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Breeding Horses/Shetland Pony Breeding Age


I'm wanting to know how old is too old to breed and how many foals are too many foals as I've been offered a purebred shetland mare who is 18 years old and has had 6 foals already.

Greetings Catherine,

This is the time of year I start wishing I was "down under" too. >) This isn't a simple question.  First, 6 foals is not too many. IF they waited until she was a moderate 4 until they started to breed her, that is still leaving a fallow year in between which is exceedingly moderate.  MANY broodmares carry a foal every year for many years. Whether or not 18 is too old depends entirely on your individual mare. Many mares are still foaling into their 20s. Of course her overall health is a factor, but there are more things than only that. How easy were her other pregnancies for her? What is her reproductive health? How long ago was her last live foal born? Can her owner answer these questions for you?

I would ask the owner for permission to have a veterinarian check her over.  Although this goes under the category of "Looking a gift horse in he mouth" that is really what you are asking. Of course, IF she is a good gentle mare, your other choice is to except her graciously and then have a veterinary check done on her and try to breed her. If that doesn't work out, you can always let your children or grandchildren play with her in the yard ;>)

It comes down to why you are considering her in the first place.  Do you want to give her a home? Do you only want a foal or are you looking for something for children to play with?  Perhaps you are intending to go into the breeding business. Asking yourself that question may also help with your decision.

Good luck.  

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Lynne Curtis Gudes


Breeding, foaling, behavior, imprinting and common medical issues arising from foaling. Also stallion handling.


I have been involved in horses for approximately 45 years. I showed hunters, jumpers and stock horses. In the 80's I was licensed as a trainer on the race track. I have run broodmare operations, delivered foals and taught everything from what to feed and which end the shoes go on to advanced jumping. I tend to be impatient with owners who think their horses prefer to be locked up in confined spaces. Even my show and race horses rarely spent more than only the night before an event in a stall...the rest of the time they had room to run. In 1974 I rode a Quarter Horse Stallion and a Thoroughbred Mare solo from Minneapolis to San Francisco.


"The Long Ride" Published in Women Sports Magazine March of 1975 an article regarding the author's cross country horseback ride from Minnesota to California. "A Horse is a Horse,of Course" An article regarding investigating horse incidents and the Equine Liability Act for investigators and attorneys. published in The Legal Investigator, February 2004 "Investigating Animal Cases:" A chapter written at the request of the editors for a professional textbook entitled Advanced Forensic Civil Investigations published by Lawyers and Judges Publishing June, 1997 "Murder by Another Name:" An article published in The John Cook Fraud Report, December 1994 regarding the intentional killing of horses for greed and insurance fraud. "The Responsibilities of Horse Owners in Rural Communities:" A paper presented before the Regional Seminar of the National Association of Legal Investigators in November 1987 at Phoenix, Arizona. "The Old Gray Mare is Worth $10,000,000 Now." A professional paper on the investigation of cases involving bloodstock and racetracks presented before the National Conference of the National Association of Legal Investigators in Washington, D.C., June 1986.

approximately 3 years of confined degree. Advanced degree from the university of experience :>)

Awards and Honors
Recipient of the 1st place Anthony M. Golec Editor-Publisher Award 2004

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