Learn Horse Breeding

Breeding horses for specific uses has formed four general types of modern horses:

  • Hotbloods (e.g. Arab and Thoroughbred)
  • Warmbloods (e.g. Carriage and Sport horses)
  • Coldbloods (e.g. heavy Draught horses)
  • Ponies (e.g. Exmoor, Dartmoor, Icelandic )

These categories refer to the temperament and speed of the horse rather than anything to do with the actual temperature of the horse’s blood. Hotblooded horses tend to be more quick-witted and ‘sharp’ and also possess great speed across the ground. Coldblooded horses tend to be a quiet temperament and are often larger animals.

Study horse breeding by distance learning

  • Understand why horses are bred and inherited traits.
  • Learn about mare and stallion selection and selective breeding.
  • Understand each stage of the pregnancy, birth and after care of the foal.
  • Learn about caring for a newborn and reducing the health risks.
  • Learn about caring for a pregnant mare - nutrition, exercise, and health needs.

Horses are bred not only to produce more animals; but also to manage the type of animals being produced. Selective breeding for specific uses has formed ‘modern’ horses of four general types including Hot bloods, Warm bloods and Cold bloods and Ponies.


Course Structure and Contents

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. The Brood Mare
  2. The Stallion
  3. Breeding Management
  4. The Pregnant Mare
  5. Parturition / Foaling
  6. Care of the Newborn Foal
  7. Infertility in the mare
  8. Infertility in the stallion
  9. Reproductive Technology
  10. Improving Horses through Breeding


Course Duration:  100 hours



Infertility in a Stallion

In the wild state stallions will breed with a mare a number of times during her period of oestrus. He will remain in close contact with the mare throughout the process and is able to tease and cover her in his own time when the mare is most receptive.

Under most modern stud management systems, mares and stallions are kept separately and only come together to mate. The breeding stallion is unlikely to be used to tease the mare and this process is often carried out by a totally different animal, kept specifically for that purpose. Stud managers rely heavily on advice from a veterinary surgeon to decide on the best time for covering a mare rather than letting Mother Nature take its course. These ‘unnatural’ ways of managing breeding can often have an adverse effect on the stallion’s fertility, particularly if the stallion is young or just in his first breeding season.

Technically, stallions are able to breed all year round, although sperm production and libido peak in the early summer months of May and June in the Northern hemisphere. Again, stud managers may attempt to use the stallion for breeding earlier in the year before sperm production has reached its peak, which can cause poor results and subsequent fertility problems.


Fertility ‘Heritability’

Stallions can inherit tendencies towards low or high fertility from their own parents. The physical structure and size of the testicles and other structural abnormalities of the reproductive system are inheritable traits. In some breeding lines, many male family members have the same structural defects and semen problems. Other fertility problems e.g. poor semen quality, small testicles and other hormonal problems are known to be genetic. This can become a major issue that is often caused by selection for other desirable traits (eg. speed, athletic potential) without taking into account the familial problem of reduced fertility. In this way, reduced fertility can be passed on down through the generations.


Handling and Management

A stallion is not fertile until he reaches sexual maturity; the testicles begin to produce sperm when the colt is a yearling but he will not reach full sexual maturity until he is around 2 years of age. At this young age he is not capable of breeding with many mares and should only be used to cover limited mares until he reaches 3 or 4 years of age.

As stallions grow older, degenerative changes may decrease the amount of viable sperm produced and the sperm may have certain abnormalities, which can also reduce his fertility. Carrying out a regular semen evaluation may be necessary to make sure older stallions are still fit for breeding duties.

Stallions can become temporarily infertile when they are bred too often. The most appropriate frequency of use for breeding depends on each individual stallion's libido, sperm production and viability. Some stallions can be used to breed more than once a day while others may only be able to breed once every few days. A stallion’s previous breeding history will help to gauge the most appropriate frequency of use. For new breeding stallions a thorough breeding soundness exam will help to ensure that he is managed appropriately.

One of the biggest causes of libido and fertility problems is a stallion that is either obese or underweight. A stallion that is not maintained in an appropriate body condition may not have the stamina to cope with breeding with a number of mares throughout the season. It is important that the stallion is in an appropriate body condition before the breeding season begins. Breeding is hard work for the stallion, particularly if he has a high number of mares to serve.

Using The ‘Henneke Body Scoring System’, stallions should ideally score between 5 and 7 in their off season and between 4 and 6 during the breeding season. All stallions should be fed appropriately depending on their temperament, work load and body condition. Stallions typically require 25% more nutrition during the breeding season than they do out of season, similar to any other horse that is in light to moderate work.

It is important to monitor the stallion’s body condition on a regular basis throughout the breeding season and make any adjustments in feeding as becomes necessary to maintain an ideal body condition.

Illness and Injury
If a stallion develops an illness or is injured the testicular temperature can become increased, and subsequently cause damage to any stored sperm. If the illness carries on for any length of time then the stallion could become infertile for up to 60 days after his temperature has returned to normal, due to the fact that it takes up to 60 days for new sperm to fully develop.

Other Abnormalities
Failure to achieve an erection or failure to ejaculate can sometimes occur. These problems may be caused by a physical abnormality or a behavioural issue; overuse of the stallion is a common cause. A previous injury while breeding may also cause these problems. Any physical problem in the stallions back or hind legs may make mounting a mare difficult and cause a lack in libido and a subsequent reduction in fertility.




Just go to the top of this page for pricing and enrolment options. If you have any questions you can contact us now, by:
Phone (UK) 01384 44272, (International) +44 (0) 1384 442752, or

Email us at [email protected]