DECEMBER 1994 BACK ISSUE
Part of Horse Previews Magazine website. Posted on 12/1/94; 10:00:00 AM.
Tips On Promoting Your Stallion
by M.R. Bain
Stallion owners often have the belief that if they have a stallion that people will automatically breed to him because he is there. What happens is that you breed the mares that you own and maybe one or two of your neighbor's mares and your stallion never reaches his full potential. You must actively promote your stallion at all times. How to do that requires some careful forethought and aggressive action. Here are a few of the things we do to promote a client's stallion.
The first thing we do is have a reputable pedigree service draw up a pedigree with a six generation background check. We want to know what the stallion has done and what his sire, dam, grand sires, and grand dams have done. For a relative inexpensive sum, you can get much information to give to potential customers and to use in your advertising campaign. Your customers will be impressed by your professionalism and the third party (pedigree service) will lend credibility to your statements about your horse , his background and/ or progeny.
It is important to be competitive and truthful about your fees. If you set your fee on what someone else charges and not on what your particular animal is worth, you will lose potential customers who would breed to him. If your stallion has the same pedi gree, show record, produce record, and stands in the same area as another stallion, use him as a guide. If not, find a stallion of similar type, pedigree, show record and produce record and use them as your guide. A reasonable fee is better than one that is too high or too low. You want mare owners to consider your stallion for their breeding programs. My theory has always been in promoting a stallion that it is not what the stud fee is, it is how many mares you breed each year. If you will look at any to p ten list of sires, you will find that the more foals you have on the ground, the more likely you are to have produce who are performing in one or more areas. Another thing we do is breed any mare to a stallion at the same fee whether she is registered o r not, or of the same breed. You just never know what is going to happen and you cannot afford to lose the chance to breed the next world champion.
Advertising. Everyone knows he should do it, few seldom follow through. If you want to get mare owners to breed to your horse, you must do some form of advertising on a consistent basis. We use as many different types as we can and still maintain our budg et. Many of the magazines offer a directory or business card section at a reasonable fee. If you use this in your off season, you will gain some name recognition that will be invaluable during your breeding season. Pictorial ads are more likely to attract attention than word ads. You must have a presentable photo of your stallion that shows his good qualities. A good disposition is desirable but it will not show up in a photograph. A photo must have a passive background even if the animal is in motion. Yo u want potential customers to focus on your stallion, read the brief description about him, and then pick up the phone and call for an appointment to see him. Your description should be aimed at those who you feel will be the most likely to breed to your stallion based on his pedigree, show record, or progeny. Keep it simple and to the point. Large amounts of verbiage do not get read. Presentation of the stallion and his surroundings to potential breeders must be appealing and professional. We make sure t hat the horse is clipped and groomed before the mare owner sees him. It is a good policy to always present the stallion in a show halter, not a turnout halter. The area where you show your stallion to the customer should be well lighted and free of distra ctions. Owners will want to know where their mare will be kept and what she will be fed. It is a good idea to have a stall and the breeding area ready to show them.
I can not emphasize enough the importance of presenting your stallion and your stable in your best professional manner. Potential customers want to see a well groomed, physically fit animal in neat, well maintained surroundings. You don't have to have whi te fences, you do have to have a facility that is kept up with safe fences and well-maintained stalls, arenas, breeding areas. All the above will improve your potential to breed mares to your stallion, but it is important to also do a follow-up on every i nquiry you get. Formulate a plan where you call, write a thank you, or otherwise acknowledge every inquiry. Call backs are important in order to let people know that you are interested in them and their animals. It will also produce business for you even if they do not breed to your stallion this year.
Another way of advertising your stallion is the use of stallion parades, stallion futurities and open houses. Sometime this works very well and sometimes the money is better spent in other ways. Stallion parades are great money raisers for the people putt ing them on but I do not understand how the stallion owner can present his stallion properly in a five minute time regardless of how wonderful he is. We get better results by presenting our stallions at home where they are more relaxed and we are able to deal with the prospective breeder in a quiet atmosphere and answer his questions without interference. Stallion parades are great if you do not have the facility or the time to keep your horse in condition.
Stallion futurities are a tool that you can use if you are promoting a young stallion and you have a broodmare band and you want to sell your foals. However, if you only have a stallion and don't want to buy a mare then you should sell the breeding before you go into the ring. I do like futurities when I own a bunch of mares and do not want to buy a stallion. Whenever I get a chance to breed to a stallion on my terms, I am all for it. Our best experiences have been with open houses or barns or whatever yo u want to call it. The reason is the mare owner gets to come and see your facility and the stallion in his own surroundings. It is to your advantage to be able to control the presentation and you have all the time in the world to answer questions, deal wi th criticism of your animal and show the mare owners your horse husbandry. Another thing is you have him on your playground and nobody can interrupt your presentation.
More often than we should, we hear of mares who are not taken care of while they are at a breeding farm. You can turn this around and use it as a tool to promote your horse. Our practice here is to be sure if the mare is used to running with other horses , if she is a dominant mare, and if she has any habits, i.e., kicking, biting, etc. If she does then she gets to stay in her stall and paddock. When the owner comes to get her, she is not all scratched up and has actually gained a few pounds.
Probably the most important form of stallion promotion is a pregnant mare and a live foal. There is not a mare owner anywhere that wants to spend a bunch of money and not get a live foal. We work closely with our vets, who are skilled equine practitioner s. If the mare has not had a pre-breeding exam and culture before she arrives, she does within twenty-four hours after arrival even if she is not in estrous. We can then tell the owner approximately when she will be in heat and when we expect to breed her . If she is just going out of heat, we can short cycle her and reduce her stay by as much as two weeks.
We are not a boarding facility by choice and necessity, so we must move mares in and out rather quickly. Fourteen days after we finish breeding a mare we have her ultra-sounded. This does two things. One, we can ascertain whether she is pregnant or not. If she is not, we can find out why and re-breed her on her next cycle. Two, if she is pregnant, the owner can take her home and have his vet confirm the pregnancy on the forty-five day check. We have had great success with this method. We have increased t he number of mares we can handle without increasing our facility and we have reduced the mare owner's cost in breeding his mare.
M.R. Bain is the stallion manager for BHR Management Inc. Mr. Bain has degrees in Agriculture (major in Animal Husbandry) and Business Administration. He has been involved in the horse industry since 1955.