The Business of Horse Breeding
Horse breeding is a serious business that generates millions of dollars a year in the United States alone. And it is not a very simple business as deciding on fees, insurance, boarding and confirmed bloodlines often necessitate written contracts, especially with animals worth millions of dollars.
Dams and Sires
The female horse to be bred is called the dam or the mare. The male is called the sire or the stallion. Because males can have so many more offspring in a lifetime than females, it is generally the sire that is star of horse breeding, and the mares whose owners must pay for the privilege of a visit.
Each animal passes 50 per cent of its genes and characteristics onto the foal. So having both a good quality dam and sire is important. Mare owners generally try to choose a stud that is strong in the qualities that the mare lacks. For example, if a mare has crooked legs, it is important that she be bred with a male that has especially well-developed legs to try and breed her shortcoming out of the bloodline.
Studying the Bloodlines
Millions of horses are listed in the world's breed registries. These books are kept by associations who keep documents of each horse's parents, for generations, for sometimes hundreds of years. These documents are very important for serious horse breeding, because the art of breeding is, in fact, picking out the best characteristics and trying to cut out others.
To continue our example, if a dam has crooked legs, her owner will look for a stud who not only has good legs, but whose own ancestors had well-developed legs. If there is a risk that the stud carries recessive genes associated with crooked legs, the mare should get a different mate.
Fees and Contracts
Horse breeding is not quite like the art of matchmaking. In fact, sometimes horses simply do not want to mate, due to stress, old age, or just lack of interest. Or one partner may turn out to be sterile, or the mare may be prone to miscarrying. A mare's owner must think about all these issues before paying the stud fees for a stallion. These fees can go into the millions of dollars in the most elite thoroughbred circles. That is why horse breeding necessitates written contracts in order to specify solutions to any mishaps.