Most of our sales - and I don't think we're unique here - are to amateur riders looking for a riding partner to try and take up the levels, whatever discipline that may be. MOST are riders that ride and compete as a hobby. Sure, we get the occasional really talented rider that has hopes and dreams to compete internationally, but those are definitely the minority.
I also think that part of our biggest issues is the lack of belief and support in what we breed here. It almost becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because riders go over the pond to purchase horses, our domestic horses don't get the opportunity to prove that we ARE producing top quality horses and because our domestic horses don't get the opportunity to shine, riders go over the pond to purchase horses .
I think perhaps the biggest hole in our programs here "is" the starting of young horses. I don't think that we lack the talented riders and trainers to start the young stock as well as compete them. But, I do think we lack a way to do it economically. The small breeder that is producing one or two foals a year just can't afford to send the horse off to be started at a professional facility and factor all the costs in to get them to a marketable level of training AND get them at a venue where they can be seen. What I truly think we need is a facility that specializes in starting young horses and becomes a venue for buyers to go to see a large number of animals that have been started correctly. Is that even possible in this country?
Sorry to cut and paste, but I think these three paragraphs really sum a lot of it up well! Most of our market is NOT big name pro riders - they are either AAs or "smaller" pro riders (AKA not showing/training FEI). And it is not economically feasible to get our horses trained enough for these riders to actually RIDE them. I also agree, there are talented young horse trainers in our country - but to send a young horse out for 6 to 18 months of board and training (since most of our buyers seem to want a First Level or above, or equivalent experienced Hunter) - but don't want to PAY for that kind of training.
And there is this misconception that the horses are better "across the pond". Yet how many of us have seen those imported horses and realized we are producing better horses HERE?
I think it is some complicated combination of marketing (not just individual breeder marketing, but the fact that most WB breeders are relying on EUROPEAN based registries, which means their first priority is, well, EURO breeders) and affordable young horse training.
I'd love to see some kind of young horse training centers, but I don't know if it is something that is economically feasible, at least not at this time. It isn't just the TRAINING cost, it is the BOARD cost that eats up any chance of a breeder coming out without a large financial loss.
As an example - I can keep a young horse at home for relatively minimal cost - hay, concentrates, supplements, shots, trims, the whole shebang. I have pasture, so part of the year, there is almost no hay cost. And of course, the youngsters are out in big pastures, developing properly. I have arenas and usable training space. But if I send a young horse OUT, board is $450 to $600 monthly - PLUS supplements, concentrates, vaccines, trims, etc. And they may be in a stall or paddock, so a less desireable living arrangement. I think most of us breeders are in this same quandry - it isn't JUST the training, it is training AND board. How to balance that - if we don't have enough horses to justify a full time trainer?
Then, how to convince US buyers that there are top quality young horses right here in the US - no import costs, no import health risks, and of course, the pride of "made in the USA". So they are willing to spend as much on a US bred horse as they spend on importing the foreign bred horse.
Last edited by MysticOakRanch; Oct. 21, 2012 at 12:03 AM.
Board is a huge factor when sending baby out. Unfortunately most trainers don't control that dollar figure. If I had my own farm, which I do, but not here, it would be a completely different story. Alas, here, I am at the mercy of the facility as far as costs are concerned. My number one pet peeve is footing..those babies have to be on stellar footing. No hoof, no leg = no horse. Some young horse trainers are willing to cut their monthly training fee so owner is not gouged so much or nickel and dimed. For me, it's $1000 or less per month and that includes the board. Each horse is different and requires different training and time. I tend to price accordingly as much as I can. I only take a certain amount of horses because I choose not to have an assistant rider or a groom. I do all the work. I want to know that baby inside and out. Makes for a very long day sometimes but always is worth it, because I might be training the next Olympic champion! ;-) At any rate, the quandry is getting the young horse trained...how to do that when breeder is small? How do we make it affordable? Well, if farm is nearby, I just go there. In Europe what we used to do is the 3 year olds got sent to our riding school. Under super strict supervision, we young riders backed and put the basics on those horses. Best education I got! ;-) The owners only paid the board. We paid for lessons on those young horses. Then we took them to the young horse stuff in Rome and they were sold there as 4 year olds. We did that at Virginia Intermont College with Jimmy Cantwell too. Back in the day.... ;-)
What about this....what if the 3 1/2 year old is sent to trainer for the winter and then returned to breeder in the spring to go do some pasture time. I know with my own foals, once I backed them, I only rode them for a short period of time and then sent them back to the field to grow up some more. I always had a better balanced horse each time I pulled them out of the field. It was always based on horses brain and balance. That way baby doesn't stay at trainer so long. It comes and goes, or babies are substituted in and out of trainers barn.
Problem is breeders are the ones spending all the $$$ up front. They have to recoup their costs when baby sells. Stud fees aren't cheap, mare care isn't either.
A national training center would be great. Trainers in house, people send baby when they decide. It just comes down to the cost factor. I think trainers and breeders are in this together more than just the future owners. Trainers and breeders gotta hang together and both have to be compensated in some way that is mutually agreeable to both. So, trainers and breeders have to talk...alot, so each understands each others financial predicaments.....