Factors that affect the broodmare's influence in the breeding farm.
Effects of her reproductive organs, milking ability and attitude as well as her genetic contribution outline her importance as an addition to the breeding herd.
Compared to stallion numbers a larger broodmare population is required to maintain production. Stallions have a far higher selection pressure because of the sheer fact they can sire so many offspring. The Hanoverian Verband has strict criteria that need to be reached before a stallion is given the right to be added to the breeding population.
The breeder has influence and personal preferences when selecting a broodmare. Because of the rising costs of maintaining mares, breeders are becoming more selective placing more emphasis on Quality rather than Quantity.
In the NZ situation most of our breeding members have only one or two mares.
Reproductive Organ Anatomy considerations:
It is usually recommended that a mare be examined for suitability as a broodmare. A good equine veterinarian would identify any abnormalities that may affect her future reproductive potential.
External genitalia are checked for deformity or immaturity. The Vulva should be positioned vertically to avoid contamination with faecal matter. A tipped vulva is an inherited conformation trait, which increases the chances of susceptibility to infections and consequently may lower her fertility. Thin mares or very old mares or mares with high, level croups tend to have slanted vulvas.
This conformation leads to a poor vulval seal letting in faecal matter and air.
Speculum examination allows examination of the vagina for scarring, rectovaginal lacerations, (caused when during foaling, a foal's hoof penetrates through the roof of the vagina in to the rectum), which allows for faecal contamination and subsequent vaginal infection to occur. This problem can be fixed surgically but the chances are the problem will re-occur.
The cervix is a tight barrier that prevents infection getting to the uterus from the vagina. The only time it is open is for delivery of a foal and relaxed to allow fertilisation at breeding. Mares are highly susceptible to uterine infections.
Examination of the cervix may reveal discharges or inflammation or physical damage such as tears and or scarring (that affect the integrity of the cervix to function as a seal). A mare with a torn cervix may be impossible to get in foal as infection may trigger unwanted abortion.
Rectal examination (via ultra sound) of the uterus and ovaries can give an indication of size and health of these organs. For example scarring and fluid build up can indicate problems.
A small infantile uterus with very small ovaries may indicate chromosomal abnormalities: although rare they do occur. The presence of ovarian cysts or tumours can be detected.
The mare's attitude can influence reproductive success and should be taken into consideration in the selection process. Good manners, a quiet disposition and a generous nature enhance the breeding value of any mare. Intractable mares waste time and effort. Foals may imitate their dam's vices such as kicking, wood chewing or difficulty in catching.
The ability to raise a healthy foal through good supply of milk and passing on desirable behaviour attributes. Some mares are more protective of their foals than other mares.
A modern, noble, willing sport horse, big framed with a well-defined outline, lean texture, well-defined musculature with a clear sex type.
Undesirable features -a horse that is either too small or too tall; coarse body parts, stocky, plain; no sex type; poorly marked outline.
The aim is to breed a horse with a correct and harmonious conformation.
- Head: Noble and well defined not too much subcutaneous tissue; the head should be in proportion with the body of the horse. A large keen eye with a calm expression, large nostrils, a clearly defined mouth and a light jaw.
- Undesirable features of the head: too large compared to the body, a blank expression, roman nose or dish nosed head, sheep's profile is undesirable, small sunken eyes with too much white, strong jaws, droopy ears and serious dental defects.
- Neck: Well proportioned growing smaller towards the head, a light and flexible connection between the neck and head (light poll) set at right angle to the shoulder with a clear and well-muscled crest to the top.
- Undesirable features include too low or too high put on neck, insufficient muscling, too long or too short, no tapering towards the head, thick poll, thin neck, ewe-neck, swan neck or a fat neck.
- Saddle position: A long sloping shoulder, with clearly pronounced withers that extend far back and connected to a slightly downward pointing top line. Undesirable features include a flat upright shoulder, short, flat, straight, high withers, straight, arched or hollow back.
- Frame: A rectangular horse, big outline and a compact harmonious top line. That means along neck sloping shoulder, long withers, long enough back, broad well muscled loins, long sloping well muscled croup body divided about even into forehand, middle section and hind quarters. A deep enough chest with compact flanks.
- Undesirable features include a short outline, very long or a very short back, straight top line, a hollow or an arched back (roach), open or tight lions, short, straight, downhill croup, lopsided or high tail or poor flanks.
- Forelegs: Desirable: When viewed from the lateral view a line dropped from the tuber spinae, on the spine of the scapular, should bisect the leg to the fetlock joint and then carry onto the point just behind the heel. From the front view, the legs should be straight and stand parallel to each other. A line dropped from the point of the shoulder should bisect the leg. A lean, well muscled foreleg with well defined, strong joints, elastic and medium long pasterns, (the angle between the ground service and the pastern approximately 45 to 50 degrees) strong, even-sized and even-angled hooves that are proportionate to the size of the horse, the angle between the ground surface and the anterior line approximately 45-50 degrees.
- Undesirable features of the forelegs include a lack of muscles, all faults of conformation, calf knees, sagging knees, standing under in front, camped in front, upright, base wide, base narrow, toe in, toe out, flat joints, all abnormal conformation of bones, joints or tendons, too long or too short pasterns, weak or upright pasterns, all abnormal conformation of the hoof such as contracted hoof, bound hoof, narrow, sloping, deep hooves with flat heels.
- Hindlegs: Desirable features include from the lateral view a line dropped from the tuber ischii should hit the point of the hock and go down the posterior aspect of the metatarsal area. Viewed from behind a line dropped from the point of the tuber ischii bisects the hock, pastern and hoof. Lean well-defined joints, strong well defined hocks, elastic and medium sized pasterns, and angle between ground surface and the anterior surface approximately 50 to 55 degrees.
- Undesirable features include all faults of conformation such as standing over or standing under behind, bow legs, cow hocks, sickle hocks, wide or narrow at the hocks, hoof pointing inwards or outwards, excessively upright legs, weak pasterns, small or incorrect joints like curby or bone spavin, abnormal conformation of tendons or bones.