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A broodmare is a female horse used for breeding. In thoroughbred racing a young female horse is called a filly, but once a horse reaches the age of four the name changes to a mare. It is at this age that a female horse is mature enough to breed with a colt.
A gelding cannot be used in the breeding process as gelded horses have essentially been castrated in an effort to make the horse perform better on the track.
Horses are born at different times of the year but for simplicity every horse advances one year on January 1, and a filly becomes a mare on her fourth birthday.
The breeding process is a massive part of the racing industry. The prize money that a successful horse can win on the track can be dwarfed by stud fees if a horse is in demand.
Breeders couple a colt with a mare with the objective of producing a fast race horse. A mare can only be covered once before giving birth but a colt can cover mares a number of times. However, it doesn’t always follow that a great horse on the track will be a successful colt or broodmare in the breeding sheds. Colts and broodmares are matched so that the offspring has the combined racing qualities of both parents. It’s not an exact science and luck can be involved.
Proven broodmares are much sought after and their price increases if they have produced good race horses that show the attributes to win races. The breeding relationship between a broodmare and colt is not based on monogamy, because a successful broodmare will be coupled with multiple colts over the course of her breeding life.
A broodmare’s role is to breed with colts who have the potential to produce good horses on the track.