QUESTION: I'm new to this group and have been silently enjoying reading the discussions and learning more about this breed. I am fascinated with the Apps we have from Milton Decker. I was raised with Arabians and Quarter Horses we didn't know what to expect wit the Appaloosas, but I've been pleasantly surprised over and over. My dad was needing a new pleasure riding horse and we came across Milton's website and were awestruck to say the least. My dad bought one and it resulted in me buying DREA Sundays Fireagle later on. I am standing Fireagle this February and it will be the first time for the both of us. Do y'all have any advice or pointers for getting started? I've heard the first few times sets a precedence for how the stallion will act during the rest of his breeding career. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! I had a friend create a flyer that I plan to place locally. Do y'all see anything I should add or take away? Should I add that he is homozgous black or mention the LP gene? I am changing the 100% Foundation to 100% FPD ApHC. - Bonnie Spencer
You are wise to seek direction in breeding as horses are, like many animals, creatures of habit. If your stallion gets in the habit of rushing a mare and mounting her without courting, he may well end up one day getting hurt by his behavior.
Personally, as someone who has stood as many as six stallions at a time over the last 25+ years, I can’t emphasize enough getting proper training from the start for YOU. When we purchased our first stallion, my partner and I attended the breeding school at Texas A&M. (Many university with vet schools offer these…I’ve heard Colorado’s is excellent, too.) There was so much to learn there that we were very glad both of us were present. My partner specialized in learning to handle the stallions and I focused on the mares. There is much to learn about both sexes during hand breeding. In fact, there’s a ton to be learned about estrus cycles, light, safety and semen plus many other things that I can’t recommend this experience enough.
Safety is paramount, of course. Some people use a breeding chute, but we used a post and lead line as we didn’t have enough resources to get a chute when we were just starting out. Now we use a combination of hand breeding and pasture breeding on most mares. We have also used AI on both our mares and shipped cooled semen via an AI technician we were blessed to have in our area. Naturally, AI is safest and also best if your stallion’s fertility is at all compromised.
It is a good idea to require a clean culture on ALL mares regardless if they are maiden or not. In our years of breeding, we’ve had two maiden mares with infections. It is not all that uncommon IMO, especially if they’ve been in a pasture situation during their life-span. If your stallion gets infected from breeding an infected mare you can lose thousands of dollars and an entire breeding season. Been there, done that, NOT worth the few owners who will walk away because you require a clean culture (and no hind shoes). And it’s in the mare owner’s interest to know their mare is breeding ready. It can save them hundreds of dollars and untold frustrations in the long run if the mare comes up unbred or aborts.
You stallion should lead easily and in all kinds of situations on a loose lead before breeding season even begins. Excellent leading is paramount to a good breeding experience. If he doesn’t lead well, John Lyons (and numerous other trainers) has a superb training video on leading well. We actually even sent one stallion who was very difficult to handle during hand breeding to a professional trainer for leading lessons. It was worth every penny. After good training, we never had to use a chain on him again for ANY reason. Also he was more willing to listen and “romance” the mares before breeding them.
Before breeding, you need to clean and dry the mare’s vulva. Texas A&M recommended using a little bit of Ivory soap as it washes clean and leaves no residue. WATER is a spermicide so be sure she’s dry all over her hips and buttocks. Also clean the stallion (with water only). Dry him off with clean paper towels. He should allow you to handle and wash his penis without any kicking or fidgeting. These are things you can train him for even before the breeding season. If you’re not sure how your stallion will react to having his penis touched, be sure to wear a helmet. Actually, no matter how well you know the stallion it’s a good idea to wear a helmet when handling his penis as it only takes one “lucky” kick to cause irreparable damage. Just good safety.
When you hand breed that stallion is going to go up, up, up. For that reason, it’s also a good idea that everyone involved wear a helmet when hand breeding whether they’re handling the mare or the stallion. Hooves flail around, especially on an inexperienced stallion, and damage can be done totally by accident. Humans were NOT intended to be part of the equine breeding process and they become extraneous once the horses' hormones take over.
Finally, a young inexperienced stallion may not know how to find the “right hole.” I can’t tell you how many times I or the stallion handler has had to grab his penis and guide it in. We all recommend soft cotton gloves. It gives you traction and doesn’t risk scraping the stallion with a fingernail or ring.
There’s so much more to breeding, and I could go on forever, but these are the high points. Again, I can’t stress enough the benefits of a good breeding school. They are not cheap, but they are worth every penny. Best of luck. Hope you’ll let us know how it goes. --Maryeileen
I agree with most all of this, especially the negative culture test for outside mares. Four different times and six, counting two of our own mares, we have tried to breed mares with a closed cervix. All goes well, except no conception. A culture test would have told the vet this, before the mare was hauled, teased, boarded, bred, repeatedly, etc. Lots of time and money wasted on these.
We lost one very good mare and almost lost a seconded, by breeding two mares with closed cervix. The trauma of natural breeding caused a infection within the uterus and on the one mare it killed her and the second it was close, but she was saved. - Milton
We pretty much tried all the different solutions to breeding. It depends very much on where you live, how many horses, how much land, and your age and physical infirmities,
We were taught by Toby 11's Patchy, how to go about it. He was 15 when we bought him, and used to all types of breeding. We lived on a corner farm, and had school buses and kids going by at all times, and parent's let us know how they felt about the public breeding. So Dick would tease the mare by turning her loose outside his corral. When Toby decided the pheromones were correct, Dick would tie her to the breeding post and let Toby loose. He would either breed her, or turn his nose up and walk away. That invariably meant something was wrong with the mare, it never failed. Remember we were just learning, and toby knew everything. Once in a while, he considered the mare too ugly, and he would just walk back in his stall and eat hay. He was a really intelligent horse with a sense of humor!
We presently offer frozen semen only, because we are too old and slow to deal with the breeding process . Our collecting vet at Pullman university suggested it, because of our infirmities, and the fact that our stallions semen is so extremely fertile. He has always impregnated the mares by the first try. If the local vets want too, they call him and his methods work perfectly. He is a world famous breeding expert, on several species of animals. Our stallion is pastured across the electric fence, no wire! and no one ever gets hurt. Unless you havewire where it shouldn't be. They have new non-wire fences now that are incredible.
Now you have heard an answer for when you become elderly and infirm, so you don't have to sell you special friends. Have fun! - Dick & Sally