Should You Campaign Your Breeding Stallion?

Five things to consider while managing a horse-breeding competitor.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Plan a breeding and show schedule that is compatible with keeping the horse happy and healthy, and your clients satisfied. Journal photo.

In today’s highly competitive market, a great-looking stallion with a winning competition record presents an irresistible package to mare owners. But how do you add that show record to the package?

A stallion owner or manager might see great conformation and athletic ability in a young colt, but it can be a real challenge to uncover the youngster’s capability to focus on a show discipline - or just about anything, that is, except what stallions naturally focus on! Or, if the horse is unusually mature, ready, willing and able, there’s the challenge of finding a trainer who suits the horse and a show schedule that is compatible with a limited breeding schedule. The most successful campaigns set reasonable goals that everyone involved can support and work toward.

So where to begin? For suggestions, we talked to Bill Myers of Myers Performance Horses in St. Onge, South Dakota, home of the legendary Frenchmans Guy. He offered down-to-earth, reality-based suggestions.

“If you’re going to take your stud out on the road to promote him,” Bill says, “you’d better have a pretty good idea that he’s going to do something special, or it’s just best not to campaign him at all.”

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A stallion’s temperament is crucial to a successful campaign. “Each horse is an individual,” Bill says. “You need to adjust your training program to strengthen his weaknesses and bring out his best. But if you plan to campaign while breeding him, a good mind is a necessity. “You need to establish control and discipline before you start any campaign,” he adds. “One stallion that we campaigned, A Smooth Guy (Frenchmans Guy-Docs Movida by Dry Doc), had always been a mellow, easy-to-get-along-with colt, so I felt we could breed him on a limited basis as a 3-year-old, while taking him to roping events. It has worked well, so we entered him in a few AQHA events.”

Bill suggests that if an owner is not personally showing the colt, that owner needs to do some homework before selecting a trainer to campaign him.

“It’s important that they handle your horse the way you want,” he says. “And that the trainer is compatible with your horse and likes him. We’ve all heard stories about colts that were sent away, then didn’t get ridden. If a trainer doesn’t like your horse in the first place, it’s just human nature for them to (instead) saddle up and ride a horse they like better. It’s essential that you trust your trainer.” Bill also suggests that owners make themselves familiar with a trainer’s skills.

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It’s also important to maintain a balance between a young stallion’s limited breeding season and a demanding show schedule.

“Some people rush horses to suit the calendar rather than the horse,” Bill says. “Frankly, a lot of horses are wrecked by the futurity schedule and just can’t go on to have a full, long-lasting career and a productive life. “People using their horses for rodeo and ranch seem to look more at the long view,” he observes. “I like to see horses trained with less hurry-up and more thought to longevity. A seasoned, finished barrel horse is worth a lot: $100,000-plus. If your young stud is breeding and needs a little time off the road, give it to him. In the long run, it’s well worth it.”

Finally, Bill suggests that owners and trainers discuss the goals of their stallion’s campaign. Plan a breeding and show schedule that is compatible with keeping the horse happy and healthy, and your clients satisfied. Like studying a roadmap before a trip, the best path to the goal will become apparent with everyone on the same page. Then, keep the lines of communication open and your eyes on the prize.