Animal Info Horses Family Life and Reproduction

About the family life and reproduction habits of horses including mating habits, studs, birth, and foals.



In the wild, horses run in herds, headed by a stallion, which is followed by mares, foals, and colts. The young males are driven off by the leader as they reach maturity.

The wild, free sexuality of the horse has been exalted in mythology by such lustful figures as the centaur, which is half-man and half-horse, but men have taken most of the romance out of the domestic horse's mating. Although horses are sexually mature at 18 months, they aren't mated until the age of two or three, usually under most businesslike circumstances. But then a stud's sex life is big business. Some stallions service 100 mares in a season. The great racing champion Secretariat was purchased as a stud horse for $6 million.

The mare's gestation period is about 345 days, and 90% of births take place at night. Mares give birth lying down, a process which takes 15 to 30 minutes on the average. Foals--mostly single births--are born with their eyes open and are able to stand almost immediately and frisk around within a few hours. A colt is half-grown at one year and reaches its full height and weight at five. A foal usually looks like its sire but has its mother's constitution and disposition.

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