This week, World of Showjumping follows Belgian breeder Eric Goossens at his Haras de la Vie. Through Eric’s blogs, our readers can get the insight into every-day-life as a breeder.
However, Eric’s life with the horses is quite a special one. In 2012, his life changed dramatically: After selling his garden center and buying a farm to further expand his breeding as well as welcoming a son – Matteo – fate struck hard. Eric was crushed by a water barrel, and his lower limbs were paralyzed. Life would never be the same. Eric's facinating and emotional story can be read at the bottom of the blog.
*** Day two ***
It is the end of August and you can already feel that days are getting shorter. This means that the breeding season is closed, or almost closed in some exceptional cases. At Haras de la Vie, all foals are born and mares have been covered for next year.
This year, we were blessed with 8 healthy foals; 3 fillies and 5 colts. But it is not all roses. Our mare Symphonie was less fortunate: Most likely she got a uterus torsion right after giving birth, resulting in an internal bleeding. It took some time and a lot of TLC, but she recovered. She still needs to gain some weight, but she is happy in the field with the others. For that reason we decided to keep this year’s filly of Tangelo van de Zuuthoeve to continue the bloodline. You never know what will happen in the future. If breeding is no longer possible with the mom, we still have the daughter.
The other foals are for sale or have been sold already. For several reasons, we try to sell our foals as youngsters and not as broken sport horses. Therefore, we try to choose stallions that are highly wanted by potential buyers. Stallions that are performing/have performed at the highest level and stallions that have proven to produce excellent show jumpers (Kannan, Cornet Obolensky, Baloubet du Rouet, Nabab de Reve, Vigo d’Arsouilles, Tangelo van de Zuuthoeve, Cumano). These stallions are all in the top 50 of the FEI Sire Ranking. We also choose stallions that seem the perfect match for a particular mare. For example, we used President (Clinton x Voltaire) for our mare Nimfe (Numero Uno x full sister Stakkato). The result looks very promising: The colt has a well-balanced canter and jumps over puddles.
Selling foals is a challenging job. They just don’t have the looks of a model all the time and you can’t try them out like full grown jumping horses. But you can predict how a foal will evolve in time. Conformation and movement already give you a lot of information. Then there is also the attitude of such youngsters. Are they curious, do they have some guts, how quick do they learn? In modern sport, you need a horse that is intelligent, a horse that wants to cooperate with the rider and even thinks for its rider. And finally, there is the pedigree. To be more precise, there is the dam line. It is a generally accepted fact among breeders that a foal inherits 70% of its potential from the dam line. That is why it is so important to start with excellent mares.
The major advantage of modern times in selling foals is the internet. You can reach people from all over the world and people from all over the world can reach you. Almost everybody has an email account and 1.7 billion people are active Facebook users. Nowadays it is easier to sell foals to Russia or California. If you have a nice looking foal descending from a top sport lineage, you should be able to sell it if people are able to reach you, so by being active online. Haras de la Vie has a website and we are active on Facebook to inform customers as good as possible.
Another way to market your foal is to participate in a foal auction. In Belgium and its neighboring countries, there are numerous foal auctions. They vary from a one-night event with about 20 foals to a 2-day event with 80 foals or more. And also here modern time has made his entrance. On most of these events, there is the possibility to bid online. But, more about that next time.
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