Should I Breed My Horse?

Should I Breed My Horse?

Tuesdays with Tony

As a cat, one of my many, many tasks is to humble humans daily. With breeding season coming up, I feel it’s my duty to have a heart-to-heart with you about what breeding actually means. I have come to this subject today because our 10th Annual Castration Clinic (where Springhill Equine has a ball… or two) is coming up soon. It’s important when thinking about your horse as a stallion, that good stallions make great geldings! Anyway, moving on to the topic at hand.


Should you?


Got a mare? Got a stallion? Make a baby. Sell the baby. It’ll be great.

Let’s start with the mare. I hear from humans all the time that they have a great horse, and they’re not wrong. However, look at your mare with a critical eye to determine if she should be bred. Sure, she does what you love doing, and she does it well (if she doesn’t, why would you breed her?), but do you want to pass on her conformation? Does she have personality quirks you have come to love, but would never, ever want in a horse you were looking at to buy? For many breeds, you should also have genetic testing done to see if she carries things like PSSM, OLWS, or other potentially life-threatening genes. If she does, you really want to make breeding decisions carefully. Need help deciding if you should breed your mare? Talk to someone you trust in your discipline. [This person should not own a stallion you may breed your mare to.]

For stallions, I have two words: perfect and money. If you’re going to keep your horse a stallion, he should have it all.  He should have the conformation your discipline is looking for, the personality, bloodlines, genetic testing, and a track record. That last part is the beginning of the money. If you don’t have the funds to campaign a stallion so that he can prove his value in your discipline, geld him. And after you campaign him, if you don’t have the funds to promote him, and his offspring, geld him. The sad truth is no one will promote your stallion and his offspring like you do. Don’t expect others to do that for you. This means advertisements, stallion auctions, showing babies, training fees for those babies. All of it. This often means stallions don’t even begin to pay for themselves for 10 to 15 years! All things to think about before leaving those testicles on.




Your mare is amazing, so is your stallion. Let’s make a baby! Whoa, whoa, whoa! I have siblings. Maybe some of you humans have siblings, too. I don’t know about your family, but I’m the only one to turn out decent in my family. I have a job, a blog, a warm lap to sleep on, and minions to deliver me food and beverages. Just because you have genetic potential, doesn’t mean the kid is going to get those good genes. It’s still a roll of the dice. Do you have a plan for those 1D barrel horses you cross, and end up with a something that couldn’t win the 7D if that was a division? A better question is, do you have a plan for getting this foal raised and trained to its potential? This can work out well if you can do all the training, but if you need to send baby off for lots of training, or you do a discipline that takes years to master (I’m talking to you, Dressage), it can add up to a lot of dollars!

Eyes wide open


I’m not saying don’t breed your horse, I’m just reminding you to think about the entire process. I’m also going to ask that you visit a local horse rescue, and talk with them about the horses they have. Someone bred every one of those horses.

And now I’m off to prepare for the Castration Clinic. This year’s motto is Geldings: Ball-less and Flawless!

Until next week,


P.S. I’m sure that by now you’ve subscribed to my blog, so I’ll skip that part. Have you tried out the podcast that the humans do yet? It’s called Straight From the Horse Doctor’s Mouth, and it’s a half hour of amazing, free information about horse stuff that you can listen to while you drive, while you wash your horse, while you jog (you humans and your crazy exercise stuff), or even while you’re pretending to work. Hey, I’m a cat. We’re all about slacking. Don’t judge. You can listen right from our website by clicking the link, or you can download it on Spotify, Stitcher, Castbox, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic


Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at, or follow us on Facebook!

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Equine Genetics

Equine Genetics

Tuesdays with Tony

Equine Genetics

Boy, did I get schooled on Thursday when Dr. Brooks came to speak at our Genetics Seminar! I always considered myself a pretty smart cat, but I may have been knocked off my pedestal by that presentation. The information Dr. Brooks shared with us was not only mind boggling, but also fascinating. I’ll do my best to re-cap, but really, you should sign up for her online class at UF to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth (pun intended).

Science and stuff: The Basics

Every species has its own genome. That’s basically a map of genes, which are made up of DNA, that determines everything about an individual (hair color, height, weight, conformation, intelligence, athletic ability, personality, etc.) Alleles are different forms of a gene that are responsible for heritable traits. Horses (and humans) inherit one allele from their mother and one allele from their father for each trait.

Let’s look at eye color as an example. At one site on a gene (or locus) there are 2 different alleles for eye color, we’ll call them B and b. B confers brown eye color, while b confers blue eye color. B is dominant over b. If the sire and the dam both have brown eyes with genotype Bb, their offspring will theoretically be 25% BB, 50% Bb, and 25% bb. Since B is dominant, the foal will have a 75% chance of having brown eyes, and a 25% chance of having blue eyes. In reality, it is not quite this simple, as there are multiple genes that affect eye color. Also, I’m not a cat geneticist.

Genetics of coat color

Horse coat color is multifactorial (determined by several different genes) but we do have the knowledge to predict the possible coat colors we could get based on the genotypes of both parents. About 5,000 years ago, all horses were Black or Bay. How boring, right? But then a spontaneous mutation in a gene named KIT occurred, which resulted in cool white spotting patterns. Humans, being attracted to new and unique things, thought this was pretty neat so we kept it. That is, our ancestors collected the mutant white-spotted horses and bred them, resulting in more white patterned horses. This is how Sabino, Roan, and Tobiano coat patterns all came about.

The next question I asked Dr. Brooks was ‘OK, so how did Dr. Lacher get a Chestnut foal out of 2 Bay parents?’ I know Bay (Black allele “E”) is dominant and Chestnut (Red allele “e”) is recessive. She explained that just like in our eye color example above, the possibilities for a foal of two Ee parents would be 25% EE, 50% Ee, and 25% ee. Since E is dominant, the foal will have a 75% chance of being Bay and a 25% chance of being Chestnut. Now that makes a lot of sense!

Even with all of our current knowledge, and despite knowing the genotype and phenotype of both parents, it is still impossible to predict coat color 100%. That’s because spontaneous mutations, like the ones that occur on the KIT gene, can occur at any time. Coat color genetics will certainly keep you on your toes!

Genetics of disease

Learning how to identify diseases—and thus how to prevent and treat them— is the focus of most current research in equine genetics. Ever since it was discovered that HYPP was a heritable genetic disease found in Quarter Horses descended from the stallion Impressive, it has been a focus of the AQHA and its members to eliminate this disease from the population. Knowing the genetic mechanisms of other diseases can help us to selectively breed them out of horses as well. Similarly, knowing which genes are affected in a certain disease can help in developing treatments targeted at the specific proteins or pathways affected by those genes.

Did you know that there are dozens of tests available for equine genetic diseases? Did you know that most equine genetic testing only requires a sample of hair from your horse’s mane or tail? Did you know that your breed registry may offer discounts on genetic testing for its members? Well, now you do! You’re welcome.

Amongst her many research projects, Dr. Brooks is doing a study on Anhidrosis (non-sweaters) with some interesting early results. If you own a non-sweater, please consider enrolling your horse in her study. You could be a part of the first effective treatment for Anhidrosis! Call our clinic for more information on this.

That’s the extent of what I recall from Dr. Brooks’ brilliant and informative seminar, but this is only a fraction of the information she presented. In case you missed it, head on over to my YouTube channel where you can re-play the live video. Also, check out my next See-Tony event, the Deworming Seminar to be held here on March 8th at 6:30 pm!

Until next week,


Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Office Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at, or follow us on Facebook!

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