Careers with Horses - The Bloodstock Agent
 By mosquito   •   16th Jan 2010   •   22,822 views   •   5 comments
Careers with Horses - The Bloodstock AgentWant to be around with the most beautiful horses but don’t think you can afford them? Think it’s more fun to spend other people’s money than your own? Well, then maybe becoming a bloodstock agent is for you. Best of all, unlike many careers with horses, bloodstock agents usually don’t have to get too dirty – you can spend your time between your office, stud farms, and auctions. If you are really successful, you can even make a lot of money – also pretty rare for jobs with horses!

So what does a bloodstock agent do? Basically, it will be your job to research pedigrees, decide which horses are the best ones- at first on paper, then go and check them out. Your clients – the ones paying you the money – will probably have a specific type of horse in mind, so you need to find horses that meet their specifications, and that are the best they can afford. You will probably go with your clients to look at the horses, or go with them to an auction or stud farm, so they will be relying on your ‘eye’ too to help them judge a horse.

Most bloodstock agents work in the racing industry, and with Thoroughbreds or Standardbreds. But agents can work with other breeds too, and more and more riders, owners, and breeders of sport horses use agents too, especially for dressage and jumping. Owners of Arabians and show horses might use a bloodstock agent, especially if they want to look for horses far away or in other countries.

How do I get started?

There’s no substitute for an education. To be able to analyze pedigrees you will need to be able to understand some complicated mathematical systems. Some systems, like ‘dosage’ which applies points to parts of a horse’s pedigree, require formulas and complex math. You will need to be a good salesperson, so excellent writing and communication skills are a must. You will need to be familiar with the most popular theories of horse breeding, like dosage. Some of these theories are simple – like ‘tail female descendancy’, but others are more complex and have mysterious names like ‘Mendelian Heredity’, ‘Galton's Rule of Ancestral Contribution’ or ‘The Vuillier System’. A degree in genetics may be a bonus, but it isn’t necessary.

Next, you need to learn about the breeding of horses in your chosen industry. Get a hold of industry magazines, like ‘The Blood Horse’ for thoroughbreds, and start studying. Check out auction catalogs. Most are available on line now, especially for the big auction houses and agents like Fasig-Tipton or Tattersall’s. Some even have photographs and videos of the horses. Get to know the main bloodlines and the type of horse they produce, and which crosses work best, whatever the discipline. Practice by checking out the catalogs and seeing if you can guess how much the horses will sell for, then check the auction results and see if you were right!

You also really need to know what a good horse looks like – that’s called having ‘a good eye for a horse’. The only way to get that is to look at hundreds, even thousands of horses. Photographs are fine to get started, but you really need to see live horses, and also watch them move. A great way to start out is to ask your riding instructor for a lesson in ‘eye’. Take a look at the horses in your riding school, watch them walk and trot, and see if you can identify common conformation faults, and whether they limit the horse in any way. Volunteer at other stables and farms to see if you can see even more horses, and go to shows or racetracks to see if you can spot the best horses.

You can also volunteer to work with a practicing agent. Many will be happy to help you out and show you the ropes in return for help at auctions (you can be a ‘runner’) or in their office. This way is great for also showing you the ins and outs of running a bloodstock agency and how to win clients.

There are some courses you can take too. Try contacting the registries of the breeds you want to work with, and see if they know of farms that offer bloodstock courses. For example, the Northern Racing College in the UK has a sales and bloodstock program, and many equestrian colleges offer programs or classes in equine genetics.

How does a bloodstock agent make money?

There’s a few ways to bill your clients! Some agents take a percentage of the price of a horse, some charge additional fees for research or attending a sale. Agents who work on pedigrees, trying to match a breeder’s mares with the best choice of stallion, may take a commission from the offsprings’ winnings or sale price. Agents who shop for stallions may take a percentage of stud fees, or agents of broodmares may even claim a share of her offspring’s’ winnings! Basically most agents charge a mix of fees and commissions, but how much you make depends on how good you are at finding good horses! Whatever you know about horses, you will still need to get good references and repeat clients, and that means you consistently find good horses for good prices.

And remember, it isn’t all walking around fancy sales and petting pretty horses. You will have to spend a lot of time in an office, researching pedigrees and wading through catalogs. You will have to spend time on sales tactics yourself, and winning clients. You will have to travel a lot, and if you are really successful this may mean travelling around the world. It may not be as dirty as most horse jobs, but the hours are just as long!

The trick is, so matter how much science you apply to horse breeding, there’s always a huge element of chance. There’s plenty of poorly bred or not so pretty horses that could jump or run fast, and plenty of beautiful horses with fancy pedigrees that amounted to nothing. So of course you need to know the business, know your breed, and how to look at a horse, but you will also need some imagination, some intuition, and a lot of luck!
Horse News More In This Category:  General      Horse News More From This Author:  mosquito
Sounds like fun, I might think about doing that when I'm older! Do I need to go to college to do this job?
  Jan 16, 2010  •  9,323 views
Valkyrie   MOD 
Sounds very interesting lol.
  Jan 17, 2010  •  9,207 views
Mountain Girl  
This is very good. I will have to learn more about this. Thank you
  Jan 17, 2010  •  9,211 views
Spending other peoples money for money is my type of job.(:
  Jan 18, 2010  •  9,255 views
Little Bitty Farm  
Great article!
  May 9, 2011  •  9,232 views
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