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  1. #1
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    Default Musings - Will eventers ever buy youngsters bred for the sport?

    As I look out on my broodmares today, I was wondering what it will take to get eventers to buy babies for the sport - or will they ever? Do you think with the emphasis on the short format, horses bred for the sport will be more in demand - ( and as babies and young stock - not as under saddle horses)?

    I know OTTB's are cheap, and yes, you know what you are getting instead of a weanling, but do you think there will ever be a market for young, talented stock that WILL be more expensive than an OTTB?

    I find that dressage people will buy yearlings or younger easily, but eventers don't. Is it the expense of a well bred baby vs the OTTB?

    Just musing...



  2. #2
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    Dee, I attended the forum at the Area II Meeting with Phyllis Dawson, Kim Meier, and Courtney Cooper. The theme was purchasing amateur and junior horses, and all of them had really interesting things to say about purchasing horses off the track vs. taking on a young horse. All of them agreed that the homebred young horse on the whole was a lot better bargain in terms of risk and investment, and in terms of trainability, than an OTTB. I think the answer is to stick with it, hang in there -- the Young Event Horse series is bringing some good publicity for young horses; the upper level trainers and riders are pushing the young horses bred for the sport as opposed to castoffs from other industries; and if breeders figure a way to stick together, promote their horses to the industry in an organized fashion, and support the YEH concept I think the future for event young'uns is bright indeed. After all look what you've done so far with your homebred horses. Best of luck.
    "Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring." -- Emerson
    www.eventhorse.wordpress.com



  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by retreadeventer View Post
    All of them agreed that the homebred young horse on the whole was a lot better bargain in terms of risk and investment, and in terms of trainability, than an OTTB.
    While I certainly don't disagree with that, I think in terms of practicality, especially given the trends in horse sports in general, that that's an ideal, but won't become much of a reality--"more" of one for some, maybe, but never "much" of one for many.

    We breeders do need to work together to promote our stock, but I'd argue that it is also important that we work together to develop our stock by finding cost-effective ways to raise and train our babies to marketable ages. I don't see where eventers are--now or in the future--any more likely than any other sport to buy unbroken performance-bred horses.

    And the trait that does distinguish eventers from other sports--that they are far more likely to develop their own horses up through the levels and thus far less likely to need to buy (comparatively) expensive babies instead of cheaper greenies--compounds our problem. As long as Kim, Phillip, Amy and their like still do big things with OTTBs, I think eventers will continue to feel they can do the same and so will continue to look to the track, especially if that's all their funds and management (i.e. where do you put a baby while it's growing up?) allow.

    It's not the impressions, the availability or the quality of homebreds that breeders have to find a way to surmount. It's the logistics, IMO.
    Sportponies Unlimited
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  4. #4
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    I think there is a huge difference between buying a baby and buying an OTTB -- the fact that the latter comes with ground manners and you can actually ride him! I have been giving some thought to taking on a baby -- either breeding my mare or buying a yearling. But, the thought of having to wait three years to actually ride seems like a really long time. I recognize there is TONS of other stuff to do with the horse in the meantime, but it's nice to be able to hop on the new one you just brought home!



  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by kcooper View Post
    I think there is a huge difference between buying a baby and buying an OTTB -- the fact that the latter comes with ground manners and you can actually ride him! I have been giving some thought to taking on a baby -- either breeding my mare or buying a yearling. But, the thought of having to wait three years to actually ride seems like a really long time. I recognize there is TONS of other stuff to do with the horse in the meantime, but it's nice to be able to hop on the new one you just brought home!
    I agree on the time and ability to ride. I have had, up until last year, experience only with the OTTB market for riding, competing, etc. I purchased a fabulous mare off the track to take the place of my now-retired gelding and sh** happened and she ended up permanently lame b/c of a pasture accident. She was pasture sound for a couple of years and I was able to get one foal out of her. So, now I have a yearling, soon to be 2 year old, and he is a great pet and lawn ornament, but the time between now and riding is torture for me.
    So, I went out and got another OTTB mare, who I am now riding, schooling XC, etc. and having an absolute blast. She is here, now, in my face, and I'm loving it.
    Don't get me wrong, I love my guy to death and would not trade him for the world, but there is just something to be said about having a horse that is ready to go.
    Now the flip, once he is started and going, it will be a whole nother story. He is by far the best horse I could have ever hoped to own, and there will be so much pleasure in starting and training a horse that has been with me from day one!
    But, I don't know if I would want to go the 'baby' route again for my next show prospect. It just takes too much time and $$ waiting for them to grow up.



  6. #6
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    Time and ability - My friends who got their horses off the track after Star was born are competing them at Training level. I bred Star's mother 8 years ago, and this year I will have a Novice horse. A very nice Novice horse, but Novice none-the-less.

    And it's hard work - they go through phases on a regular basis where stuff that was fine yesterday is cause for panic and mayhem the next. It's normal, but it takes time.

    And, if you're an ammy like me, the ability to recognize and deal with baby/greenie issues is on a longer time frame than someone who rides for a living. Star might have been a N horse at age 5 or 6 if she'd had a pro ride from the start -

    It's been an issue for several years in eventing - we need more people to start these lovely youngsters. Right now we let the track folks do it.

    Would I get another foal? Depends on whether I am nursing yet another bruise from getting launched, (NO, not worth the time and advil) or having the ride of my life on the horse I trained myself (absolutely).



  7. #7
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    I think another issue is price--on the whole, most of the eventers I know don't have/or don't care to spend what the h/j and dressage people are willing to spend on prospects or even proven horses.

    I know it is expensive to breed and market babies, but the prices on the "nice" ones just don't make up the difference in the fact that they are untried and unproven. And if you buy them very young, you have to wait for them to grow up before finding out whether they are cut out to be an eventer.

    Sure, OTTBs have their own issues in the training/unproven department, but for me, as someone who will never have over $5K to spend on a new horse--I'd much rather take my chances with an older horse that at least has some basics in the ground/training department, is already mature, and is ready for a job.
    Kelly Soldavin Harvest Moon Farm
    www.harvestmoonfarmpa.com



  8. #8
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    Also adding, it's not just purchase price, it's paying for a "pet" for 3 years, board, farrier, vet, they need all the same care as a grown horse, accidents happen, etc. etc.

    I also think the majority of people board their horses and are not fortunate enough to own their own place. This can also be quite the challenge, finding a suitable boarding situation for a baby.

    Like I said, I love my guy to death, but I can fully understand the appeal of buying an OTTB vs raising another youngster. And buying a youngster would be even more unlikely to happen, I bred my guy and am raising him, I can't imagine forking out 10-15,000$ for a prospect foal, paying for it to grow up for 3 years, and then hoping it matures to be what you had hoped for, doesn't get injured in the growing up process, get OCD, not get to the size you wanted, etc. etc. etc. But then, I also am not wealthy, so $$ means a LOT in the horse equation.



  9. #9
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    I have bought 4 so far. One as a 4 year old, two as a yearlings and one as a two year old. The difference between buying a sport horse v. an OTTB is HUGE. While I have had nice OTTBs...I've also had nice ones with lamess issues caused by running at a young age and others with mental issues that took a lot of work to over come and some had issues that were never over come. The home breds have been so easy to break and start and compete (AND resell)...I am almost always surprised. It is so nice to not have to deal with the baggage from the track. That said there are very good points to buying an OTTB.

    While I do think there will always be a market for nice OTTBs....the sport is changing and there are a lot of eventers who are buying sport bred horses. I do think that eventers will start buying youngsters because that is the only time the sport bred fancy ones are some what affordable. Many, once they get started and look fancy...their prices go up since they are then marketable to the dressage and show world who at this time seem more ready to plunk down large sums of money for 2-3 year olds. But unless they are very well bred AND you have connections with trainers and riders who buy young horses or a large name like Iron Spring etc.....selling anything under the age of 4 is tough.



  10. #10
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    I agree with what they are saying above. I board my horses and it does not make sense for me to buy a yearling or weanling and have to pay board for years before I can do anything with it. I currently own a fantastic mare. She has it all in conformation, ability, and temperment. I would love to breed her and she was bred before I owned her and her colt was apparently fantastic, but I probably won't because of the paying board for a baby issue (That and the fact that I don't want to lose a year of riding her).

    As for buying TB's off the track. I worked for a BNR riding his extremely fancy expensive young event horses. He always marveled at how well I did on them vs. the problems I had with my own OTTBs. He thought I had some kind of mental block about riding my own horses, but that was not the case at all. It was that his horses where easy to ride! They where bred for it, and trained from the start with that in mind. His 3,4, and 5 year olds, where easier than my 8 and 10 yo TBs. That said, I still will keep buying TBs off the track to retrain. They are cheap, plentifull, and there are plenty of very athletic ones out there. With the trade off of low cost vs. fancy easy rides, I still have to go with low cost. The TB's might be more difficult in the beginning, but I can't afford the cost of a young sporthorse.



  11. #11
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    This is such a tough topic because my heart gets pulled each directions. I love my OTTB and have had good luck with them. However, most if them do have baggage of some sort and that is hard for the typical ammy rider to deal with. As I get older, I enjoy less and less the buck/squeal/spins that most of my OTTB have provided. I have be lucky enough to breed and raise a few babies myself and then get a few as weanlings and go that route. I think from now on I will probably go the weanling route and save myself the headache/heartbreak of breeding but have the enjoyment of working with the babies. I luckily have 30 acres so it isn't hard for me to raise one up while I am enjoying my current horse. My guy will be 6 this coming year, so I think that 2008 will be the year I start looking for a baby to bring up behind him. That way by the time my guy is 12 or so the baby will be ready to go. Plus raising and starting them myself is much easier because I do a lot of work with them as weanling/yearling/two year olds and rarely have a problem when riding time comes.

    But the sticker shock is pretty high on some of these babies. I mean to spend 12,000 on a warmblood weanling is hard to deal with. More than likely I will go the route of picking one up from a local race farm and raise it my way.

    Bobbi



  12. #12
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    Default I do

    I've been able to buy 2-year-olds from small breeders at a reasonable cost (cheaper than I could raise one myself). I'm talking about a TB/WB cross, that has had decent handling and is ready to start the groundwork/longeing/driving stuff. I do not aspire to the upper levels - maybe T3D.
    Last edited by lwk; Dec. 26, 2006 at 01:37 PM.



  13. #13
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    I've got two. One I bought as a long yearling. She's now 3.5 and has had health issues for the last several months. We're cleared for riding again and she's off to the trainer next month. The second I bought as a 2 year old when the first started having issues.

    I board for now (farm shopping in the spring) and I'm two years into owning and paying for a horse(s) but not having anything to ride. It's been a painful journey and the jury is still out on whether I feel it was the best way to go for me.

    Both of my girls were bred for athletic ability combined with an amateur-friendly temperament. Here's hoping all that comes to fruition starting this spring, but even if it does, I easily have $28K plus and counting into these two young horses without the first event in sight. (I hate when I add it up.)

    As a busy adult amateur with aspirations of the T3D some day, I'm probably taking the most circuitous route imaginable.
    If you believe everything you read, better not read. -- Japanese Proverb




  14. #14
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    Default Sophistication

    I think eventers have started changing their mindsets. The problem I see is that they are not sophisticated enough to know what works and what doesn't. To most eventers a very average warmblood is so much more comfortable, has more movement, have a lot better jump and more laid back than most OTTB's, so they will buy those, rather than the high quality warmbloods - just because they cost less. What they do not think of, in general, is that they will save years of training, riding, instruction and frustration if they buy something that is truly bred to do the job. If you are a duck hunter, you do not get a jack russell instead of a retriever.... And even if most will realize that they need the retriever, it will take a long time before they realize the difference in quality between the well bred ones and the so-so ones.

    www.prairiepinesfarm.com



  15. #15
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    i also raise my foals as event or hunter prospects. what about someone(like me) that breeds tb's for sport. full tb's not crosses. i have one broodmare, very nice mover and a great sporthorse pedigree, i breed her to local stallions here in town. i work for a equine vet here in town and do a lot of research on the stallions i like. temperment,looks,way of going,if they raced, how sound did they retire,and of course conformation. and how easy are they to handle. i have a coming 2 yr old that is going to be unbelievable and a coming 3 yr.old paint/tb filly that is very fancy. also a weanling filly that looks to be a really nice upper level dressage horse prospect.so, is there a market out there for homebred tb's that never race? i would love to know. most of these guys i started out breeding for me, but have fallen behind getting things broke and going(am busy at work), so would love to hear if eventers and hunters alike are looking for unbroke young stock. thanks, stacey
    www.camaloufarms.com

    ride it like you stole it! "ralph hill"



  16. #16
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    i do both.... I train OTTBs and I breed youngsters for eventing. I love my OTTBs, they have been great horses. I love my youngsters and have been fortunate that they are nice enough to get decent prices. OTTBs are great, you get some 'instant gratification' which is The American Way, right (which is why overseas breeders are still beating us like a drum). While a youngster might be difficult for someone who boards, they can be great for someone who has their own farm or can find a way to get a 'deal' on board (it's not like the baby needs much!) until the youngster goes into training. What I like about the youngsters is no icky surprises lurking (I know three OTTBs who had significant arthritic changes by nine and needed injections and other maintenance, which I have personally not seen in any non-racing horses). I have a rising 5 yo and I love the fact that I know exactly how much she has done, how many fences she has jumped, that she has NEVER had a bad experience, etc etc. My latest OTTB shows a TON of potential and I do find myself looking at her legs with suspicion, just SURE that an old, unmentioned racing injury is going to pop up!! I look forward to competing her, but once she has gone as far as she will go what I'm REALLY looking forward to is retiring her to breed and competing her foals without that worry lurking in the back of my mind.

    I think with more and more people coming into the sport, the YEH series, etc., we will see more people with the money to put into nice youngsters. Then we'll see more top riders on 'purpose bred' horses, which will help change things a bit also.

    Jennifer



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by szipi View Post
    I think eventers have started changing their mindsets. The problem I see is that they are not sophisticated enough to know what works and what doesn't. To most eventers a very average warmblood is so much more comfortable, has more movement, have a lot better jump and more laid back than most OTTB's, so they will buy those, rather than the high quality warmbloods - just because they cost less. What they do not think of, in general, is that they will save years of training, riding, instruction and frustration if they buy something that is truly bred to do the job. If you are a duck hunter, you do not get a jack russell instead of a retriever.... And even if most will realize that they need the retriever, it will take a long time before they realize the difference in quality between the well bred ones and the so-so ones.

    www.prairiepinesfarm.com
    I have to disagree with some of this. First of all, I think a lot of eventers have TBs or WBs with a high % TB blood. I don't think "most eventers have average warmbloods." I also think, those "average" WBs you speak of, are NOT much cheaper than the high quality ones. It seems like most foals with a WB tag come with a 8-10k price range (some more and some less) regardless of how "special" they are. It's obvious to see those that have been presented to registries, scored, been to breed shows, etc. but those plunked out in a field with a sale tag really range in the "quality" side but not much on price.

    I also don't feel you will save years of training, $, frustration, etc. by buying a WB. Obviously if you are a top level rider you will need a very talented steed with a big heart (no matter what breed), but for most people picking around at the lower and mid levels, those OTTBs are wonderful animals. My personal experience has been they are EASIER to train, I love the TB sensitivity and have not strayed from the breed for ownership purposes until now, and would never rule them out and they will always be a part of my life.

    On your dog analogy- if the hunt field was populated with retrieving terriers (as the event venue is with TBs) perhaps, just perhaps, they are better suited to the job then nay-sayers would believe.

    I'm a TB lover through and through. No way to hide that.

    But I think the OT is more of a buy a foal vs buy a OTTB thing then a WB vs TB thing (heck, how many great TB sport breeders are on this board alone?)



  18. #18
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    Lightbulb

    I think specifically we are talking about EVENT bred young horses, not general crossbreds, or warmbloods with jumping and dressage pedigrees. I believe that more and more we should see event-bred horses being produced, and I believe that is the kind of young horse the expert panelists were recommending, and they specifically agreed that a 2 or 3 year old were the ages where you could find the best bang for the buck so to speak; a horse ready to go into training and could be competed in a year (in the case of a nice 3yo) or two.
    I am an OTTB person myself but I agree with Bornfree in that the issues you deal with will cost you in the long run. If you take a serious black and white look at the balance sheet I think buying the green young event bred horse will indeed save the average amateur event rider over a three year period.
    Yes, you can take OTTB's, get lucky, and compete at upper levels -- but as one panelist said, you're buying a lottery ticket -- altho one has a risk with every horse, buying a horse BRED FOR THE JOB probably lessons the odds for you.
    I feel there is a small but definite difference between Event bred horses and all other general warmblood or other crosses. I think that is the reason for the YEH development.
    I personally can't afford the PP on nice youngsters or I would certainly give up the OTTB market in a heartbeat.
    And I don't think every event rider makes their own. I think there is a huge percentage of lower level riders who buy horses already trained, and smaller percentage who buy horses and put them in training full time or periodically, and very small percentage that make their own, smaller nationwide than in the pocketed areas of high eventing competition, such as Areas II and III.
    We have to keep looking at the bigger picture.
    That is why a united breeders front, across the country, needs to be developed and nurtured. You breeders need to communicate and develop a working group that promotes and sells on your behalf. Can you say "Futurities"?
    "Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring." -- Emerson
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  19. #19
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    Default Wow EC - that's a big generalization!

    This same topic gets repeated over & over...and even the dressage breeders ask the same thing...

    I don't think it is a matter of putting a quality baby on the ground...it is a matter of training that quality baby to the 2/3 star level at an early enough age that they are of interest to the upper level riders.

    Contrary to what you post...a lot of Upper level eventers import their horses, horses that were specifically breed to event. Why? because they don't want to start from scratch and a lot of these horses have already been successful at prelim.

    It is not enough to breed quality horses - you have to plan for their career. If you do not want to train/show them, then I wouldn't count on the big bucks coming your way.

    OTTB's - are usually wonderful quality animals...were would they go if they didn't have second careers as riding horses? I love them and have one of my own (the third for me actually {the first two are retired})that I wouldn't trade for all the tea in China. I also bought a Hann 2YO to bring along myself direct from his US breeder...so see you really just cannot generalize about a whole sport.



  20. #20
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    I believe that is the kind of young horse the expert panelists were recommending, and they specifically agreed that a 2 or 3 year old were the ages where you could find the best bang for the buck so to speak;
    I'll repeat again that I'm not disagreeing, but I must note that sometimes BNTs aren't real good at being realistic about the "outside world," and so while the recommendation makes complete sense logically, it is unrealistic. I sometimes wonder, in fact, whether the BNT, busy with riding, training, competing and clinics, is out there enough to recognize what the average buyer or seller experiences (and do note I said "average," not the "buy me a Adv or YR horse" buyer).

    For example, in order for the breeder just to break even on a quality animal age 2 or 3, they have to price the youngster in a range that most eventers (and by "most" I mean a number that would help keep the breeder going) simply can't or won't accept, except possibly for the extra-ordinary mover...but then the breeder knows the extra-ordinary mover, too, and isn't going to give it away either! It just goes round and round.

    Another example is that while there may be less expensive 2 and 3 year olds out there, they might be waaaay "out there," such that their location adds to their price in getting to see, try, vet and ship them. Remember, a really nice "event-bred" beastie probably was produced via a stud fee starting at $1000 (and going up from there) and probably cost at least $2000 just to get on the ground (including vet bills and mare care). Then each year that baby is waiting to become the 2 or 3 year old the BNT says "you" should want is costing another MINIMUM of $1500 and usually, especially on the coasts, a LOT more. Add it up and it comes to around $10K for a three year old, maybe $8K for two, minimum.

    Indeed, I believe I can pretty categorically state that it is highly unlikely that a breeder breeding to proven eventing stallions can possibly raise a foal to age two for less than $7500 unless hubby is a vet or some other special situation exists. And that doesn't even include the initial cost of purchasing a "event-bred" or suitable mare (one with traits that you and/or the BNT would recognize as attractive for eventing, that is--not just some retired something or other, and also not just one mare, but rather the multiple mares the professional breeder requires to maintain a real breeding program).

    [Note, however, that if the BNT is talking about scouring the woods for that amateur's product--the lovely event mare who retired and was bred to the event stallion--well, that may be out there being sold by the one-mare owner, but not only is it not that common, but I doubt it's price would be all that much less either.]

    Remember, too, though, that all breeders who aren't just looking to give away the money they invested are looking to sell the baby the best (i.e. most lucrative) way they can. So if the two-year-old is a fabulous mover, a breeder seriously in business isn't going to keep the price down just so an eventer can buy it. A fabulous moving two-year-old is worth decent money in the hunter ranks, so that, too, will push that ideal event-bred baby's price up AGAIN.

    Indeed, that's the sad thing about the BNT recommendation that started this thread. I've found out from direct experience in talking now to a fair number of BNTs that eventers aren't real aware of what goes on in the hunter world--and as a result, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of BNTs who realize the impact of the hunter industry (and dressage industry) on the price of a nice young horse. And the way the sport is going, with more and more emphasis on dressage, that is only going to exacerbate that as the need for a really good mover becomes more and more paramount. In short, the competition for that really nice youngster is going to keep its price well out of the range of the "average" (or maybe, put more accurately: the "most populous") event horse buyer, IMO.
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