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Blackwater Farm

Too small to breed?

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I saw a listing for a miniature mare for sale that stated they were selling her because she was "too small to breed". She was listed at 28.75" as a 3 yr old. There was nothing listed as to the size of her sire or dam so I dont know what she would top out at. Is this too small for breeding? I wasnt interested in purchasing her, just out of curiosity. Thank you!

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I don't breed minis but I do know a couple breeders that have smaller mares they use to breed. It depends on what you're breeding for (if you're a large A/small B program that breeds driving horses then she would be too small for you) and how wide/big her hips/other structures are (maybe her hips are too narrow to safely pass a foal?). I've heard foaling gets more risky the smaller the mare is, so that could be their reasoning too but like I said before, I've known breeders to breed smaller (the under 28") mares

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a few years ago (when I was new to breeding minis) I bought a 28"-29" mare already in foal , she had a badly positioned foal and there was so little room it was impossible to correct , the foal died and the mare ended up having a C - Section , happily she did survive but the poor foal died , the little mare suffered the loss of her baby and great pain and I got a huge bill - I learnt the hard way ....NEVER AGAIN ! Its like a time bomb sooner or later the mare will have problems and Im not prepared to take that risk

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I breed mares from 28" to 34". I've not had any more trouble with my small mares than my taller ones.

 

A mare may be too small for one persons' breeding program, depending on the direction they are wanting to take, but just the right size for someone else. :yes

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we have quite a few 28-29" mares and have no more problems with them than my taller girls. Actually, I've had less trouble with them than my tall girls over the years. I always wait until my smaller girls are at least 4-5 years old before I breed them for the first time, then I make sure they are wide enough in the hips and have enough substance to support a foal. I have a 2 yr old mare who will top out at about 28.5" and I don't know if she'll ever be able to foal safely as she is so refined and narrow. Then I have a 28" mare that's given me foal after foal no problems that I don't worry about at all. She's refined too, but she has substance and good wide hips. So, it depends on the horse. With the horse market the way it is, i'd rather not breed a mare that would make me worry for 11 months...no matter how good she is.

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Okay, I am not a breeder by any means, but have been blessed with surprise packages from Mares we have purchased.

 

I remember someone saying the reason most small mares have difficulties giving birth is because they are bred to a stallion bigger than them are, which in turns makes for bigger foals and that the trick to breeding small mares with less difficulties is to bred them to stallions smaller than they are. Any truth to this breeders?

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Guest StarRidgeAcres

Interesting topic.

 

Personally, I have found NO difference in ease/difficulty of birthing in my mares as it relates to their height. I have foaled out mares from 29" to 34" and although my 29" mare did have difficulty once, it wasn't due to her "size" as she was actually my easiest foaler (has now been sold). The difficulty was due to the foal having a deformed front hoof so getting past that was somewhat more difficult for her, but she did it herself! Just kept rolling until she got that baby where she wanted him and then out he came!

 

My personal belief is that each mare is different and you can't make generalities when it relates to height - because I've just heard too many stories that contradict the common "myths." Regardless of height, if the birthing canal is too narrow, there will be problems. I do agree however, that IF there is a problem, you may have less room with which to move things around inside on a smaller mare.

 

As for the height of the stallion, I believe that also is not nearly as relevent as his bone structure. Is he refined and/or his babies refined? Then it wouldn't worry me. If the mare is 28" and the stallion is 34" and stocky and thick - well I wouldn't breed those two.

 

I'm currently looking for an outside stallion to breed to a 28" mare in 2011. The bone structure is WAY more important to me than his height. But...I did have the mare internally examined prior to deciding to breed her. A mare can look like she has a "good hip" on the outside, but things can still be tight on the inside. The exam doesn't guarantee me anything, but does help me in my decision-making process.

 

And as others have said.... If your goal is high-stepping, pleasure driving horses, then most wouldn't come from a under 30" horse. Some have, but most are from the taller, leggier stock imo.

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It has less to do with the size of the stallion as to the type of foal he produces. If he produces fine boned foals and is 32" he would be fine to breed to the 30" or under mares. I have a 29" mare that has had three foals by two different stallions both around 32" and all three foals were very easy for her to have. There are some stallions that are under 30" but so heavy boned that they wouldn't be safe to breed to a small mare either. So while under 30" mares do need more thinking about what type of stallion you breed her to, they are still able to foal easy when bred to a stallion you know produces finer boned babies.

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Thanks everyone for the info. I couldnt really see much of how the little mare was built because she was all hair in her pictures. The ad stated that they were selling her as a "pet only" because she was too small to breed but I thought I had seen mares before that have safely birthed foals and have been between 28" and 29". She is only 3 years old so she still may grow a bit more right?

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At three years old all my Minis are finished, so anything after that would just be either putting on topline, or "creeping" on maybe half an inch.

I always allow for the difference between American and European horses in height, due to the difference in our measuring, but I will not breed from any mare under 30", which if you put that at 29, possibly 28" American you would be about right. So, I have two fillies I am selling as "not for breeding" right now, one is 28" at three going four, and the other is 27" at two going three, even though both these fillies is fairly well built, I just do not think it is worth the risk. I, too, lost a little mare due to a dystocia, it was just impossible, and that was mainly because there just was no room for manoeuvre in there. This mare had foaled successfully two times before and the foal that killed her was tiny and thin boned, it was just dead, and therefore did not help with the subsequent foaling at all. Sometimes whatever precautions you take, the outcome is dire, and, with a bigger mare, with room inside, I do feel the mare might have been saved. Her cousin, who is three inches bigger, lost her foal due to some flaming gypsies chasing her, but the Vet was able to turn that foal and get it out, and the mare has foaled agian, since. But she is 31", and the amount of elbow room inside, though tight , was acceptable.

It is a judgement call, I feel, people know their own stock and they know what sort of emotional stress they can cope with.

At the end of the day, I say "no, it is too small" someone else will say "yes, it is fine"

So, it just depends on which of us is selling the horse!

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