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Bringing Along The Best: Maya Studenmund-Simmons Has The Green Thumb for OTTBs

Written by on September 4, 2017

Those who know Maya Studenmund-Simmons know that she’s no stranger to the world of upper-level Eventing. Simmons, an Advanced level Eventer, says she’s found her once-in-a-lifetime partner in Archie Rocks, who was recently syndicated in an effort to support taking him Advanced. While she’s highly dedicated to continuing the progression of her professional riding career with Archie Rocks, Simmons is also focusing on her newest venture of expanding her business in horse sales.

How OTTBs’ Stole Her Heart

Archie Rocks

No Stirrups? No problem! Maya Studenmund-Simmons and Archie Rocks beautifully sailing over a fence during her infamous stirrup-loss at the Carolina International in Spring 2017. Photo Credit: Maya Studenmund-Simmons

Simmon’s business, Crown Sport Horses, is known for producing talented OTTB (off-the-track-thoroughbred) Eventing prospects, and has found notable success in the realm of “flipping” horses. When asked if her experience training and repurposing Thoroughbreds has been challenging due to their reputation for being high-strung off the track, Simmons shakes her head.

“I’ve found just the opposite. I’ve had such great experiences bringing along these horses from the track, and they’re incredible,” Simmons says. “They have the best attitudes, love to work, and are really trainable. They’re also generally really quiet…a lot of times I have to use spurs!”

Through the years, Simmons has developed a passion for OTTBs’, and credits their huge hearts and willingness to please. “Archie Rocks is proof of just how awesome these horses can be…he honestly has the best brain and best temperament I’ve ever found in a horse. He tries his heart out every single day. I’ve never had a bad ride on him.”

Focusing on Horse Sales

Several years ago, Simmons took a hiatus from competing to recover from an injury, as well as start a family and become a mom to twins. During that time, she focused on growing Crown Sport Horses, and developing its reputation for delivering quality OTTB Eventing prospects.

Simmons is now looking to bring on new partners interested in the horse sale business. She hopes that collaborating with partners will help continue to grow her business, and expand the ability to find good prospects. “It will also give me the flexibility to spend more time with my kids, and continue competing Archie and bring him up the levels,” she says.

Simmons typically finds prospects in the $3,000-$5,000 range, and is able to sell them for $15,000-$25,000 in less than a year. Retraining typically takes around 9 months before she feels the horse is ready to find their next home. “It really just depends on the horse, and making sure they’re prepared for their new career.”

A great recent success for Simmons was an OTTB who sat in a pasture for 4 years, and had no retraining. In just 6 months, he was able to go Beginner Novice, and was then sold for $20,000 to Will Faudree as an upper-level prospect. Simmons says, “I thought it was pretty cool, that the horse was able to completely transform in that short amount of time. He’s got a bright future now.”

What To Look For in Prospects

Simmons doesn’t hesitate to rank a thorough vetting process as number one on the list of importance when considering a prospect. “Understanding the process, finding a vet you trust, and becoming familiar with what to look for is huge. It’s for sure a big part of selecting a good horse, and knowing what type of work they’ll be capable of doing.”

A thorough vetting process can help reveal if a horse would be sound enough to be an upper-level prospect, or potentially need to remain a lower-level riding horse due to existing or previous injuries. The vetting process also can help point out any conformation issues as well.

One of the other most important things to consider when searching for a new prospect to retrain is their mind and overall demeanor. Simmons says that a horse who is a 7 or 8 on the temperament scale is usually that same temperament even after full retraining, and it’s often just the personality of the horse. “While the majority of the horses I’ve worked with are very quiet and have a great work ethic, it’s really important to evaluate the horse’s personality when considering to purchase with the intent to resell.”

Age is another factor on the list of considerations. Simmons says her ideal age for a prospect is between 4 and 9 years old. “They’ve matured a little bit by then, filled out in growth, and you have a better idea of the horse you’re going to end up with when they’re in that age range.”

Lastly, Simmons advises those looking to buy a prospect to be honest and realistic with their capabilities and expectations. She suggests choosing prospects that are in line with your riding and training abilities, as well as your resources.

“You need to pick a horse that’s a good fit for the goals you’re able to achieve, and be honest with yourself about that,” she says. “Doing so will give yourself and your resale prospect a better chance of succeeding.”

What To Consider When Selling Horses For Profit

It’s no secret that embarking on the business venture of selling horses can be a lucrative one. Before starting the search for your first prospect, it’s wise to ask yourself if you have the appropriate resources to successfully retrain and sell a prospect.

First, consider your experience. If you plan on doing the training yourself, excellent riding skills and years in the saddle are a given requirement. Are you a confident, quiet, and correct rider with maximum patience? Having the knowledge and skillset to properly bring along a young prospect and shape them into a reliable, safe, and fun ride is incredibly important.

If you’re not sure you’re ready to train a prospect on your own but still want to get started, consider hiring a trainer who is familiar working with young or inexperienced horses for the discipline you’re interested in (Eventing, Jumpers, Equitation, etc.). Working with an experienced trainer will help you successfully overcome potential behavior and confidence issues in a shorter amount of time.

Next, think about your overall budget. It’s not enough to plan for the initial purchase cost of your prospect. Add up monthly costs of board, feed, trainer fees, veterinary costs, etc. Estimate how long you think it will take before your prospect is ready to sell, then add on a cushion of several months in case training or selling takes longer than planned. This will be your estimated total investment cost.

Now, when it comes to pricing your prospect, do some market research and look up other horses for sale that are of similar age, breed, and training. You need to price your horse competitively because overpricing your horse will likely just prolong the time it takes to sell him, and keeps your monthly costs high.

Unless you are only retraining and selling prospects as a hobby, you’ll want to have a decent return, or profit, from selling your prospect. A good rule of thumb is to shoot for a 30-40% profit of your total cost of investment. Before you purchase your prospect, it’s wise to evaluate if the horse is capable and talented enough to be sold for a much greater amount than you originally bought him for and spent in training.

A Rewarding Career

Even if you’re considering getting into the business of retraining and selling horses as an additional source of income instead of a full-time career, know that having the proper resources, experience, and support are the keys to successfully bringing along a desirable horse for someone to love and enjoy.

Using Maya Studenmund-Simmons as a role model, take pride in your prospect and potential horse selling business, and always remember that it’s more important to train and resell a horse that is safe, fun, and capable than to rush a horse through the training process for a faster sale. You’ll build a reputation as a high-quality, reliable seller, and enjoy a successful business.

Find out more about Crown Sport Horses.  

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