Friday, July 20, 2018

Do Great Horses Come From Competition Mares?

The Horse Magazine photo.

Do mares who were successful in competition produce better offspring than mares who were not competed? Chris Hector at the Horse Magazine asked a couple of the most respected breeders in Europe and wrote an article looking at their answers - and the data.

Turns out the results are mixed, largely because mares have traditionally not been competed to the higher levels, so there is not as much data to compare - but the question is interesting and the article should be of interest to breeders.

Jan Greve, one of the breeders interviewed, had an interesting observation, which is that there are ages at which some animals produce better offspring. He says that with cows it's the third to the fifth offspring of a cow that turn out to be the best milkers. 

If we extend that to horses, is there an optimal age range for a mare to be producing, during which she will produce her best offspring? I don't think that has ever been studied in a controlled way. It's complicated, though. First, the sires might be different. Also, calves might have different sires, but otherwise their lives are funneled into milk production; everyone has the same career path, and milk production is easy to measure. With horses there are so many factors in whether a foal grows up to be successful in competition.

What are your thoughts as a breeder? Do you feel that over your mare's lifetime, the foals during one time period were the best? 

Read Chris Hector's article in full here.


  1. I don't necessarily agree that there are certain ages that will produce "better" offspring, but I do think that breading after a certain age (which is totally controlled by the mare) can produce lesser quality offspring.

  2. It's harder to evaluate what "better" is in horses, compared with cows, who have basically one job.