The use of artificial insemination with chilled or frozen semen means there are so many stallions in the UK, Europe and worldwide to choose from, no longer do you have to use the stallion closest to the mare and serve her naturally, the semen can be shipped from anywhere in the world by courier. The details of stallions are published in various equestrian magazines or on the internet, often stallions are shown off at stud open days or stallion shows. This can make choosing a stallion for your mare easier as the information is readily available or it can make it harder as there are so many stallions to choose from you end up being spoilt for choice.
When choosing a stallion there are lots of attributes of the stallion that you need to think about such as temperament, conformation, type, colour and ability but firstly you need to think about your mare and what type of offspring you are trying to produce and for which discipline you intend it to be used. Look at the good and bad points of your mare such as her conformation, size, type and temperament, see what you like and what you don’t like so that you can choose a stallion with attributes that could possibly counteract the faults, for example if your mare has a very straight hock conformationally you would want to choose a stallion with good angulation through the hock in the hope that at least the foal might end up half way between the two. Conversely if your mare has an exceptionally good characteristic you might take a risk on a stallion who is poor in that area, but has other attributes that you like, for example if your mare has a super temperament and the stallion is known to be a bit quirky but has fantastic conformation and ability you may take a risk and use him.
Many people say that the mare is more important than the stallion as she genetically provides more of the offspring’s characteristics and ability.
To many people the pedigree of the stallion is very important, especially when it comes to selling young stock, a named fashionable stallion as a sire may make the youngster more attractive to a purchaser. However, speculating on a new young stallion can be a very rewarding thing to do, as you can be using him and have progeny before anyone else. Also the stud book that the stallion is registered with or licensed to produce foals for can be important. Most stallions are now graded or assessed for suitability for use as breeding stallions by the stud book. These gradings are important to prevent the use of stallions of poor conformation and ability being used for breeding, but also prior to grading the stallions undergo a veterinary examination, that may include x-rays, to make sure they do not have congenital problems such as simple things like a parrot mouth or OCD, that can be passed on to the foals. The different stud books have different protocols for grading, as such some are more strict than others. The results of the gradings are published as scores for things like conformation, gait, jump, rideability etc. These scores can be very useful when choosing your stallion, if your mare has a poor walk choose a stallion with a high score for his walk.
If an ungraded stallion is used then it may be difficult to get a covering certificate for your mare and then you will not be able to get a passport with the pedigree of the foal in it. The stud books on the Continent look at the foals that the stallions are producing and report on their type and quality, again this information is published and can be helpful in choosing the stallion. Interestingly, Thoroughbred stallions for racing do not go through any grading process before becoming breeding stallions, if they are good on the track people will take a risk on things like temperament and conformation.