Tricia Aldridge tried to escape her life-long passion for horses, but fate had other plans. The entrepreneur from Sanger, Texas got hired on as a construction engineer for a big firm after graduating college, and the harder that Aldridge tried to get out of horses, the more it seemed to pull her in. Aldridge stayed at the firm for a year, but after her stud Streakin Lil Wayne booked 75 mares that year, it seemed like fate had made the decision for Aldridge.
“That made the choice for me,” Aldridge explained. “When he booked that many mares, I thought ok, this is what I need to be doing.”
Not long after, Aldridge headed to Colorado State University in Fort Collins enrolling in a breeder’s course where she learned how to stand and collect her own stallion. After that, she bought everything that she needed for a lab and set up shop in her garage. The rest as they say is history.
Tricia sat down with The WRANGLER to answer some questions about running her own breeding business at Red Hot Barrel Horses.
TW: What are a few pointers that you would give mare owners when booking a stallion to their mare?
TA: I really think it’s important to work with an actual repro person who literally only does just that-reproduction work. For example, I don’t go to the dentist for a broken arm, and using a vet/or someone who doesn’t specialize will only cost you more money. Another tip is to make sure the mares are clean and make sure you know the quality of the stallion you are shipping on.
TW: We are smack-dab in the middle of foaling season- how do you navigate this busy time of year. How many foals do you typically have every year?
TA: This has been a tough year for us. We have had 4 foals born thus far. Two foals had trouble right after foaling, and two foals died from congenital issues. It really shows the heartaches of breeding and why some of these colts are worth so much. We have one due in a few weeks and hope that smooths us out. We have had several great years, and I guess occasionally you’re just due for a bad one. The stallion management side is going great. Streakin Lil Wayne is competing currently with an 11-year-old girl, and we pick him up Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to collect. He is handling this awesome as we start to really get busy shipping.
TW: To imprint or not to imprint- tell me about your personal thoughts on this and why or why you don’t do it?
TA: We personally don’t imprint. I have had a little struggle with this because as a trainer, I prefer them unhandled. Generally, we halter break when weaned and handle enough to lead, load, tie and trim their feet. Of course, we want to be able to safely handle them, but I feel overhandling can cause them to be less sensitive when riding later.
TW: I think a lot of mare owners might not understand the difference between cooled and frozen semen, not for obvious reasons, but the differences it makes in getting a successful pregnancy. Elaborate on that for us.
TA: To me, your repro person can have more freedom with cooled semen. If you’re breeding the mare with frozen, the mare needs to be checked often to ensure exactly when ovulation occurs. Again, therefore it’s important to have a designated repro person. Cooled semen has a lot more flexibility, as it can live in the mare for days, and can typically catch a mare anytime close to ovulation.
TW: How do you decide every year how many mares you are going to book for your stud?
TA: Luckily with Streakin Lil Wayne he is what we call a high concentration, low volume stallion. We ship a billion cells or more, and it usually isn’t more than 10cc total with extender, which has really helped us get some problem mares in foal as well. We typically book 50-75 mares a year, if I’m on the road a bunch competing, I prefer to take less since I must depend so heavily on my help to help collect him. During the week I often collect him by myself, and for a stallion to learn with, I couldn’t have asked for a better/easier one. I use Keith Fiester with Brightstone Ranch to handle all my mare needs and jump “Wayne” while I’m on the road at shows. He has the heart of a teacher and has really helped me navigate any problems that have arisen through the years.
TW: Mare care- What are a few things that are important when preparing your mare for when she foals?
TA: We go back and forth between foaling out at a breeding farm and foaling out at home, depending on if she is a maiden or an experienced mare. I recommend always having someone knowledgeable on call and having a good relationship with your vet.
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