Breeding goals begin long before you have a baby on the ground, according to Nikki Miller.

Breeding & Beyond: Breeding Goals — A Requirement

In my last couple columns, I brought my passion for creating the best cross pos- sible front and center. Now, I feel the need to go a bit backward. Let’s go back and bring attention to what I think is the foundation for creating a great cross — setting a breeding goal.

I think the best way to approach it is in stages. You set one big goal and within that, there tends to be short-term and long-term goals that emerge. This probably applies to most anything in life, and the breeding barn is no exception. And, it also pertains to both sides of the equation — the stud and the broodmare side.

Today, I am going to zero in on the bottom side. Specific goals are decided by asking the right questions and determining what you think are the best answers to create a cross. In my mind, the big goal might be to create a futurity champion (or any champion, really).

Or, maybe your goal is just to raise one that you hope makes a nice ranch horse. Whichever it is, this is what I call the “dream big” portion of the process. I don’t really think there are any wrong answers when asking yourself what you want at this point.

Then there are the general things you must take into consideration about your mare. They are as simple as how she is bred, how she is made, how she performs, her mind and, if she is already a producer, how she produces. After that, consider the same things about potential studs.

The next set of questions are ones you must ask yourself. What do you hope the resulting foal will make — a cow horse, barrel horse, reiner, roper, cutter, etc.? Do you want to train it yourself or send it to a trainer, or do you just want to sell it as a yearling?

I know a lot can change from the time you breed to the time those questions really matter, but you still need a plan. I know we all want to raise the best horse we can; that’s a no-brainer.

But if, for example, your goal for breeding is to get a yearling you can sell for top dollar, narrow the field to a select number of stallions, and then think about picking the stud that would have the most sale appeal in your yearling’s pedigree. This is where the black type weighs in a bit heavi- er in the decision process.

If the stallion you choose for the mare you have doesn’t create the black type buyers look for in yearlings, your goal might shift to keeping the resulting foal for longer. This approach might help you control the process a bit longer, allowing you to ensure the foal stays in the right hands and on a path that gives it the greatest chance of success in the show pen. That doesn’t mean they are not marketable or that you plan to keep them forever; it just means you might not sell them as early.

So, this all sounds pretty simple right? If only! If you are like me, you probably can’t afford to not plan things out and you darn sure want to do your best to not lose money on the investment. Still, even when you start answering the questions I outlined above, you are merely putting forth your best edu- cated guess in hopes it works out.

My last bit of advice is to keep it simple. That might seem contradictory to the rest of the process, considering all the questions I listed. But it’s truly as simple as you starting with the love of the “game.” Breeding is the most rewarding experience 11 months after you take the plunge, when the resulting foal takes its first breath of life. You will never forget that moment, especially when you’re standing next to them in a win picture or just enjoying a ride with them at home.

Horse breeders are the keepers of the seed that starts all goals in our industry. God bless each and every one of them for having a goal! I hope when you look at a horse now, you will have a bit more appreciation for the breeder that invested so much to create one you might want.

This Breeding & Beyond column was published in the May 1 issue of Quarter Horse News. To purchase this issue, click here.