Many Australians who are involved in the equestrian industry are familiar with the racing schedule of some of the most popular events the country hosts. Whether it be the Melbourne Cup, or even local races, one should spend time getting to know what it takes to breed those winning horses, and how the industry is regulated. The Australian thoroughbred breeding industry sees many mares and stallions being mated on an annual basis.

The Duration of the Breeding Season

The official starting date for breeding in Australia is 1 September annually and usually closes late in November. Once the season has commenced, mares are transported to the various stallion farms to be bred. With all mating practices being natural, its expected one stallion can mate with over 30 mares in a domestic season.

Preparing Your Mare for the Breeding Season

Before you can mate your mare, it’s crucial to ensure that she is in good body condition, which means your mare should be within its optimal body weight range, as those who carry too much additional weight may have trouble falling pregnant.

As your mare is about to start her cycle, its recommended you get your vet to examine her, to check the reproduction organs, to ensure there are no abnormalities. The scan can also check how far along your mare is, into her cycle for you to determine when to start breeding.

How to Identify If Your Mare Is on Heat

Even though the mating season runs from around the same date annually, not all horses will go on heat at this time. This makes it particularly tricky if you want your horses to mate. Some giveaway signs to look out for, which indicate your horse is on heat include a winking vulva, squatting down more than usual, dropping her hips into the breeding position, and increasing interest in the stallions on the farm.

It’s recommended you initiate breeding with your mare, just before she comes off ‘heat’ to ensure the best results. So, from around two days before the mare is due to end this cycle, and then every day until her cycle ends. This is due to ovulation occurring approximately 23 – 48 hours before oestrus stops. The sperm of the stallion will only remain alive for around 24 hours.

Live Cover Breeding

To ensure your mare is protected during mating season, some breeders prefer their mares and stallions to partake in live cover breeding. For this to be successful, the mare should be on heat and willing to take the stud. This is done to ensure that there are no injuries to not only the horses but the people handling them. If you’re experienced in live cover breeding, through teasing the mare, you can train her to be ready for the stallion. Once your horse has been serviced by the stallion, a scan should be conducted 14 days after mating, to check for twins or if the service was successful. These are just some processes involved when it comes to breeding horses.