MONTHLY - March 2007

It's foaling time ....


In the 'old' days, it was very natural and 'normal' to get only one chance per year with a broodmare to have a foal. So breeders had to think very carefully about the breeding, and usually inspected all individual mares and stallions, even the ancestors and considered very carefully, the number of options for a mare which was limited by nature and time. Meanwhile, the technologies and science developed so much, that for modern thinking breeders the embryo transfer process became 'normal'. To have two, three, four or more foals out of a mare and/or sibling in one and the same year is for several people in the business all over the world already quite common. Mares do not carry their baby themselves anymore, so-named 'recipient mares' are doing this job and take the pregnancy and birth of this embryo transferred baby, and the "original" mom can stay in "condition", may be used for more than one foal, may continue her show career all year long as no pregnancy 'disturbs' the condition.

The quanitity of foals born by embryo transfer increases every year. The 'old fashionned' way of one foal per year, carried out and delivered by the 'original' dam might be something exotic in some decades more. Until, it was quite easy, to follow up breeding records of a mare and to inspect the results and her quality as a broodmare. In this new times and 'modern' ways it will be more difficult, a very good and clear registry of all breeding activities is of need.

Also looking to the stallions business, the breeding methods have changed so much in the recent years. Everything started with breeding naturally, but has continued with the option of fresh semen, frozen semen, and even from deceased stallions you may find foals born later on when semen as the deceased stallion had been frozen and stored and the fertility ramains good enough. The world changes around! The possibilities are there, but it is everybody's own decision whether they prefer the 'old" and very natural way, or the new and modern one, and to consider the chances and risks, the options,the sense and non-sense, the advantage and disadvantages, for the individual horse and breeding but also in general for the whole. A decision is at least, a very personal decision of a breeder or owner, each with their own personal ideas, intentions, and ethics. The legal rules in countries are different. In some you find regulations and limitations - i.e. by the number of foals getting registered per year, in others there are no regulations and the horse may be used as one likes. But nothing in the world is only unlimited or limited, nothing only black or only white! The experiences teach already, that embryo transfer may cause severe problems - not only by the fact that not all foals out of a mare and full siblings are equally fantastic but vary in quality, - also several problems in health, pregnancy, and fertility of those "flashed" mares who had embryo transfers are already known.

However, the breeders from heart will agree - each new foal being born is a new exciting moment, independent how often one has experienced it - and if it is of good or bad quality it is as a result of his own decision, studies, and experience with the drop of luck or not. The time until the mare gives birth, when the foal makes it's first move, the dam taking care of the baby foal until it is self confident and strong enough and jumping in circles around mom getting bigger and bigger, until it is old enough to be weaned - each Arab horse enthusiast might enjoy watching the beauty of an Arabian mare with her baby at side. To watch the same scene with a little elegant, fine Arabian baby foal next to a big warm-blood or thoroughbred mare, the recipient mare, is a totally different, and possibly, very strange impression. And about the raising of an Arab foal by a warm-blood mare and her milk, about the disposition a foal also learns from it's mom - is it guaranteed that there is no change in this for the Arabian horse and the total breed over decades? Watching an Arabian mare with her Arabian baby foal might be always the classical moment, maybe more or less 'old style' but of exciting beauty and natural harmony!

The above picture shows the mare AL GHABRA from Sharjah Stud with her 2006 baby foal enjoying the liberty and run in the pasture.



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