An overview of careers associated with equine reproduction, equine breeding, rules associated with breeding, etc.

Description: This is an extremely important aspect of the equine industry – ensuring a supply of horses with appropriate genetic background and temperament to perform in the proper disciplines and activities. Specific breeds have stringent rules regarding this aspect of the industry which also determine career opportunities. Particularly in breeds requiring live cover, farms may strictly house the studs with the mares brought in for breeding or may offer boarding services for mares from breeding to foaling.  Casmire Kid and Chris Grant


Proximity to Horses: Close

Specific careers related to breeding:

Artificial Insemination (AI) technicians -  AI technicians must be skilled in the implantation of semen into the mare's reproductive tract at the appropriate time to result in pregnancy.   Many Universities and Colleges offer courses that provide students with an understanding of the anatomy and physiology of reproduction as well as the practical application.  Companies and individuals also offer trainings to introduce lay people to the principles and techniques.  Beyond this, practice and experience are most beneficial in determining success.  Live cover rather than AI is required for the registry of thoroughbred foals.

Requirements for those performing artificial insemination procedures varies by country.  In England, Scotland and Wales, only a veterinarian, an individual directly supervised by a veterinarian or someone certified by the United Kingdom may carry out artifical insemination.  The minimum age for performing AI is 18.   In the US, there is no such certification process.  Some farms will utilize veterinarians in insemination, while others may have this as a responsibility of a specific farm employee. 

Foaling attendant - An individual assigned the specific responsibility of observing mares immediately preceding foaling to ensure that help is attained as needed to provide a healthy foal.

Bloodstock agents - Bloodstock agents are experts on horse pedigrees and utilize the information to recommend matings of horses.  They also serve as purchasing agents for individuals or groups purchasing horses or breedings.

Geneticists - Geneticists research the genetic make-up and heritabilities of the horse.  A recent accomplishment was the mapping of the equine genome.

Laboratory technicians - Laboratory analysis may be conducted on the farm or in a research facility to check for semen fertility and disease.  When semen is collected it must be processed promptly and accurately so it will be effective when used to breed a mare.

Mare handlers - This individual works with the mare during the mating process to ensure the safety of both humans and horses whether using artificial insemination or live cover.  On many operations this will be a part of an employees job assignment rather than a full-time responsibility.

Reproductive researchers - These individuals study the reproductive system of the horse to better understand how it functions and best management for horses in a breeding situation.  Specific areas of interest would include endocrinology, physiology, embryo transfer and cloning.

Stallion handlers/collectors - This individual handles the stallion when mounting either a mare for live cover, or a dummy for semen collection.  Like the mare handler, they are responsible for safety of the humans and horses involved.  Similarly to the mare handler, this will not generally be a full-time responsibility. 

Preparation Required:

In this area the level of preparation required varies.  The reproductive researcher or genticist will generally have a Ph.D. in their field and years of study in the field.  The education of the bloodstock agent may be more on-the-job through mentoring type relationships.  Animal handlers/collectors, foaling attendants and laboratory technicians are frequently trained on the job.

Educational Opportunities:

Professional associations provide further development and networking opportunities for the reproductive researcher or geneticist.  Others in this field may look for various educational programs provided within the industry to improve effectiveness.

Educational Opportunities:

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Contact Information

Ben Nolt