Cornbread Thinks: Quality

Embarrassed here. I am used to it though. Been doing it to myself for a while. I talk about cutting being all about quality. Buttermilk brought it to my attention (of course she did) that I have never really defined “quality.” So, I am going to have a crack at it.

The dictionary says things like – peculiar and essential character, an inherent feature, degree of excellence, superiority in kind, a distinguishing attribute. That, to me, is clear as mud. You can’t search the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) website for “peculiar and essential character.” You can look up money earned, which is good, but it may not answer the question. It does not tell you if they won a lot of money once or a little money regularly. It does not tell you if they were better than everybody once or better than a few often. One means they lit the world once; the other tells you they are tough.

The losers are bred just as good as the winners. Often better. A quality horse will have the blood, but blood does not guarantee the quality. It increases the chances. It demands a balance. A little of “Little Peppy” is often a very good thing. A lot of Little Peppy is often a very bad thing, especially on a chilly morning.

Quality horses have a lot of “things,” like personality, brightness, intelligence, teachability and athleticism. They are special. They aren’t special because you think so, or because they are in your barn. God-given talent does not come from you. God may see fit to bless you with one of these life-changing animals. It is too easy to think you made them special. Your program is doomed if you think this way.

Quality horses win. Breeding to dollars is a way better gamble than breeding to relatives of dollars, especially on the mama’s side. Mare power – got to have it. The daddy may only provide a small part of the quality, but it is the shiny part. Mares provide the roots; stallions provide the fruit.

There are some rules I learned the hard way in the car bizness, used cars in particular. You make your money when you buy the car. Your least loss is your first loss. Applying this to horses…paying too much does not create value or quality. When buying an unproven horse, it is speculating – no different from a stock in a start up or a car to resell. Paraphrasing Will Rogers, if it isn’t going to go up, don’t buy it in the first place.

The best in the business lose money on horses. So will you. This is business. The best make money on horses, so can you. It requires hard decisions and courage. You are admitting you were wrong. Know this: “There are no secrets in cutting.” Everyone will knows that knowledge learned without spending money is precious. When a prospect sells, we want to know how that went. We aren’t gloating over your misfortune, we are adding to our database. It’s about the water in the gene pool. You must make those decisions in a timely manner. Not too early or late. Goldilocks. Stop the bleeding. Grasp this concept. Get what you can and go shopping. Well-bred horses that aren’t happening will fertilize your mind to grow reasons – injuries, stupid trainer, bad cows, ignorant judges, full moon, Obama, Voodoo, ya, ya, ya. You know what fertilizer is, don’t you? Breeding that horse will not create quality. Five years from conception to Will Rogers. It’s five more for the first baby. Ten years is pretty long. Do you really think that says quality?

There are exceptions. We have one. We all have some Seabiscuit in us. You can’t build a program on exceptions. It’s poor odds. Don’t learn every lesson the hard way. Twenty years to learn what someone can tell you in 20 minutes is inefficient. One piece of quality is better than 20 pieces of mediocre. People will say they can’t afford a $25,000 horse while they spend $100,000 on a $10,000 horse. The cheapest thing you buy is the horse. Wasted entry fees is what is expensive.

Tip: A reputation for quality will get you invited to look at quality horses, often at a more favorable price because someone is trying to promote a sire or his babies. They need money won on offspring. Same with breeding fees. Quality begets quality.

Cornbread Thinks: Quality is the rejection of not quality.