So maybe you are looking to get into breeding miniature horses or maybe you just want to do it as a one off or for a hobby. Whatever it is this is your resource on finding out when is the time to breed your mini.
There are always things to consider before you proceed to breeding your mare with another mini. So what we did is go out and ask the experts and gather information from other horse owners to present the results there.
So what is the age range you can breed a miniature horse?
Although there is no set date for this since you should always consider the health of your mini horse first so a fit mini horse will be able to breed until from 4 years old until 15-18 years a lot of variables can go into this. Prime age is around 4-6 normally. You should consult with your vet before proceeding at an older or younger age however.
There are many different variables that come into play as a horse ages as far as health and any additional supplements and med they need or or on that we will discuss below along with opinions from real horse owners and veterinarians.
Breeding Miniature Horses
First thing is if this is your first time always get your vet involved and that includes any questions when your mini mare becomes pregnant direct those questions to your local vet so they can help follow along with the process. Down the road you may not need a vet if you become a veteran in this area as most people do.
At around 3 to 4 years old have a vet check and see if she is in good enough shape to breed. Miniature horses have been known to have complications so it is never a bad idea to wait as long as you can in age (4-6 years old) before breeding. Always have a vet on call for foaling time as well.
Regular sized horses you can breed at age 2 for a foal at 3 usually without issue. The vet looks at many different aspects of a mare to see if they are capable of carrying a foal as it puts a lot of additional stress on the mini mare.
There are a lot of questions they will ask like:
- How is the temperament of the mini?
- What shape is her back?
- Will there be riding and breaking going on in that year of foaling?
How Long Is A Miniature Horse Pregnant?
Mini horses are usually most fertile in spring to early summer and carry their foal for about 11 months. You generally want to have a foal in early to late spring depending on where you live so they don’t get too hot in the summer months before having a bit of time to develop. Most foals are born with heavier coats just like dogs with their fur before they develop a normal seasonal coat. That doesn’t mean you can’t have foals at other times of the year as people always do.
It can just be a lot more work and more risk involved depending on your facility.
Answers From Other Mini Owners With Experience
We love mini horses and believe you can breed most mini’s without issue from age 4 – 16 even older then that is completely fine as it depends on the horses health. But you don’t have to take our word for it. We have gone out and done a ton of research gathering up answers over the years from actual horse owners and forums that you will find below. These come from sub reddits and horse forums both.
Some of the answers have been edited for grammarical and writing to make more readable. However the actual answers and opinions have been kept in tact. Most were all curated from Mini Horse Sub Reddit.
REAL OWNER ANSWERS (HOW OLD IS TOO OLD)
1. JMS Miniatures “Into 20’s Even Fine” – 12 isn’t terribly old, mares still breed in their 20s. But if you are just wanting to breed and make money, no its not worth it. IMO it’s more dangerous to keep breeding a mare year after year, and unnecessary.
2. Chandab “Check On Known Problems” – Aside from the normal risks in breeding minis, it shouldn’t be any more risky breeding her as a 12 year old after having had time off.
Not a mini, but I only bred my AQHA mare for two foals, they are 6-7 years apart; her first was at like 6-7 years old, her second she was 12-13 years old; she had little to know problems with either (actually, I think she may have had more problems with her first, as she carried nearly a year, and the foal was huge, the second wasn’t carried so long, nor so big, but has matured bigger).
3. Guest “Even 18+ Fine” – From the mares I bred around here over the years, she’s got another 10+ good years to go. The harder part sometimes comes when an older mare (18+) has several years between babies, some have said. I’ve never had a problem with the older ones, except sometimes it’s a bit harder to keep them in good shape and weight after the birth — to be ready to breed again for the next year. But a 12 year old is just “prime”.
Good luck! And if you decide to breed, I hope you’ll join us on the LB Mare/Foal forum. We’d love to watch with you!
4. HGHFarm “12+ Not Too Old” – 12 is not old at all. I have known of mares that foaled into their 20’s.
5. PaintPonyIVR “16 Year Old Mare” – Our Hackney mare was 16 when she was bred for the first time, 17 when she had her first foal (we purchased the pair when the colt was 1 week old).
and 21 when she had her 7th/last foal for us.
She was sold in 2006 (23 yrs old) as a lesson riding pony for a dressage barn… She lived to be 33. She was a treasured lesson mount those whole last 10 years.
This mare was 17 when she had her first foal for us (not her first foal) and 20 yrs old here with her 4th foal for us –
and 24 here with her 5th foal for us (her last – we sold her in March 06 at age 25 as a children’s riding pony and again she was ridden into her 30’s)…
I treasure the older mares that are very good with their foals! Our larger pony mares didn’t have the same issues that some mini mares can have. You have to make the decision to breed her yourself. It could be a hard pregnancy/birth and you have to weigh that possibility against want/love for your mare.
6. Sfmini “Good Health Biggest Factor Over Age” – As long as the mare is in good health and can conceive and maintain weight, she is healthy enough to breed. We are waiting on one in her early 20’s to foal now. Her dam stopped conceiving 3 years ago and the last foal she had was the easiest on her, she actually gained weight while nursing her. The mare we are waiting on is one of our best broodmares, and will be bred back, we know a hiatus could end breeding for her.
We are also very relaxed about everything, don’t worry about dates, ultrasound, the mare is bred or not, will foal when it is time to foal. This year is interesting as it is three generations of mares all bred to the same stallion who is a 1/2 brother to the oldest of the 3. So far, we have two bay splash blue eyed foals, and the mare we are waiting on had the exact same 3 years ago.
REAL OWNERS (ON WHEN THEY BECOME MATURE ENOUGH)
1. Bevann “Never Before 3 to foal at 4” – I NEVER bred a mare before 3 to foal at 4.I also looked at the mental maturity of the mare.No point in having an immature mare who won’t take care of her baby.In 1 case the mare was 5 and she still was not a great mother-left her baby to go with other mares in the field-baby screaming and running frantically-I had to go out and get the mare and bring her back to her baby.Her response OH– I forgot I had a baby.she was never bred again and I gave her away.IMO some mares are not meant to be mothers-just like some humans.IMO if you are breeding to keep a baby for yourself go for it.Just be warned it is not easy.Major stress if you are attached to your mare.Some people luck out and have no problems.I had my share and some other people’s bad luck too.
2. AmySue “Depends On Mare” – I think it depends on the mare. If she is mature enough and in good physical shape, then covering at three to foal at four would be okay. Keep in mind however that once you breed a mare her body changes and some have a harder time than others getting back into show ring or work condition shape. At the age of three many of my mares are getting shown or put into training first to evaluate their readiness for breeding for one thing and to make an attempt at a show career for another. I
n my opinion, there should be no such thing as “just a broodmare” she should have had a show career that made her worth breeding and producing or she should be in work being used for something. ..not just popping out kids. I feel so strongly about this because I see so many “pony mills” that keep breeding and selling with no higher purpose desired for the mares except producing more. They’re not cows, who need to calve to produce milk which in turn pays the bills. Many breeders will agree that four is an ok age to foal out, and I agree that physically she will probably be fine. Its a fine line between her being too young or too old for a maiden foaling as I have seen nares as young as 8 have difficulties with rheir first.
I have also heard that it is better to breed mares back to back for a few years and quit rather than breed then rest and then repeat. Personally, I think every mare is different. If you are just looking to breed a foal for yourself then it may be worth a try (keep in mind the possibility of risks to your mare and even losing her to complications) as raising a foal is a very rewarding experience; but if you are looking to breed to sell offspring, I would wait a bit. Only because of where the horse market is right now.
At age three, she is still young enough to do well at shows, maybe earn some points and make a name for herself, then breed her as breeding means taking a break from showing. I just hate to see baby mares start having babies themselves before having a life of their own. Long answer to a short question I know (sorry) just something to consider.
3. MiniNHF “5 years at earliest” – I think the earliest we ever bred our TB’s was 5year olds and I know it was nothing younger than that. I think we had two 5 year olds, a 7 year old and a 10 year old.
4. Rabbitsfizz “Fully Developed” – I always bred the Arabs at two to foal at three. I never did have a mare have any problem working out exactly what she had had, and I think that is only first foal syndrome anyway. I prefer to breed at three now, to foal at four, and, again, have never had any problems with this in the Minis, either. The thing you must bear in mind though is that Minis definitely have more foaling problems that Biggies, and you cannot get away form this fact. Leaving them later makes no difference to this, either, as the pelvic girdle bones become less “elastic” after time and have more problem passing a foal through. Every foal is a risk, no matter what age the mare. I will not breed form a mare under 30″ and, even at 32″ I will look at her carefully before breeding her. I think, honestly, that height and conformation are as important as age.
5. Diane at Castle Rock “As early as 2” – I’ve had mares breed at 2 to deliver at 3 without a problem. But I prefer to breed at 3 to deliver at 4. And I have bred many mares that are 28-30″ tall with no problems — some just “pop” them out! That said, with minis, you are looking for a strong hip with some depth and room for carrying a foal and delivering. The choice of stallion is important as well. I wouldn’t suggest breeding one of the “sleek” girls to a heavy-boned stallion…..I think you are just looking for trouble with this kind of mix. Also, the height difference between the mare and stallion is a consideration as well.
Minis can have many problems……I say “can” because most produce just fine. But you have to be willing to really spend the time in the last month or so watching and waiting diligently for signs of delivery to be there in case something goes wrong. Plenty of good brood mares have produced year after year with no problems, and then one year everything goes wrong. So, make sure you’re going to be there in case you are really needed.
And if you decide to breed, I hope you will join us on the mare/foal forum here on LB. We just love watching and waiting for these little ones to arrive.
~~Diane at Castle Rock
6. HGFarm “2 too early” – In my opinion, a two year old is still a ‘baby’ and not mature. I would never breed one before the age of three and as stated above for several reasons, depends on the mare- I may wait til later.
So as you can see there are a lot of opinions out there, but the main consensus that most have said is too always check on the horses health and being able to carry a foal to term. Outside of that keep your vet involved and maybe ask around with people that have experience in breeding even if with regular horses.
Most people that are involved with horses and farming don’t mind helping other people out in these areas. As it can be a very joyous and fun adventure to go through. Make sure you have room to deal with this situation with separate paddocks and stable to keep the stress down on the mother once she reached a certain time in gestation.
So anywhere from 4-20 seems to be the pick of when you are going to have the least amount of complications with a mini horse. That way probability will be on your side so you can just take the situation one day at a time. If you have your own opinion on this matter make sure to go to our contact page and/or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to be a writer for us as well feel free to contact us.