Imagine if you will....sit back, relax and let your mind wander.
You live in beautiful upstate New York... Just outside the Adirondacks. You have sweet smelling green meadows, winding streams, waterfalls, rolling hills and a quaint but modest farm house. You have an apple orchard...it's been in your family for years and growing apples is in your blood. You have carefully slaved over and selected your trees for years. You carefully pruned them, sprayed them and fertilized them...some were from the original old farm stock...some were grafted with new stock, some were new varieties...and some are just seedlings. Outside your old farm house by the road you have built a sturdy wooden stand. It's humble but attractive and though your location is remote your apples are known far and wide. People drive for miles to buy them. They are tasty apples..versatile...whether to bake with or to eat. They are of high quality and you take great pride in producing them....and as much as you love your apples and eat them yourself there is even greater pride in watching others enjoy them too! You have many regular customers that stop by to buy your apples. Some that buy them are busy passers by...some linger, chat and become friends and many, once they visit, come back to buy apples time after time. They know what to expect when they buy your apples. You price them reasonable so that families can afford them but allow yourself enough of a profit that you can stay in business. After all, if you can't stay in business there will be no more apples!
Some even buy your seedlings so they can take them home and make their own orchards and have their own stands. You delight in seeing your apples appreciated and grown on other farms as well.
When you put your apples out on your stand you make sure that only high quality apples get sold. Ones that are bruised or of low quality don't belong. They are not good for business and if one of your customers gets a "bad" apple they will be disappointed....they won't come back for more! You only want to sell apples you are proud to say came from your stand. After all- some will go into pies that get entered in the county fair! or some will be used in special family recipes that will create precious memories.
You also try never to sell out of apples. Your customers have come to rely on you to always provide them with the apples that they need and want. If you sell out of apples you are out of business! Your solution? You go to your neighbors and their orchards and carefully select from their apples the best you can find to put in your stand.... Ones of the type and quality you would have grown yourself. Your customers are happy. You are happy...and each year you try to grow and provide better and better apples.
You stay on your quaint farm. You live the life you love and you enjoy the many friends you have made year after year at your stand.
So now you've heard my little story. Of course it's the story of Sawyer Creek...and our apples are our horses. Horses are not only our business, but our life. It's what we do and it's what we are.
Why should I buy from a professional breeder?
A COMPARISON OF:
Traits of a Professional Breeders
Traits of Irresponsible Breeders
Is actively involved with the national and local horse networks (shows, training, associations, clubs, and other reputable breeders) to keep involved and their knowledge current.
Not involved with the horse networks (has "pets" around the pasture)
The quality and suitability of his horses for breeding is proven through competition and titles. The horses' pedigrees are filled with animals who have obtained competitive titles. They never breed horses without "papers"
The quality of the horses is almost always substandard, and they are not tested in competition. (Horses are just pets or "breeding machines") The pedigrees consist mostly of a list of unknowns bred by backyard breeders; stock may not even have "papers"; may be grade
Knowledgeable in every facet of their breed- training, showing, socializing, breeding, health issues/defects; and researches genetics when choosing mates, Can and will help and educate horse buyers in regard to these issues
Not particularly educated about their breed, often not aware of his own breed's genetic defects; does not consider the genetics of an animal which he intends to breed
Willing to give you his references and has a list of repeat customers
Has no references and no repeat customers. Takes your money, then says "Goodbye" and "Good luck"
Breeds to improve his own horses, his bloodlines and his chosen breed
Breeds just to breed or make money or see his "great horse" procreate. Breeds any mare because he feels a bred mare will sell for more than an open one, and that a stallion will sell for more than a gelding.
Does all necessary genetic testing; does not breed animals with genetic defects or which are carriers of defects and is aware of the bloodlines that carry defects.
Does no genetic testing; ignorantly or knowingly breeds defective animals or those which are carriers, thus, perpetuating disease and defect in the breed
Does not own more horses than he has room, time or money for; Horses are groomed, exercised, healthy, happy
Farm is overloaded, horses are "warehoused" not groomed or exercised, don't look healthy or happy.
Uses only good quality feed, wormer and vaccinations. Is not afraid to call the vet out.
Feeds the cheapest feed and wormer, does only the required vaccinations if any, and does not want to invest in a vet call.
Matches horses temperaments and training with buyers' personalities, experience and skill level. Can honestly evaluate the horse and it's potential
Allows buyers to pick the "prettiest" one. They will sell to anyone who offers the money. Says all of his horses are high quality and suited for everything.
Never sells to "impulse" buyers and always provides information to prepare buyers for the horse. Sells only to buyers who make the horse's safety a priority.
Sells to "impulse" buyers. Does not follow up after the sale, and provides little in the way of information or support.
Interviews prospective buyers, checks home and references, refuses to sell to substandard homes
Sells first-come, first-served to whomever has the cash; does not find out which homes are substandard
Encourages or requires buyers to geld or not breed non-breeding quality animals.
Encourages buyers to breed, regardless of quality
Encourages buyers to train the horse; will give references to qualified trainers
Shows no concern for horses after sale; knows no trainers nor has any experience with them.
Makes sure buyers understand horses need for considerable time, attention, exercise and training , Makes sure they know the expenses involved and that it is a long term commitment.
Does not provide even his own horses with enough time, attention, exercise or training
Improve the Breed
Damage the Breed
A professional breeder is one who always puts the best interests of their chosen breed and of individual horses first, above any consideration of profit, or personal ambition. A responsible breeder does not produce foals just to have stock to sell or just because a mare happened to come in heat. They produce a foal only after careful consideration of the conformation and disposition of the prospective sire and dam, their individual strengths and weaknesses, how their pedigrees niche, and what the proposed breeding would contribute towards the betterment of the breed. This is an extensive and time-consuming process, therefore, it is not surprising to find that a responsible breeder considers the horses as their "kids" and wants only another responsible home for them.
A professional breeder should be eager and able to provide detailed information about the breed they are involved with, as well as information about the sire and dam of the horse . Answering what may seem like "stupid" questions from a novice should not be a problem for the responsible breeder-it is an opportunity to educate. This educational responsibility also includes information about the negative aspects of a horse ownership. Beware of a breeder that says there are no negative aspects to horse ownership.
A professional breeder is also aware that all horses, purebred or not, carry genetic defects. The breeder must be knowledgeable about which defects are most prevalent in their breed. Genetic testing is available to screen for some of these problems. The responsible breeder should make use of these tests that are available before a planned foal is produced. . Once a foal is born, the responsible breeder will insure that the foal gets the best possible start in life. This includes providing clean, suitable stabling, nourishing feed, fresh water, veterinary care (including vaccinations and worming at the proper time), farrier care and lots of human attention . Good written records should be kept on each horse. This may include records of vaccinations, farrier work, and worming..
A professional breeder screens prospective owners for the horses they do not intend to keep. A responsible breeder will want to know as much as possible about you, as the prospective buyer. A responsible breeder's worst nightmare is to have one of their horses in an unsuitable home, unloved and uncared for, or worse yet, sent to auction to end up in slaughter! So don't be surprised to be given the "third degree" by a breeder. You will get questions about your stabling arrangements, skill levels, goals, training, family and work schedule. You may also be asked for veterinary and personal references; and possibly a farm visit by the breeder. These are all designed to help the breeder get to know you, in order to match you with the horse "most likely to succeed" in your individual situation.
Professional breeders work very hard and put a great deal of time and effort to produce highest quality animals that have sound health, temperament, and structure.
Where can you find a professional breeder? Attend horse shows, contact local or national breed associations for referrals and network. Read books, study, research and get references from any breeder you are considering obtaining a horse from. Finally try to be patient! Finding the right horse and locating one from a reputable breeder will take some time and effort on your part...all worth it in the long run!
Do you ever sell your "best" stock?
Yes! Our best horses are our best advertising! Great Sawyer Creek horses sold to show homes generate advertising for us! We have a general limit...one foal a year that we may keep...and some years we don't even do that! It makes more sense to own breeding age stock then for us to wait on a baby. Now you are going to ask me why we sell breeding age stock. ELEMENTARY!...we have control of what our stallion breeds and the quality of babies we produce and we can get more babies by him on the ground and in more locations than if we kept all the mares ourselves on our farm! PLUS...those people show or tell their friends and do the advertising for us! Think about it. When we ship semen do we really know the quality of the mare we are breeding??? No...not really... and if that mare is not a good cross often times it's associated with the stallion rather than the mare... BUT, if we buy the best mares we can find that we KNOW are quality...breed them to our stallion and then sell them bred to the homes we want...and make great matches...we KNOW we are putting the type of babies down with mares we hand picked and where we want them to be. If the new owner is happy he wins ...therefore WE WIN! A great baby in the right home is worth a dozen journal ads. It makes smart business sense. We can't keep them all, and not changing and trying different bloodlines would take away some of the fun! If we sell some of our best stock bred to our best stock we make happy customers and wonderful friends. Now you may ask me why are some of our horses NOT for sale? ...well...look at it this way...if you pay $10,000 for a horse as a yearling...you have to wait several years to get a foal out of that horse and then when you do chances are it's going to take several more years to get your $10,000 and expenses back! so it's not that they are not "for sale" necessarily...but that we haven't recouped our investment yet. I guess SURE...just about any of our horses WOULD be for sale for the right price and at the right time...but most of you wouldn't want to pay what we have to have to even break even! So that's the story. We like to sell the BEST quality horses at prices families can afford...and the fact of the matter is we can sell you a foal out of that $10,000 mare without you having to spend the $10,000 for her, the breeding expenses and without you taking the risk.
I am interested in buying a horse but I am not sure what I should buy. How can you help me?
We at Sawyer Creek are most interested in good matches between the prospective owner and the horse. It does us no good to sell you a horse that will not fit your goals! We first like to find out from you what your needs, goals, and preferences are. From there we can assess if we have something in our program that will meet those needs and if so, make a recommendation to you. If we don't, perhaps we know of a horse available elsewhere that will! If you have decided on a Sawyer Creek Appaloosa, a minimum non-refundable deposit of 25% of the purchase price but no less than $500 is taken to hold the horse for you and a sales contract is signed. We accept personal checks and direct wire transfer. The registration papers, health papers and coggins will be ready to go upon completion of payment and in time for your new horse's transport. I will warn you however, Sawyer Creek horses are addictive! Just ask all of our repeat buyers!
A less fun aspect of your new horse purchase but of course a necessary one is the art of paying!
After all your research and inquiries you think you have found your perfect horse. Hopefully you have researched the price and have either discovered it is "fair", "way cheap", or "way high" for what is being offered. Hopefully it falls in the fair range, or in the best case it is a reasonable bargain....but..... The "way cheap" ones should send up caution flags and warrant extra attention and research. 1% of the time they ARE simply a true bargain.. BUT 99% of the time you get what you pay for! Beware of fast sells or high pressure. There is generally a good reason that this horse is cheap and you need to discover that reason before you rush into any transaction. This can be a conformational flaw, undesirable genetic trait or predisposition, a bad habit, a health problem, a temperament problem or something not all that readily obvious. Remember...this horse is going to be a member of your family so your careful attention is well warranted. You may have to go back to the research table.
On the other hand, the "way high" ones can be the result of an un-astute seller, a slick sales person who has sized you up as "green" or there is some outstanding quality about this horse that is not readily evident to you. The sellers might be grasping at straws, know more than you do, don't want to sell the horse or simply don't know it's market value. These deserve that extra amount of research as well. What you think may be high may be...OR actually very fair! Ask the seller WHY they feel the horse is worth that price and discuss it openly...you may get your answer and learn something too!
Now, the "fair" priced horse is usually from an astute seller whose done the homework, knows his horse and where he stands on the open market place. Usually the "fair" priced ones come from the more experienced sellers or breeders. They have a demand for their horses and an established clientele they have built over time which means they don't "HAVE" to bargain basement anything. They have good stock that sells on it's own merits and often price is less of an issue than making a good match. These are the people that WELCOME your research. It only goes to further prove the value of their horses. Hopefully you will consider Sawyer Creek in that category!
Now that you've gotten a good assessment of your prospective horse's value, have seen it's registration papers are in order and are ready to purchase it, you need to decide if you are willing to pay the price the seller is asking. No one who is reputable that is selling a horse will be insulted if you offer less. Of course that doesn't mean they will come down to your price and accept. Often you will find that if the horse is priced fairly to begin with...they won't! They don't have to. But it doesn't hurt to try. Most reputable breeders price their stock where they think they ought to be and don't play games. And what of the sellers that are "way high" and feeling you out? Decide where you think the horse ought to be, and tell them why. If you don't agree with them, don't let them sway you- simply make your offer and stick to it. You might be surprised if that seller calls you back in a few days and perhaps decides to accept your offer after all... OR, you can always choose to negotiate. If the price won't come down there are other compromises you might make that will make you both feel more comfortable. Perhaps the seller would be willing to deliver the horse, throw in a breeding to their stallion or put some saddle time in.
Now, VERY IMPORTANT- when you make your offer keep in mind what YOUR situation is and be up front about it. Chances are a seller is NOT willing to take payments on a horse that is in high demand unless it is in an upper price range OR the seller thinks there are other benefits in selling their horse to you as opposed to someone else. A good example- IF it's a foal from their breeding program and your goals and plans include showing the foal, often breeders WILL give special consideration to you as your high profile show ring exposure goes towards good advertising for their farm. You will be doing them a favor by promoting their stallion or training program and they may just be more willing to sell to you than someone who plans on keeping the horse only as a backyard pet and trail horse. In any case, a seller may or may not be willing to take payments and a clean cash deal will get you farther than if you are asking to pay over time. If you do have to make payments, make sure you have a substantial down payment to offer and you have the ability to follow through and the seller is assured of that. Most sellers will ask you to sign a contract and that's for your protection as well as theirs. They are generally a standard form but read all of it and if you have questions ASK. Terms vary but generally with most sellers a horse will not leave a breeders farm until they are paid for and you will not get the registration papers until the transaction is complete. This is important for you to know because if you plan on showing this horse it will probably need to be in your name for your breed association to do so. Allow time for this and for the transfer of ownership to be processed by your association. Also bear in mind, that if you plan on making payments some breeders may charge you a carrying fee or interest charge, board and expect you to maintain that horse from the time of sales agreement till it leaves the sellers premises. This may include you paying for vet work, wormer and farrier work. You may have to assume the risk and responsibility if the horse is hurt or dies in the interim. For this reason it's prudent to take out an insurance policy on the horse to protect your investment. Another possible consideration- You need to set aside some money if you are going to have the horse transported. Haulers DO NOT take payments. If for some unexpected reason you are going to be late on a payment, most sellers will understand, but be up front about it and tell them in advance if possible and give them a reasonable date in which they can expect payment and stick to it. You may have to pay a late fee penalty but do bear in mind, while you are making payments this seller is also locked in and may have been turning down cash sales on this horse because they are honoring their commitment to you.
Finally, the payment itself-
If you are on the premises, sellers should be more than happy to give you a receipt for your payment so cash or good check is acceptable. If they are not willing to give you a receipt for your payment DON'T BUY THE HORSE. SOMETHING IS ROTTEN IN THE WOOD PILE! If it's a long distance buy or if time is of the essence you can wire transfer funds. Most banks are set up to do it and what it involves is simply going to your bank and having your funds from your account transferred through the Federal Reserve to the sellers bank account. For this you will need the seller's routing number, account number, name, phone number and physical address of the sellers bank, their home address and phone number. This transaction will cost you anywhere from $20-$50 but the money is usually there in a matter of hours and is deposited into their account the same as cash. If you are paying by personal check don't count on transporting the horse until that check has cleared your bank. If you need the horse fast a certified check or bank draft is guaranteed funds for the seller. A check sent in the mail is safer sent Priority with "tracking" or Registered. Western Union is fast but can be very costly as they charge a percentage. For that reason we don't recommend it.
You did it! You successfully bought your horse for a fair price and it's on it's way to be a new member of your family. See how easy that was? Careful.. it can be addicting!
Do you have transportation available for my horse?
Yes! We have several transporters available for either long cross country hauls, overseas or trips just around the corner. We can easily recommend someone reliable, safe and affordable no matter where or when your horse needs to go. Sawyer Creek has been involved in literally hundreds of successful long distance hauls...both within the US and overseas for years.
The world seems to get smaller every day. Don't let transport worries sway you from a long distance purchase if the horse is your "perfect match!"
Regardless if your horse is a valuable show horse, breeding animal...or just a wonderful four legged family member, you want to make sure that your horse is hauled safely and with little stress. Of course the best situation is that you haul your horse yourself! That way you KNOW the care your horse is being given on the trip. But that is not always possible. You may find the need to solicit the services of a commercial hauler. The selection of that hauler and the preparation for your horse's transport should be undertaken with as much diligence as if you were riding in that trailer yourself!
The first step in arranging horse transport is to know the state or international requirements of your trip. If your trip is going to be within the U.S. borders and is to cross state lines, it is a federal requirement that your horse have a current negative EIA test (coggins) and a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (Health Certificate). Each state has set it's own specific requirements. This is something you can check yourself and I have the link below for the State Regulations information. In addition, some states, particularly out west, require "Brand Inspections" and "Bill of Sale." That link is also provided here.
At the same time you are in the process of getting the necessary paperwork ready for your horse's transport, you may want to consider whether or not you are going to insure the horse. This may also require a vet inspection and could be taken care of at the same time as the Certificate of Veterinary Inspection. If you decide to insure, make sure that the company is aware that the horse is being hauled. Some insurance companies may not cover your horse if the transporter you are using isn't licensed with their own insurance.
This leads to the all important selection of a transport company and I can't emphasize enough that PRICE should not be the only determining factor! How do you FIND a transport company? One site that you may find helpful is the Traveling Horse Transport Directory. This link is below. This site lists transportation companies that haul within the US, Canada, Europe and Internationally. It also lists layover stables. Through this site you can request a free horse transport quote from all the companies at once and they will contact you.
Before you ask for a quote you will need to be specific as to how you want your horse hauled. By this I mean you will need to decide whether or not you want your horse tied or if you want a box stall so the horse can move around. Of course the box stall takes up more room on the trailer and therefore will raise your cost BUT...if you have a young horse or the trip is long what you pay for in extra costs is compensated for in extra safety.
Once you get those quotes, your research should begin. Remember, the cheapest hauler may not be the most economical! In order for their prices to be cut, the trip may be longer and with more stops which is not necessarily the healthiest for your horse. What you save in transport dollars you may pay in vet bills once the horse arrives. In addition to the price, you will want to compare the equipment used, type of care provided on the trip, duration of the trip, number of stops and the customer service. Ask about pick-up and drop-off dates and times but understand a certain amount of flexibility on your part is necessary. Often times drivers can't give you exact times because of the variability of traffic, weather, other pick-ups and drop-offs. You should be provided with a contact number of the driver and/or dispatcher to keep you updated. Ask lots of questions and get references. Don't be timid. CALL those references.
Once you have done your research and have come up with a competent company with procedures, terms and conditions you are satisfied with, be prepared to pay a reasonable deposit to secure your slot on the trip. DO NOT, however, pay for your haul in full beforehand. I would question any company that made such a request.
Your work is not done! Your horse needs to be prepared adequately for the journey. A few simple precautions can prevent shipping fever, thrush, cuts and abrasions, colic and emotional scars. While your hauler may be in the business to minimize the stress of the trip, they are not horse trainers! You have certain responsibilities.
Horses that leave Sawyer Creek make practice runs on the trailer if necessary, prior to leaving. Don't make the long haul the first haul! Inform the hauler of any habits or quirks the horse has that may effect the transport. Give him a feel for this horse. That might include prior hauling experiences, the disposition of the horse, and any health issues. Let him know if the animal is pregnant and her due date or if the mare is open, approximately when she is due to cycle again. This may be important if a stallion is scheduled to be hauled on the same trip.
Have all of your paperwork in a envelope clearly labeled with all contact and emergency info.
Provide proper necessary supplies and equipment. This would include a sturdy halter and lead rope if requested. Do not send expensive equipment that you want back. If other items are to go with the horse, in your envelope include an inventory of the items sent and label the items. Remember, chances are, more than one horse will be on that trailer. You want to make sure the items get safely to their destination.
Do not expect your hauler to provide shipping boots or wraps. They won't because of sanitary reasons. In most cases we do not wrap a horse's legs or use boots as we find they can cause more trouble than they prevent if not put on properly, checked and maintained on the trip. Shipping boots can slip, causing the horse to kick in the trailer and injure himself. Also, they can add additional heat and stress to the legs. Wraps, if not applied properly, can bow a tendon. However, if you insist on wraps or boots, make sure the horse is used to them prior to their transport.
Feed- We always send a bag of our grain and hay that the horse is used to with the hauler. HOWEVER, the grain is for the new owner to transition the horse with upon it's arrival and is not to be fed on the trip. NO RICH FEED while hauling! When sending hay, send grass hay, not alfalfa. This is to reduce the possibility of colic from the stress of the trip.
One of the biggest concerns on any trip is dehydration. If the trip is to be long, you may want to blend a soda drink or Kool-Aid in with the horse's water starting at least a week before transport. Some horses are finicky about any change in the taste of water, especially if they are used to well or spring water and they are offered the chlorinated city water. The soda or Kool-Aid will disguise the difference in taste. Provide the same soda or Kool-Aid to the hauler so that the water he offers the horse will taste similarly. In addition, you can administer electrolytes prior to and during the trip if necessary. Electrolyte pastes are available in tube form at most tack or equine supply stores.
Now I'd like to touch on a subject often asked. It's in regard to exporting and transporting horses out of the country. I can't emphasize enough that you should go through an experienced and reputable agency or broker for this process. Each country has it's own import/ export requirements and they are constantly changing! Do remember however that the broker works for the buyer, not for the seller.
We are fortunate in that we live close to a US/Canada Port of Entry. We deal with the Canadian requirements ourselves but even those requirements need to be checked for changes on each and every transport. International transport, however, requires extensive and sometimes quite expensive preparation. Horses going to Canada and Mexico usually go by traditional trucking. Horses to Australia or Hawaii go by boat. Horses overseas go by plane. Overseas transport runs usually in the $4000 to $7500 range and up per horse shipped. That price range includes the quarantine period and door to door pick-up and delivery. If three horses are shipped together to fill a "pallet" the buyer MIGHT get a small discount. Prior to export the horse will have to have the required health tests and vaccinations required by their destination country and in most cases will be required to be in quarantine for no less than 30 days. Since horses coming out of quarantine are hauled in a "sealed" trailer to the airport, quarantine facilities must be within 1 day driving distance of the International Airport they are being shipped out of. The risk involved is that if something should happen that the seal be broken, the quarantine period must be started all over again! In addition, only certain larger international airports are equipped to handle the big cargo planes used for horse transport. I can't emphasize enough that international transport MUST be handled by an experienced and competent broker or agency.
While long distance horse transport requires preparation and research, it can be accomplished safely and efficiently.
I don't think there is a single one of us that have ever been to a horse show that didn't play "silent judge" as we are sitting up in the stands. Whether it be a performance class or a halter class, our eyes will scan those in front of us and we will just naturally compare what we see to the others in the ring or to our mind's idea of perfection....or to even what we have at home. John and I are guilty of being silent judges. I know that we scour magazines and study pictures, critique videos relentlessly and then put our heads together and "compare notes." It makes us a tough team as each of us tend to weigh our priorities a shade differently but we do have the basics in common. In thinking about this, we have decided share with you the checklist of conformational qualities John and I use. Now I'm not saying that everyone should judge horses by our checklist...oh heavens no! But I AM saying that everyone should give much thought to a checklist of their own. So with this in mind...here's the Sawyer Creek conformational checklist..And since there is no such thing as a PERFECT horse...After each aspect of conformation on the checklist, I have rated each trait as to the importance we place on it in regard to our judgment as a whole. The scale is from 1-10 with 10 being HIGHLY IMPORTANT.....so important we would rule a horse out immediately if this criteria were not met...to 1 which is- Yes, this is important but not a make or break trait.....just food for thought and I welcome your comments and YOUR checklist!
HEAD- Attractive head. Short from eye to muzzle, small muzzle and a big round eye. We feel a big eye is important to good sight and even the temperament of the horse as a horse with poor vision tends to be "spookier." We like a wide forehead and a straight line or even a slight dish from the forehead to muzzle. The eyes should be well set. Not too far foreword on the head. We prefer dark skin around the eye and muzzle for sun protection. The mouth should be deep, not shallow so a bit will sit properly. The teeth must be aligned with a good bite-no more than an 1/8th of an inch or fingernail catch over (this one is a must!). Ears should be short and set foreword on the head. The poll should not be peaked and pointy. We like a big round jowl with a chiseled appearance to the muzzle. Rating- 7
THROAT LATCH and NECK- We tend to be neck people. We like a neat clean throat latch- tight, not webby with the head well set at an extended angle. A thick throat latch tends to not allow a horse to flex well. The neck should be naturally long and thin (aprox. 1/3 of the overall length of the horse and have a 2:1 ratio to to bottom line) and should be set so it comes out abruptly, clean, straight and high out of the chest as opposed to low and deep and webbing in- NOT base wide. We do not want to be able to see a base wide triangle from where the neck meets the shoulder to the throat latch. Also, from a profile view we do NOT want to see a bow on the underline of the neck. We like the neck to come out of the withers low, straight and level- flat out of the withers. We look for a clean top line on the neck...as little crest as possible but taking into consideration the weight the horse is carrying. A topline on a neck that dips is unacceptable though this too can be to some extent weight related. Rating - 9
SHOULDER- The shoulder should have a slope of 45 to 50 degrees which should also correspond to the angle of the pastern. Rating - 7
TOP and UNDER LINE- This is the top and under profile lines of the horse when viewed at 90 degrees. Imagine the horse divided into equal thirds- poll to withers, back, and hip. My John even takes a ruler to side profile pictures. We like the horses square- taking the profile and super-imposing a box over the body of the horse. The top profile line should be overall short for strength of the back and relatively level with the withers no more than 1/2" to 1" inch lower than the croup. You will tend to find the very heavy muscled horses fatter and heavier over the croup so allowances should be made for weight. We like a prominent wither (again somewhat weight related), as opposed to flat and muttony over the withers. The withers should set directly over the heart girth. The shoulder should be long and sloping forward. We like a strong shoulder and back. The back line should neither noticeably dip nor roach up towards the hip. The croup should be long with a gentle slope...not steep nor short and prominent. The tail set should be low...a high tail set can mean a tipped vulva on a mare and can give a pointy hipped appearance. The underline should be longer than the top line so that the horse can move freely. The heart girth should be very deep with a noticeable drop from the profile angle as opposed to a tubie appearance - meaning same width from back to chest just behind the front legs. There should be a lot of spring to the ribs. We like a very strong stifle and full long gaskin and on our halter horses we like to be able to superimpose a circle over the side profile of the hip. Rating- 9
LEGS- This one we do tend to be real sticklers on- particularly when it comes to hocks. The hocks should sit directly under the horse's hip for power, balance and to support the weight of the hip. There are two ways to judge this. One is to drop an imaginary string line from point of hip down to see if the hocks follow through in a parallel fashion. Another is to drop your imaginary string line form the ball of the hip. If it hits between 1-2" in FRONT of his foot then his hock is underneath his him. Hocks that are set out behind or set too far forward take away from the symmetry of the horse's stride. You want the horse to move out with the same length of stride with the front legs as is in the rear. This criteria is probably one of the most important to us. Now the set to the hocks, while very important, is not AS important as long as it doesn't hit an extreme. The hock acts as the horse's shock absorber- contributing to his longevity as an athlete. It gives him his impulsion, balance and length of stride. If the horse is too straight in the hock- as in "posty hocked" then there will be less shock absorption. Too much set to the hock puts a strain and pressure on the joint, also causing break-downs and lameness problems. You want the hocks to be low set to the ground. How low is low? Well, you want to imagine a level line from the knee to the hock with the hock being just slightly above that line. If the hock is well above that line that horse will never level up and it's length of stride front and rear will never equal. Also important is the length of the forearm, cannon bone and pastern. A longer forearm- a longer stride. This is a good thing. BUT the cannon bone should accompany it by being short and straight. The pastern angle should match the shoulder angle. They should be short as if your pasterns are too long there will be too much stress and flexion on the horses tendons causing eventual breakdown. If the pasterns are too steep, there will not be enough shock absorption and the legs will buckle. The key here is you want the horse to land flat. The leg bones should be substantial for the horse. Too refined on a big bodied horse won't support the weight or use and BINGO...breakdown. Too coarse gives a drafty heavy appearance. Consider the eventual body size and height of the young horse and judge accordingly. If you are going to err on a young big bodied horse...err on the heavy boned side. Finally, the legs should be straight and pointing foreword when you are looking directly from the front or behind. Now if they are not perfectly straight and pointing forward be less concerned UNLESS it is too extreme. In some performance disciplines, a bit of cow hock (toes angling out in the back) can actually be an asset. Not being completely straight can give more swing to the stride. BUT again, anything to extreme should be ruled out. Rating- 10
The following are some terms that will help you with leg conformation:
The following are some terms that will help you with leg conformation:
Sickle-hocked - too much angle to the hock.
Cow-hocked - bowed in at the hock and cannon bone.
Post-legged - too little angle to the hock.
Bow-legged - bowed out at the hock.
Buck-kneed - knees set too far forward.
Splay-footed - toes point outward.
Calf-kneed - knees are set too far back.
Pigeon-toes - toes point inward.
MUSCLE- should NEVER be more important than balance and overall symmetry. We do feel a strong "V" formation in the chest is important. That is, looking at the chest from front-on, the muscle between the front legs forms a sharp "V" as opposed to squared off or boxy appearance. A horse whose front legs set far to the side of the shoulder can't cross over well. A horse too narrow lacks balance. A horse that has it's legs sit to far to the front of the shoulder also lacks balance and stride. To far behind and he appears pigeon breasted and short strided. (pigeon breasted=that needs a bra look). Hip? well.... many halter people tend to feel you can never have too much hip. We tend to like a well defined round hip too, but we like it to tie in still high enough to allow freedom of movement. Not too high...we like good carry down to the gaskin. From the rear we like to see a strong bulging gaskin for propulsion and if you lift the tail, well defined inside muscling on the legs. We also like a strong well defined forearm. One that bulges slightly out from the arm as opposed to straight and weak. Rating- 8
OVERALL- The horse should be balanced with symmetry. It should tie together well. Not a parts horse....meaning the horse has good parts but just kind of has the look that they were thrown abruptly together. It should flow from one area to the other. The horse should move freely...almost like it's hinged in balance from the shoulder, back and hip with equal strides and equal parts. If you were to imagine it as a frozen object and teeter totter it from the middle would the front and rear balance out...or would it tip heavily to one side. It should move relatively level and consistent. It should have cadence and grace. Effortless as opposed to contrived actions. Rating- 9
Okay there you have it. The Sawyer Creek check list. Whoa...I had to really resist the tendency of putting a 10 rating on them all! The fact is, all of these are important. Now I know I've probably left off a lot and you all have a lot you are thinking about to add...but I guess that was my purpose...to get you to thinking...to get you to analyzing just what makes a good ...no, GREAT horse and how you too can strive to better the breed!
The very first thing you need to do is to define your breeding goals. What is the discipline you are trying to pursue? Do you hope to show this new foal? If so, what traits and qualities are you looking for that will make you successful? What do you intend to do with the foal long term? Keep it or market it?
Secondly, you need to honestly evaluate you own abilities to care and provide for this foal. Do you have a good handle on what it will cost to add this new little one to your family? Do you have the time to devote to it? Do you have the facilities? Do you have the knowledge and support necessary to make sure the care of the mare, birth and training of the little one goes smoothly? Do you have an experienced vet or breeding facility to help you with this process?
Thirdly, you need to also evaluate your mare and her abilities to create the offspring you are looking for. Have you researched her pedigree? What are her strengths? What are her weaknesses? What do you hope she passes on? What do you hope she DOESN'T pass on? Perhaps a good second opinion of a more experienced breeder may help you with this.
Last but not least, is your mare breeding sound? A good breeding soundness exam done by your vet on your mare well before breeding season will be money well spent and can help you avoid headaches down the road. If she does have minor problems, given enough lead time they can be well corrected prior to breeding season. Again, a little research here can go a long way. Has your mare ever had trouble conceiving or carrying a foal in the past? If so she may not be a good candidate for AI. Has your mare had problems with infections? Occasionally mares will pick up an infection either at the time of foaling or during a previous live cover breeding and may not show any outward signs. Untreated infections can cause severe damage to the uterus that may prevent her from carrying a foal full term. Is your mare age appropriate? We generally do not breed mares till they are at least three years of age and physically mature. If your mare is a maiden mare (no previous pregnancies or foals) then chances are you don't have anything to worry about but I always recommend an exam. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Now, let's assume you have done your homework and have found the perfect stallion to cross on your mare. Your research reveals he compliments her good traits and is dominant for correcting where your mare is flawed. He is a proven breeder with experienced owners and his semen is of high quality and ships well. You have read over his contract which is reasonable and his fee affordable. The owners or handlers have answered your questions, have a good reputation and a high success record in the breeding shed. You then book the stallion early to reserve his service to your mare.
The next step is for you to decide approximately when you would like your new foal to be born. Since a mare's due date will be 11 months and 5 days from the last day she was bred you can set up an optimistic time frame of your impending birth. Factors to consider are your work schedule, climate, facilities and mare's cycling history. If you intend to show this foal, particularly if it is destined for weanling futurities, you will want to push for a foal born in the early months of the year. Most breed registries abide by a Jan. birth date for show purposes and class divisions. Your foal would be at a competitive disadvantage if it were born late in the year making it smaller and less mature than the others in it's class. Taking all these factors under consideration you notify the stallion owner of approximately when you plan to breed and start your preparations.
Let's say for hypothetical purposes you would like a January baby. How should you prepare now? Since a mare's cycling is usually dependent on her light receptors, you will want to consider starting to place her under lights for aprox. 16 hours a day. This means that as the days grow shorter in the fall you will need to supplement and extend her daylight hours by artificial light. This usually means a well lit stall which you control either manually or on a timer. A good rule of thumb is to start around Thanksgiving and for a continuous 16 hours. Maintain enough light for her between outside time and in the stall so that you can read a newspaper with ease. If you are consistent, this will kick in or continue her cycles so she will be ready to breed early. Once you see she is cycling keep a calendar and accurately record the dates she is in or out, and the signs she exhibits. This will start to provide you with her particular reproductive pattern. Some mares will easily show signs of heat. Some are more elusive. Some will show readily to a gelding. But in any case, you should be able to detect signs within 8-10 weeks of your lighting program. Recording the dates will help you calculate for actual semen shipments. Since a mare normally will ovulate on the day before she goes out of heat, you will want to inseminate her in such a way that you have the semen in the uterus prior to, but as close as possible to that time of ovulation. Should you not desire an early foal you can begin recording her cycles when they occur naturally later in the spring.
Let's say it's now Feb. and you have done your breeding soundness exam and have accurately recorded your mare's cycles. You can now predict with the help of your vet, your mare's impending cycles. You and your vet will need to communicate with the stallion owner and notify them that you will be needing your semen shipment soon. Your observation of your mare will tell you when to contact your vet to set up an appointment to have the mare ultrasounded. The ultrasound will tell your vet how close your mare is to ovulation based on the size and feel of her follicle. Your vet will most likely want her ultrasounded on day 2 or 3 of her heat to determine the schedule of the semen shipment for insemination. Every mare is different. Some have 6 day cycles...some have 10. Knowing how many days your mare cycles will help avoid unnecessary shipments and costs. Should she have a 6 day cycle you will want to inseminate on day 4 or 5 for her ovulation. Should she have 10 day cycles your vet will hold off on the shipment based on that. I cannot stress enough the value of record keeping and the timing of her breeding for a successful experience!
Once your vet determines that the follicle is at the appropriate stage the stallion owner is notified. Most stallion owners require at least 24 hours notice...and remember..,you need a day for delivery. Some stallion owners only collect on certain days. Some do not collect on weekends. This is where knowing your contract becomes key for your successful experience. Once notified the stallion owner ships the semen overnight. It usually comes in a Styrofoam or other insulated container in two packets. This specialized container (Foal Flight or Equitainer) maintains the optimum cooled temperature to keep the semen healthy and viable. Your vet initially will use one of these packets direct from the container, draw it up into a syringe, inject it into a pipette that was inserted into the mouth of the mare's uterus. This will be repeated the next day with the second packet. We recommend that the vet give the mare an injection at this time to make sure that she ovulates within the 36 hours the semen is still viable. Since the ability of the mare to conceive is drastically reduced in the short hours after ovulation, it is most important she is inseminated just prior.
Once the second packet is used, it is your responsibility to immediately ship the special container (Equitainer) and all it's parts back to the stallion owner so it may be reused on other's mares. The containers are very expensive and are in high demand during breeding season so most farms will have a fine for returning them late or will charge you for missing components. Of course if the container was one of the disposable variety this is not necessary, but you may want to keep it or offer it to your vet.
Finally, we recommend that you have your vet out once again to ultrasound your mare during the 15 to 17 days from the last insemination. This will tell you if your homework paid off or if you have to go through the whole procedure again! If she is deemed pregnant, have her ultrasounded again at aprox. 30 days to make sure she maintained that pregnancy and is not carrying twins.
Sounds hard? Not really. If you do your research, homework and preparations you will have a happy, healthy quality foal to reward you!
What are the approximate costs involved in breeding a mare with shipped semen?
The costs involved in breeding your mare with artificial insemination can vary greatly. To give you a basis to make your decision on lets begin with a few basic premises.
First..let's consider the cost of your vet's farm call. These usually run anywhere from $35 to $100 depending on drive time, distance, whether it's during office hours and whether or not it's during the work week. Keep in mind that a mare's ovulation is not something you can always control though it can be helped along. We will go with a $50 average for our purposes of calculation.
Second...let's consider the cost of a standard ultrasound. Again this varies but most vets charge from $35.00 to $75.00 so again we will say $50.00 as an average.
- Stallion Service Fee: This is the price the stallion owner
charges for the stud's services.
Stallion fees can range on the average from $500 to $1500. For our purposes we will go with $800. (Bear in mind the marketability of foals can
be directly related to the stallion used and sometimes a few hundred dollars
more in stud fee can make many more times difference in the marketability of
- Breeding soundness exam:
This would include a farm call- $50.
Usually a culture- $40, a palp or ultrasound-$50.
- Should your mare have an infection: Farm call - $50, plus a flush- $50. Often this has to be done in several visits. Sometimes you can fix the problem with one flush but many times it requires flushes performed daily during a cycle and then yet another culture to make sure the mare is now "clean." Figure an average of $300
- Collection charges or chute fees: These are the fees the stallion owner charges for the collection of the stallion. Sometimes you will find that a limited number of collections are included in the stud fee. Others charge it separately but the going rate is $150 for collection. If you are very lucky you can get by with one collection. If you are unlucky you may have to try through several cycles. Lets say you are moderately lucky. We'll figure $300.
- Deposit on Equitaner- Usually $250 but this is a
returnable deposit IF the Equitaner is returned within 72 hours with all it's
components. Return of the container- depends on where you live but figure on
the cheap side it will cost- $50. Many
breeders have gone to disposable containers which they generally charge $35.00
for. This would be the cost for only the
container so it would be $35 each time when semen is shipped. They don't get
returned. Since we are presuming two shipments and the most common practice of
purchasing disposable containers we will figure-
- Shipping the disposable containers. Overnight shipping can vary depending on
distance and location. Bear in mind that not all areas have same day or
overnight available OR you may have to drive to pick the container up at an
airport. You can usually figure as an
average with Fed-Ex $40-$75. We will
figure $50. SO...two shipments Fed-Ex
- Now your mare is cycling...you did your calendar work and your vet comes out on the second day of her cycle and does an ultrasound. $50 for the farm call. $50 for the ultrasound. $100
- Semen is ordered for insemination the 4th or 5th day. Farm call- $50. Ultrasound- $50 and insemination- $50 $150
- Vet comes back and puts second dose of semen in. $150
- Vet comes back to make sure mare has ovulated on time and does yet another ultrasound. $100.
- Vet comes back 15-17 days after your mare was last inseminated to see if you were successful. Does another ultrasound. $100
- Vet comes back at 30 days, makes sure she has maintained the pregnancy and is not carrying twins. $100.
- Now lets assume you didn't catch her the first cycle for what ever reason. This is common and because of that we are counting on two cycles to ship on remember. But while we figured the containers and shipping we now need to add that vet work. We would have to repeat steps 7-11 at a cost of: $500.
Now we have presumed all this time that there were no major breeding problems that went unnoticed.. Your mare isn't cystic, allergic to extender, cycles like clockwork and doesn't need Regumate to keep her hormone level regulated. Let's also assume she did NOT have an infection. Let's assume that her vaccinations are already taken care of. Let's not include anything to do with the actual birth or aftercare. Do you know what you've spent on getting your mare in foal with artificial insemination???.......
With the naked eye, you can see only the "embryonic vesicle" which houses the embryo. The vesicle looks like a shimmering, firm, translucent bubble, less than ¼ inch in diameter. On the ultrasound screen, you will see it as a black circle in a sea of grainy gray (your mare's uterus). At this point, the embryo is no larger than a pinpoint.
The vesicle has grown to 1 inch in diameter. It's a shimmering, flabby, translucent bubble with a dark red dot (the embryo) at one end. A network of threadlike blood vessels emanates from the ¼ inch dot. You can barely make out the beginnings of animal features: a head, tiny bumps that will become eyes; a fleshy tail nub; and four little buds that will eventually become legs. On the ultrasound monitor, you will see the vesicle as an irregular, guitar-pick shaped black blob in a sea of grainy gray. Generally, around Day 24 an embryonic heart is large enough to be seen on the ultrasound screen. To find it, focus on the "floor" surface of the blob. You will see a white smudge, about ½ inch in diameter, resting there; this is the embryo. Within the smudge, a tiny black dot, about the size of a pinpoint, will be flashing on and off like a computer's screen's cursor-this is the pea sized embryo's beating heart.
The vesicle is now 2 ½ inches in diameter, roughly spherical in shape, and somewhat collapsed. The ¾ inch embryo within is now recognizable as a four-legged critter: it has a blobby dome for a head, eyelids, rudimentary ears, ridges where the nostrils will be, and functional elbows an stifle joints. An ultrasound would reveal the vesicle as a roundish black blob: look for the white smudge of an embryo to be suspended from the blob's ceiling, rather than resting on its floor. This shift of position is step one in what researchers call "the rise and fall of the embryo." It results from filmy membranes at the top of the vesicle coming together to form the umbilical cord. As they do so, they shorten, pulling the olive-sized embryo up to the ceiling like a chandelier.
Day 50 to 55 of Pregnancy
The embryo is now slightly over an inch long, nesting within the confines of the 3-inch vesicle. You can see tiny ribs under its skin; its domed head looks like that of a Chihuahua, and has developed a distinct skull. Little triangles represent its ears; the hock and fetlock joints have developed. At this stage, your future foal officially will graduate from embryo to fetus. On an ultrasound monitor, you'll find the fetus back on the vesicle's floor, due to a lengthening of the umbilical cord. Because of its size-now about that of a pecan-this will be your last opportunity to view the fetus via ultrasonography; in a matter of weeks, it'll be too large for the screen
The vesicle is now flabby and shapeless, conforming to the uterine walls; the fetus is about 2 1/2 inches long. You can see that it clearly resembles a horse, thanks to the developemnt of tiny hooves, complete with soles and frogs. Its head is still tucked, but less so than before. The fetus is hairless, and about the size of a hamster.
The fetal head and neck will be untucked, and are being held level with the spine in the "normal" horse position. Its sex is now visable: you can see that little lumps have formed for the scrotum, if it's a male, or the udder, if its a female. The fetus is now about the size of a chimpmonk.
Your mare's 7-inch fetus is about the size of a 6-week old kitten. You can see a bit of hair on its lips; its ears are unfurling from its head. They're now nearly 1/2 inch long and are curled forward. The coronary bands look like raised lines encircling the tops of its tiny 1/4-inch hooves.
Gaining more than a pound every 10 days, the fetus now is about the size of a rabbit. Hair graces its chin, muzzle, and eyelids. If you look closely, you'll see that eyelashes have emerged.
The fetus has quadrupled its weight in just 30 days. Mane and tail hairs have appeared; it's about the size of a Beagle.
Now about the size of a small lamb, the fetus has whisker-like hairs on its chin, throat and muzzle.
Your mare's fetus now looks like a foal: fine hair covers its body, and it now has a swatch of hair on its tail. It's about the size of a German Shepherd.
In the last week or so, the fetus's lungs have developed to the point that they can function in the "real world"; its legs have strengthened to the point that they can support is weight; and its hair has coarsened, from the fine, silky texture of fetus hair, to that of a bonafide foal. As far as development goes, the fetus is "done." You'll get the chance to meet your mare's foal in a matter of days or weeks. (Normal equine gestation can range from 320 to 365 days.)
Want to know how we predict when our mares will foal?
Many of you have asked how we test our mares to predict foaling within 12 hour period percentages. For many years we have had great success using the "Predict-A-Foal, Mare Foaling Predictor Kit" by Animal Healthcare Products. We don't sell this kit nor do we work for them but can, from personal experience highly recommend it as accurate and very helpful. The kit is easy to use. A small sample of milk (colostrum) is taken from the mare and added to test solution which is included. It is mixed and a test strip is dipped in. After 60 seconds the strip is compared to a chart that indicates percentage chances of foaling within 12 hours. The test is reported to be 95% accurate and from our experience this is indeed true. We have purchased our kits through mail order. A number of companies offer it but we order ours through Valley Vet Supply at 1-800-356-1005 or through the web site at www.valleyvet.com The small kit contains 15 test strips and sells for $28.95 while the Breeder Kit does 100 tests. Extra strips can also be purchased for $11.49 Shipping with Valley Vet is usually free.
Mares are often very unpredictable in showing signs of foaling and the gestation can vary several weeks in either direction of the calculated 342 days due date. For this reason it is important to know your mare's history and her patterns. Many nights waiting for an impending birth can be exhausting especially when you are a breeding farm. We use this foal prediction kit, as well as other signs to narrow down the impending birth as closely as possible and even then sometimes maiden mares give no indicators at all! Some of the indicators we use that you might find helpful:
1. Distention of the nipples or udder- the nipple will swell or expand, point down and elongate. I have had this occur 4 to 6 weeks in advance but in most cases it occurs 2-4 weeks and increases as foaling becomes imminent.
2. Loosening of the tail head and hindquarters- Usually between 1-3 weeks prior to foaling. These areas will flatten and soften becoming almost jello-like when palpated.
3. Filling of the nipples- a week to ten days before foaling
4. Wax on the nipples- a small waxy deposit on the end of the nipples- often amber or white in color and may appears as beads or stringy. This occurs not in all mares but about 60% of them and is a very reliable indication of impending birth. Most mares will foal within 48 hours of waxing.
5. Swelling or loosening of the vulva- this slackening also occurs within 48 hours of birth
6. Dripping milk- Very imminent foaling- usually within 12-24 hours! Some mares however will drip for several days prior but these mares often have an internal problem so check with your vet! Valuable immunity transfers can be lost in this dripping colostrum so be sure to tell your vet this has occurred.
7. Changes in the mares behavior- kicking at the belly, snatching at the side, rolling, licking, gnawing, head shaking, pawing, going up and down, making a nest, going off feed, sweating- these are all signs you may be getting close!
8. Color of the colostrum- Pale, relatively transparent, watery yellow fluid usually indicates you are a considerable time from foaling- this coupled with little change on the test strips indicates you PROBABLY have 2-3 days before retesting. If the secretion is milky white, thick and sticky but the the color change on the strips is minimal- test again in 24 hours. 80% of the mares will have changed from transparent watery yellow to whitish thick by the time the mare foals. Of course maiden mares can be an exception.
9. Speed of color strip change- The speed at which the strips change color indicates how close your mare is to foaling. A rapid change of 3-4 of the squares indicate a closer foaling than one that takes a full 60 seconds. Mares that produce a rapid full five color changes usually foal within 6 hours. Individual mares will vary as to how they build up the color changes. Usually mares will build from a one change to four or five within 6-7 days but some mares can have a 1-2 color change for many days and frustrate you with the same test results day after day.
10. Gut instinct- If you feel your mare's just plain acting differently, off her routine or "telling you something" pay attention. You know your horse better than anyone. There is no hard and fast rules with mares- everything has an exception. These are simply guidelines that have proven themselves to us over many years and many foals. Good Luck and heres to your healthy happy foal and successful foaling experience!
What are the color patterns of the Appaloosa?
What are the color patterns of the Appaloosa?
Where do I find additional information about Appaloosa horses and the Appaloosa Horse Club?
Check out the Appaloosa Horse Club (ApHC) web site or research a pedigree by clicking the links below!
Appaloosa Horse Club
2720 W. Pullman Road
Moscow, ID 83843
Pedigree Research Site