Bridging Regional Distances/”Anybody Want to Talk Horses?”
The size of our countries has always been one of the biggest liabilities for warmblood breeders in North America. For many of us, the closest fellow breeder can be a couple hours to a full-day’s drive away. The majority of breeders in the US and Canada breed in a bubble. No one sees your horses. You don’t see other people’s horses. You get on one of the breeder forums on Facebook looking for a connection or some information, and you close your laptop from the frustration of the same stallion owners suggesting their stallions for every mare that’s looking for a fresh-cooled date. Or, you’re scared to ask legitimate questions for fear of being ridiculed publicly. I recently had a conversation with a new breeder who is afraid to make the breeding picks she’s leaning toward based on the negative reaction and nasty comments she might get on Facebook if she posts the pedigree of the resulting foal. For the most part, we are an isolated population of horse-obsessed people. I have always believed one way of remedying this is to create regional “clubs” or regional “sub groups” that are either studbook specific or simply open to all warmblood breeders.
For probably close to a decade, I’ve stumped for multiple regional Annual Meetings every fourth year of our Annual Meeting cycle. One year East Coast, one year West Coast, one year Holland, and one year Regional meetings. I’m not going to bitch about the amount of money our organization typically spends on a meeting for between 50 and 100 people max, yet again, because I have loved many of our meetings and learned a ton, but it’s way more than enough to fund three or four smaller meetings in different regions of the country every few years AND reach more people. Of course, there would be logistics to work out, and some of those logistics might take some really creative thinking, but that’s not reason enough not to try it. The last seminar my family sponsored and held at our farm attracted close to 50 people, with some coming from as far away as Texas and Indiana. It cost us some money to host, but it was a great educational experience for us as well as the attendees. Plus, I got my entire breeding program in front of some really knowledgeable people. Breeders are crazy for conversation and more information to broaden their knowledge base and help them improve their programs. When I posted about taking a road trip and wanting to stop and see some horses and have some conversations with fellow breeders and riders, I received OVER 50 responses. And, that was just for a week-long trip from my place to North Carolina and back. Those responses got me thinking, though. Yeah. Dangerous. Scot with thoughts in his head.
One: You want to plan and host an independent regional meeting or seminar? I’ll help. I’ll attend if at all possible. I’ll connect you with people in Holland who would be willing to come speak. If you’re really desperate, I can even cater. LOL!
Two: After the flood of responses to my last road trip, I’m willing to make more trips, and at my own expense if necessary. I think I have a few years before the rental car companies stop renting to me. Holy crap….I should probably check that. I’m guessing the age is 75. I’ll be 62 in about ten days. Better get me while you can. Or hire me a drive. LOL! Seriously, I’m willing to travel anywhere if someone wants feedback on their horses, pick my brain about breeding, or just sit down and have a meal or a drink and have horse conversation. This is a legit offer. I’m certainly not the only person capable of giving you feedback, and I have my own prejudices and preferences, to which I will readily admit, and through which you need to filter any feedback I were to give. That being said, I am making the offer. If my insight and experience can be helpful to you, I’m willing to share it.
My only motivation behind any of this is bringing people together and strengthening breeding in North America. By making individual programs stronger, we make the whole breeding population stronger, which, in turn, makes our organizations stronger. So, seriously, if you’re interested in sponsoring/hosting a breeding seminar, I can give you a template, help you make connections, and talk you through the process. If you just want someone to stop by for a couple hours of conversation and some feedback on your horses, I can do that.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to me.