Monday, January 5, 2009

The Enumclaw Auction Report - Even more depressing in 2009!

Thanks to La Mexicana for this report - I had to be elsewhere yesterday. Probably just as well as I would have wanted to drag home this gelding with the socks.

One picture is attached. It is horse #633. I felt really bad for this one...he reminded me of PK. Kill Buyers got about 9 of them (could have been more) but that is still 25%.

Enumclaw Auction Report
January 4, 2008

There were a total of 35 horses at the auction. There were tons of people in attendance for the horse portion, but not many were bidding. Most of the horses were registered or could be registered.

One person brought in about a dozen horses, mostly paints and quarter horses. Time was spent writing up little descriptions about them to be taped to their pens. However, the same attention was not paid to feeding, grooming or hoof care. The majority of the horses had not had their feet trimmed in months (maybe a year ago?). These horses were not all brought in consecutively, so there might be some mixing on the list. The guy wanted $100 minimum for all the “younger” stock, but he let his broodmares go to the kill buyer for less.

605 Breeding stock paint colt, 2 years old, solid chestnut, nice temperament, terrible hooves, NS (wanted $100)
606 Black bay appendix QH mare, nice looking and trained, 15.3 hands, 10 years old, hooves not cared for. NS at $650
607 Chestnut and white paint, ribs showing below saddle, broke $275
608 Chestnut mare, 4 years old, scared, thin, only halter broke NS at $60 (wanted $100)
609 Bay QH mare, cute, 6 years old, led in NS at $60 (wanted $100)
611 Bay QH mare, 7 years old, led in $100
612 Overo chestnut mare with one white spot on neck, lame?, 8 years old, thin, horrible hooves, NS at $70 (wanted $100)
616 Bay and white paint filly, 3 years, very cute, extremely dirty and thin, no bids (wanted $100)
615 Bay and white paint filly, 4 years, dirty, sister to above filly, $100
614 Liver chestnut mare, 16 years old, dam to #615 and 616. All three were led in together. Mare sold to KB for $50
618 Black breeding stock paint filly, four years old, very nice temperament and also a looker. NS (owner wants $100)
620 Solid chestnut BS paint mare, dam to one of the colts, shod, supposedly broke but was led in, not groomed, mane in knots, $100 to KB.
622 Nice dark bay filly with small star, long yearling, clean and well behaved, NS, (wants $100)
624 QH filly, 3 years old, led in but says she is started under saddle, chestnut $100

Other horses:
601 Black appaloosa with white blanket/snowflake, 13 years old, broke and ridden in $90
602 Bay QH mare, 8 years old, nice, broke, 4 socks and a blaze, neck reins $275
603 Chestnut gelding with 4 socks and a blaze, 14 years old, broke, rides double $650
604 Arab ?, chestnut with flaxen mane, blaze and socks, 8 year old gelding, has done parades, gone hunting, 4H horse, $100
610 Registered 4 year old Chestnut QH mare, broke $110
613 Bay gelding, 8 years old, broke $175
617 QH/Morgan gelding, nice looking liver chestnut, well trained/broke NS at $250 (wanted $325)
619 Chestnut BS paint mare, 10 years, broke NS at $300 (wants $400)
621 Dark chestnut Paint/QH gelding, broke, 9 years, nice horse, NS at $525 (wanted $650)
623 Buckskin/Grulla mare, QH, gorgeous, 7 years old and broke $900
626 Chestnut filly, BS paint, 11 months old, $50
627 Black gelding, ridden double by two kids, 12 years old, NS (owner wanted $500)
625 Palomino gelding, older?, 4H horse, broke!, ridden in by the same two kids as #627, very nice, $400
628 Bay Roan pony, Shetland/POA?, very fat and nervous. This pony provided the comedy for the afternoon. Just as Ron was reading “This pony loves kids”, the pony spun around scaring the two kids who rode in #627. They ran out of the arena as quickly as they could. $40 to KB
629 Broke gelding, led in, think and sad looking, 15 years $40 to KB
630 Leopard Appy, kind eye, seemed really nice (Ron stopped giving info out after the pony came through) $40 to KB
631 Chestnut gelding with blaze, nicely trained, side passes, 6 years old $475
632 Skinny chestnut gelding $40 to KB
633 Lame, 11 year old gelding. Someone took the time to photocopy this horses papers and race history, but didn’t care to feed him. (see photo) Very thin. Not familiar with the paperwork but could have been a standardbred. Bay with star, was probably a real looker when he was taken care of. Very sore, tired and hungry $40 to KB
634 White arab type mare, 20 years old $40 to KB
635 OLD bay horse with swayback $20 to KB

FHOTD back in: OK. Breeding season starts in a month. If you think Barak Obama or anybody else is going to fix this economy before the 2010 foals hit the ground, I have a lovely bridge I would like to sell you, and I take Paypal! :-)

No one knows how to fix the real estate problem.

No one knows how to fix the banking problem.

No one knows how to fix the high unemployment problem.

Given those facts, and they are facts that seriously impact upon the marketability of luxuries like horses, here are my ten questions I'd like any breeder to ask themselves before breeding anything this spring:

1. How did your 2008 foals sell? If they sold for 3 figures or less each - you have absolutely no business making more of them in this economy. None. Please ride your mares instead. Stop blaming the economy for your poor sale prices instead of blaming your poor quality stock and/or your sloppy presentation/poor marketing/laziness about training for your poor sale prices.

2. What could you do with your mares in a year off that would make their future foals more valuable? How about training them and putting some points or comparable accomplishments on them?

3. If you have an unbroke stallion that you are breeding from, and it is not because he is a fabulously bred, amazing horse who suffered a freak injury, shame on you! Get him broke and get him showing and then think about making more of him. There is absolutely no reason not to do this. If finances prevent you from hiring a "big name" to go to the breed shows with him, look for alternative forms of accomplishment. Endurance, driving, open shows, hunter shows, competitive trail, barrel racing, roping, do something. Surely there is something the horse can do that does not require a $30,000 investment. Find a competent college student who wants something to ride and show. If he's too rank for someone like that to ride, you know my answer - he's missed his ride on the Gelding Bus. Good grief, in this economy you can BUY an accomplished stallion for not very much cash...if you have Bar No Accomplishment sitting in the backyard, GELD HIM and go buy a stallion who ALREADY has a record! DUH! I seriously know of a Superior Halter Stallion, young, sound, sweet, with pleasure points, that just sold for only $6000. Go get one like that and you don't have to worry about the cost of training and showing. (By all means, please campaign your own stallion if you can afford to - trainers need to eat, too - but if finances are limited and you MUST breed, now's the time to buy the horses that have already made their mark.)

4. Serious question to ask: Do I have the time, energy, desire to deal with weanlings? Weanlings are a pain in the ass. We all know it. Hell, I've owned one in my life and one was enough. Unless you are really consistent about working with them, they forget you taught them to pick up feet, not run you over, clip, tie, etc. Really, do you want to spend next summer trying to convince another group of rank little SOB's that they want to lead forward instead of flip over or would it be a relief to have nothing out there but old broke horses that you can let sit for months when you are busy and then hop back on without any drama? Weanlings take energy and I see a lot of people making them who don't have enough energy to deal with them.

5. Hey, you racetrack's that working for you? Tracks closing, auction prices tanking...I know some of you are still making the big bucks and it's worth it but a lot of the rest of you need to look at the 2008 balance sheet and pay attention to whether the profit or loss is the big number. As I say, if you want to upgrade your breeding stock and therefore be able to produce the creme de la creme that sells in any economy, now is the time to do it. The amazing bargains are out there. (But please don't dump the mediocre breeding stock. Put 30 days tune up on it and find it a riding home. If I find it at an auction, you will be on this blog so fast your head will spin and you know it.)

6. In general, have you run the numbers? Can you afford the expenses of breeding another season's worth of weanlings AND STILL get your young stock that haven't sold trained and shown? Is there enough cash to go around or should the focus be on improving the value of what you already created?

7. Is your living situation stable? I hear people talk about breeding and being 2 or 3 house payments behind in the same conversation. Fucking scary. Please don't make more horses if your personal living situation is not stable or you have any reason whatsoever to believe you may get downsized. Please don't make more horses if there is serious illness in the family. This would be a really good year to just skip the "making more" part if you have any fears whatsoever about finances. I am telling you the truth - the rescues can't absorb any more. They really can't. Nobody will bash you if you have to give up horses because of illness but come on - this stuff doesn't happen overnight. If you are in your seventies and in poor health and your kids aren't involved with the horses, don't make more horses (dogs, cats, whatever!). P.S. If you die, your rotten kids will run those animals straight to the shelter/auction without a backward glance at least 50% of the time. I have seen it SO many times.

8. Do you actually have the room for more horses? Do you have adequate shelter, pasture, etc? I drive by a farm sometimes that has probably only 3 acres divided into these crappy little muddy paddocks with hot tape. Of course, horses are stacked up like dominoes in there and every spring, there are more. I heard a bunch of those disappeared around the time of last month's Enumclaw auction. You don't say...

9. Look at breeding as part of the big picture in your and your family's life. What's going on in your lives in 2010? If you have a kid headed off to college, a new baby of your own in the works, a promotion at work, a potential divorce or a move to a new property, maybe it's a good time to scale back the breeding. We all constantly see horses dumped for "lack of time" but how often is "lack of time" a total surprise? Most of the time, we know when our lives are heading toward being overscheduled and underfunded. Having fewer animals makes those times easier to bear.

10. If you can read this list and you're still in good shape, go for it. I will never be an anti-breeding radical. There are plenty of you still out there producing high quality, well cared for and properly handled stock that sell for plenty of money and are unlikely (no, it's never guaranteed) to wind up in a kill pen. If you have crafted a top quality breeding operation that thrives in any economy because your customers are so wealthy they aren't significantly affected, hey, go for it. I actually saw a report on TV today that Ferrari sales are up. Uh-huh, what do I always say. There IS a segment of the population so rich that these financial ups and downs are merely speed bumps to them. If you're breeding equine Ferraris, they're probably still selling too.

That said, if you've got a yard full of 5 to 15 year old broodmares out there, it isn't likely to hurt them a bit to take off a year. This would be a good year. Always remember, supply and demand applies to every business. One of the best things you can do to keep the prices of your stock up, no matter how great they are, is to make it comparatively hard to find and buy one. People love what's scarce. Why not keep yours scarce enough to keep them special?

P.S. Person who dumped the bay gelding, come over here so LM and I can bitch-slap you into next week...