This week I thought I would quiz some of our local professionals on the subject of trying to save money on a farm or breeding operation. Here’s what we came up with…
Mike Lischin, owner of Dutchess Views Farm and NYTB Board member. Growing up near Belmont Racetrack and working on the backstretch there, Michael developed a strong interest and love of horses and horseracing. After finishing NYU Law School and becoming an attorney, Michael began working for the world’s leading horse auction company, Fasig-Tipton, in 1978. He lived in Midway, Kentucky for 15 years and eventually he moved back to New York to fulfill his desire to live and work on his own farm and take advantage of the exceptional NY-bred Program
Lere Visagie, Manager of Rock Ridge Stud, has had many years of experience in the thoroughbred industry, starting in Kentucky at Taylor Made and Lanes End, and then in New York managing several large commercial breeding operations. Among these were Questroyal, Sequel and Vinery North. Rockridge is proud to have ending its first breeding season with an average in-foal rating of 93 percent.
Dr. Scott Ahlschwede, Partner and Vet for Rood & Riddle Equine Clinic in Saratoga Springs, NY, graduated from Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and began his veterinary career in Lexington, KY as an intern at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in 1996. He practiced in the Lexington area for 15 years as an ambulatory veterinarian specializing in reproduction, primary and preventative care, and sales evaluation. In 2012 Dr Ahlschwede moved to upstate New York to develop Rood & Riddle’s first practice outside of Lexington, KY.
Suzie O’Cain, Head of Stallion Management and Promotion for Saratoga Stud and NYTB Board member.
Allison Wilshere, Territory Manager & Nutrition Consultant for Cargill Animal Nutrition.
Thanks to our many contributors this week and the time they took to give us this valuable information.
Let’s get started: No matter what anybody says, it takes a bunch of money to raise a good horse. There are ways to save on certain items, but there are certain places you shouldn’t skimp.
- Try to consolidate your vet visits. Vet calls can be very expensive, so it’s best to line up a list of various treatments and routine work in one visit rather than have your vet make multiple visits. It’s more cost efficient for you and with the wide open spaces in NY (farms spread hither and yon) your Vet will also appreciate it. You can also purchase worming medication and worm your own mares on a regular basis, rotating according to the season and taking fecals to monitor worm infestation or the lack thereof.
- Feed is one of the biggest costs on a farm. Investing in a successful feeding program can offer financial benefits by improving breeding efficiency, maximizing return at the sale and performance. Did you know that mineral and amino acid deficiencies dramatically impact conception rates, breeding efficiency of mares and stallions and foal health? Getting and keeping mares bred and producing healthy, mature foals through proper nutrition will save you money on your investment in each horse. A mature, well-muscled and sleek-coated animal stands out at the sale and is physically prepared to begin training. Remember, forage is 80% of the horse’s diet and has a huge impact on your horse’s’ condition. An investment in the best forage within your budget is a smart choice. Having your forage and soil tested will help prevent any deficiencies that can lead to health issues and decreased performance. Once this information is known, a concentrate (grain or ration balancer) should be chosen to balance the vitamin, mineral, amino acids and calorie needs for each group of horses on your farm. A nutrition consultant can work with you, your veterinarian and the rest of your team to develop a feeding program that helps reach your goals, within your budget.
- Purchasing feed and hay in bulk and having large loads delivered all at once will also save you money. Not to say that the quality of the grain or forage should be compromised but buying in bulk always helps. Speaking of feed, if you see feed all over the floor of the stall after your horse is done eating then it may be time to get those teeth floated. It’s another expense but it will save you money in the long run with more efficient intake of nutrition for the horse and less money spent on your feed bill.
- Finding tack, such as halters and lead shanks, as well as traps like buckets, stall webbings and tack boxes at auctions, online or on craigslist will save you money. Always purchasing new can be very costly. If these items were lightly used, a good scrub can bring them back to a like-new condition.
- A mating for your mare in the form of purchasing a Stallion season is probably one of your biggest yearly investments. In communicating with fellow breeders, stallion farms or bloodstock agents, it helps to bundle multiple mares to get a discount on the price of a stallion season. Some farms offer co-breeder options where you will not owe a stud fee; instead, the stallion owner is due 50% of the breeders’ awards from the foal during its racing career.
- Pay attention to the number of charity season auctions that start in November of each year to perhaps find a bargain on a stallion that fits your budget and your mare. Also if you have a young mare with a consistent produce record who is foaling early, a no guarantee season may be a way to save money. These seasons are paid up front with no guarantee of a live foal but are discounted sometimes as much as 25 – 50%. Note that many charity auction seasons are sold on a no-guarantee basis, but some auctions offer a free return if you do not get a live foal. A traditional no-guarantee season means buyer beware; if your mare does not conceive you will not get the money back. That’s why it is essential to have a mare that is a good produce risk. You can also purchase insurance to cover your investment but the premiums can be expensive depending on the age and produce record of the mare and the age and fertility of the stallion. Consult your local horse insurance broker for quotes.
- Another way to save by not putting any money up is a foal share or a mare share. In a foal share the mare owner breeds the mare to the stallion for free with a contractual agreement that when the foal sells the proceeds of sale are split between the mare owner and the stallion owner. This can be 50/50 or can be a different percentage based on the value of the use of the mare for one year and the value of the stallion season. Also the agreement can be to sell as a weanling or a yearling or may give the mare owner the right to choose. The agreement can also contain a right for the mare owner to buy the resulting foal at some set price prior to an auction sale.
- A variation on the foal share in New York is a co-breeder arrangement where instead of sharing the sales proceeds the mare owner and stallion owner share the breeder and/or stallion awards.
- In a mare share, the mare owner pays nothing up front but agrees to sell the mare in the fall or winter breeding stock auctions. The stallion owner lets the mare owner breed for free but gets a percentage of the sales price when the mare sells. What percentage each gets is negotiable depending on the relative values of the mare to the season price. This is a good way to get a mare sold in foal to a more commercial horse than the mare owner might afford. The stallion owner is interested because he gets another mare booked and if things go well he can get more than the stud fee.
- Over all, the best way to save money is to give your horse the best care possible! It is preventative medicine to offer your livestock (in this case bloodstock) the best hay and feed you can afford. Add to this a regularly scheduled worming and vaccination program and you can eliminate many unnecessary (or emergency) vet calls.
- Read, communicate and investigate. Things are always evolving, upgrading and changing in the world of horse care, nutrition and veterinary science. Consult your vet, feed rep and bloodstock or sales agent and get the latest on what’s going on in the world of horse husbandry, care and prep. No question is dumb and no insight or observation is unwelcome. After all, you’ve got a lot invested and at the end of the day we all want to breed and raise a champion! Good Luck because you need that too. Lots of it!
Thank you to all of our contributors for your time and I am sure the information you have provided will be helpful to many breeders and owners out there and to those who are looking to get into the business.
Watch for more helpful interviews and save the date for our next LIVE Educational Seminar on April 30 at the Fasig-Tipton pavilion! If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions for future dialogue, feel free to email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Sarah Mace
Grade 1 winner and $2.2 million-earner Effinex, bred by Dr. Russell Cohen and campaigned by his family racing operation Tri-Bone Stables, has been voted New York’s 2015 Horse of the Year. Mark Vondrasek’s Eklektikos Stable LLC, breeder of La Verdad and Hot City Girl, was named the state’s top breeder. Their dam Noble Fire was selected as the Champion Broodmare.
The honors were announced at the annual Awards Banquet of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Inc. (NYTB) held on April 4, 2015 at the Saratoga National Golf Club in Saratoga Springs, New York. The event, sponsored by the New York Breeding and Development Fund, was emceed by Richard Migliore, former leading New York jockey and currently a broadcast analyst for the New York Racing Association, Inc. The New York-bred divisional champions and horse of the year were chosen by a ballot of New York turf writers, handicappers, chart callers and racing analysts conducted by NYTB.
In addition to being voted Horse of the Year, Effinex picked up the hardware for Champion Older Dirt Male. The other multiple honoree of the night was Eclipse champion female sprinter La Verdad, who was voted Champion Female Sprinter and Champion Older Dirt Female. Repeat honorees were Lubash in the male turf division and Palace as Champion Male Sprinter. Upstart, voted top New York-bred juvenile in 2014, won the 3-year-old male division in 2015.
Linda Rice was the top-earning trainer of New York-breds for the third year in a row, while the hot-handed Jose Ortiz repeated as the top jockey for state-breds by earnings.
The evening’s program was kicked off this year by two special presentations: a Lifetime Achievement Award to past NYTB President Barry Ostrager and a Thoroughbred Charities Award of Merit to ReRun, Inc.
A complete list of New York’s 2015 equine and human honorees follows:
Horse of the Year, Champion Older Dirt Male: Effinex
DK B/, H, foaled April 15, 2011 (Mineshaft – What a Pear, by E Dubai)
Breeder: Dr. Russell S. Cohen
Owner: Tri-Bone Stables
Trainer: James A. Jerkens
Champion Female Sprinter, Champion Older Dirt Female: La Verdad
B, M, foaled April 29, 2010 (Yes It’s True – Noble Fire, by Hook and Ladder)
Breeder: Eklektikos Stable LLC
Owner: Lady Sheila Stable
Trainer: Linda Rice
Champion Two-Year-Old Male: Flexibility
B, C, foaled February 26, 2013 (Bluegrass Cat – Santa Vindi, by Vindication)
Breeder: WinStar Farm, LLC
Owner: Klaravich Stables, Inc. and William H. Lawrence
Trainer: Chad C. Brown
Champion Two-Year-Old Filly: Frosty Margarita
DK B/, F, foaled April 25, 2013 (Frost Giant – Mango Margarita, by Not For Love)
Breeder/Owner: Gabrielle Farm
Trainer: Rudy R. Rodriguez
Champion Three-Year-Old Male: Upstart
DK B/, R, foaled April 13, 2012 (Flatter – Party Silks, by Touch Gold)
Breeder: Mrs. Gerald A. Nielsen
Owner: Ralph M. Evans and WinStar Farm LLC
Trainer: Richard A. Violette, Jr.
Champion Three-Year-Old Filly: Hot City Girl
CH, F, foaled March 2, 2012 (City Zip – Noble Fire, by Hook and Ladder)
Breeder: Eklektikos Stable LLC
Owner: Lady Sheila Stable
Trainer: Linda Rice
Champion Turf Male: Lubash
B, H, foaled February 24, 2007 (Freud – Nasty Cure, by Cure the Blues)
Breeder: Aliyuee Ben J Stable Inc.
Owner: Aliyu Ben J Stables
Trainer: Christophe Clement
Champion Turf Female: Invading Humor
DK B/, M, foaled March 28, 2010 (Invasor (ARG) – Very Funny, by Distorted Humor)
Breeder: Dr. James Randall Mcglinn
Owner: Bloodlines Racing Partnerships
Trainer: Bruce N. Levine
Champion Male Sprinter: Palace
B, H, foaled April 1, 2009 (City Zip – Receivership, by End Sweep)
Breeder: The Peter J. Callahan Revocable Trust Dated 2/28/02
Owner: Antonino Miuccio
Trainer: Linda Rice
Broodmare of the Year: Noble Fire (Hook and Ladder), dam of La Verdad/Hot City Girl
Breeder of the Year: Eklektikos Stable LLC
Trainer of the Year: Linda Rice
Jockey of the Year: Jose Ortiz
Lifetime Achievement Award: Barry Ostrager
Thoroughbred Charities of America Award of Merit: ReRun, Inc.
Bloodhorse.com April 3: The following letter is from Jeff Cannizzo, New York Thoroughbred Breeders executive director, regarding the New York state budget, which took effect in April and excludes a hold-harmless provision for purses at Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack, located 30 miles from a new Lago Resort and Casino that will open in 2017.
This is extremely disappointing and nauseating news because a healthy racing program at Finger Lakes is critically important to Thoroughbred breeders. Just look at the statistics. In 2015, NY-breds were responsible for 70% of total starts at Finger Lakes and earned 73% of all purse money distributed. Furthermore, races at Finger Lakes generated 52% of the number of breeder awards paid by the Fund.
NYTB pursued all available avenues to protect the Finger Lakes Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and the Fund for over a year from the competing Lago casino, from Delaware North, and even the state. The gaming tax relief helps only the bottom line of Delaware North, which made $16 million in profit last year. The budget assures it making the same profit. The FLHBPA formally supported Delaware North receiving this relief. In addition, Delaware North is not required to give anything to purses from this bail out—unfathomable as it runs the racetrack. It’s as unfathomable that Lago doesn’t have to follow the same rules as the rest of the state’s casinos.
NYTB will now pursue protection for the FLHBPA and the Fund through stand-alone legislation in the upcoming session. Passing these matching Senate and Assembly bills on purse protection will be an uphill battle. Although the Governor’s office, Senate, and Assembly have committed verbally to working on the problem, the obstacles thwarting our earlier efforts remain. Governments only seem to react to a crisis, and it’s apparent it feels that crisis is a year away.
Every 10% decrease of video lottery terminals revenue reduces the Finger Lakes purses by $1.1 million and 65% of purses come from VLT revenue. Finger Lakes purses are likely to be somewhere between $12-14 million next year after accounting for losses from the Lago casino. On-track live handle at Finger Lakes is down more than 50% in the last decade, export to NY OTBs is down more than 70%. When the daily live handle is less than $50,000, it accelerates purse declines because the live handle contributes up to five times more than export. We must ensure that racing is viable at Finger Lakes, which plays an essential role in New York’s racing industry. NYTB has routinely requested Delaware North investigate the installation of a turf course, which would help field size and the population. NYTB even identified funding. These discussions all have resulted in no action. Perhaps now these types of long-term strategies can happen to better racing. It’s a must for New York.
Believe it or not we had a request from one of our readers. He wanted us to discuss the details of setting up a breeding operation as a business. For this discussion I called upon a client and friend of mine, Mr. Andre’ Moglia, to help outline and detail the ways to properly run farming or breeding as a business and why you should do this. We will also touch on some of the advantages of having things properly accounted for when tax time comes around.
Andre’ is one of my Parting Glass Racing clients, is a regular guest speaker and the accounting expert at our New Owner’s Luncheons sponsored by NYRA which are held throughout the year. As a horse owner he is well versed in horse ownership accounting from different aspects of the ownership process. Andre is a Certified Public Accountant/ M.S. Taxation, a Partner in Moglia & Company, CPA’s in Fishkill, NY and represents numerous clients connected to horse racing. In horse racing he has been a spectator most of his life and an owner for the last 14 years.
Andre’ we all want the beautiful, bucolic setting of horses grazing in wide open grassy fields. As we sit upon our majestic steed with a 10-gallon hat complete with John Wayne aspirations we all want to ride off into the sunset after rounding up our little dogies. So we don’t have the IRS chasing us into the sunset, hog tying and wrangling us into the hoosegow how should we begin to approach and apply proper accounting and book keeping practices to our breeding farm or broodmare ownership business?
Well, Tom, lets start with how to structure the farm and the business. I almost always recommend placing any business in a separate entity, which limits liability such as a corporation or an LLC. For those that aren’t familiar with these types of entities, their attraction is that they limit any potential liabilities against the owners to the assets of the entity rather than having everything the owner has be at risk. This protects the owner’s personal property as well as any other businesses they might own from the liabilities of the farm operation. Once a separate entity is established, it is important to keep detailed accurate records for everything that pertains to that entity and to keep those records separately from their personal finances as well as any other business they may own.
Lets start with people who own or want to own a farm. What would be the proper way to set things up from a bookkeeping and liability perspective?
In the case of someone who owns a farm or wants to purchase a farm, I generally advise clients to separate the real estate ownership from the farm operation using two separate entities. I prefer LLC’s for the real estate ownership and either LLC’s or corporations for farm operations.
Although legally there is only one type of corporation, for tax purposes there are two different types of corporations. Traditional corporations are known as “C” corporations and pass through corporations, often used by small businesses since there is a 75 shareholder limit, known as “S” corporations.
“C” corporations pay their taxes at the entity level, meaning the corporation itself is taxed while “S” corporations pass their profits or losses through to their shareholders who then report the results on their personal tax returns. Most of the time if a farm operation or race horse operation chooses to be a corporation, it will chose to be taxed as an “S” corporation. However, there are cases where it may be more advantageous to be taxed as a “C” corporation. The decision to be an LLC, “C” corporation or “S” corporation would depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. No matter what form of entity is chosen, as I stated earlier, bookkeeping records must be maintained separately for each entity and must be detailed and accurate. It is important to show the IRS that you are conducting the farm operation in a professional businesslike manner. I will cover this in a little more detail later.
In owning a farm you don’t automatically qualify for agricultural exemption. What requirements are there to qualify and what deadlines apply?
You are right; there is no automatic qualification for an agriculture exemption. In New York State, you must complete an agricultural exemption application, Form RP-305. To qualify, you generally must have at least 7 acres of land and generate at least $10,000 of gross income annually. To be clear, gross income means the total amount you take in from farm operations. It does not mean the net profit from the operation. If you have fewer than 7 acres, you may still qualify if you generate gross income of $50,000 or more. There are also exemptions from any increase in assessed value related to new or reconstructed agricultural buildings for up to 10 years as long as the structure continues to be used for agriculture. Again, this is the exemption for New York State. The exemption may vary from state to state. The deadline for filling agricultural exemption forms in NY State is March 1.
We hear a lot about depreciation. What does that mean and what are the different depreciation schedules for different classes of horses?
Depreciation in the confines of the tax code is an attribute which allows a taxpayer to deduct the cost of a capital outlay used in the operation over a period of time. Generally, when a taxpayer purchases an asset with a useful life of more than one year, they are not permitted to deduct the entire cost in the year they purchase it. The cost must be deducted over a period prescribed by the IRS.
Present law allows a taxpayer to depreciate race horses over a three-year period. All other horses, including broodmares, are depreciated over seven years. Most farm equipment is depreciated over either five or seven years. Some improvements are depreciated over seven to fifteen years, while farm buildings are depreciated over 39 years.
Also under present law, there are two other depreciation options that pertain to new equipment including livestock. They are bonus depreciation and Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 179 depreciation. Under bonus depreciation, a taxpayer may elect to depreciate 50% of the cost of new assets placed in service during the year and apply regular depreciation to the remaining 50%. Under IRC Section 179, a taxpayer may elect to depreciate the entire cost of an asset placed in service during the year. This special section is limited to $500,000 of assets in any given year provided the total asset purchases don’t exceed $2,000,000. It is important to note that a taxpayer is not allowed to create a net loss by using IRC Section 179. However, regular depreciation and bonus depreciation can create a net loss.
For farm owners who have horses they are bound to have losses. How do we treat the losses and can they be accumulated and rolled forward to years where a farmer may have gains.
There are two issues to be aware of when it comes to farm operation losses. First is the issue of the non-deductibility of hobby losses. Second is the issue of Passive Activity losses.
As to hobby losses, the IRS prohibits a taxpayer from deducting, at any time; a loss, which is the result of what they feel, is the taxpayer’s hobby. The IRS tends to be very aggressive in attempting to assert that an activity the taxpayer is engaged in is, in reality, their hobby. “Gentlemen” farming and horse racing activities are two areas that the IRS watches closely. That is why as I mentioned earlier, it is extremely important to conduct your farm operation in a professional and businesslike manner. The IRS uses a 9 prong test to determine if an activity is, in their eyes, a hobby. While I won’t go into to all of them, the most important ones are:
- Does the activity have a profit motive?
- Is there an expectation that the assets will appreciate in value?
- Can the taxpayer demonstrate that either they are proficient in the industry or they have sought the advice of, and/or hired a professional to assist them?
- Is the activity conducted in a businesslike manner including adequate record keeping and the use of a separate checking account?
- Has the operation shown a profit in 3 of the last 5 years or in the case of horse racing, 2 of the last 7 years? If not is there a valid reason which prevented it from doing so?
The IRS will look at these in aggregate so failing one is not necessarily fatal.
The Passive Activity issue relates to the timing of deducting losses. Assuming a taxpayer escaped the hobby loss trap, the IRS looks at the amount of time a taxpayer spends on a venture. The IRS categorizes all ventures into either Active Participation ventures or Passive Participation ventures. There are various definitions for the term “Active” depending on whether this venture is the only business venture of the taxpayer or they have other business ventures. The importance of this is that if the venture is categorized as Active, a taxpayer may deduct any losses from it in full against their other income. However, if the venture is considered Passive a taxpayer is very limited in the amount of loss, which can be deducted. A taxpayer may only deduct losses from a Passive activity against profits from other Passive activities, or rental profits provided they are not claiming they are real estate professionals for tax purposes. It is very possible that a taxpayer may not be able to deduct any of their Passive activity loss in the year it is incurred. If that is the case, the loss may be carried forward to a year in which the taxpayer does have profits from their farming venture or other passive activities. In the event that a taxpayer never has a future profit to deduct the losses against, the losses are accumulated until the year in which the venture that generated them is disposed of. It is in that year that all of the accumulated losses may be deducted.
For a horse owner who does not have a farm but still has to keep track of board, vet, blacksmith and vanning bills just to mention a few, what is the best method to track all these expenses and make sense of the all these charges?
If someone is a horse owner but does not own a farm, they should still follow the same path as discussed earlier with regard to using a separate entity LLC or corporation and maintaining detailed books and records. Regardless of whether a taxpayer owns real estate, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of demonstrating to the IRS that they are treating the venture as a business.
If someone owns racehorses, for example, they may have every horse owned by one entity. This is not uncommon but it may be worth considering having an LLC for each horse with a “parent” LLC owning all of the race horse LLC’s This concept is not for everyone but it does afford two advantages. As discussed earlier, it limits liability to just the one horse rather than putting every horse in the stable at risk. Also, it eases transferability of a particular horse. In a case where an owner wishes to transfer a percentage of one horse in their stable to someone, it is easy to transfer a piece of the LLC that owns it. If all the horses are in one entity, that is very difficult. If a horse owner is starting a syndicate, I definitely recommend a separate entity for each horse.
Tom, in closing, I want to make it clear that most of these issues we are discussing are much more complicated and involved than what we can cover here. I have given you a general overview. I would stress that it is critical for anyone who is involved or planning to get involved to consult with a competent advisor concerning all of these topics. Each situation is different. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to any venture. As always, it is a pleasure working with you. Thank you for the opportunity to share some of the “how’s and whys” of farm and horse ownership. It is a complicated arena but it can be successfully navigated with the proper advice.
Thank you Andre for your time and I am sure the information you have provided will be helpful to many breeders and owners out there and to those who are looking to get into the business.
Watch for more helpful interviews and save the date for our next live Educational Seminar on April 30 at the Fasig-Tipton pavilion! If you have any questions for Mr. Moglia or comments, questions, feedback or suggestions for future dialogue, feel free to email them to email@example.com.
This week we will be speaking with Peter Penny, one of the foremost yearling inspectors for the Fasig-Tipton Sales company and Fasig’s Florida and New York representative.
Peter thank you for taking some time out of what must be your busiest time of year. I’m sure you are logging many miles getting to each and every farm to inspect yearlings for the upcoming Summer sales. I’d like to speak with you about some of the ways people can facilitate the inspection of their prized yearlings when you arrive to look them over. Your work has certainly paid off over the years because the averages in the summer select sales most notably the NY Bred Preferred sale has gone up on a yearly basis and continues to be one of the best places to purchase a nice yearling. It’s NYTB’s Flagship sale and we appreciate the work you and Fasig-Tipton have put into making it what it is today; a strong market in our home marketplace.
We know how special we feel when one of our horses is accepted to one of the Summer select sales. But as we both know the process starts in January with the free nomination provided by Fasig-Tipton on the website and through direct mail.
Is it too late to still get a nomination in to Fasig-Tipton for those who may have overlooked the due date?
No it is not too late to get a horse nominated to our sales. We are fairly flexible with our nomination deadlines, because we realize they do come up fast, and people can overlook them. We do ask you please get them in as soon as possible, because we are in certain areas only once, with a tight schedule, and have to set up times and dates accordingly.
What is the process that takes place in house from when Fasig-Tipton receives the nomination and when you are given a list of yearlings to inspect?
When the nomination is received, it is put into our database. Then it will be sorted by location, state, city, farm, etc. Once that is done the various locations are plotted on a map, by way of mapping software. Then the various trips are lined up, people are called with the exact time and date we will be coming to inspect. Once all stops are confirmed, all the information is downloaded onto the individual inspectors IPAD. We have developed software that really makes it a lot easier than in the past when we used to just use inspection cards. It provides us with information that helps us to decide on which sale that particular horse fits best, it includes, foaling date, pedigrees, sire yearling averages, and pinhook prices. All this is coordinated by Vicki Cooper, and her staff in our Ky. office. They really do a great job, and make our jobs a whole lot easier.
Why does Fasig-Tipton select the horses by pedigree first rather than have you inspect everyone that is nominated?
Unfortunately we have a limited number of stalls at the sales grounds in Saratoga, and as you can imagine our nominations go up every year because of the increased foal crop in N.Y. This sale has really improved over the last few years, and its average has steadily increased each year. This process helps us bring down the numbers to a manageable level.
Once you get the list of yearlings to inspect what is the general schedule you will follow timeline wise from state to state? (very generally what month what state?)
We inspect in March and April. We usually start with the south eastern states, due to weather considerations. We start with the Carolina’s, Ga., Ca., TX, La., and Fl., in early March, and then move north in late March, and April. This will include Md., Pa., VA., and De. , Ky., N.Y., and Can.
When the owner is contacted by Fasig-Tipton that you will be stopping by to inspect yearlings, what is the average lead time?
When a horse is nominated, we send out a letter with our tentative inspection schedule for that year. We then try very hard to give the owner at least a week notice before we are due to inspect.
Once a farm is contacted what can they do to get their yearling ready for your visit? Blacksmith? Previously handled, schooling to walk properly? In the barn ready to show rather than out in the field? Separate colts from fillies?
It is really not for me to tell an individual owner what to do with their horse. The horsemanship level in N.Y. has improved quite a bit over the last several years, and most people know what we are looking for. The one thing I would like to get across though is, in most cases, we only get one chance to look at your horse, so I think anything that can be done to make it easier for us to get a good look at the horse, and show that horse in the best light on that day, helps with our inspections. I don’t want people to take that as us being prima donna’s, that’s not the case at all. We try very hard to accommodate everyone the best we can, and we can look through a lot of things and don’t have a problem with that, but whatever you can do to give us the best opportunity to really get a good look at your horse helps tremendously.
What will you ask the handler to do with the yearling during the inspection?
It’s really a pretty simple process. We basically ask them to stand the horse up squarely, so we can get a good look at the overall conformation, and then walk them in a straight line, away from us and then back toward us, so we can see any deviations with the front and hind end. Sometimes we will ask them to walk several times to get a better look at the overall stride.
Once the inspection is over if a person wants to get an idea where they stand will you provide that information?
We are very lucky Fasig-Tipton has the confidence in us to be able to give the owner our decision right there on the spot. We find that is the best way to do it. We look at hundreds of horses over a period of two months, and we have found it is best to decide when it is fresh in your mind, not three or four weeks later, after you have inspected many more horses. In some cases we can’t give them a decision on that day, for a variety of reason, but we will definitely let everyone know before the first of May. We don’t want anyone to have to pay an entry fee for another sales company due to us.
Do some horses demand a second inspection and if so why?
Due to the time constraints, most of the time, we really can’t get a second look. That is why, as I mentioned earlier, it’s best to have your horse looking as good as possible. There are cases when a second look is necessary. Most of the time it is due to an injury and the owner asks us to come back. Depending on location, we do try to accommodate them.
In your experience what basic characteristics makes for a better sale horse from a physical standpoint?
To me the most important characteristic is overall balance. A horse that has some stretch, and leg. A good length to the neck and shoulder are really important. A nice square hip, with a hind leg that doesn’t have too much bend or not too far behind the point of the hip. Unfortunately as inspectors we have to pick apart the overall conformation of the legs, because that’s what the market place demands, but if you see a horse that has real good balance, and looks like an athlete, you usually don’t go wrong accepting them.
Are you looking for certain sire lines our do all physical stand outs generally make the grade?
Of course pedigree matters but, within reason, the physical is the most important thing we look for. We have prided ourselves in selecting the best physical horses over the years, and it has served us very well. That’s why you see a very high percentage of Fasig-Tipton graduates, from all our sales; do so well at the races.
I’ve heard for years how people think if their horse is accepted into a “saratoga” sale it will automatically make the price go up and if it is not accepted then it’s a big disappointment; name calling, blame game, road rage, etc, etc. Does the sale make the horse or does the horse make the sale?
That’s an easy question to answer. The horse makes the sale. I don’t care where you have a sale, if you don’t have the horses it just doesn’t work. Believe me, we don’t like to turn down horses, but we try and do the best we can to get the best possible horses that fit our various sales. The market today is very tough, and placing your horse in the right spot can make all the difference. In many cases Saratoga is not the right spot for a horse. It might be a very late foal, immature, and need more time. Horses change so much in a very short time, and the extra couple months can often determine your sales success.
Since you are looking at the outside of the horse and you like what you see that is not always “the end of the story” is it? Unfortunately these days the owners of the horses have to be prepared with what is on the inside of the horse having to provide repository x-rays and scope within 10 days of the sale date. When would you recommend a set of forecast X-rays taken so the owner has time to clean things up if need be for the upcoming sale?
Unfortunately you are right about not being “The End of the Story”. Vetting has become a big issue nowadays. It is a major factor in determining whether you get your horse sold, and I do recommend people check beforehand to see if anything needs cleaning up. I think you will find most people start doing the “forecast” X-rays and scope within the next couple of months. I would recommend talking to your individual veterinarians about when to do them. They have the experience, and know what the recuperation periods are for various procedures.
Again thanks for your time and I am sure the information you have provided will be helpful to many breeders and owners out there. Thanks for all the work you do to provide us with a great marketplace for our home grown product!
Watch for more helpful interviews and save the date for our next LIVE Educational Seminar on April 30 at the Fasig-Tipton pavilion! If you have any questions for Mr. Penny or comments, questions, feedback or suggestions for future dialogue, feel free to email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week in From the Horse’s Mouth, we will be hearing from Alan Porter who has been professionally involved with Thoroughbreds for over 40 years. He has authored racing and breeding analyses for almost four decades, and has been planning matings for over 30 years.
After several years working on a stallion farm in England, Alan turned to journalism, joining Stud & Stable (later Pacemaker), a journal on which Alan worked as Deputy Editor. He then served an eight-year term as advisor for Mr. & Mrs. Bertram R. Firestone’s Catoctin Farm and Gilltown Studs before becoming a freelance pedigree adviser and journalist initially working from Long Island, N.Y., but now from Florence, Oregon.
Over the years, Alan has written regular columns for Daily Racing Form, Thoroughbred Daily News, Pacemaker, Kieba Book, The Australian Bloodhorse Review, Bluebloods, The Blood-Horse, The International Racehhorse, as well as contributing to numerous other publications in Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and North America.
Alan has also authored three books on racing including Patterns of Greatness and Patterns of Greatness II – The Americans (co-written with Anne Peters) and is now publisher of Owner-Breeder International. A speaker at numerous seminars and conferences around the world, Alan has also provided pedigree commentary on camera for Fox Sports Network and for New York Times Television.
Alan Porter has consulted on breedings that have resulted in more than 300 stakes winners to date. They include at least four Eclipse Award winners, the winners of at least seven Breeders’ Cup events, as well as races like the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Melbourne Cup (twice), Golden Slipper, French Derby, etc., as well as New York-breds that won in top-class company like Friends Lake, Artemis Agotera and Samraat, They include other champions and classic winners in Canada, Ireland, Germany, Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, and the United Arab Emirates, and group and grade I winners in at least 14 different countries. Matings planned for current runners include Mohaymen, Gun Runner and Zulu, who are all on the Triple Crown trail this year, and recent grade one winner Luke’s Alley.
He currently advises leading breeders and owners in the U.S., Europe, and Australia as owner of Pedigree Consultants LLC. He is also a partner in TrueNicks and Performance Genetics LLC.
Alan has been an owner and breeder in both England the U.S., and also owns an off-track Thoroughbred riding horse.
How important is it to do pedigree research when choosing a stallion for your mare?
After 40+ years of studying pedigrees, and 30 years of planning matings, I’m obviously going to be biased, but simple logic dictates that the choice of the stallion dictates the range of possibilities. It doesn’t take very long looking at pedigrees to see that historically there have been some combinations that have considerably outperformed opportunity, and some have done far worse.
These days A++ knicks are all the rage, seems simplistic to me, is it that easy? Choose a stallion, plug in your mare and out comes the magic combo? Genetics is a bit more involved no?
The information available from nicking programs is useful data. I was involved in the creation of the TrueNicks program (and am still a partner in the company), which is unique as it looks at sire/broodmare or sireline/broodmare sireline crosses taking into opportunity, both numerically and in terms of the class of the horses.
As far as mating plans are concerned, I run a TrueNicks Broodmare Analysis Plus Report or True Nicks Key Ancestor Report, which considers the whole pedigree. Both give a five cross pedigree of the mare, and a lot more data, including the top horses bred on the cross, their sires and dams, and the standard of their best win, information on colts and fillies on cross, and distance and surface information.
You do generally want to avoid a cross that has been tried a lot with representative sires and mares, and produced very little. There is, however, a lot else to consider from the pedigree/aptitude standpoint. I look inbreeding and linebreeding patterns created, taking into account whether the sire or the dam themselves are inbred or outcrossed. We have to consider what you are trying to breed: for example if you are breeding in the New York-bred program, and at maybe the mid-level, you have to think about what opportunities are going to be available if you end up with perhaps a middle-distance turf horse who isn’t top-class. On the other hand, if you had a graded stakes winning turf mare, you might be quite happy to go to a Kitten’s Joy type stallion. For the commercial breeder there are other considerations, often concerned with timing, and the kind of mares a stallion might have been covering for the crops of that are going to be racing when you have a sales horse.
Now, we’ve moved a little away from the genetics aspect of the mating. As a general rule, however, the sire lines offer an import guide as that is where the highest quality tends to reside – a stallion usually doesn’t get to go to stud unless his performance level (and therefore his genetics) are high-quality.
That said there are cases where we would look past the nick. A horse like More Than Ready, tends to be more of his “own man” than being a “Halo line stallion” and we recently recommend a “D” nick mating for him, where Halo in general had been bad, but More Than Ready, for reasons we could see, had worked. You also get cases where a male-line changes course. Super Saver is by Maria’s Mon, but his dam is a Seattle Slew/Mr. Prospector/Northern Dancer cross, and where Maria’s Mon was disappointing with Mr. Prospector, Super Saver’s done well with Mr. Prospector, particularly combined with Seattle Slew or Northern Dancer. I’m expecting Super Saver’s son, Competitive Edge, to work well with Storm Cat, who wasn’t a huge nick for Super Saver.
We shouldn’t overlook too, that the female line is a unique genetic factor in the mating. The mitochondrial DNA, which are vital to the energy systems used in exercise, are inherited through the direct female line from mother to daughter. For optimal impact, however, the mitochondrial DNA has to combine with the right nuclear DNA, which is why we see certain female lines work well with certain stallions or sire lines, so it is worth paying careful attention to the strains that are present in the sires of the best runners from the family.
To give a couple of practical examples where “thinking outside the nick” has paid off for me: we recommended Storm Cat mares for Quality Road, even though it wasn’t a good nick, and we came up with grade one winner Hootenanny and graded winner Blofeld on the cross, both from out matings. Similarly, we recommend the mating for Mohaymen, who by Tapit out of a Dixie Union mare, and is currently on of the Kentucky Derby favorites. He wasn’t a mega-nick (A.P. Indy/Dixieland Band), but Dixie Union had done well over A.P. Indy mares, and we loved the linebreeding and inbreeding.
I’d argue that picking a mare for a stallion is a complex business, and when you consider that even if you if you had the mare and the season for free, it’s still going to cost maybe $15,000 to get to a yearling sale, or twice that to get to the track, that it’s well worth paying $400-$500 to get that initial choice right!
How important is it to actually go look at the Stallions and watch them move and walk?
You definitely need to know what the stallion is like, particularly in terms of avoiding faults that are in the mare. It also helps to see as many of the offspring of the stallion as possible to see whether he is passing on certain traits or not.
It helps to also know what your mare’s history and what she has thrown being bred to other stallions?
Yes, as sometimes a mare will dominate her mates for certain characteristics. If you know that she has consistently thrown a foal that is, say, correct in front, then you might be prepared to risk her with a stallion who is not perfect in that regard.
Sometimes the older guys just don’t look the part anymore will that affect their ability to continue to sire high class runners?
We have done some studies, and there is no doubt that a stallion’s performance declines with age, even when they are super-elite stallions, and covering top books of mares. Even Storm Cat and Sadler’s Wells were not immune.
I used to think that whatever the age the DNA the genes that are transmitted were the same, so there was no logical reason for performance to decline with age. I’m involved with a company called Performance Genetics, and I’ve learned quiet a lot since we’ve been studying equine DNA. There is a process called “methylation” that impact gene expression, so the same genes are present but those that are expressed might change. It’s been suggested as a factor in the increased incidence in autism with increased age of the father. It explains why you can get a perfectly viable horse – it’s got a head, four-legs and a tail – but it’s not as good an athlete, as the expression of certain genes is altered. There are some older high-level stallions out there now, that are still getting stakes winners, and graded winners, but the supply of grade one winners has dried up. You’ll also see the really good horses that make it from a low stud fee, have to be very good to continue to match their early crops even with better mares.
I don’t think there is a hard and fast rule, and the general health and vitality of the stallion is probably a useful indicator, but age does catch up with all of them eventually, even if they remain commercially viable enough to attract good mares.
I always hear people say that they want to put size into their foal so because they have a small mare to breed it to a large stallion, that’s not always the case is it?
You certainly don’t want to radical a contrast, and you wouldn’t want to breed a small mare to a large stallion for her first foal! What’s surprising is that tall stallions often work with mares by taller broodmare sires: I’m thinking of things like Unbridled’s Song with Nijinsky II; Pleasant Colony with Nijinsky II; Dynaformer with Unbridled’s Song, which you wouldn’t expect. I do think you want somewhat similar proportions. Overall, I’d say, if you are trying to change something, size, type, distance, aim to slightly modify, rather than go for the opposite, even if takes more than a generation to get where you want to go.
You and I have known each other for many years and many times you’ve suggested matings that were not an A or A+++ but sometimes an interesting combination of blood that came out a B so why should I do that when everybody wants the perfect mating?
It depends how you define the perfect mating! I’d say that we are aiming – generally – for the mating that gives us the best chance of a desirable outcome given the resources available. There are a number of criteria that should be considered, the success of the sireline/broodmare sire line cross is only one. It’s an important one to be sure, but has probably received disproportion weight, since it is one that appears easily quantifiable. The best possible mating will usually – but not always – have a positive nick rating, but when all factors are considered that mating could easily be one that is a TrueNicks “B” rather than “A”
Holy Crap there is an increased number of stallion prospects being retired lately. What with all the incentive programs and free nominations along with the stallion season auctions. Realistically what percentage of colts sent to the shed each year really do end up as established commercial and Gr 1 producing stallions?
Would you say you’d have to weed through a lot more chaf before you get to the fruit these days in looking for a legitimate Stallion Prospect?
Well, there aren’t as many stallions being retired from the track as in “the old days,” but there are more than any time since the crash in 2008.
Stallion selection is certainly not easy. As we’ve said there tends to be a decline with age. On the other hand, I think it’s very nearly impossible to predict stallion performance from race-record and pedigree. Once a stallion is good enough to be a mainstream commercial stallion – say a good grade two winner in Kentucky – then there isn’t a lot of correlation between performance and success. We can look at four sons of Pulpi – Tapit, Sky Mesa, Corinthian and Purge – all grade one winners with successful stallions close up in their families (although we think the concept of stallion family is another myth). Tapit, admittedly with a career cut short by illness, ran the lowest Beyer Speedfigure of the three. Corinthian, who retired to the same farm at a higher stud fee, and was from the family of Sadler’s Wells and Nureyev, was a complete bust. Then you have a horse like the prematurely deceased Lawyer Ron, who is by a solid blue-collar sire – Langfuhr – from a very weak female line, who did a tremendous job from the two crops he had. Horses like Indian Charlie, Tiznow and Midnight Lute, didn’t have fashionable pedigrees, but have made it.
So, you have unproven stallions that really are a shot in the dark (are they Tapit or Corinthian?) and older sires that are likely to fade as they age. In between that we have the proven sires. That’s fine if you can go to a Tapit, for example, who is not only proven as a top-class sire, but has several very well-bred crops to run, but many more worthwhile stallions tend to be somewhat up and down, simply because of the inconsistent quality of their books. The pattern is often that a stallion goes to stud, has a big first book, and then the quality of his mares declines steadily over the next few years – unless has a major impact with his first weanlings or yearlings – his books won’t really improve again unless his runners hit. So a horse that retired in 2010, had foals of 2011, but didn’t break out until his runners were three, in 2014, might then get a big book of mares in 2015, for foals of 2016, and three-year-olds of 2019. In between those those crops, however, he might go very quiet, as he wasn’t covering great books of mares. In those situations, stud fees, yearling prices and racetrack activity can get quite a way out of sync. So a stallion can have his best bred crops at the sales during a period where his runners are from his weakest books of mares. There is a lot to keep straight when judging these horses, and whether they are value at a specific point!
In the old days when we both started in the business Lasix was not allowed on racetracks on the NYRA circuit. At that time I was a stallion seasons broker and many of my clients would not breed to stallions that ran out side of NY because of a belief that a horse running on Lasix had a weakness that would be passed on genetically. In the previous answer you indicated that stallions in England and Ireland are medication free. Have the effects of medication have any affect on the performance level of the offspring of a stallion who ran on medication, and more directly queried from a bio-medical standpoint, have you seen evidence that the proliferation of medication has weakened the breed in the US?
Interesting question! Funnily enough about 95% of the breed goes back in male-line to an English horse called Bartlett’s Childers, whose nickname was “Bleeding Childers.” He was a foal of 1716, and another very influential stallion, Hermit, the winner of the 1867 Epsom Derby was also a bleeder, so it’s not a new problem.
You do tend to hear much less about horses bleeding in Europe, although it does happen. We never heard anything in Europe about American horses bleeding more often back in the days that there were a lot of U.S. breds imported.
That said, since there is a genetic element involved, you would think that if anti-bleeding remedies are not available, really bad bleeders at least, would be less likely to go to stud, and reproduce.
I’m going to hazard a guess that to some degree, however, if there really is a higher degree of bleeding in the U.S., it’s influenced by a couple of factors. One is dust, which is very prevalent in the shedrow system. The other is dirt racing which sees horses go out quickly and “die” rather than run in the “cruise and kick” style of European racing. If you’ve ever been running in a track race and gone out too fast, you’ll know that doing so places a lot more stress on the system. Of course, there is an incentive to observe any level of bleeding in the U.S., as that gives permission to run on Lasix, which is generally accepted to be performance enhancer.
In general medication might be a contributory factor in horses running less often, as they run harder and take more out of themselves, and there is also a dehydration factor with Lasix. At the higher end, I think you also have to look to the compression of the breed. I’d suggest that the best horses aren’t any better than 40-50 years ago, whereas the best horses from the 1970s where almost certainly faster than in the 1930s. In the meantime, the average horse has improved, so the best horses are in general not so removed from the next level. So where a Citation could run in a smaller race the week before the Derby, and have nothing more than a exercise gallop, you would find much stiffer competition if you tried that now. If you look at distance running in athletics, you see that the weekend warriors or club runners might run a race almost every weekend, but you don’t see Olympic or World Championship hopefuls doing that: they race sparingly and careful prep to be right on the big day. So, unlike the era of the great handicap horse, when runners like Stymie, Assault, Armed and Gallorette, modern elite horses are prepped like elite athletes, raced sparingly, with two, or at most three starts in the spring going into the Derby. By the way, while we tend to think of the horses of yesteryear being sounder, that wasn’t always the case. Native Dancer had ankle problems most of his career; Bold Ruler battled unsoundness throughout his time in training; and Citation missed a whole season at four!
Perhaps the biggest problem with medication, is perception. It definitely negatively impacts the export value of the U.S. thoroughbred, and it gives the casual sports fan the impression that horses are “drugged” to make them run better. Perhaps a pragmatic solution is that medication is not allowed at the higher level, say graded stakes, while it is available for horses running at the bread-and-butter level?
Are they stricter overseas with retiring horses then we are stateside?
There isn’t really much need for restrictions in England and Ireland, as the domestic product runs medication free, and the quality of the European thoroughbred is at a level where England and Ireland don’t look to import stallion prospects. In Germany, stallions that have raced on medication are not recognized by the Breeding Commission, and they have to be evaluated on performance, and physical aspects. In fact a few years back, a German Derby winner nearly didn’t make it on conformation.
In England and Ireland there are a few big outfits that really dominate the landscape. France is interesting as it went through a quiet spell, but has had some breakout stallions that weren’t commercially obvious, but got great support from their owners like Le Havre and Kendargent. They also have a very hot young stallion – Siyouni, by the Nureyev line horse Pivotal – owned by the Aga Khan.
Thank you Alan for your time and knowledge. Watch for more helpful interviews and save the date for our next LIVE Educational Seminar on April 30 at the Fasig-Tipton pavilion! If you have any questions for Mr. Porter or comments, questions, feedback or suggestions for future dialogue, feel free to email them to email@example.com. — Tom Gallo
This week in “Straight from the Horse’s Mouth,” we will be hearing from Mallory Mort, Farm Manager of Gallagher’s Stud in Ghent, NY. Mr. Mort came to Gallagher’s Stud in 1979, a year after graduating from Penn State with a BS in Animal Production. He is kind enough to give us his time and expertise regarding the best ways to keep your horses comfortable, happy and hydrated during the cold winter months.
“Mal as you know it’s been a bit of a wild winter, especially when you compare it to last year but we have had some pretty cold days and some frozen ground.”
Q. Impaction due to colic is always looming in the cold winter months and we know that colic is the number one non-infectious health risk in horses. What can we do to prevent colic in the winter?
A. Water and forage fiber (hay in the winter) are the two most important factors in equine digestive health. Most winter colics are caused by impaction (constipation) and the VAST majority of impaction colics in the winter are from dehydration – inadequate water intake. To highlight the importance of water intake, it is estimated that a horse could live for 20-25 days with adequate water and no feed but could only survive 3-6 days with no water and adequate feed. That is because of the high volume of water needed to keep feed (and later manure) moving through the horse’s nearly 100-foot long digestive tract. Even in winter, horses at rest need 7-12 gallons of water per day and, since they are naturally continuous grazers, they should have good quality hay available at all times. Alfalfa hay can act as a mild laxative and should be considered as part of a horse’s winter diet.
Q. Hydration for your horses is always tricky in the frigid temperatures. What are some tips to keeping our horses well hydrated in the winter?
A. It’s easy to say “make sure your horses have access to clean water at all times” but it can be more complicated than that with sub-freezing and even sub-zero temperatures in the winter. The most convenient way to assure continuous access to water is to install automatic waterers, but that is not always feasible. If you are watering with buckets or a stock tank, you should be using heated buckets or heaters designed for that use to ensure access to water at all times. As a safety note, be sure to shield all heaters and cords from your horses so as not to cause electrical shock or fire.
The Penn vet school did some studies in the mid-90’s that are still referenced by the AAEP and many publications. One of the findings was that horses whose water was heated to around 65 degrees drank 40% more water than horses given water at 32-38 degrees. That is a HUGE difference and more than enough reason to make sure your horses have heated water and don’t have to wait hours for someone to come break ice from their buckets.
Remember, ‘heated’ in this case does not mean ‘warm’. 65-degree water is not warm but it is considerably warmer than ice-water. Another interesting finding of their studies was that horses did most of their drinking within an hour of eating their grain or fresh hay and did 82% of their drinking within 3 hours of feeding. So if you are unable to assure full time access to water, you can maximize your horses’ intake by providing clean heated water shortly after feeding.
Horses should also have unlimited access to salt to help maximize their water intake. It is inexpensive and easily provided as a large or small block of plain salt (white) or trace mineralized salt (red).
Providing your horses with an unlimited supply of water (preferably heated), good quality hay (preferably with some alfalfa content), and salt should keep them hydrated and help avoid winter colic.
Q. What about mares’ water needs after foaling?
A. It is very important that postpartum mares drink some significant amount of water within an hour or so after foaling due to fluid loss from sweating, foaling, and probably not drinking for a period prior to foaling. Most mares, particularly older more experienced ones, after they’ve attended to their foal a bit will begin picking at some hay and have a drink of water. However, sometimes first-timers and mares who are completely consumed by caring for their foals, have no interest in drinking. You can try moving the foal near the mare’s water source to see if that might prompt her to drink. Otherwise you might consider giving your mare some electrolyte paste or some electrolyte powder mixed with feed. Observe your mare for urination as that could be an indication of her hydration level. Also observe her and her stall for the passing of manure. Most mares will pass a lot of manure prior to foaling so you may not see any for a while but you should see some by 8-12 hours post foaling and if not, you may want to consult your veterinarian.
It is debatable whether a hot bran mash is of any benefit as a laxative post foaling. Some research has shown it is not and in cases where wheat bran is not part of the horse’s normal diet it may cause a mild diarrhea by disrupting the microbial population of the gut. You may want to consult with your veterinarian about it.
Q. Should I add oil to my horses’ feed in the winter to keep things moving?
A. Vegetable oils are readily absorbed by horses and don’t pass far through the tract so they really don’t serve as a good digestive lubricant. Mineral oil is a good lubricant (which is why veterinarians use it to oil horses for transport, etc.) but most horses will not readily eat a significant amount in their feed. If you want to try feeding it, you should consult with your veterinarian about whether it is a viable or necessary option.
Q. Sometimes I see red or bright orange spots in the snow or shavings where my horse has urinated. Does this have anything to do with my horse being dehydrated or maybe another problem?
A. This is nothing to get alarmed about. Certain plant metabolites in a horse’s urine, after being exposed to the air for a while, mix with oxygen and turn a red, orange, or rust color. It is still a bit of a mystery why urine from some horses turns color and from others it does not. However, if you see red urine as it comes out of your horse, you should contact your veterinarian about it.
Thank you Mallory, Manager of one of the foremost thoroughbred operations in the country, Gallagher’s Stud. Watch for more helpful interviews and save the date for our next LIVE Educational Seminar on April 30 at the Fasig-Tipton pavilion! If you have any questions for Mr. Mort or comments, questions, feedback or suggestions for future dialogue, feel free to email them to: firstname.lastname@example.org — TG
By Tom Gallo
Hello fellow New York Breeders. We have something new for you this week: A new section of our popular NYTB e-newsletter entitled “Straight from the Horse’s Mouth.” This series, also to be published on the NYTB website, will be short question and answer articles on subjects relevant and time-sensitive to all aspects of breeding and raising Thoroughbreds. We hope you will enjoy this new section and we plan to continue this series throughout the year.
Here’s to a productive and successful breeding season!
As always; have a Winning Day!!
This week we will be hearing from one of our NYTB Board members Mr. Wally Burleson General Manager of Sequel Stallions in Hudson NY.
Mr. Burleson is a third generation horseman and native Texan, with a long history of ranching and raising Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred Bloodstock. He and his brother literally grew up on the back of a horse either working the ranch or in an arena. This desire led him to study Equine Science at Tarleton State University and ultimately led him to Central Kentucky. He is kind enough to give us his time and expertise regarding the comings and goings of one of the premier breeding sheds in the state of New York, Sequel Stallions.
- Wally, what are some of the basics you require before you are comfortable breeding a mare to one of your stallions?
Of course to start off with we need a signed breeding contract for your mare, signed, sealed and delivered. Also, we will need a Mare Information Form, as well as the Breeding Shed Form provided with your contract on file or accompanying your mare. Your mare must have the proper identification for her visit to our breeding shed. A negative uterine culture for maiden, barren and second-trip foaling mares is required. Don’t forget, an up to date coggins (2016) is a must!
All this information and proper forms are on our website or available from our booking secretary. We can, and are happy to, assist with any and all of this other than your veterinarian’s certificate for a negative uterine culture which only they can provide. Be sure to check with the specific breeding shed you are visiting as these requirements may vary.
- Do you treat maiden mares differently than you would foaling mares?
Without a doubt, we do treat maiden mares differently. This is a completely new experience for them. We always look out for the best interest of our crew, stallions, mares, and everyone involved in the breeding process. Maidens are required to have the proper paperwork and identification, as well as a negative uterine culture. They must also be jumped prior to their visit to the breeding shed. We are obviously going to jump them ourselves to see how receptive the mare is for the safety of our stallions and all involved. Some farms may not have a teaser and aren’t able to jump them prior to their visit and that’s okay, however communication is crucial. Please let the stallion manager know one way or the other.
- How can you be sure that the mare is who she says she is?
So long as she is presented with proper identification (name plate on halter, name plate on neck strap), it’s not a problem. When they show up without proper identification for whatever reason we need a current Coggins to confirm markings and a tattoo if applicable. We also get confirmation from owners or agents. If this information is not available, then unfortunately, we can not breed the mare.
- How do you feel about bringing foals along with the mares?
To each is own, here everyone has their own theory. Personally I would not; mares are quieter when they are away from their foals and it’s safer for all. Every circumstance is different and many breeders travel a long way; therefore, we will accommodate however necessary. However, if they show up with their foal, we unload the mare and send the van driver down the road for coffee with the foal. This will allow the mare to settle and focus on what’s ahead. We then give the driver a call when the mare has been covered to return and pick the mare up.
- How early/what’s the best time for a person to call to book their mare to one of your stallions?
Early is always better in order for us to accommodate everyone the best we can. Getting your mare on the stallion’s book early in her cycle (heat period) makes it easier to accommodate everyone. It’s in everyone’s best interest to get the mares covered when they need to be bred so they have the best opportunity to get in foal and not have to return. Obviously, Mother Nature plays a role in this and the mares themselves don’t always read the book so to speak in terms of their cycles etc.! So if you can’t book early, do the best you can and we will do our best to accommodate you.
- How important is it to get there on time?
It’s important because these stallions have scheduled breedings multiple times a day. If one mare arrives late it pushes everything back for that stallion for the rest of the day. Stallions need a few hours rest between breedings. Everyone does the best they can and uncontrollable circumstances do happen. That’s all well and fine as long as there is communication; then we can all adjust accordingly.
- Is it really that big a difference between a morning, mid-day, or afternoon breeding?
That is debatable and depends on your veterinarian. The way we check and set up our mares on the farm, I’m good for whatever time slot I get on the preferred day. Of course as stated earlier, there are circumstances where a mare may dictate differently and we adjust accordingly.
- After the mare leaves the breeding shed, what kind of communication do you expect from the mare owner down the road/subsequent days and weeks following her cover by your stallion?
We love to know when their mare is pronounced in foal; those are the best calls versus calling for a return visit, which in this business happens to all of us. They don’t have to call every time they ultrasound their mare, just when they can give us the mare’s status.
- What other tips can you recommend for a mare owner to get their mare in foal?
Do your homework when making decisions with boarding farms and veterinarians. It’s a team effort between all. Everyone’s goal should be to get live healthy foals on the ground, raise them to be healthy and athletic, and get mares bred back and in foal to top New York sires in a timely fashion.
- What’s your pet peeves when it comes to dealing with mare owners?
Personally, I really don’t have any major peeves. I guess one is when new owners are not well-informed and may not know the drill. They should speak with those that are more seasoned and experienced, and have been doing this for a while. So long as there is good communication, honesty, and integrity it generally works out.
- What’s your greatest experience with mare owners?
To hear their appreciation and gratitude for any assistance provided that helped them achieve their goals whether on the farm, racetrack, or in the sales arena.
Thank you, Wally for this helpful information. I am sure people will use these tips to be better prepared and have a positive all-around breeding experience thanks to your insight and candor.
Watch for more helpful interviews and save the date for our next LIVE Educational Seminar on April 30 at the Fasig-Tipton pavilion!
If you have any questions for Mr. Burleson or comments, questions, feedback or suggestions for future dialogue, feel free to email them to: email@example.com — TG
NYTB, in partnership with the New York Farm Bureau and Finger Lakes Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protection Association, has posted an online petition to support proposed legislation (S.4367/A.6345-A) designed to hold Finger Lakes horsemen’s purses and the Fund “harmless” from the negative effects of the nearby Lago Casino and Resort.
This issue touches everyone involved in New York breeding and racing. Once the Lago Casino and Resort opens for business, Finger Lakes operator Delaware North is projected to lose up to 40 percent of its gaming revenue. If not mitigated by legislation, this loss of revenue will extend to the Finger Lakes horsemen’s purse account and the Fund.
Please sign this Action Alert Petition today and spread the world to other stakeholders! This critical issue needs grassroots support!