In the Thoroughbred industry, Clydesdale mares are rather a popular thing when the breeding season comes around. My first viewing of this was when I was doing work placement at Swettenham Stud (then known as Collingrove) a few years back.
The hundred or so mares to be vetted for the day would be run into yards and along with the wet mares, a foal was close by it’s mother’s side. The Thoroughbred foal had no issues with being so attached to a Clydesdale mare. I was amazed and was informed that each year the farm bred their Clydesdale mares and foaled them down the following year and if need be, the Clydie baby was weaned and the potential future racehorse was put onto the mare as if her own.
Clydesdale mares are now in huge demand as foster mothers due to their docile temperaments. Also, the Clydie x TB foals are very popular as riding prospects and the fillies at times are kept to be used as foster mums themselves.
In Australia it isn’t legal to breed a Thoroughbred mare to a stallion before September 1 if the foal is to be registered for racing. The beauty of these Clydesdale mares is that they can be bred to the farm’s stallions earlier in the season which is especially helpful for freshman stallions so that they can be bred to a quiet horse before the season starts and demands are put on them. This also results in the mare foaling early the following year and being ready as a potential foster mum if tragedy arises and a Thoroughbred foal loses it’s mother.
We lost a few mares last season at work and one was put down due to a bad foaling in which the foal had to be cut out in order for it to survive. Very quickly we had an orphan baby which would need feeding at least hourly and if handled solely by humans, wouldn’t learn to behave and interact as a horse does. A solution came in the form of a Clydesdale mare that foaled a day later, and due to complications the foal had to be put down. It seemed fitting that the mother be paired up with our baby and although the idea seemed unsuccessful during the first 48 hours, the result was a young foal with a mother to feed and care for it.
Seeing the value of these gentle giants, some farms have invested in Clydesdale mares while others lease them for the season from the likes of Hunter Nursing Nannies. Set ups like this provide the mare to you at a fee and the request that you send the mare back at the end of the season, in foal so that she can be used the following year if need be. They’re a saving grace in the racing industry.
Perhaps if you love breeding gentle giants, this avenue would be worth considering.
“A horse gallops with his lungs, Perseveres with his heart, And wins with his character.” – Tesio