Everyone loves a little one: Babies and Breeding

I had two very special baby moments last week:

1. Our little filly Sophie is growing up, and I jumped her over her very first cavaletti! Milestone for the baby foal book! (note: she is now 4.5, so no, I am not riding or jumping yearlings!)

2. My sister had her little girl on Friday, and I am so happy to welcome a healthy and beautiful little niece!

All these babies on my mind leads me to, what else?! 
Legal implications of breeding agreements and foal exchanges!

Percheron Filly; Source

Have you ever used a breeding contract or been involved with a breeding arrangement, or think you might in the future?  We've bred 3 fillies successfully, but one mare (the one with the best pedigree, of course) just would not take despite multiple efforts. 
Fortunately we had an agreement in place regarding breeding fees, so we avoided any miscommunication.  We left our mare at a facility where she would be inseminated, so we had to consider a boarding agreement, vet agreement, and live foal agreements.

Some things to consider for breeding contracts:

1. If a live foal is guaranteed, then how is "live foal" defined?  Must it stand and nurse? Must it survive the first 24 or 48 hours?

2. If the mare does not take, would a repeat breeding be gratis? If so, how many times, over how long a period? Or would a refund be offered in lieu of further attempts?

3. What insurance would be required? If someone is breeding to your mare, would you require major medical/ mortality insurance?  What about the stallion's insurance (especially if live cover)? Or insurance for the foal? And consider insurance for your farm or ranch if horses are being brought to your facility for breeding or care.


(I had to exercise great restraint in not posting more foal photos!)

I know that breeding has come under increased scrutiny and criticism lately because there has been a growing awareness of the "unwanted horse" situation: slaughterhouses in the U.S. are closed, discretionary income to purchase horses is minimal, and horse owners are losing their jobs and farms and cannot feed their horses.  
However, breeding horses is necessary for the growth of various breeds and disciplines- and in my opinion- breeding is not the sole variable to blame for unwanted horses, and can be done responsibly.
So while I do not encourage casual, irresponsible "backyard breeding," I do encourage anticipating potential areas of conflict when choosing to breed your mare, offer brood-mare services (we used one for our orphan filly), or offer stallion services, and to come to an agreement in writing between the parties.

Foals are special: make sure every aspect of its conception, delivery, and lifetime is considered before taking that step, including contracts, insurance, and finally- a safe and happy home!