View Full Version : US Eventing Columnist

Nov. 20, 2009, 07:03 AM
Hi everyone - I know I've not posted here much over the last year of so, but I've found this year has just flown by. I don't know if you've found the same? Perhaps it's just a function of age(!)

I thought I'd forewarn you :) that I've been asked to become a regular columnist for the US Eventing magazine covering the subject of Event Horse Breeding. I'm not sure whether to post this here or on the Breeding forum...

I think my first article comes out early next year, and will be published bi-monthly from then on. I really hope you find my musings of value and of interest, and would love to hear your feedback on them. As with all things horsey no doubt some of my comments will be agreed with by some and disgreed with by others - vive la difference! Discussion is progression.

And to everyone on your side of the pond - a very happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

Nov. 20, 2009, 07:49 AM
Thanks for letting us know! I will look for your thoughts with interest. I have a question - do you breed American event horses, or are you located in the US? Have you been in the US, or evented here, or sold horses to big name riders that compete from the US? In short, I am wondering about your US connections. Sorry if I don't know!

Nov. 20, 2009, 08:04 AM

Nov. 20, 2009, 08:15 AM
Thanks for letting us know! I will look for your thoughts with interest. I have a question - do you breed American event horses, or are you located in the US? Have you been in the US, or evented here, or sold horses to big name riders that compete from the US? In short, I am wondering about your US connections. Sorry if I don't know!

Hiya. I'm a UK based breeder, but have sold a couple of Eventers we bred to the US - one was a 6 year who was already eventing, the other was a foal I sold this year in-utero. I've also spent a bit of time over in the US, primarily in Virginia (such a beautiful State), and have been to quite a number of events as my ex-partner was TD-ing at a few of them, including being Assistant TD at the Rolex a couple of years ago.

We also own Winsome Adante's dam who's now bred us 5 siblings to Dan, so fingers crossed they will be appearing on the International scene in due course. His eldest sibling who's only 5 has already won at Novice level here (equivalent to Preliminary level in the US) and we are very excited about her.

My articles aren't Country specific so hopefully they will be as relevant in the US as they would be in the UK, Europe or Australia...

Nov. 20, 2009, 09:05 AM
Glad to hear you are doing this! Julia has bred some REALLY nice event horses and has a great understanding of putting together the right combinations. I look forward to your articles and also look forward to seeing all those nice horses you have bred on the International scene one day!!

Are you going to be coming over for Rolex this year? Or are you waiting for WEG?

Happy Holidays to you also.....

Sending out our best from this side of the pond!

Nov. 20, 2009, 11:32 AM
Hey Julia! :)

I read the first installment of this column and it is FABULOUS! It's going to be a great addition to the magazine - very thought-provoking and educational. And might I add, she provides some fantastic photos, too!

Nov. 20, 2009, 01:43 PM
While I'm looking forward to reading jhodkin's column and I'll say up front that I think jhodkin breeds lovely horses and is a dynamic force is discussing event breeding...

... I'm somewhat dismayed that US Eventing is 'outsourcing' (:)) an important part of their coverage of breeding horses for the sport.

US breeders of event horses face very different issues and a very different market than UK breeders -- both in terms of actual breeding and in producing young, purpose-bred event horses. We have a different mare base, vastly different geography, different stallion availability and a largely undeveloped (FEH/YEH) program for identifying talented youngsters.


Again, I think jhodkin's great. I love that she's participating in this process. I look forward to hearing her perspective on breeding. But I seriously hope US Eventing provides equal coverage of US-specific breeding and its US-specific issues.

Nov. 20, 2009, 05:51 PM
Hi JER - thank you so much for your kind comments. I'd be very interested to hear what you believe to be US specific issues? It might be something I can pick up in future articles as I've only drafted up my first two so far. I know that the USEA are looking very closely at the Futurity Series for foals-3yr olds which we run in the UK, and I've been very lucky in the horses that I've bred have done very well in this series - we've bred the Highest Graded Event Foal 3 times out of the last 4 years, and this year our home-bred stallion topped the Stallion Rankings for the Eventing youngstock - perhaps that's why they thought I may be able to bring an interesting perspective possibly? I'm not sure though! :D I've no intention of trying to come across as the font of all knowledge as that's certainly not the case, and I'd like to stress that my articles are not designed in any way to preach to you guys, they're more discussional in nature to try to provoke thought and perhaps provide ideas that can be adapted to suit any particular Country. I hope my sense of humour comes across OK as well (fingers crossed!!). I agree it would also be great is US Eventing could do some interviews with some of the more successful Event horse breeders in the US, as Eventing magazine has done in the UK.

Hey Greydun - I'm glad you liked the first article - I've got the next one ready to send over for comments, so you can peruse that soon as well!

Nov. 20, 2009, 06:53 PM
Hi JER - thank you so much for your kind comments. I'd be very interested to hear what you believe to be US specific issues? It might be something I can pick up in future articles as I've only drafted up my first two so far.

jhodkin, you're so generous in spirit but you can't be expected to be an expert or have first-hand experience with the state of event breeding in the US. :)

I touched on a few of the big issues (and they are big, broad issues) in my previous post.

But just to illustrate, I'll go into one aspect of the stallion issue. Unlike the UK, we don't have 'showing' classes or National Hunt here in the US. That leaves us without a whole tier of TB sires that might prove to be very useful for eventing. Think Java Tiger or Lord David S or any number of other TB sires that proved themselves (and justified their presence at stud) with showing progeny first. Many (if not most) of our TB sires are for the US hunter ring, which promotes a very different type of 'hunter' than in the UK -- and it's a type of horse with different qualities and conformation than we'd look for in eventing.

Those TBs I mentioned stood for reasonable fees to all-comers -- racing, sporthorse, ponies, hunters, whatever. Our racing industry is quite separated from the sporthorse breeding industry. Stud fees are high, live cover isn't just 'up the road' (or geographically feasible in many cases), and our racing industry is geared toward producing fast-maturing sprinters who run on dirt and synthetic, not stayers or jumpers or uphill sporthorses.

And our mare base is drawn -- for the most part -- from the ranks of these TBs. But that's issue #2!

(Jump racing in the US is nothing like jump racing in the UK. But I assume everyone knows this so I won't bother explaining.)

Nov. 20, 2009, 07:23 PM
I'm thrilled the USEA is doing this, and I agree with JER pretty mcuh all the way around. But if jhodkin is looking for another US issue, here's, IMHO, the biggest one--people in this country don't buy babies.

To the average US rider, a baby is 4 years old and jumping a small course. Good luck selling a weanling, yearling or two/three year old. The reason all those classes are so well supported in the UK is because breeders see a benefit from them--they sell horses based on their results. And riders and their sponsors are willing to sit on a talented youngster for a few years if it does well. I fear the results would not be similar here, and I would happily enter my babies in these classes if there were some relatively nearby (I'm not taking a weanling or yearling 15 hours in the trailer though).

Now, the reasons Americans don't buy babies are multiple--the fact they have to pay board (often expensive board at that), the fact that there are few people and places able to effectively start youngsters--especially eventing youngsters--the OTTB market (which I LOVE don't get me wrong, BUT the availability of quality OTTBS for less than $2K really squashes the market for purpose bred babies. After all, the logic goes, why pay $7500 for a purpose bred yearling that you have to wait on and pay bills on for 3 years, when you can spend $1500 on an OTTB and ride it now?)

I'm a breeder, but I have a hard time justifying it for other than my own enjoyment, and to eventually have a higher quality of going horse for sale than I could otherwise invest in and bring along to resell. From a business perspective, it makes way more sense for me to take an OTTB, (or my personal favorite, a cute ranch-broke QH type) put in time and a few competitions, and turn them in to an event horse. Generally these horses are limited to a degree my purpose-bred babies won't be, but they flip a lot faster, and they are usually more than talented enough for the average buyer who isn't looking to go above prelim.

So, as for topics you could address, what about the culture in the UK/European eventing community makes babies an attractive purchase, as opposed to what we see here? How can we help change that culture so that breeding these purpose bred eventers is financially viable? What education is necessary so buyers see the benefit of a purpose bred baby over other options?

Thanks for listening!:D

Nov. 23, 2009, 04:46 AM
Thank you all for your contributions. Have you guys spent time in the UK, or sold any horses here? The reason I ask is that I think you would be surprised that actually the things you describe are in the main, exactly the same problems we have in the UK. Event horse breeders are the very poorest of the poor when it comes to being able to sell babies, and the market doesn't really pick up until they're backed and 'useable'. We no longer have a pool of TB stallions that are dual purpose (racing and sporthorses) as our TBs have gone the way of yours in that they are fast maturing with the wrong type of conformation and movement to make sporthorses. Whilst not directed towards dirt, they are still not the old National Hunt type of stamp we used to have. Our mare base is also drawn from our historial pool of TBs.

I won't go through every comment that's been made, but I think you may be under the somewhat mistaken perception that the UK has a booming market for Event youngstock, which is certainly not the case. Babies are not seen as particularly attractive purchases and I would suggest more people have to board their horses in the UK than they do in the US because far fewer people in the UK have their own land - we are after all only a tiny island!

As I said previously my articles aren't on the specifics of the US market, so being an expert in it isn't a requirement. If I'd been asked to write on the subject of the American market I wouldn't have agreed to do it. Perhaps when my articles are published you will see why the principles I discuss are universal. I hope they're useful to some of the event breeding community, but perhaps not all. I do think that it is a very positive step forward for an Eventing magazine to actually give any page space to breeding articles, as Event riders in the main, give very little thought to how their horse was bred and therefore it's difficult to get Editors to give up space for this subject.