There are many things to consider when selling or buying an embryo. We have put together a few of the most common questions that come up during the process. You are better off to get the fine details agreed upon in the beginning and be prepared for any contingencies that may arise.

Live Foal Guarantee

Some Embryo Purchase Contracts will come with a Live Foal Guarantee (LFG). Even if they do, there may be a time when that is not feasible due to circumstances beyond the seller’s control.


QUESTION **Are you PAYING a premium for the Live Foal Guarantee?

If the contract comes with a LFG, there are still some issues to consider. What if the donor is no longer available?

a. Deceased
b. Sold
c. Pregnant
d. Infertile
e. Booked full for following season

For many donor mares in high demand, her embryos are sold for the next season quite early. There may not be time in her schedule to offer the opportunity to satisfy a rebreed OR it may be at the END of the breeding season which will result in a foal born much later in the year.

RVSW advises to give thought to some alternatives to the LFG.

1.) Insuring the Pregnancy

Many insurance companies will now insure the pregnancy that the recipient mare is carrying. Most will begin around 42 days of gestation. The insurance generally covers the cost of the embryo, stallion fee and transfer charges. This will cover the buyer’s expenses if there is any loss and releases the seller of having to make the donor mare available again the following year. You should check with your insurance agent PRIOR to signing an Embryo Purchase Contract.

2.) Payment Plan

Having the purchase price for the embryo set up in a payment plan will divide the risk between the buyer and seller. One example would be as follows:

***Embryo Price = $15,000 -> Payable $5,000 with signing of contract, $5,000 when a heartbeat is detected, $5,000 when the live foal is born

This example requires a lengthy transaction and extended payment terms. Normally, there will be no LFG when the payments are set up in this way. The designated payment is made with each benchmark.

3.) Payment plan until insurance is obtained

You can choose to combine the 2 options -> Choose a payment plan that reflects the process as it moves forward. One example would be as follows:

Embryo Price = $15,000 -> Payable $5,000 with signing of contract, $5,000 when a heartbeat is detected, $5,000 when the embryo reaches 42 days of gestation.

Stallion Selection

When selling an embryo out of your donor mare, the fertility and semen availability of the stallion that the buyer has chosen are extremely important. These factors can be detrimental to the success of your donor mare’s breeding season.

To maximize the donor mare’s efficiency, the seller should research the stallion’s fertility and semen availability PRIOR to signing the contract. The seller should also continue to monitor the progress throughout the season. Multiple cycles for your donor mare for the same contract will extend the time that the mare is unavailable to you or additional buyers.

A stallion that has poor fertility or is booked full for the season may result in having to breed multiple cycles to recover a viable embryo. It is always a good idea to limit or control the number of attempts to recover an embryo for any one contract. There may be an option stating that after a certain number of failed attempts or a report by the veterinarian of poor semen quality, a change must be made. A change of stallion OR suspension of the attempts for that contract may be required. If there are still contracts outstanding for the same breeding season, additional attempts could be negotiated after other contracts have been fulfilled. Stallion choices can make or break a breeding season!


This is always a “delicate” topic. To address this we advise the sellers, and buyers, to start at the END. Things to think about:

1.) What is the goal when buying this embryo?

a. Sell as a yearling/two-year old
b. Keep as a show/race/performance horse
c. Future breeding stock with exceptional pedigree

2.) What costs will go into this?

a. Embryo purchase cost
b. Stallion fees **
c. Embryo Transfer fees
d. Board and maintenance on the foal until selling/training begins
e. Board and maintenance on the recipient until the foal is born/weaned
f. Training if needed until sale or competition

3.) Accomplishments of the donor mare?

a. Outstanding individual
b. Her produce
c. Her family

4.) Availability of the donor mare?

a. Currently competing
b. Time off

i. Layup
ii. Off season

It is important to make sure that at the end of the process, both parties can profit from the transaction. As a seller, think about the room left after expenses are figured to calculate the cost of the embryo. The accomplishments of the donor mare will most certainly be the greatest factor in determining her embryos value. A mare that is has an outstanding performance or already a proven producer will generally cost more than JUST a mare with a good pedigree. Mares that are currently competing may cost more simply because of the impact of the time she is off due to being bred.

**Stallion choice is an important factor in determining the value of the expected foal. A foal out of a mare with an exceptional pedigree that is bred to a subpar stallion will be a disappointment to both the buyer AND seller. As a seller, you want to protect your mare by only allowing breedings to stallions that will increase the value of other offspring that she will have. As a buyer, it does not make much sense to spend a lot of money on the purchase of an embryo when the stallion that you breed to cannot justify the expense. There are exceptions to this, such as trying to PROVE your young stallion by breeding to great mares that you may not own. This is a method that some stallion owners pursue, but it should be noted that some of the expense should be classified as proving the stallion. Sellers should do adequate research as to whether they think that breeding to an unknown, unproven stallion will benefit their mare and if the asking price is worth the risk.

Lease of the Donor Mare at Breeding

Being the “breeder” of a horse can have a major impact. Many awards are given to the breeder of winners, some monetary. This can be a negotiated part of the contract between buyer and seller. Both buyer and seller should investigate what being the breeder means in your discipline.

Accredited State Bred Programs

There has been a huge impact in some disciplines to have horses that are Accredited State Bred horses. If this is important to you as a buyer, you should convey the requirements to the seller to verify that they can be met. Some programs require that the donor remain in the state, others may have different requirements.