USDF University Sessions at Annual Meeting Educate and Inform
An interesting and well attended university session held Wednesday at the 2004 USDF Annual Meeting in Lexington, Kentucky, addressed important issues for American Breeders looking to develop their marketing concepts and achieve their goals of promoting their quality breeding operations.
The panel was headed up by Ekkehard Brysch, CEO of the ISR-Oldenburg registry North America and the Federation of Stallion Testing LLC., Scott Hassler, Director of Training at Hilltop Farm in Colora, MD, and chairman of the USDF Sport Horse Committee, and Willy Arts, co-owner and trainer of DG Bar Ranch in Hanford, CA, also a member of the USDF Sport Horse Industry.
The theory of marketing in general is a philosophy of identifying the needs of the buyers, satisfying those needs (the short term) and anticipating them in the future (long-term retention). To apply this philosophy to the Sport Horse Breeders of America, breeders need to network with each other and their Breed Organization by developing and agreeing on certain criteria for advertising, and promoting sales.
The Quality of the Horse Must Prevail
Willy Arts, successful in this concept explains the “The quality of the horse is most important. This does not mean that every horse is expected to become an Olympic horse.” The seller must be sure to present a horse with three good gaits, and character, and to represent them correctly. “Do not advertise a second level horse as a fourth level horse just because you have trained a few fourth level movements at home,” Arts explains.
“The career of a horse starts at a young age,” continues Arts. He encourages breeders to work with a good trainer in their area who can begin to develop the young horse, and get them out to shows, as well as present them in a professional way to potential buyers.
The largest market in America is the Amateur rider, 62% who do not show over 3rd level.
American Breeders face unique challenges in promoting their businesses, challenges different from their European predecessors, who benefit from a long established system of sales through auctions and events, and “happenings” attracting large crowds of enthusiastic buyers, and breeders and people passionate about the horses and the sport.
Breed Organizations Need to Take the Initiative
Ekkehard Brysch admits that in America the concept of the Auction for promotion and marketing of the breeders may not work as it does in Europe, considering the sheer demographics of such a large country. But there are ways American Breeders can learn from the Europeans who have demonstrated there mastery of marketing.
Sport horse marketing works so well in Europe because it is driven by the breed organizations and their managers, passionate about delighting the riders. It is suggested by the panel that such organizations in America can work towards this goal.
But it is also the responsibility of the breeders to get away from their farms and attend the breed shows along with their horses and become a part of the network of other breeders in their area. Networking in America is critical to breeders, due to the size of the country, and often the remoteness of some of the farms operations. When breeders network in an area, they can attract more buyers to visit that area of the country, much in the same way horse shoppers in Europe can see many quality horses in one visit.
Promoting the American Bred Horse
American Breeders are also working towards the concept of the American Bred horse. This would be defined by a horse which is conceived and born on American soil. This concept is already catching on as demonstrated by the hugely successful “Born in the USA ” Breeders Class at Devon. The prize money continues to grow, being supported by the Breeders.
The growth of the USEF/Markel National Young Horse Championships is another program which encourages American breeders to develop a good relationship with their trainers and riders, as there is now an excellent arena for talented young horses to take center stage at qualifying and National competitions.