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10 February 2007

Next Big Thing

by Tom Reed

The worst kind of breeding is what I see so often: the breeder who uses the "Next Big Thing" (NBT) each year.

The NBT is usually the licensing champion of one of the major studbooks. This will be a horse that has not even had a person on his back yet (although he has been force-fed and maybe given steroids and hormones to look more mature than he really is) but the "marketing machine" crowns him as the NBT and people become hysterical about the horse. We are seeing this phenomenon in 2007 with a 4-year-old dressage stallion where, on one internet bulletin board, people were publicly fighting over who had rights to sell his semen in the USA. And his stud fee is probably going to be higher than Weltmeyer's!

I don't see how except by pure luck a breeder who hops on the bandwagon each year can produce a top athlete. He or she might as well buy a lottery ticket.

But many people are band-wagon breeders. The breathless enthusiasm by some breeders for some of these NBT stallions -- and each year there is always one or two, usually a champion that was "bought" for a ridiculous sum of money at an auction -- is amazing to me. That's not breeding, it is speculating like we saw for dot com stocks and tulip bulbs in Amsterdam.

Take any NBT stallion and we can make arguments for why he should be used -- in general. But successful breeding is about specifics, not generalities.

If someone wants to do a "fun breeding" and use NBT stallions each year who am I to complain? But it is the stallion owner who is sure to win and the hobby breeder most likely to lose.