Socially Accepted – How Social Media Influences Stallion Choices in 2019

Cheesing It – 2018 foal at Leeman Farm

By Barbara Aitken Jenkins

A generation ago, advertising stallions relied on quality print advertising in the industry’s leading magazines, farm visits from potential clients, flyers, and positive word of mouth. In present days, one technological advance has changed the face of modern day stallion advertising–social media.

In the days of “instant gratification” comes a world where information, whether good or bad is plentiful, at the tip of everyone’s fingertips. The horse industry is no exception, and it is easy to conclude the horse industry has embraced the digital age quite well—stallions particularly.

Stallions who are standing to the public now have their own Facebook pages and Instagram accounts, and often time take to the laptop keys to congratulate their get on a job well done in arenas across the country, and wish everyone Happy Holidays and 4th of July.

For owners and marketers, social media is a dream come true because unlike traditional advertising, social media is one big word—free, and as a bonus, is a networking opportunity to connect with potential clients, mare owners, and offspring which ultimately drives a stallion’s popularity and hopefully breeding business.

So what does the audience think about seeing stallions marketed on social media? Answers seem to vary in one of three ways:

1. Social media is a major factor in breeding choices.
2. Social media enhances breeding choices.
3. Social media does not affect breeding choices in any way.

For those that are studious followers of social media advertising, quality communication often times helps make their breeding decisions.

In fact, one user commented, “I picked my 2019 stud based on social media. I like seeing what works and does not work for other breeders.”

Others use social media as one of their research methods to find more information than what they might see in a print ad, such as photos, pedigrees, offspring information, show record and some say “videos most of all.”
Although some users do not view social media as their only decision-making factor, they do utilize its strengths to learn as much as they can about the stallions they are interested in breeding to in the upcoming season.

“I might use Facebook as a research tool, finding a stallion’s page to see what they have posted about recent accomplishments. Mostly because I know it is way easier to update Facebook than a web page,” shared one social media user.

Another posted, “[Social media} just gives me more information and personal experiences from other people. I am careful to evaluate the source when considering all the things

I hear though, as should anyone. However, I appreciate any tidbits I can learn from whose opinions I have learned to respect.” However, for some users, social media provides little to no influence in their decisions, mainly because they believe a screen cannot replace seeing a horse in real life.

One user stated, “Not at all. I try very hard to see a stallion in person before I breed or at least see their progeny and research watch crosses work.” Another added, “I do my own homework. I try to meet with the stallion owners and talk with them firsthand to see what the stallion is crossing well with on what types of mares. I also ask for unedited clips of the of the stallion under saddle and in the pasture…”

Interestingly enough, although some social media users welcome the shift in the nature of advertising, some online actions are turn offs.  One user states, “I find myself taking the conduct of the stallion owners/promoters more into consideration. When I constantly see a horse “over marketed” (same stallion pictures over and over, recommended for every mare with a uterus, constantly have bred mares for sale by the stallion, etc.) it really turns me off.”

The user continues, “ I also look at how they respond to critics. Breeders who are quick to bash others are a turn off although I find myself being impressed with ones being upfront and honest about their intentions. [However], I like when stallion owners/promoters showcase babies from their program in all stages of their life (foals, yearlings, riders). I also like when stallion owners help market the foals who were bred to outside mares, not just the ones in their program. Or they post the successes of these in the pen from all walks of life.”

Another user commented, “ If the stallion manager or owner incessantly recommends their stallion for every mare owner that asks what will cross well on their mare, is constantly posting about every mare they have bred to their stallion, or just in general over marketing their stallion, I take them off my list to consider breeding to.”

At the end of the day, as a mare owner, it is important to make an educated decision on which stallion possesses the best compatibility with your mare. Does the stallion’s pedigree agree with your mare’s pedigree? How have other crosses similar to the one you are interested in producing done in the show pen?

What about disposition? Are you taking other people’s words for it, or do you have solid facts?
Do you value watching a stallion or their offspring live to see how the horse(s) carries themselves or are you comfortable with only viewing their show records online?

Regardless of your answers to the above questions, the most important part of choosing a stallion is choosing the right stallion. Do the research, view the records, watch videos, talk to owners, breeders, promoters, go watch the show pen, and go with your gut. And of course, when the foals hit the ground in 2020, capture pictures and post on social media!

Stud Fee Breakdown

by Barbara Aitkin Jenkins

The Best Martini at North Farm

Flipping through magazines or scrolling social media, we see countless stallion advertisements featuring beautiful photos of stallions, highlighting their show pen accomplishments, lifetime earnings and most importantly, a glaring number that stands out — their stud fee. What exactly are mare owners paying for when it comes to dishing out hundreds or thousands of dollars on a stud fee?

Top breeding managers and stallion owners help us break down the stud fee, and help us understand what we are actually paying for.

Chris Cecil Darnell of Cecil Breeding Farm in Wadsworth, Ohio, Debbi Trubee of North Farm in North Lawrence, Ohio, and Amy Gumz of Gumz Farms in Morganfield, Kentucky share their insights on what services are built into stud fees.

There are two ways breedings are generally offered:

First, breedings can be purchased directly from the stallion, which includes a stud fee that goes to the stallion owners, and the booking fee generally goes to the breeding farm. The second option is purchasing futurity breedings, which are donated to different causes and associations like NSBA, Southern Belle which are normally bought at half the listed price plus a $100 fee, depending on the program. With these, the breeding farm will generally charge a chute fee, which is designed to cover the expenses at the farm, and that is usually charged every time the stallion is collected.

Whichever option a mare owner chooses, in most cases they must purchase a chute fee/booking fee. The purpose of this fee is to help pay for the expenses the breeding facility will incur when collecting and shipping semen.

The breeding farm costs include supplies and equipment, as well as paying their help. On top of it, shipping fees can range from $250 and up. Most farms will also charge a fee for a return breeding. For example, a chute fee would be charged if a mare did not get in foal and the owners decide to breed the following year.

In addition to farm and shipping costs, stallion owners must promote their stallions, which can be a costly expense. Advertising and promotion are part of the package of promoting the stallion.

Its A Southern Thing – Gumz Farms

Although social media helps with the advertising costs, traditional methods like magazine advertisements can cost up to $1000 a month. This does not include design or photography fees. Advertising could easily add up to $10,000 a year.
In addition to the hands-on fees that are part of the package, the stud fee is influenced by the marketability of the offspring. If the stallion’s offspring are successful, those studs can afford to charge more for a stud fee. Marketability of the offspring has a lot to do with the price of the stud fee.
Stallion owners must set prices according to what the market will bear. That is a top priority because stallion owners cannot set a fee too high or it will drive mare owners away. However, they would do a disservice to their stallion if they set the fee too low.

Creating appropriate stud fees involves finding a good price that benefits both stallion and mare owners, along with the breeding facilities.
It’s not just semen.

To know you are getting the biggest bang for your buck, make sure to ask the following questions of the breeding facilities and/or the stallion owners:
• What are the semen counts?
• How does the stallion ship?
• Are you getting mares in foal?
• How many get repeated shipments?

And any other questions you feel are relevant to your breeding situation.

“Violet” by Winnies Willy. Photo by Debbi Trubee of North Farm

After understanding how much the stallion’s portion of the equation will cost, it is important to also budget how much it will cost to inseminate the mare. Deciding whether to take a mare to a local vet or to the breeding facility is a decision that will influence the cost.

If a mare needs a shipment on the same day, facilities will normally charge an extra $100 for counter-to-counter. In addition, many facilities also charge extra for international shipping as well.

With any purchase we make in the horse industry or otherwise, it is important to know what you are paying for and understand what value the purchase has for you. As for breedings specifically, the most important part is knowing that you received the best deal for YOU and being excited for your new foal.

Why Him?

How to choose the best stallion for your mare
by Barbara Aitken Jenkins

Choosing the right stallion for the right reasons can be a daunting task. Do you breed for bloodlines, color, or conformation? What is more important? How do you know you have made the right choice? There are so many questions that mare owners ask themselves when it comes to making one of the most important decisions in the business.

Two successful women in the horse industry, Jane Backes and Mary Kay Steyskal are professionals when it comes to matchmaking, equine style.

Jane Backes of Tioga, Texas, owns one of the leading stallions in the Western Pleasure industry, Good Machinery. However, before Jane was a stallion owner, she was a mare owner. Mary Kay Steyskal of Papillion, Nebraska is one of the foundational influencers of modern Western Pleasure bloodlines as she has owned stallions such as Tiger Leo, Iron Rebel and has produced Good Version, Natural Iron, and many more.

For both women, conformation is a top priority on their list when it comes to choosing the right match for stallion and mare. “Conformation faults can be anything from long back, long pasterns, too much slope or too straight of pasterns, short necks, too thick or a wrong tied in neck, homely head, bad natural tail set, fined bone and muscle, shallow heart girth, crooked legs and high set hocks,” explained Jane.

Likewise, conformation is also number one on Mary Kay’s “Breeding Selection” list. She advises everyone to “be a student of correct conformation,” and also believes that “many lamenesses in the industry today are a direct result of confirmation,” which can result in a number of issues that Jane described.

To be ahead of the game, and to ensure that the match will result in positive qualities like good conformation, both Jane and Mary Kay preach studying bloodlines.

Jane shared her background in this practice and how it has influenced her breeding program, which has led to much success. “I have always loved studying the bloodlines and conformation of horses since I was a child, reading all of the Quarter Horse Journals from cover to cover. This led me to my passion for breeding. My goal was always to improve the individual and not just to reproduce it.”

Mary Kay underscored her beliefs by saying, “You must be a student of the breed and constantly strive for improvement. Do not make excuses for negatives and decide if you can live with them.”

She continued, “Inbreeding and line breeding set a type both good and bad depending on how the genes line up. It is very important to educate yourself in order to understand the process. Outcrossing renews hybrid vigor. Too much of anything is not good!” She continued, “Be aware that you breed to the whole family, not just one individual or another.”

Mares also play a huge role in both women’s breeding philosophies. In fact, Jane is a big believer in the power of mares when it comes to creating good crosses. “I coined the phrase ‘The Magic is in the Mare’ which is the backbone of my breeding program. I believe the mare passes on at LEAST 65% of the foal’s attributes. When picking a broodmare, I always look at the first two to three generations of the maternal line. By using this philosophy consistently, I have raised AQHA Reserve World Champions, Congress Champions as well as multiple World and Congress Top Tens, NSBA World and Reserve World Champions, AQHA Honor Roll top tens, Multiple Superiors and ROM’s and two Justin Rookie of the Year Horses.”

Mary Kay added, “When I look at a stallion to breed to, I ask myself if I would be happy with ten mares that will look, move and act just like he does. These same criteria are also used in my selection of broodmares. We have raised most of our broodmares and I feel more comfortable doing this because in knowing so many generations there are very few surprises. I truly believe if I cannot raise a filly that is at least as good as, or better than, her dam, I am not doing it right to start with!”

In any breeding, it is important to make the best decision based on what that particular mare and stallion will produce.

“Many people base breeding decisions on ‘the flavor of the month’ stallion or on the stallion their friend picks, NOT on what complements their mare for the best resulting foal. You have to look just at your mare and decide what you would want to improve in her. Then pick a stallion that is strong in that area,” explained Jane.

Mary Kay advised that anyone who is breeding must “have a vision and breed the horse that satisfies you first and hope it will satisfy others.”

When it comes to the final decision on making stallion and broodmare selections, Mary Kay has four items on her list:
Confirmation and overall balance.
Athleticism and movement according to the discipline.
Pedigree. Study the pedigree using it as a guide for breeding selections. Study the statistics of family history both sire and dam. Look for consistency in type and longevity of performance in families where several individuals have excelled in their discipline.
Disposition and trainability. Although they are listed last on the list, they are key to her final selection of any horse! Without these two things, nothing else matters!

 

At the end of the day, it does not matter what stallion is on the top of the trending charts or which stallion matched best with someone else’s mare. What is most important for both mare and stallion owners who are trying to find the best match up is researching bloodlines, conformation, show records, and disposition will ensure that you make the most educated decision, and will help you to be pleased when the foal is born and in the years to come.

As Jane shared, “Most of all, ENJOY the foal you helped bring into this world!”

Why Stand a Stallion?

By Barbara Aitkin Jenkins

Before the victory laps, the show pens, and the training barns, a horse’s life starts in the hands of special people who use their skills, expertise, and passion for the industry to help facilitate the creation of the next generation of show horses.

Stallion managers work alongside stallion and mare owners year around to ensure that the breeding process goes as seamlessly as possible. Their goal is to have the final product (a beautiful foal) born happy, healthy and ready for a full life.
Some of the top breeding facilities in the Western Pleasure industry share a behind-the-scenes view on what it is like to own and operate a breeding facility and what drives them to get up each day to literally help create life.

Amy Gumz, owner and operator of Gumz Farms, along with her husband Kevin, started a breeding facility “out of pure necessity.” She explained, “We had a young stallion in the early 90s and, given our location, we were limited in options. This stallion also had some special management needs that we had difficulty finding a facility to service. So out of necessity, I quickly surrounded myself with people much smarter and more experienced than myself and started on this journey. I found this education very challenging and we jumped in with both feet.“

After building a facility to accommodate their stallion and eventually adding on to that facility over time, they became a destination for stallions. “Our hobby soon became a business and our education became ongoing as we were soon labeled as a facility that could haggle stallions with behavior or reproductive challenges.”

Robin DeGraff, of DeGraff Stables in Port Clinton, Ohio shared a similar story about their beginnings in the breeding industry. “I had a stallion who had marginal semen, and I wanted to be able to get the best product out there. We felt if we kept that stallion at home, then we could manage him the best. That led to figuring out how to get the product (being the semen) to the mares in the best shape, which led to us eventually getting other stallions to stand. We were fortunate enough to have other stallion owners see us managing and marketing our stallion and want us to do the same for them.”

For Debbi Trubee and Roger Landis of North Farm in North Lawrence, Ohio, managing and owning a breeding facility was a natural step in their lifelong horse careers. “Roger and I had both been successful in the training portion of the industry, and I think as we got a little older and wanted to slow down, having it morph into the breeding business along with the interest in being a part of the beginning was always an interest for us.” Debbi continued, “It gives us a huge advantage as breeders because we’ve ridden many of the families that we breed now. It’s neat to look at papers and know that I’ve ridden some of those names.”

However, none of these businesses are defined as “easy” by any of the women who manage the facilities.

Amy describes the “behind-the-scenes” of her operation. “It’s critical that the breeding business is managed as a business with a strong staff, managerial direction, continuing education and facility and equipment to handle the ever-changing needs of this business. Continual investment in your equipment, methods and staff is critical and the key to success. I have always felt that surrounding yourself with people of strength and talent was the key to success.”

She continued, “Our daily life is a balance between routine and managing challenges. We try to enforce guidelines but flexibility has to come into place as we are dealing with many facets that are often beyond our control. The biggest challenge to keep in mind is we are dealing with animals, not machines, that often do not read the rulebook or instruction manual and looking outside the box is often that only path to a successful outcome.”

Debbi echoed Amy’s thoughts and described the business as a gamble. “Stallions are represented by their get and you kind of lose control because you’re not hands-on in getting those offspring successful. You’re dependent on getting the foals in good hands. Standing young stallions is ‘live or die,’ making sure those foals get in hands that will make them successful.”

Debbi continued, discussing the importance of show records, versus offspring’s success. “It’s a huge gamble. Because once the stallion leaves the show arena, whatever success they had only buys them some time. After the third crop, what that stallion won doesn’t matter. It’s what those babies are doing in the show pen that matters.”

Robin shared the importance of finding a niche for stallions, which is paramount to their success as a breeding sire. “The stallions really need to have a niche in order to have something to promote. We work with a wide range of stallion owners with a wide range of goals for their stallions. Some of them just own the stallion and breed him to all outside mares; others breed to their own mares as well as outside mares. We’re able to perpetuate that stallion to their own breeding programs that will be two completely different approaches that both works for the stallions depending on the owners’ preferences.”

Not only do stallion managers need to focus on the stallions, but they also have to meet mare owners’ requests. “We try to customize what the stallion owner (our direct customer) needs as far as a marketing budget and everything else that standing a stallion entails. We also try to meet what the mare owner needs because they are our target audience,” explains Robin.

Excellent customer service for both stallion and mare owners is what all facilities strive for in their business. They understand that many owners, of both stallions and mares, may not have the time, resources or technical understanding to breed the horses, so each facility makes it their goal to create an easy process for all involved.

Amy is always searching to learn a new trick of the trade, or advancement that will ease the breeding process. “I watch trends, try to learn from other facilities and continue to adapt to this ever-changing industry.”

Robin describes the benefit of standing stallions with professionals. “We’re used to doing it, we have set procedures and programs and we are able to be flexible for the owners.”

At the end of the day, each facility has the same goal.

“I’m blessed to spend time with some truly amazing creatures and, through my job, have met people that have blessed my life.” stated Amy.

Debbi followed the sentiment saying, “We love the part of creating the product. It’s rewarding in way more than monetary terms to match a mare and stallion, foal that baby and watch it grow up and hopefully do something. It validates everything to know you helped create a star.”

 

 

Yearlings Got School?

Professionals Share Tips on How to Prepare Yearlings for Sale and Show.

by Barbara Aiken Jenkins

Photos by Debbi Trubee of North Farm

If you consider yourself a part of the horse industry at any level, most likely your social
media feeds were flooded this spring with new “baby” pictures of foals underneath captions
like, “So excited for this little one’s future!” and“Can’t wait to see what the future has in store
for this fancy colt!” What you might not be seeing flood your Facebook pages are the
foals of last spring; the yearlings.  For them, the “future” has arrived.

Most competitive disciplines encourage young horses gearing for the show pen to be
started in training as late yearlings and early two-year-olds. However, owners who believe
their horses are show bound in their younger years generally have two choices. One, sell
their yearlings to buyers who are interested in placing the colts in training, or two, getting a
head start and showing the yearlings in longe line competition.

Top professionals in the industry who specialize in young horses, Debbi Trubee and Jon Barry, share their insights on how to successfully prepare yearlings for either sale or
show.

Debbi Trubee, who owns and operates North Farm in North Lawrence, Ohio featuring top Western Pleasure stallions such as Lopin Lazy, Winnies Willy, and The Best Martini is considered one of the best in the industry when promoting top stallions’ offspring. Trubee believes that managing successful yearlings either for sale or for the show pen “starts when [the foal] hits the ground.”   “Our babies start getting halter broke at two weeks old. I take pretty pictures of them too, showing them in a pretty light.”

North Farm’s Facebook page is brimming with classy, attractive photos of each foal, which
grants opportunities for easy marketing. If the foal is not bought as a weanling (North Farm
weans when the foal is six months old) the foal is turned out with other foals to learn natural
“horse manners.” In May of these foals’ yearling year, they are not considered “babies” any longer. They are in training to be professionals.

A day in the life of an average yearling at North Farm consists of eating in the morning with a diet fit for good growth, turn out from the stall, “a lot of brushing,” a workout, shower, and standing tied to learn the art of patience (an art every horse show person and horse knows is important!) followed by eating an  evening meal.

“They really are mini professionals”, laughs Trubee. The yearlings’ workouts involve the show horse basics including ground manners and round pen lunging. “They are required to learn how to walk, trot, and lope to the left and the right,” states Trubee.

It is impossible for a yearling to have an extensive show record, so it is vital for buyers to
be able to see a well-behaved yearling that is healthy, pleasant, athletic, and have the skills to
be moved to the next stage in their career. Trubee does not believe that she is the reason
why her yearlings are sold to quality owners. “The [colts] sell themselves because they are
quality,” declares Trubee.

“We sell them as individuals at a fair price so buyers are able to take a chance that [the
yearling] is going to be a show horse.”

Like Trubee, trainer Jon Barry, who specializes in longe line yearlings in Advance, Missouri, has a philosophy geared toward the individual horse when preparing young horses for sale or the show pen. “We work on what is most natural and easy for the [horse],” states Barry. “We don’t tell them they have to be ready. When they’re ready, they will be competitive.”

Barry believes in working yearlings according to their physical and mental abilities when preparing them for the show pen. “Yearlings are still growing,” he stresses. “It’s important to understand the way they grow.”

Barry also emphases the importance of learning the optimum nutritional needs for each yearling. “Supplements, good hay, and good feed” will go a long way in preparing the yearling before it even enters the show pen.

As for training techniques, Barry stresses the biggest skill he teaches his horses, and practices himself, is patience. He believes that it is vital for a horse of any age, especially a young one, to build confidence instead of fear.

“Our horses learn to ‘take’ things and are taught to handle situations that they are placed in,”
Barry explains. “Before they ever leave the farm, they have blankets, and buckets rubbed on
them, long poles with plastic sacks waved at them and over their bodies.”

Barry admits that some young horses handle the de-spooking process better than others,
and vice versa, but only one goal remains during the entire training process—building
confidence.

As for training a yearling to be competitive in the show pen as a lunge line horse, Barry
concludes success is based on three aspects— mental ability, physical ability, and consistency
in training.

“I want my yearlings to move in a natural gait at the walk, trot and lope both left and right that isn’t too fast or too slow,” allowing the horse to push forward in the desired cadence and rhythm in a riding class. While they are learning to consistently move correctly, Barry teaches the yearlings to read body language and, “listen to [his] voice” with the emphasis on stopping square when he commands “whoa.”

Whether you are already planning your 2017 foal’s future as they run circles in the pasture, or have a 2016 foal who is ready to become that “mini professional,” it is never too early to start mapping out what you believe is the best fit for your horse. If selling is the top choice, make sure that your colt has manners, is agreeable, and ready for a new owner. If you are
considering or already pursuing your yearling for the show pen this year, remember to build
confidence.

The ultimate goal for any show horse regardless of age is to become a successful,
valued horse for the people who love the sport.

How to Prepare for a Successful Foaling

By Rachel Beerbower

Mama Sweetie with baby Reno, only a few hours old!

We have all heard expectant parents talk about baby proofing their homes. Well, this is the time of year when many people are expecting… baby horses, that is! Foaling season is upon all expectant mothers and owners alike. I had a chance to talk to Steve Brown from the University of Findlay to share with me how he “baby proofs” his barn.

“First of all, make sure you have all the first aid equipment on hand. Nothing causes more problems in an emergency than not being prepared,” Steve says. His first aid kit includes iodine, clean towels, and gloves. If a vet is present, they may bring probiotics, tetanus shots, lubrication, and OB chains.

Most mares do not care how convenient foaling is for you. The vast majority of mares have their babies at night. This was critical in the wild. Now it simply means mare owners never sleep! If you are lucky enough to have cameras set up, make sure they work. Steve says he typically wakes up every hour to look at the camera. “But,” Steve laughs, “you have to admit, this is a much better option than walking out to the barn!”

If you have space, keep the mare in a foaling stall. This is much larger than a normal stall, to ensure mare and foal have ample room. Check the stall for any low protruding screws, nails, hooks, or other dangers on which a curious newborn can catch a nostril or their rump. Be sure to have your mare’s stall heavily bedded with lots of straw or bedding, as the mare will often lay down and stand up, moving about as she tries to get comfortable during labor. Offer some hay and water, but don’t be too concerned if she is too uncomfortable to eat. It helps to wrap her tail in vetrap or an ace bandage to keep it from getting stuck in fluids and the birthing process. A good time to do this is when you notice the mare’s teats “waxing up,” or getting a waxy looking coating on the tips. This means she is nearing labor.

Another thing to prepare is a list of phone numbers. Will you need to call a vet or trusted friend? Be sure to have the numbers in your barn and programed into your cell phone.

You should also be familiar with the foaling process. In a normal delivery, the foal should be front feet first, and then the head, followed by the rest of the body. This is often called the “superman position,” with one hoof coming out before the other. This staggering of the front feet is necessary, otherwise the foal’s shoulders will be caught in the birth canal. Once the knees are out, you should be able to see the baby’s nose.

Most deliveries will require no assistance from you, but there may be some cases where you need to help pull the foal out. Discuss these emergencies with your vet so you are aware of what a struggling mare looks like. If you do need to pull the foal, pull out and down. Here is a good rule of thumb: If the baby has not made progress twenty minutes after the water has broken, call your vet. This is where that list of numbers comes in handy! Another reason to call the vet is if the foal is breached, meaning coming out of the birth canal backwards. This is very serious and the mare will need help.

Steve has one more piece of advice: “Do not help the foal stand up.”

“Everyone sees a baby struggling and wants to help it up. In my experiences, those horses do not try very hard when they grow up.” Let mama and baby figure it out on their own! Once you see the foal is nursing, it is best to leave. The first nursing is when the foal gets the colostrum, or first milk. This nutrient rich feeding is imperative for the baby to receive nutrients and immunities from the mother. You can go in and rub on the foal and get it used to handling at an early stage in life. However, remember to give the new pair plenty of space! Peace and quiet is all the mare and foal need. You will have plenty of time to enjoy the newcomer later on.

Be sure to give the foal time and space for exercise, and to try out those new legs! Mama would appreciate some space to roam as well. If you are turning them outside, check all fences to ensure a small foal can’t wriggle through or trip in a hole. If in an indoor arena, ensure the foal can’t get into any trouble with things you have stacked in corners. Don’t worry about leading the baby at first, he or she will be a mini shadow for mom during the first few months. Be careful to not separate the mare and foal too quickly, as it can cause panic for both.

Do not let foaling season stress you out! This is an exciting time of year for horse people. Be prepared and have fun with it!

Make Sure Your Foaling Checklist Includes IgG Test

As 2016 comes to a close and the 2017 breeding season rapidly approaches, breeders prepare for to welcome their new arrivals.  Whether you’re a small-time breeder or are in charge of a larger operation, you no doubt have a routine checklist you run through with the birth of each foal.  Make sure that list includes an IgG test to be administered during the first 24 hours, regardless of whether you see the foal nurse or not.  

As veteran breeder, Debbi Trubee of North Farm, reminded us on Facebook, this is a simple and relatively inexpensive test that can save a lot of heartache down the road.

In a message on Facebook, she advised breeders, “Please be sure to have an IgG test done on your newborn foal within 24 hrs from birth. This inexpensive test will possibly save the life of your foal. Even if you see your baby nurse it does not guarantee they have received the proper amount of colostrum to survive. Failure of passive transfer foals fail very rapidly and will die if emergency treatment is not provided. This simple test can save you a lot of heartache! Foaling season is a joyous time for all of us and nothing makes me sadder than getting a phone call from a customer who has lost a baby because of this preventable issue. Wishing you all a safe and successful foaling season!”

So, what is an IgG test?  Simply put, this blood test measures the amount of antibodies a foal has received from it’s mother in order to ward off everyday nasties that older horses develop immunity to.  Foals are born with zero antibodies and receive their first immune system boost from their mother’s colostrum.  IgG stands for Immunoglobin Type G, or the scientific name for antibodies.

However, receiving colostrum is not a guarantee that the little one has it’s jump start on immunity.  Various factors can play a role in how much, if any, of the antibodies their system receives.  Mares produce colostrum for only a few weeks to days before foaling, and can lose the vital nutrients and antibodies in the colostrum through dripping milk or they could have low levels of antibodies in their milk to start with.  There are other causes that can attribute to the foal not gaining the antibodies it needs including inability to nurse and failure to absorb antibodies in the colostrum.

When an IgG test is administered within 24 hours of foaling, it allows the breeder to know if the foal absorbed the adequate amount of antibodies or if it needs supplementation in order to get it’s immune system up to par.

For more information on the SNAP Foal IgG Test, click here.

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Equine Omega Complete Goes Beyond the Average Supplement

ITS A SOUTHERN THING

ITS A SOUTHERN THING SHOWS THE BENEFITS OF EQUINE OMEGA COMPLETE WITH HIS STUNNING CONDITION AND APPEARANCE

It’s no secret that nutrition plays a vital role in not only the health of breeding horses, but also in the growth and development of foals during, and after, gestation.  Never before have we had the knowledge and experience in breeding nutrition and health that we do now.  However, with so many studies out there, it can be very confusing knowing what to feed and what to supplement.

With new supplements touting new benefits being launched each year, it can be quite a bit of information overload.  You don’t want to miss out on boosting your mare or stallion’s reproductive health or ignore an important building block in your foal’s development, but are all of these supplements really necessary?  Furthermore, do they actually do what they say?

What if there was a supplement out there that was completely comprehensive and proven to work?  Sound like a dream?  Meet the reality of Equine Omega Complete.  Equine Omega Complete is as close to a “wonder supplement” as you can find.  Just as the name implies, Equine Omega Complete is a unique blend of oils that is an optimized balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.  Long touted as being “good fats” with a wide array of benefits for people, these oils also have a plethora
of benefits for horses of all ages and
uses as well.

Why Omega-3 and Omega 6 Fatty Oils for Horses?

The better question is “why not?”  With so many performance and breeding horses stalled on a regular basis, their diets have moved away from the primarily grass-based nutrition of their pasture counterparts.  Sometimes, it’s the basics that hold a lot of keys to optimized nutrition, which they may be lacking.

Without going too far down the scientific path, these omega fatty acids are essential for reducing inflammation, supporting healthy joint function, proper cell development and function, increased blood and oxygen flow, a strong immune system, and so many other things.

Benefits in Breeding Horses

You don’t need to be a scientist or veterinarian to know that breeding animals have different nutritional needs than other horses.  Whether it is the mare or the stallion, omega fatty acids are crucial for a healthy reproductive system.

Starting at the beginning of the horse’s life cycle, all the way back to the stallion, an increase in omega fatty acids has been shown to boost sperm production.  In fact, supplementation with Equine Omega Complete prior to, and during, breeding season may help increase sperm production for stallions.  More production not only equals a higher conception rate but also more breedings.  Older stallions can typically show a decrease in sperm production, however when supplemented with Equine Omega Complete, they have shown dramatic increases in semen quality and quantity.  In today’s day and age of shipped and frozen semen, this is especially important in the effort to maintain the quality and potency of the sperm.  Samples from stallions who have been supplemented with Equine Omega Complete may show an increase in progressive motility.

these-irons-are-hot

THESE IRONS ARE HOT GLOWS WITH THE NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS OF EQUINE OMEGA COMPLETE

Now, on the mare’s side, adequate omega fatty acid supplementation is just as important.  Adequate nutrition during gestation is just as important to the foal’s
growth and development as it is after it is born.  The placenta is responsible for passing eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both of which are provided by Equine Omega Complete, to the developing foal’s central nervous system.

When it comes to lactating mares, Equine Omega Complete is also beneficial for boosting colostrum production and quality.  With these omega fatty acids, better colostrum production helps with the transfer of cloistral antibodies to give the newborn foal’s immune system the needed boost it needs to help keep the foal healthy and ward of infections and other nasties.
The Growing Foal

Healthy foals grow in leaps and bounds, and there is nothing better than watching the future of the industry at play out in the pasture.  However, for a foal to stay healthy and develop into the show horse they are destined to be takes a lot of work on the cellular level.  While it’s easy to be oblivious to the biology of a growing foal when things are going right, that can change in the blink of an eye and manifest in a variety of developmental issues, some of which are irreversible.

As everyone says, prevention is key.  It’s much easier to provide proper nutrition from the very beginning, than it is to try to fix a problem once it has started.  While the nursing foal gets many of their nutritional needs from the mare, that’s all the more reason for Equine Omega Complete to be a key ingredient in your well-rounded feeding plan.

Once a foal is weaned, it will rely on a diet of pasture grass, grains and dry hay.  Good quality pasture provides ample omega fatty acids, but what happens if there is a drought?  Low quality pasture?  A change of seasons?  Even good quality grain and dry hay is extremely lacking in these necessary fatty acids, and without you realizing it, your foal’s development could be stunted.

So, are omega fatty acids just fish oils?  What about soy oils?

While fish oils on the market can be a source of omega fatty acids, Equine Omega Complete has 50% more omega 3s and all three chains of Omega 3 as opposed to only the two that are available via fish oils.  Equine Omega Complete is high in unsaturated fats, Vitamin E, and other essential nutrients that help in the absorption of Omega 3.

There are plenty of other products on the market that tout the benefits of soy oils but Equine Omega complete goes above and beyond.  The patented formula varies from most others in that the soy oil is not chemically extracted, in addition to an optimized balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

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“We can pull them out for customers and they look like we spent an hour brushing. EMO is the only supplement they get.” ~ BSB Quarter Horses – Home to CHOCOLATEY shown above

What the Pros Have to Say

“Equine Omega Complete is truly a game changing supplement. I started using EOC on Full Medal Jacket about four years ago. I was looking for an overall supplement I could give FMJ to give him an extra edge during our busy show season, so I chose Omega Complete.

Within weeks, I noticed a marked difference in not only his weight management but his way of going. He was in a consistent program and being on the road can be tough on them, but he came out of his stall every day fresh-legged and feeling good! After he was done showing and moved to the breeding barn, I kept him on EOC and still continued to see improvements and benefits from it. His first breeding season was a busy one for a new stallion, and this product not only kept his weight up but helped tremendously in keeping his joints sound from the wear and tear breeding puts on them.

Not only that, but I feel confident it is promoting a healthy reproductive system with his strong motility numbers and his high first try conception rate. It is imperative FMJ stays healthy year round, but especially during his busy breeding season and with EOC not only does he stay of good weight, he joints stay sound, his hair coat stays shiny and everything in between that benefits as well! You will not find a more overall comprehensive supplement for you Equine. It truly does what it says it does! We are customers for life!”

Robin Baker, Full Medal Jacket

“Traditionally, we haven’t supplemented our stallions over the years, but Equine Omega Complete is the exception.  Since we began using it, we have seen a dramatic difference in our stallions’ overall condition and appearance, as well as breeding productivity.  It’s also highly palatable, and we’ve found even the pickiest eaters have no issues eating it.  We will continue to use it as part of the program.”

– Amy Gumz, Gumz Farms

“We have continued to be thrilled with EMO. Our stallions keep show hair…and they are not treated like show horses. Our boys get to be boys all summer. They are turned out for several hours every day, rain or shine. Other than clipping whiskers and bridle paths and rinsing off when sweating, nothing else is done for their hair. We can pull them out for customers and they look like we spent an hour brushing. EMO is the only supplement they get. We feel it helps everything from the inside out!”

– Shelley Donovan, Kim Rotenberry- BSB Quarter Horses

equine-omega-complete
If you’re looking for a supplement that can benefit breeding horses during all stages of the breeding season, you definitely need to look into adding the comprehensive regimen
of omega acids that Equine Omega Complete provides.  Whether you have a breeding stallion, a mare
in foal, or a growing weanling, they can all benefit from a wide array of nutritional support that quality omega-3s and 6s can provide.  To learn more about Equine Omega Complete, visit their official website and Facebook page.

The Name Game

What goes into crafting the perfect name?

its-a-southern-thing-colt-gumz-farms

2016 Colt by Its A Southern Thing

Some people find it fun and others find it tedious.  However you see it, naming a new foal is something most people don’t take lightly.  Not only does it stay with a horse their entire lives, but a catchy name can be memorable when called out in the show ring.

There are many different factors that go into crafting the perfect name.  Some incorporate bloodlines.  Some like to give a nod to the breeder or farm name.  Sometimes names have special meanings like a story or a memory.  Some like to think completely outside the box.

Everyone has a name they’ve heard that sticks in their memory, either good or bad.  So, how do you create a winning moniker?  Before you get your creative juices flowing, it’s important to know your guardrails.  The various associations and registries have differing rules when it comes to name selection, and it saves time and headaches to know them before you go too far down a rabbit hole and fall in love with a name you might not be able to use.

American Quarter Horse Association

Rule 214: NAMING A HORSE. Each horse for which registration is applied must be given a name, acceptable to AQHA, which does not conflict with the name of any other horse registered with the association, either living or dead. The name must not exceed 20 characters, including letters, numbers and blank spaces. The use of a single letter (initial) preceding or following a name is not allowed. The first two to four spaces and/or last two to four spaces of the 20 characters may consist of a group of any two to four letters, if separate from the remainder of the name. Roman numerals are not permitted in a name. Arabic numerals can only be used in the last three to five spaces of the 20 characters and it must be separate from the remainder of the name. Punctuation marks, such as apostrophes or hyphens, are not permitted.

In the digital age, AQHA, among other associations, has made it easier to determine if your name selection has already been used.  In their Members area, you can enter the name and it will give you a list of either the name that has already been used or a list of names that are close in spelling.

American Paint Horse Association

RG-090. Naming a Horse A. Each horse offered for registration must be given a name acceptable to APHA, not to exceed twenty-one (21) letters and spaces, which does not conflict with the name of any other APHA-registered horse. 62 B. No Arabic or Roman numerals or punctuation marks, i.e. apostrophes, are permitted in a name. C. A name may be reserved for a period of one (1) year from the date the written request is received. A Name Reservation fee must accompany the written request. If the name is not used within the one-year time period, the name will be released without notice, unless prior to the expiration of the reservation, the name is again reserved for another year period and the appropriate fee is again paid. See fee schedule in front of Rule Book.

APHA also has a similar feature online where you can check the availability of the name before submitting.  With paints and other color breeds, markings and colors can also play a part in coming up with a fitting name.

For double registered horses, some have the same name across multiple associations, while others may have an eligible name in one association, but the name isn’t available in the other.  This can lead to slight variations of the name depending on which association they are registered with.

What happens if you purchase a horse whose name you are not so enthusiastic about?  In most cases, you’re probably stuck with the name.  However, there are certain instances, depending on association rules, where you can rename your horse.  AQHA states, “A horse’s name may be changed so long as it has not competed in an AQHA-approved show or special event, started in a recognized race; earned a special achievement recognition award as per SHW817; earned any money or award with an AQHA affiliate as shown on AQHA records; appeared on any breeding document submitted to AQHA.” (2016 AQHA Handbook, REG118).  If your horse already has an AQHA show or race record (even if they haven’t earned any points) or a breeding record, their name is their name and there is no way to change it in AQHA’s records.  Same goes for APHA.  If they have an APHA race, show, or breeding record, the name can’t be changed.

As we gear up for the 2017 breeding season, we look forward to new foals and all the things that come with them (aside from the sleepless nights).  If you have a creative mind, the registration process can be a fun one.  If not, it can be a hassle. But once you land on the right name, you never know.  It might just be called out as a world champion some day.

name-game

Moonpie and Keeping It Good Foals – Gumz Farms

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Answers: 1.d., 2.g., 3.e., 4.a., 5.f., 6.j., 7.c., 8.i., 9.h., 10.b.

Fact or Fiction? 10 Breeding Myths Debunked

Fact or Fiction?  10 Breeding Myths Debunked

by Melinda Davison

Zoey - 2016 Winnies Willy Filly - Photo by Debbi Trubee

: Zoey” 2016 Winnies Willy Filly – Photo by Debbi Trubee

 

Whether you’re a rookie entering the realm of breeding or have years of experience, you’re likely to get a wealth of “helpful” advice along the way either from that handy tool called the Internet or a well-meaning, but misinformed, horse enthusiast.  How do you decipher accurate information from tips that sound like they could be true, but have no factual support?  For starters, consider the source.  If it’s from a veterinarian or an experienced, reputable breeder, you’re usually in good hands.  However, what about those common myths you find circulating every so often?  Well, you’re in luck, because we’ve asked Debbi Trubee, Breeding Manager of North Farm, to put some of these rumors to rest.  She explains why some of them are outlandishly false and confirmed that some are right on the money, but may come with some caveats.

 

Myth #1: Placing a marble in a mare’s uterus will prevent her from coming in heat. 

True BUT…

You may have heard placing a marble in a mare’s uterus will “trick” her body into thinking she’s pregnant, therefore suppressing her heat cycles and the moodiness that comes with them.

 

“A marble can work on keeping a mare out of heat, but in the long term it’s really not good for the mare’s uterus, especially when people forget or don’t know the mare has one, and they try to breed her,” Debbi explains.  “It happens ALL the time!”

 

Myth #2: Having a mare stabled near a stallion at a show can cause her to come into heat.

False

Many people do not want to their mare stabled on the same barn aisle as a stallion at shows for fear it could make her come into heat.

 

“It may make the mare show signs of heat if the stallion is teasing her, but it won’t make a mare actually come into estrus by virtue of a stallion being in the area,” says Debbi.

 

Myth #3: You can tell when a mare is about to foal because she will always be waxed right before foaling.

North Farm Congress and World Champion Producing Broodmare She Bee A Chex – Photo by Debbi Trubee of North Farm

False

Rookie breeders often fall into this myth that the mare will wax right before she foals.  While that can be true for some, it is not a hard and fast rule for all mares.

 

“A lot of mares don’t wax at all prior to foaling.  Some wax for days and days…it’s something we look for, but it’s not the only indicator of imminent foaling.”

 

North Farm Congress and World Champion Producing Broodmare She Bee A Chex - Photo by Debbi Trubee of North Farm

North Farm Congress and World Champion Producing Broodmare She Bee A Chex – Photo by Debbi Trubee of North Farm

Myth #4: Mares’ gestations are 340 days.

 

False

Just like the gestational period in any species, there’s no set number of days that you can rely on.  It varies for each mare and is usually determined by a range of days.

 

“The 340-day mark is just an average overall on days,” she explains.  “Some mares always go ‘early’ and some are always ‘late.’ They foal when the babies are fully cooked!”

 

Myth #5: Semen extenders can cause allergic reactions in many mares.

False

With the increase in shipped semen and artificial insemination over the last few decades, there have been many methods researched and used to extend the fertility of semen when shipping, and one of the most common are semen extenders.  However, some argue that their mares are “allergic” to these extenders.

 

“This is up for debate.  However, anything introduced into the uterus can cause an inflammatory response.  Most mares who have what is believed to be a reaction to the extender, have other underlying issues causing fluid post-breeding.”

 

Myth #6: A mare’s first foal will always be her smallest.

"Violet" by Winnies Willy. Photo by Debbi Trubee of North Farm

“Violet” by Winnies Willy. Photo by Debbi Trubee of North Farm

False

This one floats around a lot and has been passed along through generations.  It’s an old wives’ tale that a mare’s first foal will be her smallest, but just like many other myths, this one is also false and not based on any scientific evidence.

 

“A lot of things influence the size of a foal,” Debbi says.  “In my experience, we’ve had many BIG babies from maiden mares who then went on to have smaller foals in subsequent years.”

 

Myth #7: The lunar cycle when the mare is bred will influence the gender of the foal. 

False

Fortunately, most people know that lunar cycles dictating the gender of a foal is just plain silly!  However, this still pops up from time to time from the superstitious set, so it’s time we put this one to bed once and for all.

 

“The stallion’s sperm gets to pick whether it’s a colt or filly!”

 

Myth #8: X-rays can kill shipped semen.

False

With increased airport security, there have been concerns that X-ray scans can damage or kill sperm during transit.  Let us put your fears to rest.  If there are issues with the sperm upon arrival, X-rays are not the culprit.

 

As Debbi tells us, “there’s no scientific data to support these claims.”

 

Myth #9: Transporting or working a mare can “knock off” a follicle.

False

We wish it were that easy to get a mare to ovulate!  Unfortunately, this one is also false.

 

“If this were true, I would think all of the mare owners whose mares didn’t ovulate between shipping days, would just need to put them in the trailer and drive them around until they ovulated!” she says.

 

My Invested Machine & "Ned" - Photo By Debbi Trubee

My Invested Machine & “Ned” – Photo By Debbi Trubee

Myth #10: Many big breeders will pull a less valuable foal off a mare to use the mare as a nurse mare for a more valuable foal. 

False

This one seems to pop up every time there is a story about a heroic nurse mare or a need for one.  Rest assured, any reputable breeder is in it truly for the love and passion for horses and the industry, and sacrificing a “less valuable foal” for one that is deemed to be worth more is unthinkable to them.  These breeders use nurse mares that have either tragically lost a foal of their own (through no fault of the breeder), or thanks to modern veterinary medicine, can give certain drugs to bring a mare’s milk production in.

 

“I don’t believe ‘big breeders’ would do such a thing,” explains Debbi.  “There are nurse mare farms that in fact do this, which is very disturbing.  There is an easy drug protocol that can be given to any mare to induce lactation, so I don’t understand why this isn’t used more often in preparing a nurse mare for an orphan foal.”

 

 

In the age of the Internet, it’s never been easier to have information at your fingertips, especially with detailed topics like breeding and foaling.  In days of old, these myths were usually just passed down by word of mouth, but rumors and tales spread faster and easier now.  Ultimately, there is no substitute for veterinary science and years of sound experience that vets and breeders like Debbi Trubee can provide.  We hope these will squelch any doubts you may have about the validity of some of these “tall tales.”  Next time you hear one, be sure to set the record straight.