Cat owns a horse breeding farm. Now I knew very little about this aspect of horses so I researched it. I found an article in the Horse magazine which was informative of how a large breeding facility operates.
What they are attempting to do is to provide a controlled environment for the breeding. Artificial insemination is not used, so they use live stallions for the breeding. It is a high cost business. As well as the controller- to keep track of ins and outs, there is the agronomist whose job it is to produce pastures that are both balanced in their nutrients and palatable to the horses. There are the vet and their technician, who take bloods, ultrasounds and check on the health and ovulation of the mares. Including palpating/ultrasounding mares for breeding soundness and estrous cycle timing; using that information to plan breedings; checking for pregnancies and problems; administering treatments; and monitoring stallion fertility. They also handle preventative care such as plasma administration for foals; deworming; vaccinations; and caring for sick animals; confirming ejaculation occurred; evaluating sperm motility via dismount semen samples after every breeding; and evaluating sperm morphology (physical shape). Mares will undergo uterine bacterial culturing prior to the breeding season. This allows time to treat any infection present and avoids “wasted” breedings. Mares are also cultured if they don’t get pregnant on the first cycle; the samples are evaluated at the farm, as are foals’ immunoglobulin levels. Amazingly technical and complicated work to ensure a successful pregnancy that will produce a foal that can win races and then – if male – earn lots of dosh at stud.
Then there is the barn manager who looks after the mares and foals general care; and marketing – of the stallions and facilities available; plus someone for all the following roles: assistant controller; stallion administrator; certified public accountant; farm manager; seeding of pastures; projects coordinator; landscape architect; director of bloodstock services; insurance; sales coordinator; and transport.
So compared to all these staff we can see that Cat’s farm is very small ‘fry’.
This story is a romance with horses, mystery and suspense, and some murder thrown in for good luck. We are not privy to the police side of things, but we do have a horse whisperer from Ireland, who also has second sight, who needs to get his colt to race and win well so that he can be used for stud – at exorbitant charges.
Quite an insight into also just how many staff there are at a race course to look after the horses all of whom have a separate job – grooming; stall work; walking a ‘hot’ horse after racing; riding a horse to train him and so on. No wonder it costs so much to race horses! And to buy a Thoroughbred horse.
All the English classics are for three-year-olds, and are designed to establish which horses are the best of that generation, so they can then be bred from. As breeding has become more commercialised, with powerful studs such as Darley and the mighty Coolmore in Ireland, so racing has in some respects become secondary, a means to the end of producing commercial stallions. According to the Guardian newspaper, 2009 :
A really good stud could impregnate least 100 mares a year; the owner of each mare is likely to pay around £75,000 for the privilege; he thus stands to make at least £7.5m a year. He could cover 400 mares if the owners wanted to work him really hard. And this happens for around 20 years!
Sea and Sand earned $250,000 per mare! – or pregnancy in 2009. This is Uncle Mo- in 2017: The champion American juvenile of 2010, he has established himself as the dominant stallion of his generation.
His first two-year-olds earned $3,675,294 in 2015, a record figure for a North American first-crop sire that eclipsed the previous benchmark of $2.8 million set by Tapit in 2009.
The most expensive stud – Galileo – in 2008 was reputed to earn over $600,000 per pregnancy!
So 4 stars for learning about thoroughbreds..