Made in America

Yesterday Eventing Nation sent out an email blast about the Goresbridge Go for Gold Sale, a big sporthorse auction that takes place every fall in Ireland. It’s an “elite” sale that has had a lot of top horses pass through it, so on one hand it’s really fun to look through the catalogue (well, ok, IF YOU’RE ME it’s really fun) and see the horses and the bloodlines and try to guess which ones might make it to the big time someday. On the other hand, it does make me cringe a bit to see a big American publication openly encouraging people to go overseas and buy horses there, when we have so many nice horses being produced by breeders right here in the US. Can we throw a bone to the US eventing breeders and young horse producers sometimes too? If we want nice horses produced here, we have to buy the nice horses that are produced here, y’all, and we have to pay the same money for them that people are ever-so-willing to fork over for an import. You know what would be nice, EN? An ongoing series of articles featuring American breeders and breeding programs. Just saying.

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Granted, that still doesn’t stop me from clicking through the Goresbridge horses, watching their videos, and looking at how they’re bred. If I’m picking a favorite to take home, it’s lot 21, Emerald Emoe. Reasons? Because I’d want a mare, already started o/f, that looked nice enough to have potential but not SO athletic that I wouldn’t be able to ride it. Plus a good pedigree.

But if we throw pretty much all of those criteria out, then I’ll order up lot 47, Jordan Cobra.

Fun fact, I’m such a creepy person that I’ve stalked his sire Cobra (who lives in the UK) extensively and even asked his owners if there’s any frozen semen available for US export. The answer is no, there isn’t. That doesn’t mean I won’t stop asking.

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me, creeping on facebook

But anyway, Goresbridge window shopping aside, I’m back to the issue of encouraging people to consider shopping American more often and with more enthusiasm. The first part of that, I think, is breeding more of these Goresbridge-quality horses, right here in the US. There are a lot of parts after that, like promoting the breeders, getting the horses to the right people to produce them, making it easier for people to FIND the horses, etc etc. But it all starts with getting the horses on the ground.

For those who don’t know, my friend Michelle at Willow Tree Warmbloods has recently purchased two really nice broodmares for the eventing side of their program. It’s possible that both of these mares were my doing and I absolutely regret nothing. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s totally Michelle’s farm and program but I have managed to insert myself pretty squarely in the middle of everything. It’s what I do. See above gif.

I already mentioned Peyton a few weeks ago, a really nicely bred (for eventing) TB mare. It’s hard to find TB mares of her quality, so I’m really excited about her. A good jumping line stallion on a high quality TB mare has proven time and again to be a great cross for eventing.

PeytonPro

And then last week a friend of mine put her really lovely Irish mare up for sale to a breeding home after a really random freak pasture accident. I jumped on that immediately, sending the mare’s info to Michelle and helping her come up with ways to talk her husband into it. Luckily he’s easy to convince. Or maybe he’s just given up by now. Either one works for me. Anyway, this is Grace:

GracePro

Henry and I have shown against her and she’s an absolute GEM of a mare. So nice, incredibly talented, and with a fantastic temperament. The kind of mare everyone wants to own, even if you aren’t into mares (for real, it seems like at least 50 people have called dibs on a Grace foal). And for those who haven’t been falling asleep and/or stabbing their eyeballs out during my “It’s in the Blood” series posts, Grace is the magical eventing combination of Selle Francais x Holsteiner x Irish Sporthorse. Her pedigree contains Quidam de Revel, Cavalier Royale and Clover Hill. In fact, her half sister (out of the same dam) Kilpatrick Duchess is the dam of Cooley Moonshine, the 6yo that was just 3rd at Lion d’Angers under Liz Halliday Sharp. For an eventing broodmare, she ticks all the boxes in a big way.

CooleyMoonshine
Cooley Moonshine, whose sire is none other than the aforementioned Cobra

Of course, it’s also no secret that there’s really no money to be made breeding event horses in this country. Part of it is that for a long time people just didn’t believe that an event horse was something you could breed on purpose. First they were largely OTTB’s, then more “rejects” from the jumper market as we changed over to the short format. Slowly the tide has started to turn, as people realize that the same bloodlines are popping up over and over, and that certain traits do in fact seem highly heritable. That’s why I think that it’s so important for people who shop for these types of horses to be educated on breeding and bloodlines and what works. Top horses are rarely an accident.

But also, most people just don’t buy foals, and the ones that do typically don’t pay the same prices that jumper and dressage foals bring. If you’re trying to make a profitable business out of a breeding farm, eventers are a really tough choice in an already really tough game. Most of the big, successful eventing breeders in this country do it more as a labor of love, usually losing money in the process. Therefore we obviously don’t have very many big, successful eventing breeders.

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WTW’s first eventing bred foal = WTW’s first FEH winner

At the same time, if we want to produce world-caliber horses here on our home soil, we have to start somewhere, and we have to support the people that are dedicated to the cause. That goes for breeders of any discipline. If we want our riders sitting on the best horses in the world, we have to figure out how to make them and bring them up and connect them with said riders, and not at a huge loss for the breeder. The French do it. The Irish do it. The Germans do it. Why not us? I have to believe that eventually people will catch on, even if it takes a long time. Again… you have to start somewhere. Really good mares are exactly the right place, and I’m excited to look at stallions and start making picks.

So while I may have fun looking at all the Goresbridge horses and picking my favorite, it also urges me to spend time thinking about what we can do to get people as jazzed about shopping American as they are about importing from Europe. Thus, we have two objectives of this post, if you choose to accept the challenge: the fun part – which Goresbridge horse would you take home (because window shopping is fun, I don’t care who you are)? And the harder part – how do we get the US on par with Europe when it comes to producing and marketing top horses?

14 thoughts on “Made in America

  1. I would LOVE to buy a foal one day and go through the whole process (with someone holding my hand the whole way). I’ve worked with barely halter broke 2 year old before, but a foal is a whole different game.

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  2. If i had an unlimited budget I am serious one of WTW babies would be in my third stall in the next couple years…LOL i love what Michelle (and you, you creeper) are doing with the breeding and the mares are so diverse and well-bred. I am so excited about the new mares (and again I am not a breeder so for me to be excited is something).

    IF I had you buy something for you from that sale I like the gelding you picked a LOT. So go ahead and get him so I can live through you having him 🙂 HA

    I have bought one horse from a NICE auction (albeit a Morgan auction but it was a well known auction) and it was so much fun to see all the horses and bid. This was many years ago. I don’t think I would trust myself and now with the online bidding OMG.

    And I agree buy American if you can 🙂 I am amazed how many people (as in normal people not top show people) import horses….

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    1. Same, if I had unlimited money I’d be buying a WTW foal, like, TOMORROW.
      Sadly I don’t have unlimited money, however I do love your “in the blood” posts (no eyeball-poking-out here!) and I also thoroughly enjoy creeping on Michelle/WTW through you. I like learning more about breeding event horses and maybe one day, I’ll have both the knowledge AND the funds to buy one for myself.

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  3. I agree…but EN will do whatever is “in” with all their friends. IE going to Ireland and spending a lot of money on a name. LOL

    I am just really happy, there are people like you and Michelle who are interested in bringing the top breeding culture to North America.

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  4. AT has her American-bred youngster, and they just won the NAYJD Finals last month. His full sister is up for sale and dear lord I want to get her and have AT develop her. She’s also solidly on the domestic breeding train, so if I ever get to fulfill my fantasy of getting a baby for her to bring up the ranks we’ll be sticking in the US.

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  5. Bloodlines are becoming more and more accessible, and savvy breeders like Michelle have a great eye for it. I think what is holding the US back is the training. It seems like many people import not for the lines, which are a bonus, but because the horse is ‘pretty’ (read topline) and jumps big (with a pro). They are really buying training, which may or may not have holes (let alone a whole different training culture). That is also what packs on the price here, a 15k foal that goes to 50k by the time it’s completed it’s first A year. People are fickle and at times feckless. They want to impress other people more than find the appropriate ride, which may be a rustic, grade, off-breed horse that may need some maintenance. I’d rather see the domestic breeders and trainers getting business than yet another WB import.

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    1. The training is definitely a big factor. I don’t like looking at a lot of hunter trained horses because a lot of (but definitely not all!) hunter programs can train a horse very backwards. I also don’t like imported dressage horses because they tend to ride their sales horses in draw reins and create false frames and tension for a more spectacular sales look. A lot of the overseas dressage sales barns ride the horses destined for “sale” in an entirely different way from the horses they intend to keep and show for the themselves. No thanks. (Of course, not a lot of people can tell the difference, which is a whole nother problem.)

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  6. OMG, I totally stalked Cobra too after watching Cooley Moonshine’s dressage at Mondial du Lion! I’m sad that he’s not currently available for breeding in the US, please keep bugging his owners about it 😀

    I wonder if it would be helpful for the US to have a sporthorse auction type event so that there is more of a centralized place for buyers to come look at a variety of young horses? It seems to be a pretty common practice in Europe, but I’ve never heard of one in the US (could just be because I am new to the breeding/young horse world). I feel a lot of sellers in general have a hard time getting their horses out there and getting enough people to view their ads. And especially in a market where you’re basing your purchase more on movement and temperament than a show record, being able to see a bunch all at one time and in person would make it easier to shop, IMO

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    1. You should message College View Stud and ask if there’s Cobra semen available in the US because you’re very interested. 😉

      There are a couple sporthorse auctions here already (more jumper focused), one in particular does pretty well, and some that people have tried in the past that were not very successful. I’m not really sure exactly WHY they weren’t successful though. The culture here is weird surrounding auctions.

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      1. There’s a brand new one that just happened in my area, and they had different time slots for jumpers, equitation, hunters, dressage, and eventers. I’ll be curious to see if it was successful enough for them to continue hosting more, and how it works for the different disciplines.

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      2. From what I understand, sporthorse auctions in the US struggle because people here expect to get deals at auctions. So unless they can get a horse well below value, they aren’t interested in participating, and selling cheap doesn’t entice breeders/sellers to participate either.

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  7. I’d love to eventually get a purpose bred for eventing TB… either 100% TB or at the VERY LEAST 80+. The few purely eventing bred TBs I’ve interacted with have been beyond phenomenal (the first horse I evented for one, and Petite Flower for another). that wouldn’t be until I got my own place though, and we’re still a bit far off from that. one day though!

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  8. Start remarking on US bred horses in current competitions. We talked about TBs in competitions and drove up the market for them. Do the same for US bred horses. More blog posts about US bred horses doing well. About US stallions with active offspring. Develop better name recognition for US horses and programs. Push for more highlight of US bred horses in show programs and more breeding information to be filled out at local shows as well as bigger national/international championships. Riders, owners, show management, announcers, bloggers, journalists. We all have a bigger part to play in that goal. Go forth.

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  9. I’d love to try my hand at breeding – in my case dressage ponies. It’s a market that is making huge strides in Europe, yet barely exists in the states. It’s scary though. I’m not sure I have the talent for the training part and finding decent young horse trainers is tough… especially good trainers that are also pony size! I love your posts about breeding and bloodlines though, so interesting!

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