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Is this a true unicorn? If so, why?

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  • Trekkie
    started a topic Is this a true unicorn? If so, why?

    Is this a true unicorn? If so, why?

    Let me ask all those who may know this. Given a decent genetic chance (ie purpose bred, no huge history of unsoundness or completely crazy in bloodline) a foal raised with good management, a proper slow foundation and nutrition without “over feeding” to make fat for show ring (for example), lots of good turnout and ridden by adept, confident rider in many varied environments without overdoing or putting undue stress on growing body until horse begins showing signs of maturation and end of growth (usually aged 4-6), a person can make up a confident, talented athlete who is capable and willing and trusts its rider, and has no soundness issues. I think this could perhaps be replicated with every quality NA bred foal? Am I missing something? Simple recipe? Why is the 6-7 year old well-started, talented young horse who is sane, sound and willing to do its job such a unicorn in the NA bred market? It seems it is?

  • EmilyM
    replied
    Originally posted by Trekkie View Post
    Let me ask all those who may know this. Given a decent genetic chance (ie purpose bred, no huge history of unsoundness or completely crazy in bloodline) a foal raised with good management, a proper slow foundation and nutrition without “over feeding” to make fat for show ring (for example), lots of good turnout and ridden by adept, confident rider in many varied environments without overdoing or putting undue stress on growing body until horse begins showing signs of maturation and end of growth (usually aged 4-6), a person can make up a confident, talented athlete who is capable and willing and trusts its rider, and has no soundness issues. I think this could perhaps be replicated with every quality NA bred foal? Am I missing something? Simple recipe? Why is the 6-7 year old well-started, talented young horse who is sane, sound and willing to do its job such a unicorn in the NA bred market? It seems it is?
    I have one. just as you have said. Not the fanciest jumper although his full siblings are. so. . .he's fun and I broke him so i love him.

    Leave a comment:


  • Lord Helpus
    replied
    Originally posted by Trekkie View Post
    Lots of good feedback and discussion. It seems Europeans are truly the breeding pros then when it comes to warmblood prospects. Not surprising, as they have been doing it for centuries. And more of a horse based culture and industry therefore as well. If I were
    twenty years younger and more well to do it might be fun to try to establish a program here... just pipedreams. For now I will enjoy my boys and try to do right by them.
    Great answers to your question. I was not going to post until I got you your post, above.

    "It might be fun to try to establish a program here". Off the top of my head, I can think of 5 programs that have been tried (and succeeded) to create the horse you describe, yet have gone out of the business because money cannot be made in the US to produce what people want.

    In the last 8 years, I have bought 5 young (weanling - 5 year old) horses from reputable people who have great mares and used the top stallions in the world.

    I have paid between $7500 -- $25000 for these horses and each one has met or exceeded my expectations. And every one of those breeders has gone out of the breeding biz because they are losing money. These breeders are from Western Canada, Wisconsin, Ky, Florida; I believe in buying US breds and supporting US breeders. These breeders produced more than 3 foals per year on a continuous basis so I would say that they were knowledgable and dedicated breeders, who bred and sold quality foals.

    These young horses have: 1. won at dressage with multiple scores in the high 70's, was state champion at his (then) level and also won a 6 bar high jump, clearing over 5'. 2. won in the ammie hunters at AA shows 3. was clean in every 5 year old jumper classes in Florida and, in his last class, jumped clear at 1.35m as a 5-year-old, before succumbing to a cervical neurological problem. 3. Won every dressage class with multible scores of 78, before being retired at age 6 (with DSLD) 4. Is gorgeous and talented and wonderful, but will never show his talent to the world with his diagnosis of Foraminal Stenosis.

    Sadly, I see a trend here, but itcannot be caused by breeders from British Columbia Canada to Ocala Fla. And I have been in horses for 50 years. I think I have a quality program developing young horses, yet the breeders have gone out of business and I have gone out of business. Who can keep going without a positive return on investment?




    Leave a comment:


  • Peggy
    replied
    They’re out there. I found a 6 yo NA-bred horse that had shown lightly as a jumper to 1m, athletic enough to do more, amateur brain. And didn’t pay six figures. And it was the first horse I looked at. The lack of hunter and equitation miles helped. It is a smaller breeder. And, yes, not everyone is willing to take on a greenish by some standards horse that had only done jumpers as an eq/hunter prospect.

    And we we did spend months at one point dealing with a set of weird and, I now think related issues likely caused by a strange something in his hoof. So even a sound sane quality horse can have something go wrong. #becausehorse

    Leave a comment:


  • BITSA
    replied
    Originally posted by Trekkie View Post
    I do not think these unicorns are or should be available cheaply. I see them often for close to or above 6 figures no matter where they are bred once they reach the US market. I just wonder why they are so few and far between. I paid quite a bit for a yearling and two year old NA well bred baby and am bringing them along myself with assistance as needed precisely because I cannot afford this 6-7 year old unicorn. I am well aware of the process, I just wonder why it seems so many more are available in Europe at appearently less cost than here. I have my own theories that are based on many factors but was wondering what the hive thought.
    Because its so much less expensive to house and show a young horse there; there is just much more quantity. Here to buy a well-bred, but untested 4 y.o., you'll pay 40,000 from a bigger sport horse breeder, that same horse in Europe is 20k.

    I imported a very well bred 4 y.o. (I'm an adult ammy of less skill than you describe), my horse has a great brain and has been in full training the whole time. He's just now at 7 a horse I can confidently show above 3' and start to move up from there. That's almost 3 years of full training and 6-7 A shows a year... it ads up fast. And yes, it feel like he's a unicorn! But it's been a slow and deliberate process.

    Leave a comment:


  • Scribbler
    replied
    From COTH I have learned that culling jumpers who are too slow includes selling them on to be American hunters.

    Actually TB are a great example of how variable young purposebred horses in a standardized training program can be. If there was a reliable recipe for winning horses, people would follow it. As it stands many young tb are rehomed in their first year at the track. And racing is a much simpler discipline with fewer components and much less schooling needed than either jumpers or dressage.

    I don't know what exactly European breeders do to cull. All that would require would be taking the horse out of the active breeding program for a registry. In that sense, virtually all male horses are culled because they are gelded and will not reproduce their genes. For mares and stallions a rigorous registry inspection program will maintain standards within a registry.

    So perhaps Europeans send some horses to slaughter, or perhaps they sell them to amatuer homes or overseas, both of which would be more profitable than meat price.

    The other piece of the puzzle is that in Germany at least, sport horse breeding and training are considered national industries that have government support, oversight, regulations. North America has some government oversight in agricultural food production but horses are pure free enterprise small business niche product. And if you don't qualify for a "real" registry you can invent your own!

    Leave a comment:


  • findeight
    replied
    Imagine they want to protect the reputation of their breeding programs, some of which are state supported, and they do have a market for those culls we don’t. No desire to start a train wreck here and it’s been discussed on here ad nauseum but many of those in that culture don’t abhor sending unwanted or unsaleable horses to the dinner table. Not all, of course, but breeding is expensive and dead serious in big commercial breeding operations.

    They just don’t keep the substandard horses in their programs to break and train up and that market does exsist for those who care to utilize it.

    For the record, no, I wouldn’t. But Im not a big breeding operation in Europe.

    Leave a comment:


  • Horsegirl's Mom
    replied
    A couple posters have used the word "cull" in describing the European program. Euphemisms aside, what does that mean? Are they sold into easier jobs, or are you saying they will euthanize young horses with issues?

    Leave a comment:


  • findeight
    replied
    Two observations here. EVERY foal born is not going to be successful no matter the quality of the parents and the best, most careful care and training. If that were true every young TB at the track would be fast...and they aren’t. Even full siblings in the same program are not equal. Sometimes a Jumper bred horse hates to jump or a Dressage bred just doesn’t have the gaits it’s pedigree says it should. And sometimes they die or suffer career limiting or ending injuries that are self inflicted. Nobody’s fault.

    The other thing is the comparison with European imports. Every one that you see may have gone through a program but not every foal born gets into those programs. They do something we don’t over here, they cull and don’t proceed with sub standard stock.

    Leave a comment:


  • Nickelodian
    replied
    No. A true unicorn has a horn and rainbow mane. Clearly.

    As as far as why European breeders are much more successful than domestic? Completely different set up, a national committee that supports the cause, and acres to quality bloodlines abound.

    Leave a comment:


  • Tackpud
    replied
    I bred my current horse - $5K before she even hit the ground (Stud fee, vet bills, board bills, shoeing, etc). By the time she was ready to start work under saddle, I probably had at least $20K in her. She did start late - I don't believe in rushing babies and her line tends to mature a bit later. By the time she was ready to start showing, add another $10K. By the time she was ready to go to the big shows and start being seen, add another $10-15K. She's currently leased and showing in the 3'6" juniors and on paper is worth 6 figures. But her track record would probably price her less than that because she's been shown sparingly to be sure she stays sound and sane, so she doesn't have the 25 page long record that people want. However, she has impeccable manners, a gorgeous jump, a piece of the hack, and can be ridden by almost anyone (but if she doesn't like you she'll let you know in her own way - she is a mare). Unfortunately I don't have the bank account to make up more than one of these in a lifetime and I want to retire her here at my farm, so she won't ever be for sale.

    Can it be done? Yes. Will it ever be a thing here in the US? No - way too expensive.

    Leave a comment:


  • streamline
    replied
    Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
    A really good fearless pro can muscle a green horse around a course that is above the horse's real education level, and if the horse is naturally scopey, around some fairly high jumps too. And they free jump them to get a sense of their natural scope.

    Doesn't mean you or I could take the horse to a show next weekend and not die.

    I think they have to video them jumping at max height to sell them for top dollar. It doesn't mean they are competing regularly at that level.

    Most jumper training is about what happens between the jumps. Rating stride, not spooking at things, etc. So your local clinician is going about it the right way to make a solid horse that anyone can ride.
    My favorite was when a trainer I worked for got 6+ imported horses, everything was suppose to be 1.40+ and trainer got on and alll those horses went back to 6+ months of flat work, granted trainer is skillful enough to get on anything scopey enough and jump it around a full course of 4 foot plus jumps and make it look easy. I didn’t appreciate some of the horses we got with horrible ground manners. I was happy when I stopped grooming professionally and got my backyard horses 😂

    After moving to a different state that has more livestock vrs people. Someone we run cows with has a super nice stud and multiple broodmares, they have lots of foals each years and get to pick and choose what they do and don’t keep. Similar to the other poster on here talking about in Europe how the have big groups of foals and just pick and choose.

    What about Silverhorne Sporthorses and Wild Turkey Farm? Does anyone have any horses from them? Curious what the even go for. I had a horse from Silverhorne but he was always NQR, got out of horses for a bit and new owner of said horse tracked me down and turns out horse has something off. Different story for another day.

    Leave a comment:


  • Trekkie
    replied
    Lots of good feedback and discussion. It seems Europeans are truly the breeding pros then when it comes to warmblood prospects. Not surprising, as they have been doing it for centuries. And more of a horse based culture and industry therefore as well. If I were
    twenty years younger and more well to do it might be fun to try to establish a program here... just pipedreams. For now I will enjoy my boys and try to do right by them.

    Leave a comment:


  • Scribbler
    replied
    A really good fearless pro can muscle a green horse around a course that is above the horse's real education level, and if the horse is naturally scopey, around some fairly high jumps too. And they free jump them to get a sense of their natural scope.

    Doesn't mean you or I could take the horse to a show next weekend and not die.

    I think they have to video them jumping at max height to sell them for top dollar. It doesn't mean they are competing regularly at that level.

    Most jumper training is about what happens between the jumps. Rating stride, not spooking at things, etc. So your local clinician is going about it the right way to make a solid horse that anyone can ride.

    Leave a comment:


  • HLMom
    replied
    Originally posted by Scribbler View Post

    Also if the horse is worked only lightly to age 4 to 6, it isn't going to have alot of miles on it by age 7, and probably isn't going to jumping at it's eventual height by age 7. So there is a tradeoff between starting late and showing young.
    I was wondering about this, too. This weekend I saw a presentation by a well-respected local h/j trainer who emphasized how slowly she brings young horses along to make sure they end up happy and confident. She said that depending on the horse, she might spend weeks or even months doing poles on the ground, then tiny cross-rails, tiny verticals, then introducing them to flowers, fill etc. It sounded like such a slow process! I thought of all the sale ads I see (especially from Europe) showing 4 year olds jumping massive jumps. How to reconcile that?? Is our local trainer unnecessarily conservative with her extended "jumper nursery school"... or do the precocious 4 year-olds turn out not as calm and confident?

    Leave a comment:


  • winter
    replied
    The reasons why it can be done more cheaply in Europe have already been answered by posters above, it's no mystery why. The variables you stated as simple to control just aren't. Having sound/sane parents doesn't guarantee a sound/sane foal. Feeding and turnout and all the right management doesn't mean it will stay sound either. The only way to control these is with volume, and that's something NA just doesn't have. Europe has the edge in so many areas. Family farms that have generations of breeding in one place, lower land costs as a result and associated services (feed, farrier, vet) are all cheaper because again, volume. Willingness to quickly cull sub par products which NA breeders can't/ won't do. Willingness to raise foals cheaply in bulk. Most european breeders don't spend time halter breaking and bathing and trimming the feet of their youngsters. They raise them like cattle, pretty much wild until they decide to produce the ones that show promise and cull the rest. It's so so much cheaper than the individual attention that most NA breeders give their youngsters. Availability of colt starters and riders. Many shows in small geographic area with low entry fees and no stabling. Several shows to choose from within a half hour drive every day on the weekend, means you can get a lot of miles on a horse for very little money. It goes on and on.

    One thing you have wrong is the skill level of amateurs in Europe vs NA. One could argue that there is a far bigger pool of amateurs with access to excellent trainers and money in NA, and that a lot of them ride better than their european counterparts. The thing is, it is not amateurs producing these horses in Europe. They have an industry focused on producing horses. There are so many professional riders whose sole job is producing horses, not coaching or buying and selling, just riding working at a production / sales facility or for breeders. Here almost all pros are also coaching, and showing and trying to advance their own riding career. Very few focus on development of young horses.


    Leave a comment:


  • DarkBayUnicorn
    replied
    I have a unicorn! You couldn't buy him for all the monies.

    For one thing, he's my first (and so far, only) homebred so there's an emotional attachment.

    But strictly looking at finances, it cost me nearly $10K to put him on the ground. I have to board my horses out (in order to make enough money to afford horses, I need to live in a big city), so add that up over six years. Vet and blacksmith for six years. Training and lessons...

    Then add on $1,000 per show. That's for stabling/hay/shavings, entries for one division and a couple of schooling classes, office fees, maybe a ticketed schooling at the start of the week. That doesn't include shipping, day care, training/ride fees, memberships, etc.

    $1,000 per show.

    Sure, you can take the youngsters out to schooling shows, but buyers with budgets don't consider those results to be "legitimate" compared to A shows when unicorn shopping.

    The big breeders around here typically sell most of their stock by age three. They keep the creme of each crop, broodmare and stallion prospects for the most part, and campaign them a bit. Those either sell for big bucks or are retained for the program.

    Leave a comment:


  • can't re-
    replied
    "I think this could perhaps be replicated with every quality NA bred foal? Am I missing something? Simple recipe? Why is the 6-7 year old well-started, talented young horse who is sane, sound and willing to do its job such a unicorn in the NA bred market? It seems it is?" (bolding mine)

    It is not that simple. I have bred some very nice horses. Quite a few I sold are dead and one is broken, all at a young age (under 9) due to human error. A Chacco Blue I bred was basically hijacked, taken four states away and given a new USEF # and shown under a false name. So to say every quality NA bred foal should be a unicorn at 6-7 is not reality.

    I have found trainers selling US bred horses as imports. The tracking system here has been negligent. USEF requiring microchipping should help. Breeders had a tough time of tracking the leading sires and following the horses they bred as a new USEF number was easily gotten and the horse's history erased. Things are changing a lot for the better.

    Breeding in Europe is very different. There is no comparison. The bloodlines are generally more condensed with a who's who. There are breeders in Europe who's families have been breeding for generations. The costs do not compare, as horses are generally raised, started and shown with much less expense. There are many breeders in Europe breeding dozens of foals every year. There are not many breeders in the USA doing that.

    Leave a comment:


  • Scribbler
    replied
    Well, part of the situation is no doubt that even worked conservatively, jumping heights is hard on a horse, and some will show their limits or get injured. I also think there is a significant difference in scope between a horse that can do 3 feet easily and shows scope to move up to say 3 foot 6, versus a horse that is maxed out at 3 feet and really belongs in the 2 foot 6 or 9 (which is where all the competition is around here anyways, and the ponies clean up the low jumpers). As the jumps get higher, the courses also get more technical. And the stress on the joints gets more.

    And perhaps once you get the athleticism to start going higher, there starts to be a tradeoff with brio that makes the horse less amateur friendly. I don't get to see many big jumpers IRL but my guess is that a horse that can do the 4 foot courses and is "ammie friendly" or "junior friendly" is indeed a fairly rare beast and priced accordingly.

    Also if the horse is worked only lightly to age 4 to 6, it isn't going to have alot of miles on it by age 7, and probably isn't going to jumping at it's eventual height by age 7. So there is a tradeoff between starting late and showing young.

    Leave a comment:


  • OneTwoMany
    replied
    Originally posted by Trekkie View Post
    I do not think these unicorns are or should be available cheaply. I see them often for close to or above 6 figures no matter where they are bred once they reach the US market. I just wonder why they are so few and far between. I paid quite a bit for a yearling and two year old NA well bred baby and am bringing them along myself with assistance as needed precisely because I cannot afford this 6-7 year old unicorn. I am well aware of the process, I just wonder why it seems so many more are available in Europe at appearently less cost than here. I have my own theories that are based on many factors but was wondering what the hive thought.
    If you have a 6 or 7 year old hunter that is truly ammie-friendly they are often sold without being advertised. As you develop your own youngsters, you'll see it first hand once they start showing and doing well.

    If Dobbin is fancy, entered in the 3' greens, appears to be easy, places well and has the athletic ability to move up, trainers will ask if the horse if for sale. A lot of business gets done without the horse being advertised to the general public.

    Leave a comment:

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