by Laura Wiener~Smolka

Breeding Lipizzans (or any horses) long distance requires a great deal of coordination and commitment on the part of the stallion owner as well as the mare owner. However, I think it is well worth the effort, because it frees the Lipizzan owners from "convenience marriages" so they may choose the best possible "marriage" combinations and to expand gene pools in the various geographical locations. Transporting semen and artificial insemination also spare the mareowner great anxiety about giving up "custody" of a valued mare and, in many cases, the foal by her side. Many times it eliminates the hazards of shipping and relocating the mare (and her nursing foal). I cannot honestly say for sure that it is more economical for the mareowner. It probably works out to about the same cost as transporting and boarding for natural cover.

The following is a list of considerations for breeding a mare or standing a stallion with artificial insemination and transported semen:


Does the stallion owner guarantee a live, healthy foal?

What happens if the mare does not conceive, aborts, or is otherwise unable to breed? Do you receive a refund or only rebreeding rights? Can you sell your rebreeding right?

Does the stallion owner guarantee that the semen will be alive and have a minimum motility (10%, 20%, 90%, etc.). Can the stallion owner provide evidence that the stallion has been recently tested for transported semen viability?

Does the stallion owner use Hamilton containers (or tortilla warmers) to ship the semen?

Is there a rental charge for the container?

How many containers does the stallion owner have? If the mareowner does not need an immediately reshipment, can the mareowner return the container by UPS (about $6 vs. $35 - $55 for overnight express or air).

How much does the stallion owner's veterinarian charge to collect and prepare the semen for each shipment (prices range from $60 to $250)?

Does the stallion owner have a back-up veterinarian for collection in case the vet is out of town or on emergency calls when it is time to collect for the mareowner's mare?

Does the stallion owner require more than 24 hours notice to collect?


Make sure the mareowner has a reliable way to tease the mare. If not, the mareowner has to be willing to have many vet checks, and possibly cycle the mare in with a shot of Prostin at least 5 days after the mare goes out of heat. This will bring the mare in at a determined time --which makes planning a little easier. (Federal Express and UPS do not deliver on Sundays, and many times, they do not pick up on Saturdays).

Determine if the mareowner is close to a major airport, whether Federal Express or UPS can guarantee next day delivery, and then determine (well in advance) the best method of shipment to the mareowner, as well as the cost. Advise the mareowner of the cost of shipment.

Agree on the method of return of the shipping container in advance, and decide if you will require a deposit on the container (the containers cost about $220). Also, be sure to write your name in big letters with permanent ink on the container itself, because they all look alike, and most breeding veterinarians handle many containers from all over the country.

The mareowner must be willing to use a veterinarian experienced in breeding to palpate the mare several times before the breeding day and to call the stallion owner each time the mare is palpated with a progress report.

Obtain the phone number of the mareowner's veterinarian and/or breeding station so direct communication can be made in case the mareowner is unavailable.

Consider the age of the mare, how many foals she has had, how many years she has been left open, and require a culture for all mares older than seven years and for all those who have previously foaled.

Find out if the mare has been recently exposed to other stallions and if she is in a pasture or living situation where she could be accidently bred by other stallions (especially Lipizzans).

Try to obtain the mare's past breeding history and determine if the mareowner should consider using Regumate for the first 150 days of pregnancy (especially if you are guaranteeing a live foal).

Decide what you will guarantee in terms of live motility (and good morphology) upon delivery of the semen. Have your veterinarian run a test on your stallion at the beginning of each breeding season so you know you are sending live, healthy semen, and so you know approximately how long it will last in the container. Each stallion varies in sperm motility and longevity. Ask the mareowner to have their vet check the semen under a microscope when it arrives.

Ensure that the mareowner will follow up and have the mare palpated 24 hours after breeding to ensure that she is ovulating, and that the mareowner will ultrasound the mare 17 days after ovulation to determine pregnancy and to be able to give you immediately confirmation that you do not need to rebreed.

Insist that the mareowner give you 24 or 48 hours notice of the time the mare needs to be inseminated, depending upon how fast the whole process can be completed. Check airline schedules, pick-up times, etc., so you know what your capabilities and limitations are. Keep a good calendar and pencil in all the possible dates for each mare. Have a back-up breeding veterinarian available and make sure you (or your stallion) are not out of town or unreachable during the times the mareowner may be calling you.

Keep extra coolant cans in your freezer in case you have to immediately reship in a returned container. Write your name in permanent ink on the coolant cans so they do not get mixed up at a breeding station (they have a short shelf life and you don't want to send new coolant cans and then get back old rusty, leaking cans).

Each time the stallion owner or mare owner ships Federal Express or UPS, they should advise the other party of the shipping (tracking) number. This way if the shipment does not arrive, the person expecting it can have it tracked and located immediately (like before the end of the work day).

In the case of live breedings, all parties need to ensure there are lots of mutual indemnifications and hold harmless waivers in the breeding contract, and that there is clear communication about hind shoes, immunizations, cultures, feed, fencing, exercise for the mare, grooming the mare, at what point the mare can leave the breeding farm, how soon she should arrive before breeding, what authority the stallion owner has regarding tranquilizers, hobbles, twitches, and incurring veterinary bills on behalf of the mareowner, etc., etc. Before sending your Lipizzan mare for live breeding, I would highly recommend that the mareowner request a video tape of the stallion breeding a mare, as well as a video of the facilities (if you are unable to make a personal visit).

Laura Wiener

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