Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Curly Horses & Marketing

This has been a hot topic on one of my favorite Curly horse groups, so thought I would share a few points on my blog here. The subject in discussion was marketing...why are curly horses ending up in auctions and rescues when you don't see that with other rare breeds. Also why are prices of this rare breed of horse, the Bashkir Curly, American Curly or Standard Curly horse constantly being driven down and how does one price a curly to begin with?

The one thing that everyone needs to remember is that demand increases price, period.
SO, you have to have your pulse on the market and know your audience. Know what they are
looking for -- and quite honestly, this in itself takes alot of work - you have to do your homework. Breeders, Pay attention to the inquires you are getting and pay close attention to what IS selling...and why.

I believe you have to have a pricing plan - a consistent one.
I have said this before so for those that have heard it you can ignore me. ;-)

I feel you should start with a 'base' price.
From there add TO your price based on the qualities of that particular horse that rate it more valuable to THE BUYER...NOT to you. Leave what YOU like and your own emotions out of pricing. This is not only unprofessional but also irresponsible, IMO.

Again if demand increases price, THAT is what your pricing format should be structured under.
When we were breeding some of the qualities that warrented higher prices were: size, temperament, curl, characteristics of keeping mane & tail were also a plus, and of course conformation (good solid working conformation, not based on any style persay). Age added $, as well as training of course. In essence, you ADD to your base price like you would options on a car - I don't mean to sound inanimate but it's the only comparison I can think of right now.

From there -- you then deduct things from the horse such as, older age, infertility, health issues, behavior issues, etc. that would be hindrances to that particular horse or would be negatives to the buyer.

Base Price + Buyer seeking Qualities MINUS the negative attributes = Market Value.

You see if you have a simple formula, there is no second guessing..your feel good about your price because you have done your homework. You are INFORMED about the market, you look intelligent when people ask you about your price and you feel confident about whether you want to dicker or not. I believe it says you are a responsible and professional breeder.

I was thinking last nite a bit more about this topic. One thing that kept mulling over in my head is the constant comparison we make between our Curlies and Friesians and Gypsy Vanners. ie. Why don'tFriesians & Vanners end up in auctions & rescues is simple IMO.First of all they are in imported breed with an amazing foundationfor excellence. The registry is extremely strict and for anyonewishing to breed there is some pretty tough criteria to follow. Ifthey don't, their animals are NOT registered. Those papers mean $$$for any breeder and they are not going to gamble on crossing justanything to their mares. Right from the get-go, anyone wanting toget into the breeding business had better have knowledge and somepretty good cash to fork the bill for starting with PROVEN lines.This is no room for mistakes & experiments.Vanners have only been in the US for 12 years. Friesians have beenaround since the 1800's! But history only plays a small part, thepoint I am making is that the FOUNDATION is strong, the criteria forbreeding is tough and the "proof is in the pudding" as they say.So although training is part of the puzzle, certainly Breedstandards that are ENFORCED is another. Can you imagine if our registries got that strict? What would happen if you sent in papersto have a colt registered and they declined it for not meeting strict conformation criteria? Maybe it would be stamped, "MUST GELD"first....or in some cases, maybe that colt wouldn't even metregistration criteria in which case that breeder is in deep do-do.In the real world those papers could mean the difference of not justa few hundred, but thousands of dollars! CERTAINLY that would causethat breeder to rethink his/her next breeding, wouldn't you think??They try again the next year....and nope...no go. Wouldn't you thinkthis would greatly reduce the numbers of medocre breeders??? I wouldthink so!!! But because our registries register ANYTHING andEVERYTHING, papers have become meaningless. All it means is yourhorse has curls or comes from 2 generations (which doesn't mean adarn thing if they are both fugly!)or is proven to have curly blood.The purpose is only to track offspring and nothing more, really.(not speaking for the CSI since I am not sure what the criteria isfor that registry)THIS is the BIG difference with Curlies and other rare breeds. See?THE problem we have with our breed is that we have started thingsoff wrong from the get-go. No standards, not criteria for horses orbreeders for that matter. All it takes is a producing male & femaleand $35.00 for a breeder's license and Wala! You are in Biz! Noquestions, no knowledge and no evaluation. THAT I am afraid is thecore of the problem here. SO to say it all boils down to low prices of our curlies is far too SIMPLE of a statement...it is far grander of a problem, I am afraid.Can it be changed? I just don't know, it would take a really strongorganization, alot of money and the cooperation of the breeders.Strict rules, evaluations and enforced guidelines could mean a greatloss financially to many of them. No easy answers for sure.