What Is A Broodmare? (A Definitive Easy-To-Read Guide)

What Is A Broodmare?

In short, a broodmare [brood-mair] is a female horse that is used specifically for breeding and birthing foals.

Broodmares are extremely important to the world of horse breeding because they have excellent bloodlines, making them the ideal horses for breeding.

Most will have around four or five foals during their time as a broodmare, and some have even more.

Many horse breeds seen today would not be if not for broodmares. Their excellent bloodlines and genetics have passed on to their foals, keeping several breeds from vanishing out. 

Thoroughbred Broodmare

What Does It Take To Be A Good Broodmare?

To be a good broodmare, a horse’s primary job needs to be birthing foals. They typically aren’t used for pleasure riding or competition because a broodmare is either pregnant, nursing, or caring for a newborn foal for the majority of the time. 

Does A Broodmare Need To Be Well Mannered?

Yes, they do, and they typically always are. Because they are used to birth and raise foals, they have a beautiful and patient personality.

A horse that is pregnant is usually reasonably calm, so a broodmare is known for having a relaxed nature. 

Often, because of their mellow demeanor, many of them end up becoming family pets, horses used for lessons, or companion animals. They work well with children once retired as they are well-tempered and patient. 

What Age Does A Broodmare Start Her Breeding Career?

Most broodmares need to have gotten a decent start in life before being used for breeding. The average age is about seven years of age, although some can start as early as age four or as late as fifteen. 

After that, the decision is based on the horse herself, her bloodline, personality, and how easily she gets pregnant. 

What Age Does A Broodmare End Her Career?

One can assume a broodmare’s career is over between the ages of fifteen and twenty. This age officially marks them as a senior horse, and developing health issues is expected. 

It is best to address health problems in horses when they aren’t currently nursing a foal. Mares can commonly develop laminitis, a painful condition of the hooves, which is due to the hormonal changes pregnancy brings.

How Is A Broodmare Prepared For Breeding?

Preparation prior to breeding is everything as it ensures that the horse gives birth to healthy foals. 

Mares are what is called seasonally anestrous, meaning that they usually only cycle during specific times of the year, meaning most foals are born in the spring and early summer. But this does not work well with the desired January birth dates for certain breed registries. 

However, a mare’s cycle can be manipulated with lights to encourage cycling earlier in the year. By using light therapy, a mare’s cycle can be induced early. 

Ensuring the mare has proper nutrition is an important factor in developing a healthy foal and easy delivery. Regular exercise keeps mares healthy and fit for the strenuous job of childbirth.

A well-balanced diet is also crucial during pregnancy, and supplementation may be needed, like vitamins and minerals. 

A regular schedule of veterinary visits should also be performed in a broodmare, including deworming, vaccines, and teeth floating. However, it is best to have these procedures performed when the horse is not currently pregnant to reduce stress. 

By being proactive with proper care and nutrition, the chances of a broodmare’s success in breeding are increased. 

How Long Is A Horse Pregnant For?

A horse goes into heat every month, just as a human woman would get her menstrual cycle. But horses are pregnant for eleven months instead of nine. After the foal is born, the mother will continue to care for and nurse her baby before the foal is weaned and taught to become independent. 

Can A Broodmare Nurse At The Sametime She Is Pregnant?

Though it is certainly not recommended, they certainly can. A mare will continue to go into heat after birthing a foal, meaning she can be rebred taking care of a newborn. This practice is often looked at as inhumane and leads to overbreeding. 

What Happens To A Broodmare Once They Retire?

There are several things they can do once they retire, depending on their age, physical condition, and general health. 

1. Riding Lessons

Often, because broodmares are so patient, they are used in general riding lessons, especially with children. They are also used for trail rides with the general public. However, the majority of them are used for pleasure riding because of their gentle demeanor. They usually make excellent riding horses, especially if they retired early.

2. Grazing

Unfortunately, broodmares can suffer from swayback or lordosis. From the burden of carrying several foals throughout their lives, horses often develop abnormal posture.

It causes physical damage to the spinal cord, ligaments, and tendons, leading to severe pain. Because of this, they are often just retired in their old age and given plenty of pasture to graze in. 

Grazing is the perfect retirement for a horse because nothing is better than relaxing after a long and hardworking career. 

What Is The Difference Between A Broodmare And A Mare?

While a broodmare is a horse used primarily for breeding, a mare is simply a female horse over the age of three. A horse under the age of three is considered a filly. 

A mare may produce a foal once a year but is not used just for breeding. Mares are often used consecutively for riding and so birthing a foal once a year is not recommended. 

A pregnant or nursing horse is not able to be athletic in any way. Mares can also become very anxious if separated from their foals and can become challenging to manage. However, a broodmare is used to being pregnant and is much more mild-mannered. 


A broodmare is a female horse whose life is dedicated to the breeding and birthing of foals (during breeding season) to sustain a particular breed of horse. With proper care and timing, they can produce several healthy foals during their lifetime.

For more information about them, check out: https://www.aqha.com/-/14-tips-for-broodmare-owners

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