It’s our favourite time of year!
It’s that time of the year again when I start seeing gratuitous foal photos all over my Facebook feed from other breeders. Always fabulous, because there are some utterly amazing foals out there, bred from some fantastic horses, and I love seeing where other breeders are going with their breeding lines and what their stallions are producing.
It’s also that time of year where I have to seriously think about who is going to be covered by Hobbit after they’ve foaled, arrange transport for which ever mares are going to be sent to outside stallions (not happening this year because of Covid-19) and depending on how the mares are after foaling down, decide on who is going to be either retired from breeding (Topsicana last year), or be given a year off being a mum (possibly Acorn this year).
When it comes to breeding, there is no real right or wrong. Many of the western horse studs around the UK run their stallions in herds with their mares and let things happen naturally with incredibly successful outcomes (and some beautiful foals). They also run their stallions in groups together over the winter, again very successfully. They have happy, well adjusted horses who are in beautiful condition as a result of their management, and it works extremely well for them.
However, because Hobbit doesn’t routinely live with his mares as he is stabled through winter with a companion and has daily turn out, while our mares winter out in single sex herds and live out 24/7, and also because we only let Hobbit cover in hand, we have to take a much more structured approach to breeding. Our preference is to work very closely with our vets as we’re big fans of scanning our mares to see when they’re likely to ovulate to try and hit the optimum for a positive mating with the minimum coverings, as well as scan for pregnancy at 17 days (to check for twins) and for a foal heartbeat scan at 28 days. Personally, I prefer this approach as I feel more in control of things and it’s my personal preference.
Having said that, the mares haven’t read any of the veterinary text books and things rarely (if ever) go to plan either in foaling or covering!
Take Lola (Freckles Fancy Jac) for instance. Her due date (according to my calculations) is between 4th May and 14th May. It is now the 14th May and there is no sign of any foal. She’s heavily pregnant, very grumpy as a result and despite us being on foal watch with her for the last 2 weeks and many disturbed nights, which is making me grumpy through lack of sleep (cue many jokes from Huw about me being a grumpy mare!), I fully expect her to foal after Acorn (Acorn Flybynight) who’s due date is somewhere between 15th May – 27th May, just because she can! Knowing Acorn like we do, she’ll hang on until the bank holiday weekend and foal on Whitsun Monday because it’s a bank holiday and vet call out fees are double…
So… we’re still on foal watch. This year is extra exciting because we’re expecting our first foals from Hobbit and we have very high hopes.
As soon as they do arrive, we’ll let you know!