because it is appropriate for them. This allows me to sleep at night knowing that those horses will live a long, well-fed, well-loved life. If it is the fanciest thing on four legs and the amateur rider could afford it and is enjoy- ing it, then too bad for the professional who could have bought the same horse and really advanced with it. I have been breeding horses too long to feel resentment. I take great pride in the successes of the horses I have produced, even if it is only at a lower competition level with a happy amateur.” Leslie recognizes this di- lemma as well. “There is a very fine line between survival and success for breeders in Canada and the U.S. Ideally every horse would be bred for the top sports, but the rider supply is just not there for it, and breeders need to focus on the market offered to them,” she says. Meanwhile, she sees this is a self-perpetuating problem. “Riders go to Europe because we don’t have enough top-level horses, but breeders can’t focus on breeding only top- level horses because the market is primarily amateurs, so they are breeding amateur horses.”

Pairing Horses with Riders Sometimes breeders will make special deals to pair their top horses with top trainers. Leslie, Liz and Mo have all done so at some point. “I definitely try to make a

to know if this will work out, but so far I’m pleased with my decision,” she says. Leslie feels strongly that it’s not enough just to breed the best horses if they aren’t matched with the best rid- ers. “It’s almost more important to get the horses with the best riders. Good riders can make sub-par horses into something special. Many really good horses never get the chance to realize their full potential because they are ridden by amateurs or lower-level professionals. They are limited more by their riders than by their potential. Unfortunately the professionals don’t typically have the money that amateurs do, and breeders can’t afford to give their horses away or make too many special deals,” she says. Former Olympic dressage rider

great match and I’ll consider a discount for the right rider,” says Liz. In one case she made a deal in order to sell one of her top five-year-olds to three-day rider Tamie Smith, and he went on to be- come a 3* eventing horse, competing internationally and preparing for his first 4* before his untimely death last year. As a rule, Mo doesn’t make price concessions to pro-

fessionals, but has offered free financing in the past to help make deals happen. Leslie sold four different top quality weanlings to top riders in 2016, for significantly reduced prices. “I decided at the time it was more im- portant to try to get some of my horses with the best riders rather than focus on the money. It is still too soon

56 May/June 2018

A good example of a top professional working with one of our U.S. breeders. During week six of Ade- quan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington this year, Lisa Wilcox was unbeaten in two starts on the Zweibrucker stallion Gallant Reflection HU (Galant Du Serein x Rhodiamant). They won the Intermedi- ate II with over 71% before logging 68.375% in the Developing Grand Prix class—an impressive feat for a horse who is only nine years old. He is owned by Horses Unlimited of New Mexico, who bred the licensed stallion.

Lisa Wilcox trains and competes stallions and occasional sales horses for breeder Anne Sparks of Horses Unlimited. She is forth- right in saying that even when the horses are fantastic and interna- tional quality, she still does not ride for free. “Professional train- ers have a lot of time and money invested in their education, and they deserve to be paid. Breeders should be realistic about this. I’ll give the best education possible to a horse, but I can’t afford to do it for free,” she says. She’s not unsympathetic to the

plight of breeders. “There’s not a lot of money in breeding horses,” she acknowledges. “Genetics can also be a crap shoot. You’re lucky

when you get an international talent, but most horses will be sold to amateurs, so breeders have to take that into account also.”

Foals versus Riding Horses Buyers tend to prefer to buy horses who already have at least some training. This can cause another dilemma for breeders. It can be financially difficult to justify hold- ing onto a foal until riding age, and then the expense of putting that youngster with a professional to be start- ed under saddle can be insurmountable. “Everything seems more expensive in North America, and breeders have bills to pay,” laments Leslie.

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