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Trend in Horses Ridden by Pros

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  • Trend in Horses Ridden by Pros

    I couldn't think of an appropriate title so bare with me.

    I was just creeping the entries for Rocking Horse Trials this weekend. I know Fernhill and Cooley are not new names, but wow are they ever popular now with the pros. Entries show;

    36 Fernhill horses
    21 Cooley horses
    Fair amount of others that are imported.

    This is just one event of course, but I have really noticed the trend seems to be more and more of these horses here.

    I can't help but wonder how it would impact the US and Canada if more owners were prone to shop within this continent. I know there are some who are really trying to get behind the US breeders and help promote the growth of the industry here. I know the Cooley horses are special, raised and bred really well. Why are we lacking this here? Or is it here, and just not a popular choice? For what reason?

    There are so many nice horses here in North America, it would be great if all that money invested in over seas sales and the import costs were invested back into the US and Canada...the economic benefit would trickle down so many layers of the industry.

    Thoughts?
    Boss Mare Eventing Blog

  • #2
    When we were looking to purchase a horse for a local pro to campaign (she is a great friend of ours and we really wanted to support her), pro ran into an issue that most of the horses she was interested in in the US were too far along with not great training, or the price tag was huge for what little training the horse had, with the added hassle of having to travel all over the country and not like the horse when you got there.

    We did end up finding a canadian bred gelding (in canada) that is doing wonderfully but even he ended up having pretty big holes in his training for a 6yr old horse going novice.

    If you go overseas you can try tons horses in a week, and by try I mean actually sit on 4+ (or more) in a day if you want. The US is just too big to be able to do that and in my personal opinion, we lack the market and culture to be breeding that many high performance horses.

    Breeding is risky business and you have to be able to cope with horses that don't pass vettings etc. I know in argentina, the big farms breed up to 100 horses a year, many of them end up unsound but they also don't have any qualms with sending the lames ones to become dog meat, and the sound but failed vetting ones to the military as cavalry horses. Out of those huge starting herds, the nice ones can then go on to be sold for good money, to make up for all the losses. That model doesn't work in the US.

    I'm all for supporting american breeders but either we need more people good at starting horses and bringing them along on the national stage, or we need more breeders in each region so that they don't need to be recognized on the national level to get business (likely we need more of both).
    "I'm too sexy for my blanket, too sexy for my blanket, these mares-they should take it..." (J-Lu) - Featuring The Skypizzle Pony aka Classic Skyline

    Comment


    • #3
      Slightly off subject but it’s worth noting that for some of these farms (Fernhill in particular) they are not necessarily breeding these animals. Any horse that passes through the program gets stamped with the Fernhill name. There have been some cases of a North American horse winding up in Europe, then eventually getting sold back to the US with a Fernhill name

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Equisis View Post
        Slightly off subject but it’s worth noting that for some of these farms (Fernhill in particular) they are not necessarily breeding these animals. Any horse that passes through the program gets stamped with the Fernhill name. There have been some cases of a North American horse winding up in Europe, then eventually getting sold back to the US with a Fernhill name
        We had a Fernhill horse at our barn that definitely was not bred by Fernhill. The owner paid top dollar for the horse as a barely broke 3 year old and it became clear that he did not want to do what she wanted him to do. A local trainer who had been around the block a few times and is quite respected in our area told her she "bought a standard stubborn dutch warmblood for far too much because he had a fancy name." Needless to say the horse is for sale as a hunter now as eventing was far too hard of work for him (in his horse-y brain).

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Yes you are right, they arent actually bred there, same with Cooley, some are some aren't. I guess it was more a question of the importing and buying overseas. Hawks Nest post is very interesting. As I have not been an overseas shopper myself vs here (I usually get my horses free or very cheap from track friends) this post gives some good insight.

          I did work in Ireland at yard that did some sales, and the horses were truly very nice. I guess I just don't understand why we don't have more of that in Canada and the US. Is there just not the talent for these young horses to train them here? Prices too high? Are they tin training with someone who doesn't take the time to really work on the basics since they are sales horses here and have to move?

          I find it interesting, given how big the industry is in the US, but the US can not compete with the European and UK sales market.
          Boss Mare Eventing Blog

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Jealoushe View Post
            There are so many nice horses here in North America, it would be great if all that money invested in over seas sales and the import costs were invested back into the US and Canada...the economic benefit would trickle down so many layers of the industry.

            Thoughts?
            If you have $30k to spend, in the USA you’re lucky to find a going novice horse, and you’ll need to travel a lot to find it. In Europe you can see dozens and get a going Prelim horse for the same money. Including import. Your money just goes a LOT farther in Europe - there’s no contest.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by Xanthoria View Post

              If you have $30k to spend, in the USA you’re lucky to find a going novice horse, and you’ll need to travel a lot to find it. In Europe you can see dozens and get a going Prelim horse for the same money. Including import. Your money just goes a LOT farther in Europe - there’s no contest.
              Do we have a shortage of good horses here? Or is there an abundance overseas...and thus the price difference?
              Boss Mare Eventing Blog

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Jealoushe View Post

                Do we have a shortage of good horses here? Or is there an abundance overseas...and thus the price difference?
                It's partly geographic - Europe is small and has decent transportation, so it is easy to see tons of horses without flying all over the continent. So not only do the horses have a cheaper price tag - your dollars go further to look at more of them.

                In addition, many have said it is much cheaper to raise the babies in Europe, so they can start from a lower price point without being underwater.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Honestly I think it's mostly 1) land mass 2) quantity that makes it so much 3) easier. Ireland and the UK have the benefit of a lot of horses, breeders, and top riders in a very small space compared to the US. You could fit more than 8 Irelands into just Texas alone.

                  Places like Fernhill and Cooley mostly just source horses from breeders within the area, buy them, put in a little training, and sell them at a markup. They breed very very very few, almost none, of what they're selling. They have a good eye for a horse, experience choosing good ones, they know where to get them, they know how to train them, and they know how to market them. You can go to one of those farms and see dozens of specially-sourced horses for sale in the same place. While I am a huge supporter of American breeders and breeding programs (you know me) I can also completely understand the appeal of a place like that. You make one trip, spend less time and travel expenses, and you get to see a parade of horses that you know will be of the type you're looking for. It's an easier experience for the buyer, and you pay more for that.

                  There just aren't a lot of places like that here. We cover so much land mass, and you rarely can see that many specialized horses in one place. We have very few places that really source specialized horses like that, especially young event horses. Certain none in the same quantity. You may end up spending weeks of travel time and a lot of plane tickets/car miles to see the same number of horses you'd see in a day or two at a place like Cooley or Fernhill. Plus yeah there is something to be said for the fact that people like a "name", they like the experience of flying to Europe and sitting on lots of nice horses and coming home with one from a recognizable farm. It feels fancy. People love to feel fancy.

                  I will say that I absolutely DO think that we are producing an extremely similar caliber of horse here in North America. The prices for a young horse here are also similar if you're buying directly from the breeder, by the time you factor in importing and quarantine of a European horse. It's true that it's more expensive to raise them here though (sometimes considerably more so), which many people don't realize or understand. Having an intermediary source like Cooley or Fernhill that purchases from breeders and resells to riders would be a tougher business model here as far as carving out much profit.

                  While the caliber of horses is good and rapidly improving, we do have fewer people breeding for eventing, and the sheer quantity of top caliber horses available from the US is much smaller. Most breeders also aren't situated particularly close together, so it's more difficult to draw buyers steadily through if you can only show them a couple of horses. Many of them also don't have the connections required to really get the horses sourced to the right people for training or to be seen by top riders. I know there are efforts being made to improve all that through various programs (US Event Horse Futurity, YEH, FEH, etc), but the truth is that logistically it's pretty difficult and not an easy or simple thing to solve. I hope that people start to become more and more aware of the farms and the breeding programs here that are producing good horses... I certainly try to help spread the word as much as possible.
                  http://the900facebookpony.com/

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                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    The travelling and seeing so many horses at once I can totally understand. Same with going to Fernhill or Cooley and them clearly having a great reputation for nice horses. I guess I just don't get why there seems to be nothing like that in Canada in the US. There are a few riders emerging who have teamed with breeders in Canada/US so that is promising.

                    The cheaper cost of rasing babies, makes total sense too. Everything that has been said makes sense, but I do find it sad that it seems like it isn't viable to have something equally successful in North America. I think of the racing industry and everyone goes to the US to buy the good ones. It would be cool if it were the same for our sport horses.
                    Boss Mare Eventing Blog

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Jealoushe View Post
                      The travelling and seeing so many horses at once I can totally understand. Same with going to Fernhill or Cooley and them clearly having a great reputation for nice horses. I guess I just don't get why there seems to be nothing like that in Canada in the US. There are a few riders emerging who have teamed with breeders in Canada/US so that is promising.

                      The cheaper cost of rasing babies, makes total sense too. Everything that has been said makes sense, but I do find it sad that it seems like it isn't viable to have something equally successful in North America. I think of the racing industry and everyone goes to the US to buy the good ones. It would be cool if it were the same for our sport horses.
                      Maybe someday, but I'm not sure that their model is viable here. We likely need to forge our own way, given our very different circumstances. We also have to change the culture of "imported is better" that has been so programmed into a lot of people here. I really think that the US Event Horse Futurity is brilliant at how they're starting to bridge many of these gaps, I hope more people start following. USEA is working on a breeder database as well, hopefully that will start forming some of these connections between breeders, trainers, riders, and the public.
                      http://the900facebookpony.com/

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by MsRidiculous View Post

                        Maybe someday, but I'm not sure that their model is viable here. We likely need to forge our own way, given our very different circumstances. We also have to change the culture of "imported is better" that has been so programmed into a lot of people here. I really think that the US Event Horse Futurity is brilliant at how they're starting to bridge many of these gaps, I hope more people start following. USEA is working on a breeder database as well, hopefully that will start forming some of these connections between breeders, trainers, riders, and the public.
                        That's what I am curious about, is the model even doable in North America? Time will tell I guess. I am happy to see the USEA making such efforts, there is literally 0 effort by Equestrian Canada.
                        Boss Mare Eventing Blog

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Jealoushe View Post
                          Everything that has been said makes sense, but I do find it sad that it seems like it isn't viable to have something equally successful in North America. I think of the racing industry and everyone goes to the US to buy the good ones. It would be cool if it were the same for our sport horses.
                          Bear in mind that the racing industry supplies exactly what the other posters are saying is so attractive about shopping for sport horses in Europe: one stop shopping.

                          There are several large sales companies. The biggest one, Keeneland, has a yearling sale in September offering about 5,000 horses in one place over ten days time. In November, people shopping for breeding stock and/or weanlings can find a similar number of horses in one place at one time. That's why the system works for Thoroughbreds.
                          www.laurienberenson.com

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Cooley and Fernhill horse are NOT specially trained and bred....they are re-sellers who have VERY good eyes and connections but are buying horses and reselling them with their names tagged on them. Some they may put with a good rider to train up a bit....but really, you are paying for an expert who has connections and bought a horse they are now selling....and has good marketing. They are good at their job....but these are NOT breeders. These are sale barns.

                            People...especially Americans...LIKE name-brand items. There will always be those that like to go abroad and say they imported their horse. And yes...there is just as good quality here in the US...and it takes leg work to get connections....but there are re-sellers here who buy and resell...always have been. And there will always be people who think it is better because it has a certain brand or was imported....and willing to pay more because of it even if they could have gotten as good if not better otherwise.


                            And while I’ve heard the distance argument...that doesn’t hold water with me anymore because I’ve heard people make that argument who didn’t drive 5 minutes down the road to look at horses I know were available and local to them.... There ARE parts of this country that you can look at a bunch of horses and young stock at once....and you want to talk about holes in training. MOST Irish imports that I’ve know who have competed (even running a 1 or 2*) had MASSIVE holes in their training. Don’t underestimate how strong some of those young horse riders are in Ireland, UK and Europe....often they are riding and competing semi feral horses that they then sell to the Americans.
                            ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Also We have the horses here....but most eventers don’t want to buy young...and not willing to pay their worth as much as ANY other discipline (all my youngsters sold to dressage, hunter or jumper homes...not eventers). So if the BREEDER is going to spend the money on the training and prove the young horse’s value, their price is going to go up. For me, it becomes NOT worth selling for cheap and young and making nothing. Half the time, people will argue with you on price because they can get a cheap green OTTB...when NO ONE could have afforded to breed that OTTB (they cost substantially more to breed than any sport bred WB)....he just failed at the job he was bred for (or is done) and so already a loss to his breeders. And so for some of us breeders....we will just bite the bullet and put in the training and then increase the price tag when our youngsters are no longer “prospects” but now proven as that is the only hope we have to recover costs. But there are ton of US bred horses available....most are just not sold to eventers as youngsters.
                              ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                One particular bugbear I have is new owners changing the name of a horse. People value having "Fernhill" in a name so will keep it but too many other horses loose the breeders prefix or are given another name entirely. How can a breeder promote their lifetimes work?

                                It does vary between horse breeds and horse cultures but the registered name is often the only identity the horse carries.

                                OK, naming QHs can become a wee bit excessive but I will stick to my general point.

                                "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  A bit off topic, but I was reminded of some heinous names, understandably changed.
                                  Well, would you show a horse whose same was “Barteraphyrphlyte”? Seriously. I bought a horse with THAT registered name, and I did Dressage and Evented her. I couldn’t do it and changed her name.

                                  i just bought one named “Princess Passage”....a wonderful school horse for the kiddos, but they will want to show her...again, I CANNOT do it.
                                  Sigh.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Arlomine View Post
                                    A bit off topic, but I was reminded of some heinous names, understandably changed.
                                    Well, would you show a horse whose same was “Barteraphyrphlyte”? Seriously. I bought a horse with THAT registered name, and I did Dressage and Evented her. I couldn’t do it and changed her name.

                                    i just bought one named “Princess Passage”....a wonderful school horse for the kiddos, but they will want to show her...again, I CANNOT do it.
                                    Sigh.
                                    LOL oh, I think Princess Passage is priceless.

                                    Yes, I wasn't really meaning to refer to them as breeders. However on the Equiratings podcast, the Cooley Farm did say they do breed some and they do in fact do a lot training and competing on their horses while they have them.

                                    Anyways I guess I was meaning importing and not so much breeding, although in the end they are European/Uk bred horses being imported.
                                    Boss Mare Eventing Blog

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by bornfreenowexpensive View Post
                                      And while I’ve heard the distance argument...that doesn’t hold water with me anymore because I’ve heard people make that argument who didn’t drive 5 minutes down the road to look at horses I know were available and local to them..
                                      Personally I have several friends who opted not to even TRY looking at horses here because they were so daunted by the idea of finding them and then trying to coordinate going to look at them all. They decided to go to Ireland where they knew they could spend 2 days in one area and look at as many as they wanted, without paying the markup that happens once that same horse hits stateside. The ease is very appealing to many people, and I do get it, even if I think it's a bit of a cop out.

                                      http://the900facebookpony.com/

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by MsRidiculous View Post

                                        The ease is very appealing to many people, and I do get it, even if I think it's a bit of a cop out.
                                        I get it but it is total BS and I tell them that. If you WANT to go find a horse in Ireland or Europe or wherever....great. But it’s BS to say it is easier there..there are crooks there too and the vettings can be dicey too and then you have importing hassles too.

                                        I’ve never had trouble finding a quality prospect in the USA. Hell I can generally find one within 2 weeks of deciding I want to buy something. But if someone wants to go on a trip and buy abroad....that is their choice...but it isn’t because there isn’t the quality here in the States. I’ve got riders coming from Ireland drooling over our horses here...especially the TBs.
                                        ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

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