Recent studies show that breeders are rushing to increase their broodmare headcounts in an effort to keep up with an ever growing demand for new foals. The market has reached an insatiable appetite for thoroughbreds that will either succeed on the track, or face any number of other potential fates.
The trend has extended beyond the borders of typical thoroughbred locations, such as Kentucky, New York, and Florida. Many US bred Thoroughbreds are leaving the United States and finding homes in Countries such as Dubai, Japan, and now late comer Saudi Arabia. In part due to favorable exchange rates against the US Dollar, and continued excitement for horse racing in the wealthiest pockets of the world. Is this a good or bad trend?
Initial industry figures indicate the trend is good as sales are contributing to new jobs and improving other economic factors in small communities throughout Kentucky and other States. For example, entry costs for breeders are relatively low, and with crafty research by the breeder, success can be measured in tens of thousands very quickly. The largest barriers to success for a new breeder reside in the sales industry itself.
The process of purchasing a broodmare, selecting a stud using proven methods such as hypothetical mating or “nicking”, and then foaling the weanling is the easy part. The selling phase is where the obstacles come. Selling a horse at the leading facilities will cost you thousands of dollars and several hours or days of hassle.
The process involves selecting a consignor who will prepare the horse for auction at a very handsome fee, completing mountains of paperwork for the auction facility, and then the actual logistics of the sale. The average price of a weanling hit an all time high in 2006 of $50,000. If you are fortunate enough to be one of the breeders of these weanlings, you can expect your return on investment to be reduced by 8-14% after the sales cycle is complete. This doesn’t include your contribution to the local tax authority.
You might think, well this is still a positive return on my investment? Rationale being that you negotiated a good price on stud, and the broodmare was bred a few times reducing her initial cash outlay. Yes and no, in order to have access to the top auction bidders in the industry, your horse has to be accepted by the elite auction facilities. This involves a long drawn out procedure of nominating your horse (by consignor), depositing the mountains of paperwork they require in the “repository”, and then hoping that they take your horse. If your horse is not accepted you have a number of other options, none of which are very bad.
Very similar to the sale of real estate, you can opt to sell “by owner”, or consign your horse yourself with a number of online sales companies like www.equibreed.com. If you opt to sell yourself, the process can be tedious. Up until recently, there weren’t any electronic means to cut down on the tasks involving private thoroughbred sale. You had to basically get the word out there using print media, word of mouth, and good ole networking. Times have changed and this is now a bit simpler.
In the Thoroughbred industry there are certain components that need to be in place when responsibly selling a horse. The first is the registration paperwork with the Jockey Club. These should be updated and countersigned by the current owner so the new owner can register the horse easily. The second are two health inspections commonly known as the COGGINS and EVA. COGGINS checks for the presence of Equine Infections Anemia, while EVA checks for Equine Viral Arteritis. You will need to ensure you have these certificates present for the new owner to inspect. These are really the main items needed for a sale. If your horse has had any surgeries you might consider having paperwork from your vet that confirms the horse is still sound for purpose.
The best road to take as a breeder is to limit your broodmare headcount to a small, manageable headcount of mares that have the best possible pedigree you can afford. Then begin to increase the quality of the mares progeny by up-scaling the quality of her foals. Instead of managing twenty mares that you send to twenty $5000 studs, consider managing ten that you send to ten $10,000 studs instead. This will likely improve the mares progeny and keep the number of unwanted foals to a minimum.
Managing a smaller broodmare band, with better quality foals, increases your farms chances of successfully selling your foals. Moreover, you will be doing your share of reducing the high levels of unwanted thoroughbreds. Completing the research to know which sire lines work best to produce a runner has never been easier. These tools are now accessible from the internet, and with the advent of mating analysis, never more accurate.
In summation, new breeders have more options today to successfully breed, market, and sell their horses in an ever increasingly lucrative market. Many of the traditional roadblocks to selling your horse have been removed with electronic mediums such as the Internet. For example, the entire selling process that most “elite” auction agencies offer can now be had on the internet with leading websites like http://www.equibreed.com. Enquired offers all the same options traditional facilities offer at a fraction of the cost, and a fraction of the hassle. New breeders can save thousands of dollars by using these sites and do their share to keep the industry numbers where they should be.