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Breeders: How do you decide which foals to sell?

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  • Breeders: How do you decide which foals to sell?

    I am a failure as a horse 'breeder'. It was never my intention to do it as a business, just a way to carry on the lineage of a riding mare I particularly liked. Then I really enjoyed the breeding thing and realised that I wanted to keep doing it to sell a few on a very small scale. Problem is, I am not selling any horses. I don't mean that there are no buyers or that there is no market, but that I can't even begin the process of listing one for sale because I feel attached to the youngsters.

    I am wondering how the successful breeders distance themselves emotionally to sell their youngsters?
    I feel very attached to the foals as they are born. I am attached to my mares and want to keep their babies. I want to ride the offspring and see how they turn out. I can not rank them as to who I would like to keep the most as a riding horse for myself when they're not all under saddle.

    Any tips on selecting which foals to sell and keep? How long do you keep each one, until they are started? Or do you sell as weanlings/two year olds? Do you decide in utero that a certain cross will be for sale right away, but that there are some pairings that you might want to keep?
    Do you feel more attached to offspring of a particular mare than the others?

    I do think it will be easier to decide when they're all under saddle, but it also doesn't seem practical to do that with every single one. It would be nice to just sell one every so often to keep my numbers sort of flat.
    Any wisdom greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    They are all for sale!
    Cindy Bergmann
    Canterbury Court


    • #3
      I don't keep any "boys" so all my colts are sold. So when one is born I just "attempt" to not get too attached and allow myself to get attached to the fillies. I do have a colt this year that I am finding it hard NOT to get attached too so he will be hard to sell.

      However, I still don't keep all fillies as they have to be the complete package (temperament/movement/conformation) before I will retain them. I just tell myself I can't keep breeding if I don't sell something and I LOVE the new babies so I need to sell.
      Cindy's Warmbloods
      www.cindyswarmbloods.com Cindy's Warmbloods
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      • #4
        Really good ideas given, but another idea would be to ask a breeder you trust to help you evaluate your stock. OR...if you will get offended, then show them all and evaluate them that way. You need some impartial evaluation, is my point.

        Also, were any bred to super popular stallions? 4 high whites and a blaze? Those may be easier to sell than the one you bred for GP potential, that isn't flashy as a youngster... (I'm making this up for the sake of example).

        I would sell all geldings, personally.

        It is always easier to sell for a good price when you don't "have" to--will be much harder if you breed yourself into the I "have" to sell one to make room corner.
        DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


        • #5
          they are all bred with the idea they are for sale. I only keep 1 stallion, so any other colt is gelded to be sold. Period. I have only kept 1 colt intact as a stallion prospect and he did sell as a long yearling/intact....but stallion prospects are a lot harder to sell and also to mantain for turnout than geldings so it has to be an exceptional colt to not be gelded. The filies are only keepers if I feel I need to replace a mare in the near future. The last filly out of my best mare, for example, is not for sale. The last filly by my stallion that died unexpectedly young is also not for sale.
          Providence Farm


          • #6
            no tips for you, you sound so much like me!

            I also started by wanting to have an offspring from my riding mare, then bred again a few years after. I had a super filly last year, listed her for sale but then couldn't bring myself to sell her. (Yes, I was told many times I was crazy!) I have only one this year, who really should be for sale because I don't really want to keep 4 horses. I realized I am simply not cut out to be a breeder, I get really attached to them and can't sell them, not to mention I found dealing with loss to be really really horrid. My "breeder" career is over now, before hubby divorces me:-)


            • #7
              Mine are all for sale!

              I have never turned down a genuine sale but some are harder to part with than others. The ones that I bonded more strongly to or ones that have won a lot in the baby show ring are particularly difficult to let go.

              I find it helps to keep contact with the new owners. Getting updates on their progress is cool. But in saying this, there have been a couple that I sold to folk who became good friends and I watched the horses compete to high level and get tons of accolades etc. Jealous? Yes! Regret selling? Only a tiny bit during weak moments! I take great pride in producing horses that do well in the ring.

              Getting an outside opinion on stock quality really is a great idea. Listen and try not to be defensive. The cutest, snuggliest, prettiest, from a fav mare foal is NOT always the one that should be kept!


              • #8
                The OP poster sounds just like me. I started breeding because I had a lovely Canadian Warmblood mare Wolkenstar, that I absolutely adored riding and I wanted one just like her! Then I got addicted to breeding : )
                I no longer own Wolkenstar, but her daughter Forte is now my riding horse and Forte's 2 year old daughter is waiting in the wings as my next horse. My policy is that ALL of my horses are always for sale. Some are just more for sale than others, and their prices reflect that. It's pretty hard to sell a foal at all in this economy, so I would never turn down a fair offer. I find that there is a lot interest in foals, quality broodmares and going riding horses. I rarely ever get a call about a yearling or two year old.


                • Original Poster

                  Thank you for the very good advice. It really helps to hear other people's perspective. I did sell a horse in December (yay me). And despite crying the whole night after I accepted the offer, I felt really good about it after even though I had someone else supervise putting him on the trailer. He is now well loved and doing very well in his new discipline so I feel happy about that. I did not breed that horse however (even though I started him and had him for many years) so it was a bit different.

                  Cindy, that really rings true, thank you for that. I CAN NOT keep breeding if I don't sell one. That's a good way to think about it. I love matching the mare and stallion, seeing the result and watching them change as they grow, but no one can personally keep that many horses. I tried to make a filly only rule but last years colt is the sweetest thing ever, so he's hard to part with too. :/

                  TrotTrotPumpkn, funny you should ask, I do have a filly by a popular stallion with 4 white socks. Ha ha. She is on my mind often. She is very fancy. Part of the stupid breeding thing; the foals are turning out better than I expected. Which is good and bad. Makes me want to show them all, when really, the best ones should be the easiest to sell.

                  A lot to think about, thanks so much.
                  Off to see my pregnant mare!


                  • #10
                    One thing that helps is selling them in-utero or as a custom breeding. This way the foal was never really yours

                    It also helps, as poster already mentioned, to keep in touch with your buyers. You can live vicariously through their competitive riding success (although since you bred the horse you do get genuine success as well).
                    Read about my time at the Hannoveraner Verband Breeders Courses:


                    • #11
                      I'm another who got into breeding because they have a very special mare and wanted another just like her but fractionally better. My ambition is to train and compete a horse to GP dressage. My mare and I were both clueless when we started but we muddled our way along together and competed up to PSG while schooling most of GP.

                      I reckoned since she probably would have gone GP if I'd had the slightest clue of what I was doing, breeding a foal from her that was as good as Mum with just slightly better movement wasn't going to be that hard? The only proviso was that I wanted a filly so I could carry the line on.

                      So of course when bred to my dream stallion she has twice produced colts. I sold the first because I so desperately wanted a filly and you can't keep them all. When the second one was a colt as well I was more disappointed than I had any right to be considering both he and his dam were healthy. At the moment I'm keeping him but this year, when I bred for eventing so the foal was "definitely for sale" I got a filly. And I so love fillies, way more than colts.

                      So I'm having one more go (probably) to get the filly of my dreams. If she arrives I'll sell the colt and the event bred filly. If I get yet another colt I haven't decided what to do. Ride my favourite horse's son and wave goodbye to continuing her line? Or breed from the filly even though she's bred to event and I only do dressage these days?

                      Its hard. Keeping an eye on what you are breeding for is essential. Its all to easy to get sidetracked and distracted, especially when your plans depend on getting a certain kind of foal and fate sends you something else entirely.


                      • Original Poster

                        Stolensilver - That really made me think. When breeding I always think about what I want in my next riding horse, not what someone else might want. Just like my mare but a little taller or slightly better movement. Or just like that gelding I had but easier to ride or..... it goes on and on. Yikes.

                        Maybe if I bred more for what someone else might want, rather than what I want, they will be easier to send on.


                        • #13
                          I never think of the foals as "mine" - this helps with the selling. If I desperately want to keep one, I always feel like I am coveting someone else's horse. I generally sell all the colts. I will keep some fillies that it makes sense to keep (improvement on the mare, mare is old, filly fulfills all my breeding goals, etc...) I really try to look at them objectively and make good business decisions and not just emotional ones.
                          On the flip side, I have regularly sold horses that I really wanted to keep because I had buyers for them and I HAVE to sell horses to pay my bills. Generally, the ones I want to keep are the ones other people want most ;-)

                          I asked the director of the UVM Morgan Horse farm one time how they decide which foals to sell and which foals to retain for the herd. I asked if they keep the best ones and sell the rest and he said "No way! People figure out pretty quick if you hoard all your good ones and only sell the crap and they look elsewhere. You must sell the good ones too to keep the good clients coming back" I have tried to remember this advice as I breed and sell.


                          • #14
                            Almost everything I own is for sale, for the right price. That sounds bad, but it's true. I have only selected one so far that I've bred that will be ridiculously hard to sell if an out of the blue offer came about. She was from my first crop, I wasn't planning on keeping her... but as she matured she showed she was everything that I wanted as a riding horse (er.. pony, I sold the two Oldenburg foals I had that year that I planned to keep, I liked the pony better!). I generally prefer to sell as a weanling. It gets hard to sell then when they go through the yearling fuglies. I find it very rewarding to get the babies into good homes with families who love them. There's only been one I've bred thats gone to a not-so-good situation (and I DID NOT see it coming). I still get frequent updates from everybody else who has horses I've bred... and it's SO GREAT to know they are bringing to much happiness to their new families.

                            I breed every mare with the idea that I might keep, or I might sell the foal. It depends on what horses I've got at the time it's born, and how it turns out. It does not mean I love them any less, I've just gotten to the point where I'm proud to see them go to their new homes The filly I've kept is a great example of the kind of ponies I am breeding. I like being able to show her, and it's been an absolute joy to start her this year. I now have a one month old full sibling to that filly, and I do "plan" on keeping her as well, but it's not to say that I wouldn't accept an offer for her. I want to show her. I will likely end up selling her a a 2yo or older...
                            Making Your Ambitions a Reality at Secret Ambition Stables.
                            Quality Welsh Ponies and Welsh Crosses bred for sport
                            Facebook Page.
                            Section A and Section B Welsh Ponies at stud


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Cindy's Warmbloods View Post
                              I don't keep any "boys" so all my colts are sold. So when one is born I just "attempt" to not get too attached and allow myself to get attached to the fillies. I do have a colt this year that I am finding it hard NOT to get attached too so he will be hard to sell.

                              However, I still don't keep all fillies as they have to be the complete package (temperament/movement/conformation) before I will retain them. I just tell myself I can't keep breeding if I don't sell something and I LOVE the new babies so I need to sell.
                              This is how I do it too, except I have only kept 1 replacement filly. I currently have 1 filly for sale for a "higher" price only because I am not really looking to sell her per say (She is just so nice with super bloodlines) but the price is more a "I would let her go for..." price if that makes sence?

                              Plus as I have mentioned in another thread, I am VERY excited with how well my home breds have done in the show ring to date in their young careers. This also makes it easier to sell when they are great homes!!
                              Elegant Expressions Farm

                              Visit us on Facebook too !!


                              • #16
                                I think you have to think of them all as for sale, regardless of age, accomplishments, etc. If you don't, you can be caught offguard by someone who pops up and makes an offer on one you considered a "keeper" -- ask me how I know! It's a business and you have to be realistic. Any horse you don't sell today can have a stupid pasture injury tomorrow, and then where are you?

                                And that advice the Morgan guy gave Eliza is so true!
                                Kendra -- Runningwater Warmbloods
                                Home of EM Raleska (Rascalino/ Warkant) and Donatella M (Furstenball/ Jazz Time)
                                'Like' us on Facebook


                                • #17
                                  Everything is for sale for the right price. Does this mean it reflects market value? Not necessarily.

                                  For instance, my two year-old TB filly. Market value is probably nil or close to. She's for sale if an offer comes along, but I won't sell her for market value. Because she's a good filly, that I will use for breeding and riding down the road. I won't let her go for $1,500...

                                  Same goes for her dam. She was given to me. In foal. No way I would give her away now or sell her for what she might be worth on the market... $2K? Maybe?

                                  Both these mares are TBs. The market is flooded with them and few people can tell the difference between a plain ol' TB from a very good one. Prices rarely, if ever, reflect the difference.
                                  Breeding & Sales
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                                  • #18
                                    Everything has a price in my breeding program. The only ones I will keep are any double dilute fillies. Boys will be gelded and fillies, unless I am replacing, will also be offered. Since I have two young broodmares and an upcoming yearling (to be an eventual broodie after a show career), I don't need to replace at the moment. So.... all are available technically.

                                    I gelded my previous Jr stallion prospect as he just wasn't pulling it together enough to warrant keeping him entire, and his brain is just FABULOUS. He will be lightly backed this summer and continue to be shown on the line. I like all my ponies, but liking them alot is a good reason to sell. If I don't like them, how do I expect anyone else to?

                                    Breeding at the end of the day is a BUSINESS, regardless of how much we love the animals. If one can't get their head around THAT aspect of it, it might be better to not breed (as well, one should always be improving the breed/improving on the parents...but I should think that would go without saying).
                                    Wonderful ponies for family or show!


                                    • Original Poster

                                      I think the problem is that I never thought of breeding to sell, always breeding to make my next riding horse. Realistically I can't have 5 full time riding horses however, I need to be tougher and more practical!

                                      This has been really great advice. I am going to get more proactive, maybe make a website, list some for sale online maybe. Then, like you have all mentioned, I don't miss an opportunity for a great home. It doesn't mean I HAVE to sell one if someone inquires.

                                      I tried to list one for sale last fall. It was depressing. I couldn't see selling my horse to any of the people who inquired. They were such time wasters and mostly very naive and inexperienced.


                                      • #20
                                        "sell the best, keep the rest"