Horse Mating & Breeding: The ProcessBy Jeffrey Rolo
In our previous article Horse Mating and Breeding: Preparations, we discussed the pros and cons of natural horse mating versus assisted breeding, as well as went over the necessary preparatory steps to ensure a healthy and easier breeding process.
Now one handler is standing in the round pen, paddock or riding ring with the mare, while the other is getting ready to walk the stallion from his stall to the pen. I highly recommend threading a chain lead line through the lower half of the halter so that if you need to catch the stallion's attention you can give a sharp tug and snap the chain under his jaw. I am not a fan of this lead line application for training or normal walking procedures in the least, nor do I believe you should need to rely on severe tugging during the actual mating, but because the chance of injury is so high when you have a misbehaving stallion you want all the potential leverage you can get.
The stallion's handler should now walk the stallion to the ring at a very slow and measured pace. Chances are high the stallion is going to be anxiously plowing forward if given the opportunity, and the worst mistake a stallion handler can do at this point is allow it. It is essential that the stallion knows the handler is in full control long before he reaches the ring, because if the stallion suspects for one minute that the handler is the weaker party of the two then he could turn on him once inside the ring.
Always force the stallion to slowly approach the mare diagonally from the rear, and do not allow him to try and mount right away. Keep him far enough away from the mare so that all he can do is reach his neck over and nuzzle her genital region. You want him to tease her for a couple minutes, to both further assess her willingness to allow him to mount her and to enforce to the stallion that you are calling the shots, and only you will determine when he's permitted to mount.
The mare's handler will be responsible for ensuring the mare stands straight during the mount, as well as provide a bit of physical support if the mail is frail in comparison to the stallion. When a stallion first mounts a mare, if they are unpolished or inexperienced they can force a lot of weight on her, thereby making her sway to the side or lose her balance.
The stallion's handler will be responsible for ensuring the stallion treats the mare with respect at all times. This can either be very easy or very difficult, depending on the disposition of your stallion. My stallion, Sir Paul, is so easy to control that even in the midst of copulation if he were asked to stand down he would do so without questioning the command. That is an extremely good case, and just as there are extremely good cases there are extremely bad cases. Some stallions are downright barbaric in their mating practices, and become so single-mindedly determined in their desires to breed that they could care less if they manhandle or hurt the mare.
Make sure the stallion mounts the mare in a controlled and reasonable fashion. Too many overenthusiastic or fresh, young stallions will be so anxious to start copulating that they will try to mount from the side and/or thrust with no rhyme or reason. This can frustrate both the stallion and the mare, and neither option is particularly desirable. A frustrated mare can start lashing out at the stallion, and a frustrated stallion will only perform worse as he allows his frustration to cloud his mind.
During the mounting process make sure the mare's handler keeps his head away from the mare's shoulders. As the stallion mounts, his front hooves will rest near the mare's front shoulders, and if the flailing hooves hit an unprotected head the results won't be pretty (and even a helmeted head will be left reeling a bit).
It's best for the stallion handler to force the stallion to approach repeatedly until he gets it right, but an experienced stallion handler may also elect to guide the stallion's shaft to the proper location with his hand. This isn't advisable to all but the most experienced handler, since the movement loses a degree of control over the stallion and places you a bit closer than ideal to his body.
Once the stallion hits his mark he will rest heavily on the mare's back; unlike humans horses do not thrust. The mare's handler should try and provide whatever support is necessary to keep the mare standing firmly until the stallion ejaculates and dismounts. Don't worry – it's a very quick process once the stallion has entered the mare.
Once the stallion groans or indicates he has ejaculated, the stallion's handler should dismount him immediately and bring him back to his stall. Meanwhile the mare's handler should start walking the mare around the ring for several minutes, not allowing her to stop for a moment if at all possible. Once the horse mating has been finished the mare will do her best to eject as much of the semen as possible, and to ensure she has a better chance of "catching" it's best to prevent her from easily doing so right away by walking her and allowing everything to settle a bit.
When you have walked the mare around for a few minutes you can remove the bag from her tail and bring her back to her stall. Don't worry if she expels some semen during the walking or after you stop walking her – it's inevitable that she will rid herself of a good portion.
I would advise breeding a mare in heat once a day if you want to maximize your chances for her becoming pregnant during that heat, though every other day can work well enough too. The key is stopping when the mare no longer seems as receptive to the stallion as she should be, because a mare will exhibit some signs of heat even as she's leaving heat. But like trying to breed her when she's just coming into heat, if she's not in full heat then the horse mating process won't be convenient or safe.
If you have a well-behaved stallion and mare then just about any experienced horseman can safely perform an assisted horse mating, but if your stallion is particularly aggressive then I do not advise any but the most experienced horsemen try and handle the stallion during this time.
Rival studs in nature can become violent towards each other when they are competing for the same mare, and for all practical purposes you will be playing the role of a competitor whether you realize it or not. You will be obstructing his desires and making sure he mounts only when you give the nod and only so long as he respects the mare. If there is any doubt that you are in control from the start, you have no business trying to battle for authority during the midst of a horse mating process since this is one of the most dangerous times a handler can pit his skills against a stallion's.
Horse mating can either be a walk in the park as it is with my stallion and mares, or it can be an ordeal that tests even hardened handlers. When you decide to breed your horses, always be patient and always be unyieldingly firm – you cannot let your guard down for a moment, or allow a stallion to believe he might wield the power for even a second.