Modern Techniques for Breeding Horses
Finding the Right Stallion
The breeding process in horse racing can be arduous. However, computers with electronic databases have made the job of finding the right stallion for a brood mare much easier than used to be the case when one had to depend almost entirely on a close circle of contacts.
Resistance to use modern technologies plagues breeding of horse racing champions in all fields other than maintaining international databases. Almost no work has been done on genetic mapping, so one has still to go back for as many generations as possible in order to try and uncover all the important genetic traits of both stallion and brood mare. Similarly, techniques of blastocyst selection through In-Vitro Fertilization, and pre-natal genetic screening are unknown, putting enormous investments in breeding at risk. Brood mares may cross the peak fertility age of 3-4 years in unnecessarily amateur attempts at conception, using age-old techniques of mating.
Saddled with this constraint of outdated genetics in the ultra-conservative horse racing world, we are obliged to make tough trade-offs in breeding decisions! Owners have to spell out the characteristics and traits which they would value most highly in prospective foals. Fortunately, the growing convention of transporting semen has made it possible to make choices from a more widely dispersed genetic pool.
Disposition is perhaps the most important factor to look for when choosing a stallion. This character and personality trait will play a crucial role in training, and is a common denominator in the most successful champions of the horse racing track. It is worth transporting thoroughbreds across oceans in order to get the genes right in this respect!
The absence of debilitating diseases is another important consideration when one plans for breeding in horse racing. Medical records are not always comprehensive, but there may be some evidence of recessive genes in some of the most attractive stallions and brood mares. Overlooking this aspect gives rise to the risk of expensive failures by producing weak and chronically sick foals.
Some owners are emotionally swayed on the issue of color. This is relevant if one wishes to raise a foal as a companion or for shows, but it detracts from the essential qualities of receptiveness to training, and freedom from inherited diseases, which must have overbearing importance in horse racing.