Breeding

Throughout the last 27 years Rata Mill has religiously followed a breeding policy of crossbreeding of distinctly different breeds. This was to maximise consistency of type and to utilise the distinct qualities of each breed in a positive manner. We believe that this is best achieved by crossing well established hot blood sires over heavy mares. Up until 2012 the three breeds have been Arab, Thoroughbred and Clydesdale. Thoroughbred is used sparingly to enhance size and athleticism, Arab for soundness and quality, Clydesdale as a foundation for temperament, conformation and the all-important soundness of legs.  

In 2011 a significant change in policy introduces 3 new breeds. (See: pages THE FUTURE and STALLIONS) The future is underpinned by 15 Rata Mill half Clydesdale mares. 

 

                                                  Our Foundation

              Purebred Clydesdale mares with their Anglo Arab half-bred foals. 1994

Clydesdales are superb mothers with high milk production and excellent legs. Their temperament has a calming effect on foals

 

                          A colleague from Japan on recently viewing the mares:

                     ‘Most people sell their best mares, you keep them for breeding’                                                                                                    

                                                    And Today

       No purebred Clydesdales remain at Rata Mill. Their halfbred progeny now take over the role

                                                                           New stud sire

                                                  Ohai Frost

                                                             Shire x NZ Stationbred @ 3 years

                                                                          10 -11- 2013

He has been pruchased to cover some slighter, smaller mares, and to ensure a steady supply of heavy-weight brood mares. There is still plenty of demand for his type in the NZ market. That typical draught horse body stamps its' mark on progeny several generations down. i.e. good toplines. 

 

Consistency comes from the mating of distinct breeds. Should 2 of the above and below be mated, consistency would suffer. There would be unexpected throw-backs in type  and a more variation in size. 

 

         The ideal type to cross with heavy mares. Good body, fine bone and features

 

Paddock Mating 

 

Paddock mating is a breeding system that mimics that of horses in a completely natural environment. Technically, paddocking a stallion in with mares (or vice versa) that we know are in season, then removing the stallion after mating, can be called paddock mating, but this practice is problematic. The horses have not had the time to accept each other. Kicking and biting can occur.

Paddock mating has several advantages: low labour cost, improved chance of difficult mares getting in foal, and being able to leave a stallion with mares and foals all year round. I have never seen foals attacked by a stallion.   

It also has a number of disadvantages: Not knowing when a mare is mated (unless a marking harness is used), potential of injury through kicking or biting, and relying on the mare to find its own ideal time to cycle and take the stallion. In the thoroughbred world the official birthday in the Southern Hemisphere is July 1st. Few horse will ovulate that early, so many race horses are induced with drugs. The earliest most mares will ovulate under natural outdoor conditions is 3 ½ months later: October 15. There are rare exceptions.

Providing we follow a number of principles relating to how horses behave in the wild, paddock mating can be highly successful and problem free. It is very rare for wild horses to be injured through kicking or fighting during mating. As horses grow up in mobs they learn a language that they will never compromise. For example when a stallion is running with a mob of mares he will challenge mares to see if they behave as being in season.  When the mare indicates no, by squealing in a certain manner and/or swishing the tail vigorously, the stallion will just walk away.

Consequently, a stallion that has grown up in a mob, or has been introduced to a mob at a young age, is seldom blemished or causes any injury to mares. .  What a stallion will do is control his mob of mares. If a new stallion was introduced nearby he will be preoccupied with herding his mares away from the threat, not fighting the new stallion.

In terms of horse psychology there is a big difference between hand mating and paddock mating. With hand mating the mare will commonly take the stallion each day for over a week. We have to keep mating each day as the ovulation occurs at the end of the season. This is assuming that a vet is not checking for ovulation. Either way it is time consuming, costly and sometimes dangerous. Handling a stallion during hand mating is no fun. The other very important difference is that the stallion gets to think he can walk in and mate a mare whenever he wishes – especially if he has been mating hobbled mares.  

I once bought a thoroughbred stallion who had been hand mated his entire life. I put him into a paddock of mares. One week later he was a mess – beaten up and cut, especially around the legs.  When the stallion came roaring in the mares would group up in a corner of a paddock with their hind quarters facing the stallion. It took 2 week before he finally learnt his lesson.  He was blemished for life.

An interesting thing about paddock mating is that one seldom sees the mating occur. It appears as though the mare will not take the stallion until she is in full ovulation. It is all over within 12 hours.

There are a number of does and don’ts.  When a new mare comes in for mating it is not wise to put her straight into the mob of mares with their stallion. It can take weeks before the mares will accept her and she will be ostracised (forced out of the mob) by both mares and stallion. In this case it is better to put the new mare and stallion in a yard with a safe fence between them. This way they will get to know each other for a few days before being put in the paddock.

When introducing the stallion to a mob of mares it is better to put the stallion into the mare’s paddock or put them both into a new paddock at the same time. Never put any horse into the stallion’s paddock. Stallions get very territorial in their own paddock and will attack most horses coming in – especially geldings. Geldings will be forced over or through fences in a very violent manner. If the stallion and the geldings have grown up together from a young age and never separated this does not occur.  I currently have 2 stallions of age 4 that mated mares last season but run together as the best of mates. They grew up together. However, if they were to be separated for 2 or more months they would probably fight on being re-introduced.  

Stallions will exist happily with foaling mares and their foals right up until the colts are nearing one year of age when they start to become colty around mares. Normally the foals will have been weaned by then anyway.

It is a good idea to have at least one paddock mate for stallions at all times. Alone, stallions will fret, pace the fence lines, and lose weight.

Paddock size is important. Providing a paddock is of minimum 5 acres the horses have the room to sort themselves out.  Providing the stallion is introduced to the mob’s paddock even geldings come to an arrangement. They will stay in one mob away from the mares who will be in a mob controlled by the stallion. Typically the stallion stays on the perimeter of the mare mob. They decide how close the stallion can mingle outside of mating. Our current sir Cloud is permittted to come right into the mob amongst the foals. 

One real problem that can occur relates to possessive mares. Occasionally a mare will keep all other mares away from the stallion. This should be watched for and the mare removed because other mares will not get in foal.  Many years ago I took a stallion out of a mob with such a possessive mare. I was several paddocks away when low and behold the mare gallops up behind me. She had jumped 3 fences to get back with her boyfriend.

 

                                 A half Clydesdale is coarse and heavy right? 

                                            This is what we are after folks. This guy has it all.

                            Out of purebred Clydesdale by Bobby Coon ( see stallions)