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Question for Breeders: Planning for the future of your horses?

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  • Question for Breeders: Planning for the future of your horses?

    With all the discussions about so many unwanted horses I was curious how sport horse breeders ensure the future for the foals you produce? What plans do you have to make sure there are lifelong homes available for your foals? What about any of your mares that don't produce?

  • #2
    I don't sell my broodies. Most of my broodies have been purchased as older mares and I have guaranteed their former owners that they will have lifetime homes with me, even if I don't get a single foal out of them. My broodies are 23, 19, 16, and 14. I also have a 15 year old mare bought as a broodie that we have never been able to get in foal. I have the luxury, at this point, to be able to provide these girls with a comfortable retirement. I do have to be careful to keep an eye on how many horses I "accumulate" b/c I will not sacrifice the level of their care so I am limited in how many retirees I can have at one point. As far as guaranteeing foals a home; I let all my buyers know that I will provide a home for any of them, at any time in the future, if for any reason the owner cannot provide for them. No questions asked. I certainly worry about losing track of horses that I produce, and not knowing what has happened with them. So far I have been blessed in that regard, I know where they all are at this point. However, that is the benefit of having a very small breeding program!
    Already excited about our 2016 foals! Expecting babies by Indoctro, Diamant de Semilly, Zirocco Blue and Calido!
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hills...h/112931293227

    Comment


    • #3
      Very similiar to Hillside here. We don't ever sell our older broodies either. It breaks my heart when I see them getting sold for $500 or going through auctions in their late teens and 20's, used up and thrown out like trash.

      We have three that are aging, and showing their reproductive age as well, and any season could be the last. They are 18, 19 and 19 but they have lifelong homes with us. Really we owe THEM at this point.

      As far as our young horses go, we would at any time take any of them back if their owners could not care for them, and replace them in good homes. We love them and follow their lives to ensure they are loved and cared for.
      Signature Sporthorses
      www.signaturesporthorses.com

      Comment


      • #4
        I have 2 retired broodies, and both will be here until they cross over. One is 29, and I got her when she was 12 and only had one foal out of her. Her job is being #1 babysitter for the weanlings - she is MUCH valued for that and she takes her job very seriously. I will miss her terribly when her time comes - which unfortunately may be soon. The second one, now 19, I retired when she was 17. I could have tried for one or more pregnancies from her as she produced FABULOUS foals, but her last pregnancy was tough on her and I chose not to breed her again. She is now the babysitter in training - 2nd in command to the other old broodie.

        When breeding any of them, I always take into consideration the possibility that I'll end up with a foal with a career ending injury or some other debilitating condition that might preclude its being sold. They, too, are insured a home for life.

        Comment


        • #5
          We owe a debt of some degree to every horse we have ever bred or owned. There is not one that we do not know where it is and who it is in training with, who the rider is and how it is performing. They are all sold with a "right of first refusal" so we can track them. I have bought back two when it was time to retire, and have my eyes on a third as we speak. The rest are either still owned by us or they are in great hands and doing fine. To the best of our ability, ALL of them will have humane and dignified retirement or passages when the time comes. If my barn is full, I have scoped out some beautiful pastures in an adjacent valley where they can live "happily ever after". They are here because of us...the least we can do is make sure their time here is as comfortable as possible under the circumstances. Does that mean my finances are restricted for new horses or activities? Yes. Does that come with the territory? Yes, at least in our little barn.

          Comment


          • #6
            Good question. I am very new to breeding so don't have anything to offer on that front. I do buy, retrain, and sell a few horses a year and I have been able to keep track of the majority of them, probably all of them right now. One died about 6 months after being sold, after a lunging accident/injury. It was devastating to me and I felt like I had done him wrong, though he was sold to a pro, who then sold him to what seemed like a super home. I almost stopped selling as a result.

            That said, IF you are in business it is honestly not realistic to expect to potentially have to care for every horse you ever produce, or keep track of every single one for it's whole life, or take them all back if someone has hurt them etc. Of course it is different when it is one you've bred, as they are like our "babies", but I am just curious about the reality of it.

            I think the answers here are responsible and certainly the ideal, but is that realistic if one is breeding horses as a legitimate business? If a breeder bred 20 horses a year for 20 years that's a lot of horses, 400 if my math isn't too rusty. Say that even just 5 of those had permanent injuries, career ending, etc. Even with your own place, own hay, etc, you don't get by on much less than $100/head/month with trims, vet, feed, farrier etc. And that is on the LOW end for arguments sake. 5 horses, kept for an average of 20 years each at $1200 per year works out to be $120K. That is a LOT of money for the sort of business that is not at baseline a big money maker to begin with.

            I am not trying to start a trainwreck, just generate thoughts and ideas. And to be honest I don't think the argument "If you can't afford to take care of all of them you shouldn't be breeding" is valid when you are talking business not hobby.
            Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved. - William Jennings Bryan

            http://www.halcyon-hill.com

            Comment


            • #7
              I also wondered if you would consider euthanasia rather than giving them away and potentially losing track, with a horse that has a permanent injury. I don't think I could do it, and would probably just feed it forever anyway, but barring that euthanasia seems more humane than having it potentially end up half starved in a feed lot somewhere. Just look at the condition of that Olympic horse COTH did a recent article on. There were tons of people who would have cared for him and he fell through the cracks anyway.

              And at what point is that ok? If a week old foal has some terrible problem or injury that would preclude it from having any kind of career, I think people would say ok, that is "humane" but the same situation as a 4yo I think the BB would go ape* and cry foul and say you produced him you should take care of him. Just thinking "out loud" and trying to hear others' thoughts.
              Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved. - William Jennings Bryan

              http://www.halcyon-hill.com

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by buschkn View Post
                I also wondered if you would consider euthanasia rather than giving them away and potentially losing track, with a horse that has a permanent injury. I don't think I could do it, and would probably just feed it forever anyway, but barring that euthanasia seems more humane than having it potentially end up half starved in a feed lot somewhere. Just look at the condition of that Olympic horse COTH did a recent article on. There were tons of people who would have cared for him and he fell through the cracks anyway.

                And at what point is that ok? If a week old foal has some terrible problem or injury that would preclude it from having any kind of career, I think people would say ok, that is "humane" but the same situation as a 4yo I think the BB would go ape* and cry foul and say you produced him you should take care of him. Just thinking "out loud" and trying to hear others' thoughts.

                Not a popular opinion, but I would certainly say that providing a humane euthanasia *is* taking care of an animal in a responsible way. Having worked, in the past, in the animal welfare field, I have found there are many, many things worse than euthanasia. I would consider euthanasia for a horse, even a young horse, that could be nothing but a pasture pet, if I couldn't provide that "pasture". Even with a contract, placing with a friend, etc. once that animal leaves your control you have no idea what is going to happen to it. I would rather have the certainty of a humane death than the uncertainty of a questionable situation. In fact, my will specifically addresses each of my animals by name (it gets updated a lot ), and some of them are to be euthanized in the event of my death. I simply can't stand the thought of my dogs/cats/horses/etc. ending up in a bad situation.

                As far as your previous question, regarding business vs. hobby. This is a hobby for me, and I purposely keep my numbers small for that reason. So I can't help with that aspect of it.
                Already excited about our 2016 foals! Expecting babies by Indoctro, Diamant de Semilly, Zirocco Blue and Calido!
                https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hills...h/112931293227

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Hillside H Ranch View Post
                  I would certainly say that providing a humane euthanasia *is* taking care of an animal in a responsible way.
                  Well said - I agree 100%.

                  I only breed one or two foals per year, not as a business enterprise these days, but for myself. Of course I've sold a few over the years when they don't meet my requirements, but I have buy-back clauses in all of my homebred contracts, and I would rehome any homebred no questions asked to make sure it has a comfortable retirement and/or a dignified end.

                  I try very hard to keep tabs on anything I've bred - but again, mine is not a high volume operation and I don't produce more horses on the farm than I can provide lifelong homes for. And it goes without saying that our older broodies have a home for life.
                  Last edited by Waterwitch; Jun. 20, 2009, 11:11 AM.
                  Liz
                  Ainninn House Stud
                  Irish Draughts and Connemaras
                  Co. Westmeath, Ireland

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    There is no way to plan or guarantee the future for any horse. There is no way to plan or guarantee the future for any human either, even your own family or your own human children. All living things are subject to the whims of reality and luck, both good and bad luck. As a horse breeder, you do the best you can for the horses you own, while you own them. You breed and develop quality young horses to be suitable for many different people, in many different disciplines. If a horse has value, to someone, for something, he will be looked after as best as his owner can do so. If he has no value, he will not be looked after, he may be neglected or abused. Unless you keep all the horses you breed yourself, you are the starting point ONLY for the horse in his life. You give him the best start you can, and send him on his way in his life. You can not control the future for anyone, even yourself.

                    When I purchase a broodmare, I usually keep them as a broodmare until they are no longer fertile, or have proven something that I don't want to reproduce. At that point, I determine whether they might have some value to someone else, for something else. If they do have that value, I can often find them a home as a pleasure riding horse, for free. They owe me nothing. It is then that person's responsibility to look after them, no longer mine. If I feel that they do not have this value or potential value to someone else, I have them shot. I can not afford to feed too many pets and pensioners, and I have a few already. Economic limitations rule ultimately.
                    www.cordovafarm.weebly.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by buschkn View Post
                      ...
                      I think the answers here are responsible and certainly the ideal, but is that realistic if one is breeding horses as a legitimate business? If a breeder bred 20 horses a year for 20 years that's a lot of horses, 400 if my math isn't too rusty. Say that even just 5 of those had permanent injuries, career ending, etc. Even with your own place, own hay, etc, you don't get by on much less than $100/head/month with trims, vet, feed, farrier etc. And that is on the LOW end for arguments sake. 5 horses, kept for an average of 20 years each at $1200 per year works out to be $120K. That is a LOT of money for the sort of business that is not at baseline a big money maker to begin with.

                      I am not trying to start a trainwreck, just generate thoughts and ideas. And to be honest I don't think the argument "If you can't afford to take care of all of them you shouldn't be breeding" is valid when you are talking business not hobby.
                      IMO, when you are producing horses of that volume, and for the sake of argument, it equates to the CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) industry. No CPG operates at 100% profit - they have machine breakdown & upgrades (mares), labor and operating costs (barn help, vets, etc.), product overruns that are sold at discount (foals/horses in this economy). Then you have product returns, etc. (think our example here). CPG's accept product returns/recalls and either salvage them as refurbished product and sold at a discount or destroy them. Those costs have to be absorbed.

                      Back to your example and for the sake of my math skills, if you've produced 395 foals sold @10k each, that's $3,950,000. That $120k (3%) seems absorbable and part of the cost of doing business. No?

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Anyone else?

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by NancyM View Post
                          There is no way to plan or guarantee the future for any horse. There is no way to plan or guarantee the future for any human either, even your own family or your own human children. All living things are subject to the whims of reality and luck, both good and bad luck. As a horse breeder, you do the best you can for the horses you own, while you own them. You breed and develop quality young horses to be suitable for many different people, in many different disciplines. If a horse has value, to someone, for something, he will be looked after as best as his owner can do so. If he has no value, he will not be looked after, he may be neglected or abused. Unless you keep all the horses you breed yourself, you are the starting point ONLY for the horse in his life. You give him the best start you can, and send him on his way in his life. You can not control the future for anyone, even yourself.

                          When I purchase a broodmare, I usually keep them as a broodmare until they are no longer fertile, or have proven something that I don't want to reproduce. At that point, I determine whether they might have some value to someone else, for something else. If they do have that value, I can often find them a home as a pleasure riding horse, for free. They owe me nothing. It is then that person's responsibility to look after them, no longer mine. If I feel that they do not have this value or potential value to someone else, I have them shot. I can not afford to feed too many pets and pensioners, and I have a few already. Economic limitations rule ultimately.

                          I know we can't prevent everything in life, but if you're the one choosing to produce the horse, especially in a market flooded with a surplus of horses, don't you have some responsibility for it?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I certainly think so.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I'm glad I'm not as ruthless as Nancy M -- my broodies stay at the "Hotel California" until they die or require euthanasia because of their own health issues. I had a mare I bought and kept from age 14 through age 30 -- she never produced a single foal for me and wasn't even very friendly, but ditching her or killing her wasn't something I could do. Maybe that's not a "business" attitude, but it's how I can live with myself. It's just my committment to them and all those strays and throwaways I've taken off the street. I guess you do what you can live with. I try to stay in touch with the ones I've bred, but have not kept up with all of them. Would certainly help out if need be.
                              PennyG

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                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Do the lack of replies imply no plans, disinterest, being too busy to think about it, or something else? I kinda thought this would have more back and forth, ideas etc, especially with how difficult things are for horses right now.

                                Thanks to all who responded. It's interesting to hear the different perspectives on the issue.
                                Last edited by BLBGP; Jun. 24, 2009, 07:24 PM.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I don't think you'll get any response here on COTH besides "yes I keep them all", or "I keep them when I can or I find an appropriate situation for them". Regardless there will always be horses that slip through the cracks. However I've been around many auctions and I've even gotten a well bred Holsteiner (now) Grand Prix Jumper off the killers truck, but that doesn't happen very often. With the amount of money and time going into producing warmblood sporthorses they are very rarely seen at killer auctions. Unfortunately for sporthorse breeders of alternative breeds you end up seeing more of them at the auctions, but not nearly as many as quarter horses and mixed breed ponies. I agree this is an issue, just not a huge problem like in the AQHA/Paint world.

                                  BTW- my broodies have a home here as babysitters unless they want to work and still can-then they go to a riding home, my retired Grand Prix Geldings are colt/stallion sitters, and I produce foals to further my own breeding program and as Jumpers for my husband and hunters for myself. Most are kept, the ones who don't make the cut are sold to ammy's/jr's/pro's at professional show barns. I try to keep track of everyone, and mostly I can.
                                  Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most...now where did I put those marbles...
                                  Secretary, WTF Registry

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Between the high price of feed and the poor economy, the stable I train at made the decision to skip breeding last year and this year. Our broodies don't seem the least bit upset by this decision. We found excellent retirement homes for our two old broodmares. The remaining ones are all sound and were rideable and could be again. We would never get rid of our old stud and the younger one is rideable. The barn owners won't breed again unless the economy starts to turn around. We have noticed that most of our sales are all made out of state.

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