Friday, October 20, 2017

New from KER: Horse Water Consumption

Did you know that a 1-month-old foal will drink up to a gallon of water per day as well as more than four gallons of milk? Kentucky Equine Nutrition posted an article this past summer about water consumption in horses, and I was surprised to learn that a foal would consume that much.

It's fact number 5 in the KER article. To read all six, click here for the full article.

To read more articles in our Knowledge Base, chosen to be relevant to breeders, click here.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Require the Preservation of Breeder in Horse Name?

There has been a lot of discussion about making a breeder's farm name or initials part of a horse or pony's name, either as a prefix or suffix. For example, "Breed Famous Farm's Joyous Equine" or "Joyous Equine BFF". Recently, pony breeder Randee Beckman circulated a petition on Facebook to submit a rule request to USEF that requires owners to retain the breeder's prefix or suffix in a horse or pony's name even if they change the name itself. To date, it has gotten several hundred signatures.

There are good reasons to do this. On the face of it, it supports breeders, and the proposed rule is presented as a way for USEF to support breeders. And we all know that breeders don't get nearly the recognition they deserve, and very little support. But there are both practical and philosophical problems with the proposed rule.

The first significant problem is that the proposed rule is too vague, and doesn't take into account the full reality of how breeder identifiers (prefix or suffix) are currently used. At the moment they are in no way standardized. Some breeds or registries (e.g. Welsh Pony & Cob Society of America) put the farm name as a prefix, and have rules governing that usage. According to Randee's recent blog post on, she states that both the Welsh Pony & Cob Society of America and the Virginia Pony Breeders Association have rules against dropping the breeder's prefix - so there are existing regulations that would need to be taken into consideration.

Warmblood and sport horse breeders have a wide range of things they do with prefixes and suffixes, including adding elite status or achievement level to the name, and adding owner farm or breeder farm to either the front or the back. There is an informal tradition that an owner's farm should be a prefix and a breeder's farm should be a suffix - and most use just farm initials - but there is no central clearinghouse for this, or which initials belong to which farm. There are instances where the same initials have been used to identify two or even three different farms. Most breeders don't know the "rules" about what initials go where because there really are none.

In other words, a great deal of standardization would have to take place across breeds and disciplines in order to make this practical and definable.

Second, the breeder identifiers (prefix or suffix) were a breeder-driven effort to bring positive attention to their farms: I don't know its history in all breeds, but in effect the breeders took matters into their own hands and created a way to "stamp" their work. It's the breeder's way of stating that they take pride in what they produce. It's important to many breeders, because it's one of the few ways that breeders can have their name associated with a specific horse. If the identifier is kept, it's actually a pretty clever way for the breeder's name to be associated with the horse and its competitive success, without having to depend on the recognition of others.

It's marketing, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. Breeders should take every opportunity to promote what they produce in a positive way. It's a brilliant marketing idea, but it is marketing. It's self-promotion. Essentially, the proposed rule would force horse and pony owners to do marketing for the breeders.

Breeders themselves have very mixed opinions about that. Some feel that, once a breeder incorporates an identifier into a horse's name, it is seriously rude to remove it. A slap in the face to a breeder who worked hard to create the horse you love. Some breeders have even included in the buying contract that the breeder identifier must be kept. Others feel very strongly that the name is the new owner's, to keep or change however they see fit. They see the proposed rule as a roadblock to the breeder/owner relationship, and possibly something that would deter a potential buyer from buying a horse with an identifier that they had to keep.

The question raised by the proposed rule is: should a horse/pony owner be forced by our national federation to carry a breeder's marketing in their horse or pony's name? There are excellent reasons why a new owner might want to do that. There are really good reasons why they should want to do that. But should they be required to?

Third, no one has talked about enforcement. The proposed rule is unenforceable as it stands. Putting a new rule on the books without a clear idea of how and how it will be enforced is getting ahead of yourself. As a dressage TD of ten years, I believe most people don't recognize the "overhead" that goes into a new rule, or the costs contained in enforcement. That needs to be thought through.

For me, the biggest problem with this proposal is that it's going at it backwards. First, if we want appreciation from owners and buyers and potential buyers, forcing them to keep breeder marketing attached to the horse or pony may be shooting ourselves in the foot. Second, if we want recognition from USEF for what breeders do - for the valuable contribution they make to horse sports - this isn't it. This would be USEF giving breeders the right to market a certain way, not a recognition of their expertise or value to horse sports.

As a group breeders don't enjoy much of that recognition in North America. Many competitors don't think about who breeds the horses they ride, or give much value to the role breeders play in producing talented horses. Our official sport horse organizations, including USEF, don't really give much thought to breeders. It's understandable, since historically the focus of USEF has been competition, and breed shows are a very small part of that, but the result is that our own Federation does not recognize the part breeders play in horse sport.

Our national federation needs to make a conscious effort to educate itself about breeders in the US: the expertise they have, and the challenges they face. USEF needs to ask itself where our competitors' next horses are coming from, whether breeders here can supply them, and what they can do to help. They have a lot of catching up to do.

I think that it should be the official policy of USEF to recognize, encourage, and support breeders. I believe there are excellent reasons for this, and many ways USEF could implement the policy. Many, many ways. When it comes to an individual horse, the main thing necessary is that USEF should make sure that breeder information is included in every registered horse's information, and that the information is readily available. That's the basic requirement, and it's where official recognition of breeders has to start. And breeder information should appear every place that a horse's show records appear. It should be as standard as listing the rider. Every show record should include the breeder.

The proposed rule change seems like a way for USEF to support breeders, but sadly I don't think it really would; the only way it supports breeders is to enforce their right to market a certain way. It doesn't encourage owners to appreciate breeders - perhaps the opposite. Bottom line: it's not an appropriate thing for USEF to regulate - and there are better ways to encourage USEF to recognize breeders.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Fundraisers for Kathy St. Martin and Jos Mottershead of Avalon Equine

Kathy St. Martin and Jos Mottershead, owners and operators of Avalon Equine and Equine Reproduction in Wynnewood, Oklahoma have been instrumental in "paying it forward" to the warmblood breeding community for many, many years. They hold free clinics for equine education, spend lots of time helping others including large animal first responders in Oklahoma, founders of Leg-Up Equestrian Assistance Program, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to organize, develop, raise and distribute funds to help equestrians and equines suffering from catastrophic events (but not to themselves although goodness knows they are worthy of help) ... AND they donate a warmblood foal annually to help raise funds. Talk about paying it forward!

Now they need our help.

Jos had a very serious accident leaving him on complete bed rest after serious accident surgery a couple years ago ... depleting all of their resources plus putting them seriously into debt. They felt they could "work through it" but wouldn't ask for help. Then Kathy had a life-threatening situation involving becoming septic from a kidney stone ... that put her in ICU for 5 days just to become strong enough to put in a stint. After weeks of meds, rest and doctors ... she was scheduled to have the stint and kidney stone removed.

Then it really goes downhill ... Jos was seriously hurt moving steel and more emergency rooms, more doctors and more expenses on top of existing medical expenses.

Breandan Filbert and Cindy Neumann, warmblood breeders in the Kansas City, Missouri area, are organizing a silent auction to benefit Kathy and Jos.  Incredible donations are pouring in from across the country.  Breandan and Cindy are currently organizing the donations—please keep an eye on the Facebook page – Kathy & Jos Medical Fundraising ( for upcoming information.