We’re currently in the middle of foaling. Our first foal was born a couple of weeks ago, a beautiful filly to Slipper (“Lady Penelope”). Mayday has had a stunning Sorrel colt who will be retained as our junior stallion and has been called “Dangermouse”, Tulip has had a beautiful bay filly called “Dora the Explorer”, and Queenie has had a lovely sorrel colt (called “Junior”) who is spoken for. All 3 were born over the same weekend (which was exhausting because we got no sleep) and we still have Crocodile, Lola, Acorn and Polka to foal!
As with every year, we are getting a lot enquiries about our foals, so it seems a good time to explain exactly how our horse sale process works at Doghill and why we do it in the way we do.
Once we’ve had an initial enquiry, be that through email or via Facebook and a few basic details have been exchanged regarding price and the foal in question, we will always ask that if someone is serious about their enquiry they phone us. This is so we can speak to them and find out a bit more about why they particularly want a foal, what their horse experience is and what they’d like to do with their horse once it’s backed and riding away. Not only does this give us a chance to get a feel for the person enquiring about our foal, but it often helps the prospective purchaser clarify in their own mind what it is that they want in their new horse. We’re always happy to talk on the phone, as it gives us an excuse to ramble on about our favourite subject, which is horses!
Sometimes following that phone call, we suggest other UK Quarter Horse breeders that might have something more suited to what someone is looking for. This is because most UK Quarter Horse breeders have a good idea of each others breeding stock and although they are all quarter horses, they can and do differ in their pedigrees and suitability for certain jobs. Sometimes we suggest that a different breed of horse altogether might actually be suitable for what is wanted, and we will then pass on the name of a trusted dealing contact to help find that horse. If we think one of our horses might suit you, we’ll invite you for a visit to meet us, the mares, Hobbit and any prospective foal.
To us, that physical meeting of the horse is actually very important. During the Covid-19 pandemic, many horses were sold unseen and whilst many people are happy to buy in that way and indeed I’ve done it many times myself, when it comes to our horses, we prefer to have people meet them before deciding whether they would like them. This also gives the prospective purchaser a chance to meet the foal’s dam and also meet Hobbit, as well as ask lots of questions and see how our foals are brought up in a herd environment.
That dialogue before a foal is purchased is essential. We want our foals to be in long term homes where they are valued for themselves instead of being shunted from pillar to post because they’re not quite right. Only very occasionally will we sell a foal or youngster without talking at length with someone beforehand and in those circumstances it will be because we know the home already or it has been recommended by someone we trust and the person enquiring is very well known to them.
What we won’t do, is sell a horse if we know absolutely nothing about you. I’m reminded of one email that went “You don’t need to know about me, just know that I can afford your foal, which I want – what’s your best price to take it off your hands?”. I was “very terse” in my reply!
We’re in the very fortunate position that we can hold on to our foals and let them grow on if they’re not sold as babies, so we never push for a sale and never rush a decision or worry about someone needing time to think about things, because the foal has to be right for the purchaser too!
We owe it to our horses to place them in the best situations we can. After all, we chose to breed them in the first place. A good friend (who is also a Quarter horse breeder) once said to me that she’d far prefer her horses to end up in an amateur hobby home where they’re loved, rather than a top show home where they’re ragged about, shown hard, not allowed to be horses and then thrown away when they are broken and ring sour. Actually, I agree with her.
The best bit about this whole job is getting updates on your horses years later, as they grow up and start their ridden careers and have happy and successful lives with people who love them for who they are. Even when they reach 25 years old and are retired, having had long lives after been sold to new homes as foals, they are still “our” horses. We try to set them up to succeed, rather than fail and getting the right home for them as foals is the first part of that.