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Rachel Kosmal McCart
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Live Foal Guarantees and Semen Quality

Q: In the fall of 2002, I entered into a breeding contract for a very expensive stallion, who is currently standing at a stallion barn out of state. At the time of booking, I paid the booking fee, plus the entire breeding fee. The breeding contract guarantees that I will get a live foal (defined as a foal that stands and nurses?. In 2002, I tried to breed my mare three times during the spring breeding season, and she did not take. My veterinarian commented on the poor quality of the semen that the stallion barn had shipped, and when I called the stallion barn, they made excuses, like Gee, I shouldn't have cut the sample three ways? and the like. I had to pay for each semen shipment, plus the disposable container, plus my vet's fees for insemination. My vet says there is nothing wrong with my mare. This spring, I have still been trying to breed my mare to this stallion, but she hasn't taken, and the vet says that the semen quality is even worse than last year, with reduced counts and motility. Ive heard rumors from other mare owners about the poor quality of this stallion's semen, and looking at the breed registry records, there were only 10 foals registered last year that list him as their sire (even though he is a very popular stallion and has a full-page ad every month in our breed magazine). Can I get my money back?

A: Presumably, y ou have a contract with the stallion owner, not the barn where the stallion is currently standing. If that is the case, you may want to call the stallion owner directly and explain the problem, as he or she may be completely unaware that there is an issue. I hate to say it, but the stallion barn may not be as motivated to address the problem, as they are charging the stallion owner collection fees and board, plus they have a prestigious stallion standing at their facility. Not only that, their collection and preparation practices could be part of the problem.

If the stallion owner refuses to address the issue with you informally, I would recommend continuing to order semen shipments and trying to breed your mare for the remainder of the breeding season, and having your vet document the quality of each semen shipment. Shipping semen that has a very low probability of resulting in pregnancy may be a constructive breach of your breeding contract, so you may wish to pursue a court case to recoup your breeding fees and other expenses.

About the Author: Rachel Kosmal McCart, the founder of Equine Legal Solutions, is a lifelong horsewoman and experienced lawyer. Equine Legal Solutions, the Legal Counsel with Horse Sense TM , offers a full range of legal services for the horse community, including dispute resolution, customized contracts and risk management assessment.
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