The Bloodline Traits thread got me thinking………..What makes a good broodmare?
I’m not talking about the broodmare to foal relationship, but what, in your opinion, makes a good broodmare? And how do you know?
Looking at some famous/popular horses, it seems to me (but what do I know – really – that’s why I’m asking) that a lot of times, the mare line comes from nowhere (this happens in the dog world, also). Maybe there’s some “quality” a few lines back, but otherwise, not much. So much emphasis is placed on the stud (again, not what I’m stressing here).
I think I’m having a hard time clarifying what I’m asking. Maybe I’m asking, does the mare matter? I know, I know……..of course it does. It has to. Or maybe, many of the champions DO come from great mare lines and, because the mares did not have a show career, bloodline newbies like me don’t recognize them.

Comments? Maybe I’ll be able to be more specific as to what I’m getting at once I hear what you all have to say (obviously I’m not sure myself). Thanks.


12 Responses to Broodmares

  1. cap1963 says:

    And to add to this, I have seen some broodmares on various websites (not to offend anyone) and they really don’t physically look that appealing, either. Could be the picture(s).

    Again, info and comments are appreciated.

  2. empressive says:

    Hey it’s OK Cap!

    Sometimes pics just don’t turn out the way we wish. Under pics here on Abovelevel is a pic I posted of my mare Joy. I just found her Mom online and at first was not impressed with this one pic of my mares dam. All I could think was “thank you Lord they put up more pics!” Otherwise I too would have continued to wonder how on earth such a nice mare (my Joy) came to be…

    Regardless we got over 50 comments on the Bloodlines post so lets hear a little here. Plus this will be shorter. I am online with my phone alot and scrolling down with a 1 and a half in screen, reading print that is about 1/4 inch large is killer. Please post here eveyone.

  3. morgangrl says:

    I thought that too about my geldings dam when i first saw her!

  4. LoriLiz says:

    I can’t help but laugh a little at this thread. I just had the vet out last night to check my broodmare. She is an absolute pig right now, shedding a very heavy winter coat, coated in mud and dirt from my lovely pasture. In the next stall, was her daughter, all clipped up and looking like a million bucks. My vet just shook his head at the contrast between the two of them. If you looked at her, you would never imagine she could produce such a great baby.

  5. empressive says:

    Ok I will take a stab at this. Watch for flames.

    SO you have a mare. Stallions can reproduce many foals and a mare only one. It of course is easier to see what the stallion will produce. Therefore we look to the mares pedigree. Look at the siblings and their offspring.

    Let say you look at a stud sibling of your mare. 27 of the studs offspring have straight shoulders out of 30. That is 90% with straight shoulders. Then look at the remaining 3 foals and find a link. It will probably be in the blood or pedigree. Once you find the link look for it in other crosses in your mares family tree.

    Sometimes though the line that crosses well with the stud, will not always produce well. That is when you go back to the 90% and find which offspring of the stud produces well and doesn’t pass on a straight shoulder. If those foals are not producing then look into their dam lines.

    After all of that you could find what crosses well with the stud and therefore your mare. But if there are no siblings then you would have to look into the sire and dam crosses and sibling crosses. If you want to be really thorough you would look at every horse to the 4th or 5th generation.

    And their progeny & siblings, how they were bred, what they produced, what bloodlines were used, etc. It could drive you insane. That is alot of information on 14 horses. (plus siblings and progeny) In the end though you would know what to cross to. Especially with a maiden mare.

    Then sometimes there are those horses that go down in history. The mares that always produced well even though their ancestors did not produce at all. Or perfect horses that their sire and dam cancelled out each others faults but, left the genetic conformation at a low so that when the “Perfect horse” is bred the mate’s faults will visibly come through.

    Stuff happens that is why I would spend that much time looking into it. This breed is worth the effort. Maybe this outlook is a little extreme. I have a scientist for an uncle and he looks into everything. Well, he was looking for a cure for cancer but, went back to school for his last degree.

    I would talk to him about horses and he would ask about EVERYTHING. Drove me nuts ’cause I would have to find out. He is on the East coast now. HEHE.

  6. StacyGRS says:

    Well, many things contribute to a great broodmare. Our best experience has always been to have a game mare that is bred to be game. Studs can lack this area and we rely on the mare to bring it to the table. We have found that our gamest show horses come from game mares. Game studs don’t always pass it on as consistantly. I tend to like less extremities in a mare than some do. I like a mare that has lots of good things about her as opposed to 1 great thing and plenty of flaws you need to fix. A mare with a good shoulder is great because that is actually not usually as big of a strong point for mares as it is for studs. Therefore, if your mare has a good shoulder you are a step ahead. I like a feminine mare. If I get a filly, I want plenty of pretty in there and if I get a colt, pretty is never a flaw.
    I tend to like mares that are true to their breeding…they themselves are very nice individuals that have strong traits from their parents. Those traits are more likely to be passed on if they’ve shown that they aren’t a fluke.
    A great hind end is a wonderful trait as it opens up alot of breeding doors…gives you more stud options. Mostly, I really think a mare has to be well above average overall to make breeding her a good idea.
    My pet peeve is someone that takes a less than average mare and relies on the stud to create this great baby. Very unlikely. Even worse is the “she won’t wear leather and hates working. We’re going to breed her and see if she likes being a mom”…are you kidding me?!?!?! Most likely you’ll end up with TWO horses that don’t wear leather and hate to work…sad!
    I find that studs that have extremities (OC’s long neck, for instance) generally becomes a hinderance in the breeding shed as everyone feels that since that stud is SO good in that area, he should fix their mare that SO lacks in it:) Bad breeding plan.
    Great broodmares are a gift. There are alot that SHOULD be good, but you don’t know until they produce. We had 3 broodmares and if you had told us we had to get rid of 2 we may well have chosen the wrong one to keep. Time will tell,but we think we may have a special one…makes breeding fun:) Once you find one, then you look for the cross that accentuates the positive and hopefully can help out the negative.
    We talked about studs and mares, but what makes for a great broodmare OWNER??? Brutal honesty:) It’s the only way you can really have any shot at doing the best for your breeding program.

  7. colwilrin says:

    Stacy…you hit my biggest peeves in your assessment.

    1. People who think breeding a mare will fix her personality issues or calm her down to be a better riding horse.

    2. People who pick a stud to “fix” a mare’s flaws.

    IMO…only breed something that you would be happy having a carbon copy of. You never know where those genetic chips will fall, and you have to be happy with enough of the attributes of both parents make the choice worthwhile.

  8. Scottfield03 says:

    I am super new to breeding, but have been really paying attention to breeding conversations over last several years, and have been very fortunate to have some excellent resources in professional friends. So far, my personal barometer for a mare is this: If my mare were instead a male, would I have gelded it? For me, if the answer is yes, than I would not breed her. If she isn’t a good enough individual to be “stallion material,” then she isn’t good enough to be broodmare material either.

    It’s a nice, perfect, little world I live in! ;-)

  9. cap1963 says:

    Wow! Thank you for those that responded to my really vague question. Everyone posted different perspectives to different aspects of the question. Again, thanks.

    No one really touched on my question of when the mare comes from nowhere. I’ll try to look up examples that I see and ask the question again. Because maybe they are not from “no where” and I really don’t know the lines, but I know I’ve seen some popular stallions (past and present) and the broodmare lines are not as recognizable as the stallion lines.

    Empressive: Thanks for the tip on stallion services vs mare breeding numbers. Makes sense and I should have thought of that. Also, thanks for the lesson on pedigrees. I’m not sure how I would accomplish the research, but it does seem sound.

    Stacy: Lot of info there that pertains to my question. However, can you refine your answer to the physical parts. Again, I look and look at mares, even in the photo archives, and I’m not getting it.

    Colwilrin: I agree totally and thanks for the saying it. A stud cannot be totally responsible for the outcome. There was just an article that touched on that in the Morgan Horse Magazine last month.

    Scottfield03: Can you elaborate? I understand what you’re saying, but it seems to me there is more than that (not that that’s not good advise).

    Someone posted on another thread a while ago (no offence intended) about looking for a mare or breeding mares or something, sorry, I forget and I can’t find it, but they said something like they weren’t talking about taking a show horse mare (not in-hand) and breeding her. I didn’t quite get that. If she is good enough to show (and place fairly well consistently in performance classes in A rated shows) why wouldn’t you want a “show horse” mare to breed to? I am assuming she has a solid background behind her. So I don’t get that comment (sorry, again, I don’t remember the thread).

    Comments? Thanks.

  10. Scottfield03 says:

    Hi Cap!

    While I would love to elaborate further, I really feel that there are people on this blog who are waaayy more able to answer your questions in this particular area than I, so I am going to bow out at this point. I am still trying to test and refine my own thoughts/theories on breeding. I think I am gaining as much from this thread as you are!

  11. Carley says:

    thats exactly how I feel about mares! If they would have been a colt, and would have been gelded, then why spare them just because its harder to spay a mare? I think a mare should be JUST AS EXCEPTIONAL (if not better) than the stallion she is being bred to.

  12. StacyGRS says:

    well, the only parts I mentioned were necks/shoulders and hocks. Hocks are just really helpful. Many lines lack them and many people try to create them, but a horse that has good,strong,honest hocks UNDERNEATH themselves not poking themselves in the butt behnd them,is ahead of the rest of the pack. Having a mare that is strong in that department just makes it one less area you need to demand that the stud excells in. However, that doesn’t mean you can breed her to that stud you love with the terrible hind end!! Breed her to something that is plenty good in that area and you’ll increase your odds of creating a strong individual that will then pass on it’s strength.
    As for necks, generally, if you have 2 full siblings and one is a colt and one is a filly, the colt will have the “better” neck. Mare necks don’t tend to be quite as long or curvy on the whole. SO…we tend to look to the stud for that, although we need to be careful that you don;t breed to a horse where the only part of it’s neck that is impressive is the part provided by being a stud over a mare…otherwise you’re in trouble if you get a filly. You can really only know that thru breeding or actually having seen siblings or offspring. However, if you do have a well over average neck for a mare then you don’t have to rely on that stud neck to fix it. Again, the majority of broodmares that we’ve done well with are overall high quality mares, not ones that are extremely good in one or two areas and bad in many others. Better to not have an extremity, IMO, in the mare but overall solid everything. And there is nothing like the heart of a great mare! The great mares are gamer than any stud any day, IMO:) Those are the special ones…the ones that pass that heart on. Those have the super game babies that make exceptional show horses and overacheive beyond what their bodies dictate they should.
    If you have a mare with an extremity or two and want to breed her, you need to really concentrate on finding a special cross and going with it. It might not be a huge name stud, but if it is the one that makes that mare produce better than herself in her weak areas and lets her strong areas shine through then go with it! If it produces a great baby, that will sell the baby long before “designer” papers on an average horse will. I happen to have a mare like this…super talented, super game, long necked with a neck that wasn’t put on the best. We stumbled onto a cross that builds on her talent and heart and adds a great shoulder which puts the neck on way better. Not a huge name mare or stud (although both very nice and both have good reason to be as good as they are and to produce as well as they are, but one would have to do the research to find that out:),but the first of the cross was 2 last season and we took her to OKC this past year we had 3 trainers approach us about buying her after her first class and she was sold by her second. Needless to say, we’ve repeated the cross:)
    Someone mentioned that a good rule of thumb is that if it were a colt and you’d geld it then don’t breed it. Not a bad rule…IF you’re a gelder:) I do the same, however, we own 4 quite nice colts right now all of which I think will be nice show horses…1 is still a stud. We geld:):) If you are someone that is not quick to geld than this rule will get you nowhere. I think a mare really has to have been able to stand on her own in the world to warrent breeding. If you are breeding show horses, don’t breed a mare that didn’t make the cut as one or showed for years and couldn’t ever seperate herself from the rest. As someone else also said, only breed a mare that, if you got that EXACT mare repeated in the baby you’d be happy! Don’t breed and cross your fingers that the stud makes it better!!!
    Lastly, I am not big on experimentation. Obviously, there are no guarantees and everything in breeding is somewhat of an experiment, but, I tend to go with what I have succeeded with. OC was not a fluke…he looks ALOT like his dad whom I fell in love with when I first moved to Ca. Then we succeeded with OC. We learned his strengths and weaknesses and found how to work with them. When we started breeding to him we found that his babies carried his trainability consistantly. We found that many started like he did with the same things working to help them along. Makes it easier. The Music Lee fillies have been golden for us. We’d take 10 more if she had them! We understand them and know what motivates them. We accept their quirks because we have seen those quirks help them rise above the rest time and time again. J’st Coastin Countess has been very good to us! And when crossed with Sharp Shooter it has been very predictable in it’s quality, work ethic, and incomparable soundness. They have also consistantly passed those traits on to every baby we’ve seen by/out of them. Again, we know what we are facing when we start them in training and we understand how to work them…makes our job easier:) When you work alot by a certain stud and you worked that stud, or out of a mare that you worked or knew well…or even came to know by the number of babies you worked, you see things come thru that are just fascinating, I think. Grandiose has been very consistant about the traits that get passed on and we’ve been very fortunate in working them. They’ve been quite successful for us. Having worked him himself, we understand what makes them tick and why they do what they do. Makes it easier. While we are more than happy to work many bloodlines and new bloodlines, we try to make our own easy for us…we aren’t going to get paid to work them:) We have only ever bred 1 mare that we didn’t train…knowing the mare, even if we breed her outside, really helps to understand the baby and how to work it, I think. SO…we tend to breed what we know and it has worked for us.

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