A different way to manage a stallion

Even though my primary focus is harness horses (trotters and pacers), I occasionally read articles and blogs on thoroughbreds and I especially enjoy reading Frank Mitchell's blog.

In a particularly interesting piece, called "Elusive Bluff makes a case for class winning out in the end" (https://fmitchell07.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/elusive-bluff-makes-a-case-for-class-winning-out-in-the-end/) he talks about various ways of evaluating stallions at stud. Using something called APEX ratings the best US stallion is a lesser known stallion called Elusive Bluff.

One sentence from the manager at Elusive Bluff's farm really caught my attention:

“We stood him for $1,000 live foal, or free to approved mares, and the owners were cooperative about getting mares to him in an effort to help prove the horse as a stallion”

Free to approved mares. Think about it.

The current practice for new stallions seems to be to set a price, advertise heavily, create a social media presence and then hope for the best. Whether the stallion fits the broodmares or not does not matter as long as tbe broodmare owners are willing to pay. Regardless of whether the mares are suitable or not. Suitable mares should produce better foals and better foals will attract more mares. Whether the stallion benefits in the long term does not matter as long as the broodmare owners are willing to pay now. Again, think about it.

I have earlier advocated that anybody managing a stallion should focus on securing suitable mares, not just any mare. The current practice which seems to be about trying to make some money in the short run while ignoring potentially much more money in the long term does not seem like a good strategy.

What about defining the types of mares which is believed to be ideally suited to the stallion (pedigree, conformation and other aspects) and offer a greatly reduced foal fee to those mares for the first couple of years? In Elusive Bluff's case such mares paid nothing. While most - if not all - stallion owners might think about the money they potentially stand to lose in the short run, what kind of money isn't there to be gained in the future by approaching the stallion career with a 15-20 year view on things? This is one of the many services offered by Sophia Pedigrees but virtually no stallion owners/managers ever ask us about this - nor do they ask anybody else either from what I know. It is a different way to manage a stallion but one I recommend stallion owners consider. Attracting the most suitable broodmares should make any stallion more attractive in the long term and better foals generally means more money. I would also argue it is more loyal and professional toward broodmare owners.

Marloes Harkema is the manager of Sophia Pedigrees and a pedigree researcher/analyst. She can be contacted at marloes@sophiapedigrees.com