Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Stallion Service Auctions – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

by Kathy St. Martin and Jos Mottershead

Every year, mare owners begin their search for the perfect match for their mare(s). Usually this begins by perusing all the various Stallion Service Auctions offered by different warmblood registries. SSAs have become more and more popular in recent years, and it’s easy to see why. If done well, SSAs offer something for each of the parties involved: registries, stallion owners, and mare owners.

Mannhattan, who has been in his share of SSAs.
The auctions offer mare owners the chance to purchase a breeding - often at a discounted rate; they offer fund raising for the registries so that they can promote various registry programs; and they can offer stallion owners the opportunity to promote their stallion to a specific group of interested mare owners. With that said, there are good and bad issues that can come along with these benefits. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons for all parties.

For the mare owner: 

Stallion service auctions can be a great way to invest in a breeding not considered before - as well as possibly getting that breeding at a discounted rate.

Before you hit that bid button, make sure you check out the requirements. Some stallion owners may require that you pay a booking fee not readily apparent in the text accompanying the stallion description. In most cases you will be responsible for the costs of collecting and shipping as part of that breeding process, so make sure you check! Sometimes those additional costs might even be inflated.

Remember, stallion owners donate these breedings to help the registry raise funds; most registries keep any stud fees that come in, so stallion owners rarely receive any money out of the deal. As a mare owner, please be courteous in your dealings with the stallion owner! Sadly, most stallion owners will tell you that their worst clients usually come from stallion service auctions - don’t be that client!

For the stallion owner:

Stallion service auctions can be a great advertising investment. Some of the registries do a great job promoting the individual stallions. The Westfalen registry this year had one of the largest selections of stallions, and most sold in the first round of advertising. They did a spectacular job of highlighting each individual stallion in the auction, promoting the stallions’ achievements and in general made it a great venue. It showed! They had a huge turnout and a great auction.

Some registries offer incentives for stallion owners who participate in their SSA. KWPN offers 1⁄2 of the stallion’s dues back as a thank you for the donation. The Canadian Hanoverian Registry pays for the first collection and shipment of semen on stallions registered in their auction, which makes it a great incentive for mare owners, as well. The BWP/NA has a futurity that is for stallions that are listed in their auction - the stallion owner, mare owner/breeder and the foal’s owner all receive payments as part of the futurity.

Participating in an SSA can also have long-term benefits for stallion owners: many auction breedings result in customers that come back again and again, so SSAs can definitely be a great way to cultivate some new clients who obviously like your stallion!

The most important benefit of participation for a stallion owner is that the SSA promotions can be great publicity for your stallion - but only if the registry does a good job. Participation is a two-way street with obligations on both sides. If the registry fails to meet their obligations — doesn’t do their part in promoting the stallion, offers no incentive, and doesn’t appreciate the stallion owner’s investment in their registry by making that donation—participation may no longer be a smart decision for the stallion owner. Many stallion owners become jaded in that the cost vs. benefit is too high to be worth the investment.

For the registry:

For the registries, stallion service auctions are a lot of work, but low-risk with no significant downside. They can promote the registry, garner new membership and generate funds that can help finance programs to benefit breeders. There is, however, an obligation to offer something in return for the donation! Some of the registries make a huge effort to nurture the relationships developed with breeders and see the stallion service auctions as a great way to accomplish that.

A poorly run auction can become a liability to a registry. It does not engender goodwill from the stallion owner. It can certainly result in their decision to never participating again, and affect the registry’s reputation more generally.

To run well and be successful for all, auctions do require a huge investment in time and energy - often from volunteers. Ensuring that the SSA is a positive experience for all parties involved should be the main goal. For continuing success, a top priority for registries should be making sure that the backbone of those auctions – the stallion owners – are appreciated and kept happy. Without the stallion owners’ generosity there would be no auction!

We invite comments from readers! Scroll down to the comments section.

Kathy St. Martin and Jos Mottershead own Avalon Equine and Equine Reproduction. They stand several of their own and outside stallions, many of whom have participated in dozens of stallion service auctions over the years. They are known for their extensive support of the equine industry, most notably the Leg Up Equestrian Assistance Program; and for their innovative marketing ideas.

Click on the links below to learn more about Avalon Equine stallions:

Apiro (Argentinus / Pilot / Cyrus)
Argentinus x Pilot/Cyrus
An athletic and blood option for warmblood breeders!
Pulpit x Java Gold/Damascus
Belafonte d’Avalon
Power in a small package!
Hilkens Black Delight - GRP x Mannhattan - Oldenburg/Ideal - Oldenburg
Colorado Skrødstrup
Incredible athleticism with the added bonus of color!
Perikles Christinelyst x Xantos/Apollon
Dracula d'Avalon
Talent, temperament and beauty!
Davidor x Mannhattan/Frohwind
ES Toronto
Imported Celle Hanoverian Stallion!
Now or Never M - KWPN x Belisar - KWPN/Solaris xx
Athletic and refining option for mare owners guaranteeing color!
Glitter Please x Milkie/Barbizon
A dual purpose stallion producing offspring in all disciplines!
Finesse x Wendepunkt/Hill Hawk xx
Silver Creek's Validation
Vallado / Lansing / Capitol I
Vallado x Lansing/Capitol I

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