Becoming a proper horse breeder is a complicated, multi-step process. Breeding, raising and keeping horses is an expensive pursuit and one that requires a wide variety of knowledge, skills and abilities if one is to do it correctly. Underlying the entire question of how to become a horse breeder is the more complex question of whether or not it is ethical to become a horse breeder.
In this article, we review some of the requirements and duties of successful horse breeders. We also explore the question of ethics in horse breeding. Read on to learn more.
What You'll Learn Today
- 1 What Does A Horse Breeder Do?
- 2 What Kind Of Training And Education Is Required To Become A Horse Breeder?
- 3 It’s Not All Horse Handling
- 4 You’ll Need To Be Very Knowledgeable About Your Breed
- 5 How Much Money Can A Horse Breeder Make?
- 6 How Is Horse Breeding Unethical?
- 7 Do Genuine Horse Lovers Breed Horses?
- 8 Frequently Asked Questions
What Does A Horse Breeder Do?
In order to be a successful horse breeder, you must be extremely knowledgeable and experienced in areas of equine behavior, management, breeding techniques, and reproduction.
You will need to be able to handle horses skillfully and confidently because you may need to facilitate breedings through both artificial insemination and live cover. This means that you must be confident and capable of handling mares in heat and powerful and excitable stallions.
You may be required to attend foalings, and you will surely need to be capable of assisting anytime the veterinarian, farrier or other equine professional comes to attend your horses.
Horses don’t operate on the clock, so you’ll need to be ready to work at any hour of the day and night for as long as it takes to get the job done in all kinds of weather all year round.
What Kind Of Training And Education Is Required To Become A Horse Breeder?
Sadly, no education is required. Anyone in the world can simply buy two horses and start breeding them even if they know nothing at all. Obviously, this haphazard approach is one that is unlikely to meet with much success. Nonetheless, there are no regulations governing the job of horse breeder.
If you want to be successful, however, it is wise to gain a great deal of experience in handling and riding horses.
To be a successful horse breeder, you will need solid, working knowledge of all aspects of horse behavior and health. You will especially want to focus on subjects such as:
You should seek out a degree in a subject such as equine reproduction, animal science and/or equine science. Universities such as Colorado State and UC Davis are currently the best choices for pursuing these sorts of degrees.
It’s Not All Horse Handling
In addition to hands-on horse handling skills and knowledge, you also need to be able to manage your staff and keep business records. You’ll need to know all about running a business, so you should take courses in:
As a breeder, you’ll want the world to know about the quality of your horses, so you will also need to participate in shows and create advertising materials describing the best attributes of your stallions and mares and the foals they produce.
In today’s world, anyone running any kind of business needs to have some knowledge of how to manage a website. Coursework in webpage construction and search engine optimization can be helpful.
You’ll Need To Be Very Knowledgeable About Your Breed
Serious breeders typically specialize on one breed of horse. Some of the most popular breeds are American Quarter Horses, Arabians and Thoroughbreds. You may further hone your specialty by focusing on specific purposes such as show jumping, barrel racing or flat racing.
Once you have chosen a breed upon which you wish to focus, you must learn all about it. You should read as much as you possibly can about the different breeds of horses and especially the breed you hope to focus on.
You should understand every aspect of the ideal conformation of the breed of horse you choose to work with.
Learn about the characteristics of the breed as well as the history of its development. A skilled and knowledgeable breeder knows the pedigrees of his or her stock inside and out and is knowledgeable about the most prominent representatives of the breed.
This video shows an example of a well-run breeding operation along with other important information about pursuing a career in breeding horses.
How Much Money Can A Horse Breeder Make?
When you set out to make money with animals, you must understand that properly caring for animals is an expensive business. The amount of money you can make will vary wildly from year-to-year depending upon circumstances that may be greatly out of your control.
For example, availability of hay can vary tremendously from one year to the next depending upon the weather. Grain prices change frequently due to weather and political circumstances over which you may have absolutely no control whatsoever.
Hoof care, veterinary care, barn, stable and fence maintenance, vehicle upkeep, insurance costs, employee salaries and more are all costs that you will need to take into account when you are considering breeding horses.
The state of the economy can also greatly affect your success or failure. Horses are expensive to own, and the demand for horses rises and falls with the success or failure of the economy.
How Is Horse Breeding Unethical?
Champion race horses sell for millions of dollars and earn millions of dollars for their owners; however, the current state of horse breeding often requires producing thousands of horses to get the one winner. This is a costly proposition, and many say it is also an unethical proposition.
Mass breeding of horses is costly and results in many horses literally being thrown away. The number of thoroughbreds who end up in the slaughter pipeline is shocking.
Due to over breeding, many young horses who do not show promise as racers end up going to slaughter without ever being offered as pleasure horses or show horses.
Thoroughbreds are not the only horses who are regularly culled into slaughter. According to the American Quarter horse Association, more than half of all quarter horses bred end up being sent to auction and on to slaughter.
Do Genuine Horse Lovers Breed Horses?
The bottom line is, there are already far more horses in existence than there are people who can provide them with good homes. Horse overpopulation equals horse devaluation.
If you are intent upon being a horse breeder, be equally intent upon being an ethical horse breeder. Breed selectively and do not produce massive numbers of horses that are sure to add to the already burgeoning horse overpopulation problem.
If your motivation for going into horse breeding is that you want to make a lot of money, the only way you will be able to do so is to exploit horses. If you love horses, you will be far better off working with the horses who already exist than breeding new ones.
Frequently Asked Questions
The answer to this question changes periodically for all of the reasons mentioned above in response to “How much money can a horse breeder make?” In these very uncertain times, many horse owners are finding themselves unable to care for their horses, so rescues are full, horses are being shipped to Mexico and Canada to slaughter in unprecedented numbers, or they are being abandoned in wild areas to fend for themselves.
Making a living breeding horses is an uncertain proposition in the best of times. In these times, adding to the horse population is probably not a good idea, and you are unlikely to be able to make a living doing it.
To start a horse breeding business that has any chance of success, you must first know about business operation and management. You must be skilled in all aspects of owning and maintaining a successful business from bookkeeping to employee management and more.
From there, you need capital in order to purchase a sizeable amount of land, and you’ll need to live in an area that has good pastureland available for purchase. If you can locate an existing horse farm that has all of the outbuildings, fencing, etc., that you will need, that will save you money. Otherwise, you’ll have to develop the land you purchase so that you can provide your horses with proper housing and safety.
When you look for land, be sure that it has a good, natural water supply. Make sure you’ll have plenty of grassland so that you won’t have to purchase every bite of food your horses eat. A piece of property that’s large enough to allow you to grow your own hay is a big plus.
Once you’ve got your property set up and ready to go, you can begin purchasing stock. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with good breeders of the horse breed in which you wish to specialize. You can start by purchasing a stallion and putting him out to stud to make money to purchase brood mares.
Another way to go about it is to purchase older brood mares who are already bred to a good stallion to start your herd from the ground up.
Actually, this is the way most horse breeding is done these days, so if you have a good stallion, you can put him out for stud the old fashioned way, and/or you can sell fresh or frozen semen. To do this, you would work with your vet.
If you have a very good stallion, who is in great demand, this can be a good way to go. Breeding through artificial insemination is safer than doing it the old fashioned way, and you can cultivate clients who live anywhere in the world as long as you have a very reliable shipping method.
Keeping a stallion will certainly require less property than keeping a herd of brood mares. A good stallion will cost much less to feed and care for, and he has the potential to more than earn his keep if he is in demand for breeding.
The main caveat when keeping a stallion is that you must know what you are doing. A very experienced and confident horseman or woman can keep a stallion, use him for riding and driving, as well as breeding, and manage him fairly safely.
Even so, dangerous, unpredictable situations will arise anytime a mare in heat is nearby. An inexperienced horseman or woman has no business keeping a stallion.
- Responsible horse breeding – Equine Wellness Magazine
- Racing Industry Silent About Slaughtered Thoroughbreds