Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Confessions of a Miniature Horse breeder

As I've written about over this last year, 2009 was my 'non-breeding' year.

I didn't breed ANY horses. Not one. Zero, nada, zip!

Apparently that didn't sit well with my herd, so taking on the responsibility themselves, I've had quite the foaling year in 2010, six foals - five colts, one filly.  Pretty good in a very embarrassing fashion.

I have this illusion, that I maintain and hold to dearly, of being a responsible breeder. I'm selective on which mares and stallions I do cross.  I only breed a few every year (4-10 out of the 40+ we have here).

I do what I assume all of us do, and put thought into my breeding program and plan crosses and future crosses!

  • I look at pedigrees the parents, grandparents, siblings. Who's produced what in which cross and how did it turn out? 
  • Conformation is judged - he needs a better x and she has a better y.
  • Movement - good, lazy, moves out, trot's in preference...  
  • Personalities - she's a bit of a biotch, he's a pocket pet, etc.  
  • How have any other foals matured?  Do I like it, if not why not? If I do what do I like and why?
  • Color usually falls last in my equation as I don't breed appys/pinto's intentionally - healthy is my color of choice! 

Well sadly I must admit the stallions and mares have done quite a good job deciding this on their own without my laughable expertise. I'd like to think it's the overall quality of the horses that has helped (hey I want some credit!!!), so that any of them can be crossed and produce a pleasing Mini.  But I'd like a say in who, what, when!!!

I especially do not like the surprise, no one knew you were pregnant mares, which seems to be ET's long lasting legacy to me. Her and two out of three daughters have done this so far.  Hiding their pregnancy and then smugly coming down off the hill with a very healthy foal!

2009 admittedly was not my best year (personally speaking) and was why I didn't breed.  But our boys and the creative use of fencing mishaps and opportunities resulted in this extended foaling season and to my embarrassment a LOOOONNNGGG 'Who's Your Daddy?' year!

To recap:

  • February's opening surprise #1 Etoile blessing us with Kiega.  Sired by Ringo in a creative use of the round pen.
  • March LeeLee had Bruiser, Ringo fence jump
  • May, Chiclet blessed us with Rose, Rohan's contribution.  You ever see a stallion jump a fence and beeline for a mare?  That was Rohan.  He knew which one to get to and he's faster than we are!
  • June, Baybee had Chaos.  Suspected sire Frenchie, second only to Ringo in creative fence breeding and escape tactics
  • Then all summer we've watched Libbe, Remy and Maria.  Libbe has had a bag since May, the cheater and still no foal.
  • September, Cookie following in her dam, ET's, hoof steps surprised us with Bambam.  Suspect Frenchie.  DNA/PQ pending.
  • November 8th, Remy finally exploded and brought forth her adorable, yet to be named son, a pretty bay. A solid bay foal out of a solid bay mare.  Suspected sire?  We had thought Frenchie, but highly improbably with his dilute color to sire a bay.  Ringo? possible but unlikely. So this one will be parent qualified by elimination.

So for not 'breeding' I'm pleased with all the foals. Only one filly, but they're all healthy and really nice!   Maria still looks round, but no bag to speak of, so we go she is/she isn't/she is/she isn't and keep watching her.  I've never had foals this late in the year on purpose!

2010 we had ZERO fence jumps, so unless Ringo had some midnight love through a fence.  All foals should be sired exactly by whom the mares were bred to and born in a 3-4 week period - like I like it!  Short, sweet, sleepless month.

I just hope foaling season is over.

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