Dialed In at Darby Dan Farm

Dialed In at Darby Dan Farm

Erin Crady/TOBA

TOBA Breeding Clinic Takes Place in Lexington

New owners and breeders meet in Lexington for TOBA's three-day breeding clinic.

For anyone in doubt of the interest of "new blood" in the Thoroughbred industry, attendance at this weekend's three-day breeding clinic hosted by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association would go far to allay any such uncertainty.

TOBA's mission is "to improve the economics, integrity, and pleasure of the sport on behalf of Thoroughbred owners and breeders." To that end, TOBA holds regular clinics on ownership, breeding, pedigrees, and conformation for members and non-members alike.

From May 31 to June 2 owners and breeders from all corners of the United States, as well as from Canada, converged in Lexington to further their knowledge of the Thoroughbred breeding industry.

Organized by TOBA's Erin Crady and Amy Bunt, participants spend three days immersed in all the various aspects of the breeding process. Talks from industry leaders on topics ranging from the physiological details of equine reproduction and foaling to theories of pedigree research, bio-mechanical measurements, and equine diets and nutrition are conducted during the first half of the day.

Representatives from The Jockey Club and the The Jockey Club Information Systems are also on hand helping to familiarize attendees with the necessary identification and registration procedures as well as the research services available to owners and breeders. Conversation is lively and there is no lack of questions as the eager audience introduces their own stories and unique circumstances. There is a camaraderie that emerges as the attendees find common ground in their owning and breeding experiences.

During the May 31 visit to Machmer Hall in Paris, Ky., owners Carrie and Craig Brogden shared their experience in breeding and sales and opened their barns to the TOBA contingent to observe the work of their veterinarian, Dr. Arnoldo Monge of Hagyard Equine Medical Institute.

Participants looked on as Dr. Monge checked the various stages of pregnancy of three mares, explaining each step of the procedures along the way as he palpated and performed ultrasounds on the mares. Rounding out the visit were demonstrations in corrective hoof trimming by the Brogden's farrier, Victor Zambrano, who explained the goals in trimming the hooves on each of two of the farm's foals, taking into account the foals' future growth and preparation for sale as yearlings.

The afternoon of June 1 included a tour of Frank Stronach's Adena Springs near Paris, Ky. complemented with discussions on stallion conformation, stallion contracts, and a viewing of a live breeding. General manager of Adena Springs, Eric Hamelback, shared the farm's preferences and philosophies in evaluating stallions and planning matings for their residents including Awesome Again , Ghostzapper , and Einstein.

Included in the highlights of the weekend was a trip to Adena Springs' breeding shed to witness Macho Uno  covering a mare. Each step of the processfrom the mare's arrival and interaction with the teaser stallion, and finally the mating in the shedwas explained in detail by Hamelback and the Adena Springs' breeding staff.

Cormac Breathnach, Adena Springs' stallion manager, concluded the afternoon with a discussion of types of contracts and shares, the farm's mating recommendations, and the process of booking stallions. TOBA clinic members learned about the various options open to breeders and suggested considerations to make when breeding their mares.

On the final day of the clinic, June 2, attendees sat in on two lectures: one on forage and pasture maintenence followed by another explaining the finer points of equine nutrition, with special focus on the nutritional needs of broodmare and foal. The clinic concluded with an afternoon at historic Darby Dan Farm near Lexington.

While at Darby Dan, Tommy Eastham, the farm's sales director, led a engaging discussion about setting sales goals, sales prep, and procedures. Participants were then led by farm manager Robert Hammond and stallion director Ryan Norton through the steps of another live cover, watching as the mare was teased, prepped, and brought to the breeding shed to meet first year stallion, Dialed In . The breeding staff managed the operation calmly and smoothly as overseen by stallion manager Ryan Watson and the farm's veterinarian.

Before leaving Darby Dan the group toured the farm's various barns, learned about the farm's management practices, mare and foal care, and were treated to a show of some of their stallions, including Shackleford , Jersey Town , and Perfect Soul . The TOBA attendees were eager to ask questions about Darby Dan's theories on breeding, pedigrees, and stallion selection.

Most professionals in any industry will tell you there are many ways to accomplish any goal, and the Thoroughbred industry is no different. TOBA has managed to present to the new owner/breeder a panel of industry veterans who share their personal knowledge and expertise, while still encouraging the new breeder to trust one's own instincts and develop one's own plan. It's an empowering experience for a novice owner or breeder and can only serve to benefit any new Thoroughbred endeavor.

Other clinics to be offered this year include: 

TOBA Clinics 2013




July 13

Thoroughbred Ownership Seminar

Shakopee, Minn.

August 5

Pedigree & Conformation Clinic

Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

August 8

Thoroughbred Ownership Seminar

Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

October 7-8

Pedigree & Conformation Clinic

Lexington, Ky.

October 18

Thoroughbred Ownership Seminar

Laurel, Md.