Tuesday, Apr. 16, 2024

Breeders May Discover A Silver Lining In The Recession

It’s now official. The National Bureau of Economic Research announced on Dec. 1 that the United States has been in a recession since December 2007.
   

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It’s now official. The National Bureau of Economic Research announced on Dec. 1 that the United States has been in a recession since December 2007.
   
Nevertheless, there may be positive news and opportunities for some horsemen among all of the negatives if you choose to see that “recession glass” as half full. For instance, earlier this fall when I commenced my search for a new horse, I spoke to friends, riders and trainers along the way. An interesting theme arose as we discussed the economy and horses—many of those who had regularly imported horses in the past were now spending more time searching for their next prospects here in the United States.
   
This situation is a boon to U.S. sport horse breeders who have spent the past 30 to 40 years developing breeding programs to produce the horses we ride, compete and enjoy. During my search I expected to find more of a buyer’s market for young sport horse prospects, but that really wasn’t the case. There were several instances when I called about a horse I’d seen newly advertised only to find out someone else had already placed a deposit on him.
  
When I did find my own U.S.-bred sport horse and made a deal with the breeder, there were two other people waiting in the wings for him in the event that I changed my mind.

I don’t think we’ll see a time in the near future when traveling to Europe to shop for horses becomes a rarity. Even though it’s much more expensive to import a horse now, for many people time is money. It’s more cost-effective to see a huge selection of quality prospects within a few hours’ drive in the Netherlands or Germany than here where you can spend days and weeks traveling to see a handful of youngsters with the pedigree and traits you desire. In addition, there are always going to be people who believe that purchasing an imported horse implies a higher status, and like designer handbags and clothing, there will always be a market.
   
Perhaps it’s time for U.S. breeders and industry leaders to take advantage of this moment that’s upon them, though, and consider expanding marketing strategies to entice buyers to remain here.
   
While sport horse auctions here haven’t really attracted the same national attention as those in Europe, maybe they could. Professional Auction Services Inc., which runs the American Hunter Pony Classic Sale in conjunction with the USEF Pony Finals, has become an exception. Top breeders from around the country consign their ponies each year to this sale, and it’s become one of our most popular pony sales. Wouldn’t it be beneficial to have a horse version of this type of production sale at one of our major horse shows?
   
One local Virginia show series took a chance and incorporated a “for sale show” into their 2007 schedule. While lightly attended, I understand the concept was quite popular and could be another way to bring sales horses together in one location to attract buyers.
   
In this negative-growth economy it’s more important than ever to develop ways to give people value for their precious dollars. And if breeders here can figure out new and creative ways to keep more dollars within the North American breeding industry, that’s certainly one silver lining to this dark cloud.

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Tricia Booker, Editor

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