“Would You Ever Breed Again?”

As I was showing some Presto pictures to a friend last week and talking about all of the trials and tribulations of the first few weeks of his life, they finally asked the big question: “Would you do ever breed again?”. Honestly, I’ve been thinking about this for a couple months now and it took me a while to really figure out how I felt.


I knew heading into this whole breeding adventure that the chance of losing a mare or foal (or both) is very real. I’ve been involved with other breeders and the breeding business long enough to know that even when you do everything right, it’s very easy for things to go wrong. I’ve bred before, and I didn’t exactly go into this whole experience with the naivete that many first-time breeders have. I knew the risks, and I even wrote a post about it last fall.

I consider myself a pretty pragmatic person, not particularly emotional or easily upset. But those two weeks where Presto was living very much hour-to-hour at the clinic, struggling just to stay alive… that tested me to my absolute limits. In my adult life I can think of two instances where I’ve sat in my car and ugly cried until the tears ran out: when my mom died, and literally every single day of those first two weeks of Presto’s illness. Emotionally drained doesn’t even begin to cover it.

If you had asked me then if I’d ever do this again, I would have told you no. I was raw, I was bitter, and I was spent. I’ve lost a horse before, but he was old, retired, and died peacefully out in the pasture. He’d had the most idyllic life that any of us could possibly script for a horse, really. The situation with Presto was different. He was young, he was special, and I’d had a hand in creating him. And while his illness came on suddenly, it dragged on and on and on, with constant ups and downs. It didn’t seem fair for that to happen to a foal, and it was a whole different level of heartache. Even though, in the end, he managed to come back from the brink and survive his ordeal, all I wanted to do was protect myself from ever feeling that way again. Then I realized how absolutely idiotic that was.


As human beings, we are always going to be affected by tragedy or loss. That’s the price you pay for loving something. And it almost seems worse, or perhaps just more frequent, for animal lovers. Dogs and horses don’t get to stay with us as long as most people do, and it’s never easy to lose something that is so important to you. But in the end, it’s the price we pay for all the joy we receive from them. Never breeding again isn’t a way to guarantee that I’d be safe from the danger of loss or tragedy… the only way to guarantee that would be to hermit myself away from all other people and animals and live a life of complete solitude.

Would I be feeling this practical about things if Presto hadn’t made it? I think eventually yes, but it would have taken me a lot longer to get there. While I’ll never be able to forget how I felt when he was sick, I’ve decided to try not to let myself be haunted by it. It took me until, well… NOW, as I’m drafting this post, to be able to go back and look at his newborn pictures and the ones from when he was at the clinic. It just wasn’t something I could face without re-living it.


The world keeps turning though, and while time might not completely heal all wounds, it does at least put a scab over them. I’ll never forget what happened, but I can’t allow my life and my choices to be dictated by things that are beyond my control. I choose to keep trying, to keep hoping, and to keep allowing my dreams to be untempered by circumstances beyond my control.

So… would I ever breed again? The answer is yes. Sure, I never want to feel that kind of devastation again, but there’s another thing I felt during all this that I haven’t talked about as much. That very first moment when I saw Presto’s little white foot followed by his little white nose, I fell in love with a horse. With those first adorable little nickers at us, when he was trying to figure out which of us was his mom, I fell in love with a horse. When he took those first few steps and wobbled his way over the top of the hay pile, I fell in love with a horse.


And at the end of the day, isn’t that why we do this? Isn’t that why we give our heart and soul and blood and sweat and tears to these animals? Sure, its a risk, but the reward – when we get it – is unparalleled. There is something remarkable about the privilege of loving a horse from the moment it takes it’s first breath, and that’s something that no amount of heartache can take away.

18 thoughts on ““Would You Ever Breed Again?”

  1. Okay, just quietly crying at my desk here this morning.
    “As human beings, we are always going to be affected by tragedy or loss. That’s the price you pay for loving something. And it almost seems worse, or perhaps just more frequent, for animal lovers. Dogs and horses don’t get to stay with us as long as most people do, and it’s never easy to lose something that is so important to you. But in the end, it’s the price we pay for all the joy we receive from them.”

    This is so perfect.

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  2. “As human beings, we are always going to be affected by tragedy or loss. That’s the price you pay for loving something.” This hit me so hard in the feels. Was not expecting to tear up when I got the email notification this morning

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  3. You are a stronger person than me. I blogged about my experience last year, but my mare lost her foal and it was such an excruciating experience. Much worse than losing my Dad. Not that my Dad dying wasn’t sad and heartwrenching, but I didn’t do anything to him that killed him. I felt HORRIBLE watching Coco suffer, like I had done it to her and been irresponsible. From the time we found her foaling to the time they got the dead foal out was about four hours. Every day I feel like I have to make it up to her. I know that there wasn’t much we could have done differently to have a different outcome, but I’m definitely extremely hesitant to ever try breeding again. My parents had a stallion when I was in middle school and high school and we had about 5 foals every year for probably 5 years and never once had a foaling complication. All the mares foaled out in the lush green pasture. The babies were all healthy. The mares never suffered. I guess my luck ran out!

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    1. One of my favorite vets runs a foaling barn, and I remember her telling me that most of the time everything happens perfectly. BUT, if something is going to go wrong, it will likely be very, very wrong. So, hard as it is to convince you that it wasn’t your fault, well, it really wasn’t your fault.

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  4. i can understand breeding again but am glad you aren’t breeding next year again. That was a definite up and down rollercoaster for you and everyone involved. And tntibbetts I am so sorry you went through that. UGH.

    I agree it is worth it in the end. And i still have to meet that stinker Presto 🙂 Great post!! I may have allergies in my eyes, yeah that is it!

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  5. I’m not crying. You’re crying.

    To be honest, you can go through all that pain and heartache with any horse, of any age, so never breeding again definitely wouldn’t protect you from it. I lost my first horse when I was in 6th grade. She broke her leg in turnout and had to be put down. It was devastating, but I was a kid, and kids bounce back. Then I lost a project pony in a barn fire when I was 14 and swore if I lost another one I’d probably walk away from horses forever. (Teenagers are so dramatic.) I lost my unicorn the second month of college. He coliced badly and ruptured before we could save him. Devastating is the understatement of the century. He was only 10 years old and one of the most amazing beings to every grace the planet. Seriously. He was special. But I didn’t walk away for all the reasons you said so eloquently in this post. Rio tries to die on the regular, and like you, I’m not generally an overly emotional girl, but I’ve shed so many ugly tears for him. So. Many. But he’s worth those tears. The special ones always are.

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  6. Beautifully put. As animal lovers we do have to take the intense grief as the price of loving the wonderful creatures entrusted to us. And it is particularly hard when it’s an animal you’ve known for every moment of it’s existence ❤

    “There is something remarkable about the privilege of loving a horse from the moment it takes it’s first breath, and that’s something that no amount of heartache can take away.”

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  7. Wow, as Karen said above heartbreaking and uplifting at once. I’ve lost 3 horses in my life and each experience was different, all three were “babies” though. I enjoy the baby process, I’ve never bred but buy them young. When I purchased Mask in 2014 I swore he’d be the last baby, the risk is so high and loosing him this year was almost unbearable and I swore I wouldn’t ever buy another …. and well here I am now with a new baby. Because like you said we choose to keep trying and dreaming and you realize the tragedy of loss will be there no matter if it’s a colt or an aged horse.

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  8. Love this. It’s very much how I feel about getting another dog eventually now that Sonka is gone. Will I? Yes, absolutely. But I need to heal a bit from the heartbreak that was, still is, and I know will always be there. To some degree that emotional low makes the whole experience of embracing the love and devotion to an animal deeper, at least that’s how it feels. There’s some truth in that horribly cliche statement “better to have loved and lost…” after all.

    So glad Presto made it through his tumultuous early days. That was definitely very scary, and I think I speak for everyone when I say we were right there with you through it all.

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  9. Excuse me while i cry my eyes out in the middle of a Panera. 😭😭 So beautiful! I love that moment of falling in love with a horse.

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  10. I do struggle with breeding in general as so many fine horses end up in kill pens and I have seen many foals, “home” breds and professionally bred, turn out to have many different problems (beyond medical) as all horses can and do. I spend a lot of time w dog rescues and amazed at how unwanted and unloved dogs blossom with us and with their forever homes. What is the answer? Definitely smarter and more realistic breeding and maybe just a little less of it. Clearly you take amazing care of your horses and Henry was probably a rescue for all intents and purposes. But good to remember that it can be a very expensive and scary adventure and not a good idea to do it to make money selling the foals/horses.

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