‘I can’t even cover my costs’: Breeder gives up

  • A breeder who has been in the business for more than 40 years is giving it all up as she says she cannot make it pay.

    Lyn Phillips, of Honeybrook Stud in Worcestershire, says this season’s coloured Trakehner foals will be her last.

    “People want to pay less now than they did 30 years ago,” she told H&H.

    “I was selling a five-year-old who’d been sent away for six months to be backed and ridden – and out of a mare who cost me €14,000 as a foal – and someone offered me £2,000.

    “I was asking £10,000, which would still have meant I wasn’t making anything; I was getting £5,000 for similar horses 30 years ago, out of a mare who cost £150.

    “I couldn’t have been that rude, to offer that little.”

    Ms Phillips explained that three decades ago, she estimated the cost of rearing a foal as £1,000 per year.

    “I haven’t got a clue what it is now,” she said.

    “The mare I paid €14,000 for has had three foals: the five-year-old, a two-year-old by [Valegro’s sire] Negro and one who’s on her now. What’s it cost to breed those three? You couldn’t even get a mare in foal to a top stallion for £2,000.”

    Ms Phillips questioned whether she had “gone the wrong route” with coloured Trakehners, as “some top people still think coloured horses can’t be good”.

    “I’ve struggled to sell them,” she said.

    “This year’s three foals will be the last, I’m finished.”

    Continues below…

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    Ms Phillips believes the trend of buyers wanting more for less is widespread, and that it could have a negative impact on the industry.

    She added: “I’m so upset; I’ve got the best horses I’ve ever had but if I’m selling three-year-olds for £3,000, I’m not covering my costs.”

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