stallion owner once told me I needed to quit selling breedings to A Good Machine at ‘Wal-Mart’ prices. They said it hurt the number of mares that stallions like theirs could attract that were priced at Neiman-Marcus prices.”

Dean continues, “I wasn’t insulted in the least to being thought of like the Sam Walton of the industry. This way, everybody wins. We get to breed more mares, which means we can see which mares cross the best with the stallion.”

Schroeder has a similar experience. “Blazing Hot became famous because of his offspring, bloodlines, and genealogy. That’s what makes him great. He has foundation bloodlines and throws great conformation.”

Schoeder also stresses how crucial it is to have a good team behind the stallion. “Especially if the breeder is doing this for business or profit, but in every case of breeding, the mare owner and the stallion manager need to be 110% invested. If this is the case, the offspring will do well. There is importance in promoting and standing behind the product. This will attract the best mares and makes the babies more valuable. The magic cross is out there. You just need to find it,” Schroeder concludes.

Portions of this article originally published January 2018.