What Does It Take To Become A Horse Breeder?

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 Does A Horse Breeder Do?

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?

Training And Education 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:

  • Reproduction
  • Physiology
  • Nutrition
  • Anatomy
  • Genetics

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:

  • Communication
  • Technology
  • Advertising
  • Marketing

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?

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.


  1. Responsible horse breeding – Equine Wellness Magazine
  2. Racing Industry Silent About Slaughtered Thoroughbreds

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