Different terms are used to define male, female, or a group of horses. It is hard to keep track of all these horse terms. One popular term that is casually thrown everywhere is “Broodmare”. Broodmares often come up in different conversations like ” She is retiring to work as a Broodmare” or “This horse used to be a broodmare”.
It makes people wonder what is a broodmare? And what makes a horse a broodmare? Everyone wants to know about this term that is thrown around so much, so, here’s everything you need to know about Broodmares.
What is Broodmare?
As the name gives a hint, Broodmare or Brood-mair is a female horse used specifically for breeding purposes, birthing, and raising foals. Broodmares can belong to any breed, usually have great bloodlines and good conformation. All these traits make them an ideal horse for breeding.
These horses give birth to around five or six foals during their time as a broodmare.
This is not an exact number, some can have more than five foals. Broodmares are an indispensable part of the horse breeding world and this world just can not exist without them.
If not for broodmares, several breeds would not have developed or existed today.
Many desired traits were passed on to their foals thanks to their excellent bloodlines and genetics.
These broodmares have saved many breeds from vanishing out of the horse’s world.
Why Are Broodmares Important?
Most mares in a breed are not used for breeding purposes, so, broodmares are responsible for the conformation, coloration, and source of genetics.
Had it not been for Broodmares, many horse breeds would have gone extinct by now. Most breeders use broodmares to pass on certain traits to the foals.
What Makes a Horse a Good Broodmare?
A broodmare’s only job is birthing foals. That’s the only job requirement that qualifies a horse to be a good Broodmare.
These horses are not used for competitions or pleasure riding as they are pregnant, nursing, or caring for a foal most of the time.
They are breeding animals, therefore, should be treated as such.
Broodmares Are Well-Mannered
Broodmares have to be well mannered or well-tempered and they typically are.
Broodmares are extremely patient horses as they spend the majority of their time birthing, raising, and caring for a foal.
Pregnancy can calm down horses and have been pregnant so many times, they become quite mellow and kind.
For their kind nature, once the broodmare retires, it is typically used for pet horses, training horses, companion animals, and general riding horses.
They do not get angry easily and live in harmony with almost everyone.
At What Age Does A Horse Start Being Used as A Broodmare?
After evaluating certain traits and demeanor, a horse is chosen to be a broodmare which means it’s going to spend most of its life birthing and raising foals.
Most Broodmares have made a name for themselves in the horse breeding world at a very young age. On average, some of them begin breeding around seven years of age.
Some start as early as four whereas others as late as fifteen.
Once the horse hits fifteen, the decision to whether the broodmare should continue breeding or retire depends on several factors like health, conformation, temperament, and how good of a Broodmare she is.
At What Age Should The Broodmare Retire?
Once the horse is between the age of 15 to 20 years, they begin to classify as senior horses and their breeding career is almost over.
With developing health issues, swayback, and other things, it is difficult for a mare to nurse and raise a foal on top of the issues.
Therefore, it is better to retire and address the health problems. Some broodmares are susceptible to be diagnosed with gestational laminitis.
It is basically laminitis, a painful condition of the hooves caused by hormonal changes pregnancy brings on.
Average Number of Foals A Broodmare Births in A Lifetime
According to research, On average, a broodmare can have 4 to 10 foals in a lifetime. Mostly, it is five or six, or in the middle of the aforementioned estimated numbers.
The number can vary depending on the mare, bloodline, age, health, and how she handles the pregnancy.
It was once reported that a rescued broodmare had given birth to 17 foals, she was bred from the age of four up until her rescue.
What Do Broodmares Do Once They’re Retired?
Once they are done with breeding, they explore the world differently and do a variety of things depending on their age, health, stamina, and physical condition.
They are used for the following purposes once their breeding career is over.
During their time as a broodmare, these horses are not used for riding at all. Since they are extremely patient and calm horses, after retirement, they can be used for trail riding with beginner-level riders.
After years of raising foals, broodmares have increased patience and kindness, so, their retirement plan includes being a children’s horse or a pleasure horse in general.
These mares become swaybacked after years of the constant burden of carrying foals.
According to recent studies, Broodmares used for breeding even up to their later years in life are more swaybacked and develop abnormal posture, therefore, they are retired to graze for the rest of their lives. This is a perfect retirement a horse could ask for after a long, difficult, and hardworking career.
A broodmare has many riding years left in her if she has retired early and is perfectly healthy. Because of their calmness, kids and beginner riders can use them to train to be a rider. They make great lesson horses and can be used for trail rides with the general public.
Horses are pregnant for 11 months and care for their foals for the next five to six months. Broodmares dedicate their lives to breeding and birthing foals. Their journey is not easy and often crammed with complications. They can produce many healthy foals during their breeding career.
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