Sunday, April 20, 2008

More on Breeding and Dreaming and When Is It Time?

If you haven't read the comments on To Breed or Not to Breed there are a lot of perspectives there. I want to say I appreciate every one's input. For me it's opened up some new areas for discussion and some more of the questions I have been struggling with about this Arabian horse breeding dream of mine. You might just as well have the whole picture of what is worrying me.

But first I have to say that I didn't realize about my typo about the cost of fuel even though mrs mom mentioned the cost I had typed in her comment. It went right over my head. It wasn't until Lori mentioned how much she was paying and mentioned what I had typed again that it dawned on me. I had made a big blunder, a $2 a gallon mistake. Sometimes my typing skills suck. The cost of a gallon of diesel yesterday was $4.65 a gallon. Who knows what it will cost tomorrow.

Lady of Chaos mentioned Rhythm should generate some interest in my breeding program once he gets going in the ring. When that happens it should stimulate sales. Once that ball gets rolling, if I have quit breeding and have no horses to sell, that interest will die.

I totally agree with her assessment of how the market works. I would end up having to start from the beginning again trying to establish myself in the market as a breeder of top quality Arabian horses. This very thought process has kept me breeding up to this point. BUT what if it doesn't happen like this? If Rhythm doesn't generate the interest this year, where will that leave me? Can I hold out against rising costs I have no way of projecting?

I know if I don't breed, I am taking that risk. There is no way I can start from the beginning again. My age and finances will just not hold up to this again. It would be foolish not to consider that in the equation. To not breed IS to give up this dream.

Even before the departure of the Transylvanian Horseman I had been struggling with my decision. It really isn't just about not breeding it is about giving up the dream. As I watched as Julian's heart broke knowing that it was time to quit, I struggled wondering if I was going to have the courage to recognize that time as well. I knew my tears reading his post The end.....heralding a new beginning were for him AND for me.

The responsibility of this many horses has never bothered me before but now that it is, it's weighing heavily. It's hard to have faith knowing that if I am wrong, my horses could pay the price. I love them too much for that.

I will be fine if I can just sell a horse or two. But if just one more thing goes wrong to prevent that from happening, the story could go the other way. And that's what really scares me. If I get to the point I have run out of money, then what do I do? I need to make the decision before I put my herd in jeopardy. I don't want to be one of those rescue cases that was so obsessed they forgot about their horses well being. I feel like I am walking a tight rope down that path.

I doubt that I can liquidate my herd in record time the way that Julian did. If I thought that was possible, I would be carrying far less weight. It's taken breeders I've known years to liquidate their entire herd. That is the crux of this. What happens if I get to the place I can not feed and care for this herd? Did those rescue cases have warning signs they were in trouble that they ignored? Or were they just like me thinking they had things figured out and the bottom fell out?

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  1. You should never give up your dream of breeding quality horses. There is always a market for horses of good breeding and training. Although it is good to look at all the angles,I'm sure you are over-worrying and over analyzing the situation. It's only my opinion,but from what I have read and learned about Arabian horses from your blog(and other's blogs) but there is someone for each horse, they just have to be found. If you only breed one horse this year it will keep your breeding dream alive, and you may sell some horses this spring or summer. If you never take the chance you never know what can happen.

  2. interesting and serious questions. This is part of the reason I choose not to breed. It's easier and cheaper for me to buy.

    that said, if quality breeders such as yourself, quit breeding, where will I go? The less thoughtful ones will keep breeding, but that is not the market I'm interested in. And you cannot make the decison based on what other people .might. do

    quite a conundrum isn't it?

  3. I don't know the specifics of your situation, but is it possible to make your horses part of the solution? Do you have a team of horses that you could use to cut some of your diesel costs? (As in, drive a team to the feed store.) Do you have the ability to rest some of your paddocks and practice managed intensive grazing to cut some of your hay costs? Do you have paddocks with shelters where some of your horses could live out 24/7 to cut some of your bedding costs? I don't know if these things are possible, but surely you have more choices than just "live the dream" or "quit."
    Hope this helps. Good luck in whatever you decide.

  4. Lovely blog! Nice to find another Arabian horse enthusiast blogging!

    I can only imagine what it must be like for you, with a whole herd. I sometimes feel overwhelmed with just five.

    We have a few half-Arabian sporthorse youngsters (by Makash, a son of Zodiac Matador and grandson of Bask).

    Somehow, the babies work their way into our hearts, and our grandest intentions of marketing them go awry. . . . ;-)

    Just started the oldest baby under saddle:


    The Mane Point - on blogspot

  5. there will always be a demand for high quality, well trained horses.

    But, at the same time...people are sometimes either NOT willing or UNABLE to pay for what they are worth in the state our economy is in at this moment.

    It is a scary thought thinking about the economic future. Your horses are true blue quality arabians. Losing you as a breeder is a great injustice and I hope that does not happen.

  6. I'm gonna be a bit blunt...

    Those rescue cases, never once thought they were doing anything wrong. NOT once.

    That's a big difference MiKael. Those people never once thought for the future, they never once thought about promoting or selling or even giving those horses away if it came right down to it. Those rescue cases never saw anything wrong with NOT feeding the horses. They never thought period.

    They didn't have a dream and a goal and they didn't work towards them. They weren't responsible, they didn't stop to think about if they could sell one more foal or not, they just kept breeding. They didn't bother to train those horses. They didn't do anything but continue to breed.

    You are not like them at all. You don't breed junk. You train and promote your horses. You sell your horses. You take care of your horses. You feed your horses. You think before you breed. Please don't ever compare yourself to those rescue cases. So long as you continue to think and act as you do, you will never end up as one of those many rescue cases.

    Sometimes you have to take things on faith. You asked what if Rythm doesn't generate interest? Well, then he doesn't (I can't see that happening though)and you'll have another foal or two to take care of. What if you don't sell a horse or two this year? Then you'll be short on cash. I think we've all been there a time or two. No one can predict what the future will bring. We can only plan for as many circumstances as we can.

    There are some options to generating cash or 'liquidating' the herd if need be.

    Advertise on many of the Arabian message boards out there. Those boards generate alot of interest and sell quite a few horses daily. And most have free advertising.

    Have you considered leasing one of the horses to someone who knows how to show? Maybe someone who can't afford to purchase a high quality horse, but is good in the ring? It would be a way to promote the horses and the person could always say that the horse is for sale as well. I'm thinking a lease for something along the lines of a full-care, free show lease for a year or until the horse shows or something like that.

    Bottom line is MiKael, whether you breed or not, whether you continue your dream or not... In the end you will always do what is best for the horses.

    Taking a chance and having a foal each year if interest is generated or taking the chance of not having a foal available if interest is generated... Well, either way you'd work it out. Either way you'll always do what is best for the horses.

  7. I don't know anything first hand about the breeding business, but in my opinion, I'd go for the paid breeding and maybe try to sell some of the young ones. Do you have updated photos and information posted on your sales web page? How about listing some of them for sale at shows? I'd hate to see you go out of business, since you are a caring, quality breeder. (You could name next year's foal "Dream" or "Faith")

  8. grey horse, you're probably right that I ma over-worrying and over analyzing but I'd rather do that than find myself in a mess I don't know how to fix. Getting feedback on this subject has been helpful.

    holly, I couldn't agree with you more it is a conundrum.

    jen, I wish I was in the situation some of these things would work for me, but unfortunately I am not. I do have to giggle at the thought of driving a team of my horses to the feedstore. I'm sure it would give some folks a big smile as well.

    In- nickers and ink, I so know about getting attached to them. Having them leave home is very hard.

    barngoddess, thanks, I hope that doesn't happen either but these are definitely tentative times.

    lady of chaos, thanks for being blunt, I aprreciate it. I will also email you to pick your brain. It sounds like you have some ideas I hadn't thought of and I'm not sure where to start.

    dj, I do already have a "Faith" and "Dream" I have been saving for a particular horse who has not yet shown her lovely face. lol

  9. I haven't been breeding as long a you nor do I have as many horses as you, but I understand totally your fears. Last year my husband and I looked at our little breeding business and realized that I was either going to have to sell the mares and foals cheap and just keep the horses I ride, or get bigger, offer more services and take in more boarders. After months of analyzing and talking to others we decided to buy a larger farm. We moved in 8 weeks ago. In addition to some boarders, I am offering foaling, and raising services, and boarding of broodmares and young horses. I brought in two trainers, my daughter and a couple of other people for help. The first year is going to be hard - it takes time, but my vet and trainers tell me that our area needs these services so I am crossing my fingers. I don't know if you have the time, desire, or additional help, but I know that it is hard for small breeders to find places to keep their weanlings, broodmares, and young horses that know what they are doing with the babies and mares. You could also use some of your horses to train others on how to do what you do - they don't have to be Arab people either.
    Good Luck!

  10. MiKael, I've seen some local warmblood breeders do "partnership" owning of young horses with great potential to help finance getting them to shows and "out there" to stir up interest in buyers.

    I also have seen the free lease to an active qualified show home.

    It must be tough to sort through this decision. I hope some of your readers' suggestions are useful.

    Sending good thoughts and hoping for the very best.

  11. It is a heavy burden, is it not? You've probably gathered from reading The Barb Wire that I have only seven Barbs in my breeding program (I also have a beloved Arabian gelding who keeps them company), but I too feel as though a financial net is closing around us.

    I don't like to imagine which horses I would sell, if forced to...and if I could find approved buyers. I love each, and several of them are genetically irreplacable.

    This means the sale of an individual horse is not the only heartbreak -- it is also a heavy blow to the dream of preservation. If the few of us who have Barbs now cannot keep them going, the last chance to save them will be lost. So, I feel your dread very personally.

    I dearly hope you will find a way to continue. I haven't been reading your blog long enough to know the factors that prevent you from reducing your herd by some percentage, in order that the rest may remain. But, I'm quite sure you've considered it.

    FWIW, I quite agree with Lady of Chaos. You are paying attention, and you will not force your herd to a rescue situation. Hanging on for another year (yes, with another breeding or two) does not mean you're imperiling them for selfish reasons.

    Here's to the dream, MiKael.

  12. MiKael-I feel your pain. We are in very similar situations. The fact that you are taking a hard look at the current situation proves that you are not only a good business person but that you truely care about every horse that you put on this earth.
    I don't know if you remember the horse market in the 80's, but it was just as dismal. Thousands of horses went to slaughter because the bottom dropped out. Entire breeding ranches loaded up mares, foals and young stuff. The few who were savvy enough to take a look at the big picture, slowed down their breeding and concentrated on keeping the very best. They survived and they improved.
    This is a difficult time because it seems the people who should keep breeding, aren't...and the ones who shouldn't be, won't stop. But everything runs in cycles and if you can just hold on for a little while, things will change again.
    PS-I am in favor of breeding that one mare to the QH stud.

  13. linda,I have considered getting bigger but haven't been able to locate a place to accommodate us that's in an area where the demand for the services would be good but I have not given up looking.

    billie, I might be open to that kind of arrangement with the right person. Just haven't had the opportunity yet and am not really sure how to go about drumming it up.

    tamara, I totally understand how you feel about preserving the precious gene pool. I feel exactly that way with the rapid declining numbers of Arabians since the major portion of the population is aged.

    Thanks, Kahless, hugs are always appreciated!

    browneyed cowgirls, I was just getting into horses in the 80s soon after the market collapsed. While the prices plummeted, it was good for me. That is how I was able to afford a great mare. And I do understand that the market will cycle especially since the Arabian population is aged and breeding have been declining for years, it's just a matter of holding on long enough for that to happen. I need to figure out some ways to get a couple of horses moved before I get horses in the show ring that are for sale. I know that if I can hold out and get those horses into the ring at Nationals I will be just fine because the quality is good and the horses are very talented.

    As for breeding to the QH, I think I'm definitely leaning in that direction. I let everyone know when I decide for sure.

  14. It seems like you're talking in absolutes: either you breed this year, or it's the end of everything.

    I guess I don't see why it has to be that cut and dry. Suppose you don't breed any of the mares this year. That would mean next year you'd have that much more time (and money) to put additional training and showing into your horses, which would help you promote your program even more.

    Then you breed next spring, for 2010. Between the interest generated by Rhythm, and the interest you could generate by showing a little more yourself, you would be in good shape when the 2010 foals arrived.

    I've seen you post a couple times about the difficulty of balancing foaling & showing, so if you're unsure of breeding for next year, why not take the opportunity to give yourself more time and money to train and show?

    You'd be promoting your program, not giving up on it.

  15. Lady of Chaos stole the words right out of my mouth about finding a lease for one of your youngsters that is starting training. I know you have not had the best luck with people riding your horses, but good horse people that want to lease and show are out there! I know because I was one of them. I take excellent care of any horse I get the pleasure of working with. I recomend doing just a half lease with the horses you really need to keep an eye on because then you can still train them yourself but some of the finacial burden is lifted. I know that for me I am happy as a clam to pay for trailering and show expenses on the horse I am leasing just for the chance to get out there. I have a feeling someone in your area would feel the same way.

    There is this group of websites that are Some states like Ct ( etc)it has not caught on yet, but it is very popular in NJ and PA. No clue how it is out by you. They offer a free picture ad for 30 days though so that could be one extra way to advertise for a sale or lease.

    And just so you know I am POSITIVE that you would not turn into a rescue case because people in that situation do not ask for help. You already put yourself out there is asking for asvise about breeding this year. Good luck with everything and let us all know what you decide.

  16. MiKael I fully understand your rationale over being able to care for your horses properly, I keep thinking about those breeding businesses that have ended up in heartbreak, starvation of the animals but I know that you can pull yourself through this, you have to concentrate your efforts on selling a few horses for the next year, getting them out there, trained, advertised, look into the good homes. You are in exact;ly the same situation I am in. Every time I put the hay and grain out for my horses morning and evening I could cry because I know I should be feeding far more than what I am. Dont get me wrong, they are all healthy, I have no ribs showing but they are not like I would like them to be and that hurts me. I have had to cut all sorts of corners, like vaccinations, hoof trimming, worming and we are still struggling to stay afloat but my photography season is just starting and although I know it is probably going to be the worst for sales ever, it will bring in a bit of money to support our animals.

    This is not an easy decision and I dont think taking a year off to catch up with stuff should be seen as breaking your dream.

    Keep your chin up gal and know I am always thinking and rooting for you. (((((((Hugs)))))))


  17. MiKael, I've been thinking a lot about this ever since yesterday's post. I've often wished I were in a position to go up there for a few months to help out with all the chores and learn a lot about training and showing and babies in the process. Since I can't really offer something like that, and don't know anyone who can, here is what I would probably do in your shoes.

    I would breed the mare to The Mighty Oak, but no other mares... I would do a heavy advertising campaign on dreamhorse and and Arab websites, with links to videos of each horse on youtube as well as to the website. I would probably have to sell them for a lot less than I wanted, but I bet if you could sell, say, 5 of your horses cheaply that it would tide you over. Then I would focus on getting a couple of the young horses ready to show, and Legs, and hope to be able to go all out next show season.

    Those are just my ideas... I'm sure you've tried quite a bit of that, but maybe the youtube part would help. Rhythm, for example, looks so animated in pictures that I can only imagine what he is like in real life.

    Anyway, I truly hope things turn around SOON because your ranch's genetics are important. As well as your organizing them to produce great foals. I understand why you are having such forbodings, as this is a bad time in the world. I'll pray for wisdom for you.