foal standing by mare
Photo by Shella Langford

Prepare for the Future

The end of breeding season is fast approaching. Baby fever is slowing and, for the most part, all of those babies that were meant to be born have already hit the ground. As those newcomers grow strong and healthy, we are now faced with the question — what now? What do we do with the colts and fillies that we have raised up to this point?

foal laying on ground, mare standing over
Photo by April Bonds — Bonds Ranch

Well, it comes down to more future planning. Typically, the weanlings are at a stage of life where there really isn’t an advantage to having them go through a sale. Most of the time, people start looking to buy in the late summer and during the fall. During that time, weanlings are not the easiest to sell, especially because by then, most have been weaned off their mothers and are starting to go through the ugly stage of growth. There are also fewer buyers for weanlings than for a horse that is almost ready to get started under saddle.

The real focus becomes the yearlings that will soon be 2-year-olds. These horses are starting to develop to where they are ready to be saddled and broke. They are at a maturity level where they understand and learn easier in the pre-stage of getting ridden. This is when trainers start looking for their next project to start.

This stage is also a time that presents a good opportunity to sell. It puts the buyers in a position where they do not have to wait long to start their program. Here is where the planning begins. For a successful program to happen, there needs to be enough steps met to guarantee the chances of doing well. For some people, selling their yearlings is not a priority and, in that case, it is all OK. For those of us who want to sell, we need to pay attention to detail.

Study Your Competition

colt being led through the sale ring
Photo by Jim Arnold

This is a subject I always like to point out, as it is true to any other business, and it certainly applies to the horse industry. You have to make sure that what you offer is as good or better than your competitors, otherwise you are setting yourself up for failure and lots of frustration. It is not as simple as raising a baby and posting a picture to get it sold. It takes a lot more effort than that. By looking around and seeing what others have and do, you will set yourself up with a realistic goal. This will help establish a plan to be ahead of the game successfully.

Pick the Right Candidate

It is all about selection. From the time you select what sire to breed to your mare, you start creating a path of where and what the resulting foal will be destined for. Nowadays, the industry has gotten very selective and educated on what to buy, so when you breed these prospects, you, too, should have taken all the options into consideration.

Choose the Candidate That Best Fits the Sale

This is very important. You don’t want to wear your worst suit to a fancy dinner, nor do you want to wear a tuxedo to a barbecue. Along those same lines, you want to make sure you are choosing the ones who have the best chance of selling at the appropriate place. This means the one who looks the best with better conformation, clean X-rays and the right pedigree has the best chance of making it as a performance horse. There is a place and time for everything; you will have some that will be a good pick to take to the National Cutting Horse Association Futurity Sales and some that will need to go to smaller sales, as well as the ones that will do better in a private sale. Some of these are worth investing in and some are not.

Invest in Your Assets

Fransisco Sigala standing with horse
Photo by Shella Langford

Growing a plant without the right fertilizer is not going to promise you much. You have to have your sale horses in the right fitting program … somewhere you can guarantee them a good diet with the right supplements, and all the help they can get to look and be at their very best. This will give you the best chance possible in a market of tough competition. A horse that is getting privately sold might not need as much attention as the one who is going to a big sale, simply because the hundreds of other horses there will make yours look like a fool. Paying attention to all details is key.

The horse going to the sale ring will need some investment to have a better chance of being sold for the most it can bring. If you do not water the plant, the plant will not grow, and if you want a better chance, then you fertilize it. The same applies to foals. Give them the best opportunity so they can sell properly.

Additionally, I would suggest that if you don’t know what you are doing, seek help. Again, investing in your asset will save you from losing more and having lots of frustrations as you plan for your next generation of sale horses. I hope this helps you better prepare for what’s to come!

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