Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What does winning mean in a changing economy and racing industry?

Particularly since the shift in the economy, many interested fans and prospective clients ask me about the risks of owning through a thoroughbred partnership; with the myriad of factors involved, how can you really be sure of any horse? The real answer lies in how sure you are of yourself and your team. The majority of thoroughbreds born into the world have at least the potential to perform on a small scale--but is your partnership smart enough to manage a horse for what he or she is actually able to do well? It is as much of a mistake to believe that mediocre conformation can maintain a long career as it is to believe that a $500,000 price tag on a two- year-old guarantees success. People push or pamper horses everyday based on sometimes inaccurate beliefs about what method of breeding, training, and managing is best. For me, a realistic, long-term approach has always been effective in both assuaging any fears, and counterbalancing any illusions that might distract me from making good decisions. Pictured: Fine Behind - A now happy and pleasantly plump rescue from Paragallo.

Unfortunately, racing has sometimes had a bad reputation for its excesses, corrupt procedures, and inconsideration for the animals it profits from. In regard to this, I actually believe the recession scare has been good for the industry in the long run. Without a financial wake-up call, a lot of necessary restructuring to the management style of thoroughbreds might not have been contemplated for some time. Fair partnership operations, reasonable pricing, responsible breeding and training, solutions for equine retirement and overpopulation, and pragmatic education are all critical issues to be tackled in today's market. The future of the racing industry depends on the confidence we can have in its practices, and therefore, our own.

Over the years, I have formulated my own strategy for thoroughbred ownership based on what I observed to be successful, in the best interest of the horse, and fair for everyone involved. As I have spoken and written about many times and will continue to advocate for, conscientious breeding is the keystone in any champion's career. Big, strong, solid thoroughbreds last over time, are consistent, and make excellent bloodstock. Quality horses come from careful selection, and for me this is best realized in home-breds, rather than at auction or in claiming races. This is not to say that there aren't some great horses through those avenues, but to me, the degree of care is never quite the same as in a horse that has been cultivated to succeed from the womb. Home-breds are also better for the breed as a whole; the ubiquitous nature of auctions and claiming races perpetuate the idea that thoroughbreds are disposable, and that it is acceptable to simply sell to whomever wants to buy. In reality, this is the kind of attitude that weakens bloodlines through constant breeding in the haphazard hope of a profit, and sends many horses that could be adapted to another sport straight to the slaughterhouse. This is also where management comes in--a good manager is educated enough to place a horse where he or she can win, not where the horse will flounder and be considered an unworthy investment. Often the best test of character for a manager is whether or not administrative fees are taken from partners; a quality manager will benefit only when the partnership does, because he or she is confident in the decisions being made.

When comes to the concept of a "win" in ownership, the industry needs a more holistic definition. A win is not the achievement of one race, but the deliberate choices that comprise a long and healthy career. Surrounding yourself with others in your partnership and training stable who are excited about horses, realistic in their expectations, and educated in their actions is also part of accomplishing a win.

It is my personal goal in everything that I do with Unbridled to improve the world for horses and the people who love them, and if anything, uncertain times can be a great motivator to evaluate your own goals in the industry. I would encourage anyone that an investment in an ethical, proven partnership team is a surprisingly rewarding long-term venture to consider--and unlike any other speculation, it will get your heart pounding in a positive way!

3 comments:

Karen said...

Thank You and Congratulations for thinking so clearly!!!!!!!


As a communicator and healer for animals and their human companions it was wonderful to read your clear view and gentle strength for the good of the animal in uncertain economic times. I am also the founder of The Evolution of Animal Health Care Tele-series and web site and what you are doing is changing perceptions and practices by example and results.

No industry is innately bad. Practices accepted and perpetuated by greed and not the holistic approach, that you mentioned, are no longer being accepted blindly.
You are a gifted advocate of the evolution of the racing world.
Karen

Bruce W. said...

Yes, I would agree with you.
This recession has cause a rethinking, retooling from the point of owners/managment to the people that are involve in the lower ground workings in the horse industry.
Now its about being more effective, because no one has the time or monies to waste and it has really become a way of running most businesses, etc.

Thank you for bring this fine subject to the fore front.

Bruce Wiley of Discover Essential Horsemanship- San Fernando Valley division.

Power Cap said...

I agree with you. The recession can have a positive effect on the thoroughbred industry. It makes more sense to race when the breeding shed does not hold massively easy profits.