Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Horse Market Observations

One thing I thought I would be doing this spring was shopping for a different horse. I really anticipated Maggie would be living somewhere else by now, but despite my best efforts to find a new home for her,  she remains part of Acer Farm.  In all honestly, that's ok... She's a good horse. She has things I know I would be hard pressed to find in another prospect. 

My motivation for selling is more about herd management and future goals. We have 4 geldings and then there's Maggie.  Having all geldings would simplify our set up tremendously and with limited room, this is a big priority.  I also  want to a horse I can alter between  jumping and endurance. Maggie does ok enough for my endurance goals (with some limitations) but jumping is not her thing at all. Last but certainly not least, I would like to free up some room on the farm  for a OTTB prospect that I could rehab and retrain in order to resell to a qualified home.  I used to ride and train OTTB's as an adolescent  catch rider. Given a chance, most of them can turn into great horses and so many end up the way of the slaughter houses. I would like to see if I can make some small difference because TB's brought me such fond memories as a junior rider. 

It's been a while since I have tried to sell a horse but it's been an interesting endeavor.  I could have traded Maggie for all number of things including a herd of goats and a set of silver dinner ware...

ummmmmm. no...

I could have given her away too..without even trying. More than once I would get a call and the voice on the other end would explain that while they can't pay me anything for her,  they thought she was real pretty and could give her a wonderful home..

So let me get this straight.... you can't afford the purchase price but can give her a good home?? What about all the hay? Are you going to be able to afford to feed her ? Again.. no

The best ones however were the calls looking for a kids horse. She was advertised as not a childs horse and  not a beginners horse... yet, they still called inquiring..I even had a few show up to try her out . One family drove 6 hours to come try her out .I could have saved them alot of time if they told me upfront they were looking for a kids horse.  Maggie tolerated the 3 kids plus the mom taking her for a spin and bouncing around on her back because not one of them could post a trot or sit one properly.  She was truly a champ.  After all that, they even made me an offer but I declined. 

Nope.. not a fit

Then there was the calls from various older women who rode as a child but want to get back into horses for trail rides.  All I could envision was the woman clung on to Maggie's mane for dear life.. and Maggie just as terrified.

I think I will have to pass again...

Another trend, atleast in the Lippitt Morgan world , is  that well- bred Lippitt mares are either being given away or sold ridiculously cheap for bloodlines not easily found anymore.. just like Maggie.I even saw a couple I would have loved to pick up, if I were breeding.. which I am not.

Apparently I am up against a tough market out there. There seems to be two kinds of horse markets out there right now. 

  • The performance horse market  (reiners, penners, jumpers, etc) that people willingly pay thousands of dollars for 

  • The Pleasure horse market (a slow trail plodder to pack kids or inexperienced riders for a half hour trail ride a couple times a week) that only brings the $1000 -$1500 price tag

In the midst of all this, I knew several  people that sold their horses for over $10k. In two cases, one was QH barrel racer and one was a green TB with very little training but a good jumping prospect. 

Considering Maggie's bloodlines, I really anticipated some Foundation Morgan breeder would pick her up to add to their program. It seems the Morgan market has fallen victim to what many other breeds have gotten caught up in. Apparently the trend is all about size and color , yet....... they want foundation bred.  Uhmmmmm... ? Clearly I have missed something here..

Foundation Morgans were not 16 hands , nor were they Cremello's, grays , Perlino's or whatever other flashy color people seem to want to call a Morgan these days. Foundation bred Morgans were small, 15.2 was considered the top end of height and they  were bays, blacks, browns, liver chestnuts , chestnuts.  Doesn't anyone remember Figure and his lineage ?? Bulrush, Woodbury ,Sherman? 

Foundation Morgans certainly didn't have much chrome. And Grey's???  Well,  that is just crazy. The grays that would occasionally pop up were culled by the cavalry.  It seems that the ending  of the high white rule several years ago has taken hold. In fact, within a year of that rule ending, Morgans of color were popping up everywhere and now we have Morgans with alot of chrome. Great.. a Morgan that could be confused as a Pinto. Just what I want. 

I am no geneticist, but I know enough from my biology and equine breeding courses in college that this quick turn around of getting  so much color in the Morgans only a couple generations from when the rule was changed is pretty unlikely to occur.  Paper switching anyone?? (because that never happens in the breeding world right?) 

 Long story short , color and flash sells  and more times than not at the cost of type, bone, feet, and all the other things that made Morgans the great horses they are supposed to be.   In 2013, the Lippitt Morgan, falling under the category of "Traditional Morgans" the Livestock Breeds Conservancy added them  to the  2013 Conservancy Priority list.  It makes me sad to see Foundation Morgan breeders so willing  to change or break  the rules if it gets their horses sold at the cost of such important heritage. 

So, I guess my "small"  foundation Morgan mare will stay put for now. All 14.1, all  bay and all foundation. Included in that package is a  tough horse with good feet and an even better  mind.   Small and mighty , what the true Foundation Morgan is supposed to be. 

If the right OTTB prospect comes along, I might have to just move forward because  I need another project, right?? 

Thanks for reading!


Mel said...

I agree with everything you said. Trying to come up with something witty and I just dont have anything. Sigh. Give me a nice solid boring colored horse wiyh great mind and confo and feet and bit of good blood thrown in the mix. Why do we need color? Its pretty but the old saying of you dont ride the head holds true. So funny about the kids coming to ride. It seems like people think anything under fifteen hands has to be a kids horse.

aurora said...

It's definitely all about color these days...I don't get it. Lucky girl to have an owner who knows the difference, and cares.

Jonna said...

Hi Mel- I often get teased (as does my 6'1 husband ) for riding "ponies". All I can say is that I know my "pony" will outdo any big horse when there is a real job to get done and won't quit.. Thanks for checking in!
Hi Aurora-thanks for reading.. and yes.. color sells but at what cost. Atleast that is how I see it. So much is lost when the focus becomes color or size. Just look at the QH halter horss. They don't even look like a horse to me. Even warmbloods have color now.. (sigh)

Mel said...

I always read even if I don't comment :-). It's hard to keep up on everything being in school but it's so nice to be on spring break and finally start participating more. now that writing more young horses is in my immediate future I will be very interested to read any insight you have when you do get a project!

Jonna said...

Mel- I am taking spring break off from work so I hope to get a solid start with Maggie that week.
You can bet tha if I get an OTTB project, I will be blogging about it.. The one I had thought I was getting had a slab fracture of the knee. Hey maybe you can do a post on that?? I read up on it and it can be ok or it can be really bad. Either way, I opted against it for resale purposes. Hard to sell a horse that won't pass a prepurchase, even if it is healed up.

Anonymous said...

Oh so true what you have written here about the horse market!