From the Foaling Barn


Buying Discounted Breedings in Sire and Dam Auctions

This week I sent out 72 letters and contracts to reining stallion owners asking them to participate in the North Central Reining Horse Association Sire and Dam Auction. During the next weeks I'll be waiting anxiously for the returned contracts. The number and quality of stallions in our auction will have a big effect on our association's futurity in August. What we earn from the auction enhances our purses and our Stallion Awards which go to the owners of the Champions and Reserves in the Open and NonPro.

This is the fourth year I've run the auction, and in those years I've learned a lot about smart ways to bid and dumb mistakes people make in bidding. So in this post I'm going to give you my inside tips to help you buy smart.

First of all, let me tell you about the motives and benefits to the three parties involved in a Sire and Dam Auction (some auctions are called Stallion Auctions); the mare owner, the stallion owner, and the sponsoring organization.

The Mare Owner

When you are bidding on a stallion, you are trying to get a discounted breeding on a top stallion. When I say discounted breeding, I mean you are bidding on the breeding fee only. You are still responsible for all other fees, booking, shipping etc. Some auctions start all the stallions at half the regular fee. Others, like the NCRHA Sire and Dam auction, start most of the breedings at $500 no matter what the regular fee. Sometimes the less popular sires will sell for the minimum prices. But the more popular ones will go for almost their regular fees.  Many of the Sire and Dams that are associated with a particular show also give the mare owner a free entry in the show. For example, our association gives the mare owner a free entry in our futurity for the offspring of the breeding.

The Stallion Owner: Some Sire and Dam Auctions have Sire Awards associated with their shows. The award goes to the class winners in associated shows and is usually monetary, but sometimes winners receive the use of trailers or other equipment. But to tell you the truth, most stallion owners don't get much out of this deal. Contrary what most people believe, a donation of a breeding is not a tax write-off for the owners. At best, the donation helps the stallion owner promote his or her stallion through the auction site and associated advertising. It also helps some stallion owners by getting more foals on the ground. Of course, for the wildly popular stallions none of this applies. The owners don't really benefit from the publicity and they already have plenty of get on the ground. Many owners just see donations as a way to benefit the industry as a whole.

The Sponsoring Organization: The NCRHA recieves all the proceeds from the auction of stallion breedings. We have some expenses associated with the auction, payment to the on-line host, advertising, etc. Our organization uses the proceeds to support our annual futurity.

Now, what do you need to know before you bid?
First, of all remember what you are bidding on--the breeding fee only. Before you bid, make sure you know what the breeding fee is. If the auction lists the price as $2000 with a $500 booking or chute fee included in the price, you need to realize that you are bidding on $1500. This is where people really get in trouble and overbid. I try to break out the booking fee from the breeding fee when I list the stallion, but some owners want the booking fee included with the breeding fee. Also, really look at the additional expenses. Most booking fees are $500, but some of the high dollar stallions have booking fees of $750 to $1000, so pay attention because that can really drive up your total cost. Also, a few breeders have extra costs for donated breedings, asking for both a chute and booking fee. Canadian and Europeans will also face additional charges.

Second, read about the payment options. Some auctions require payment by check, cash or wire transfer. Others offer credit cards but with 3% to 5% added to the final price. This will all be listed on the auction site, so don't be surprised by the lack of credit options or the added expense for credit. Also, you should know how long you have to pay, which can range form one to three weeks. If a problem arises, contact the auction administrator immediately. I am always happy to work with someone who needs a little more time. Only twice in four years has anyone failed to pay. In one case I was able to resell the breeding, but in the other case, our association lost out.  Information on debt-beats is shared with other auctions, so if you don't pay up you will be banned from other auction sites in the future.
Now, for my last and most important piece of advice. Don't buy a breeding just because it's a bargain. Before you bid, make a list of the stallions that would cross well on your mare. Our site allows you to flag the horses you are interested in to keep track of them as the auction progresses. One way to stop yourself from getting carried away in the bidding, is to enter a proxy bid of the highest price you are willing to go. The proxy will automatically bid $50 over any other bid up to your limit. Also, our auction site ends the bidding on five stallions every three minutes, which allows you to have a fall back if you don't get your first choice.

Over the next six months, you'll be able to participate in many Sire and Dam Auctions. They all have slightly different foremats and regulations. Before you bid in any of them, be sure you understand what you are bidding on, how you are to bid, and how and when you are to pay. Sire and Dam Auctions are great for you and for the organization you are supporting. Remember that the stallion owners are doing both of us a favor, so be respectful of them.

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