Aside from the top 20 or so Kentucky stallions, books are not filling briskly in the stallion ranks of the Bluegrass.
According to sources around the region, this phenomenon began earlier this year during the 2010 breeding season, with some very nice stallions just below the “commercial elite” finding little traction with breeders.
This situation apparently has accelerated for the prospective 2011 season.
Stallion managers are making calls. Owners and syndicates are being polled, and from the evidence so far, it looks like quite a few mares are gone from the Kentucky breeding pool. This was the obvious lesson of the past couple of sales cycles, in which buyers from abroad and from regional domestic markets took home hundreds of mares and broodmare prospects.
The repercussions from the contraction of the Kentucky broodmare pool are varied. Many farms have already felt the contraction as a notable shrinking of their boarding business, and those farms have had to correspondingly reduce their business with vets, builders, fencing companies, farriers, van companies, insurance, restaurants, advertising, staff, and on and on.
Fewer mares, less income, lower profit margins, and a more restrictive yearling environment are making seasons a tough sell.
This could get really tough by March, one stallion manager has suggested. Much depends upon the behavior of regional breeders. If they send a sizable volume of mares to Kentucky to breed, that may soften the blow, but it will not change the direction the wind is blowing.