Stallion auction: A win-win fundraiser

Bake sales, car washes, running races, concerts, gala dinner dances, golf tournaments—non-profit organizations stage all sorts of fundraising events—annually–sometimes more often.

Colorado State University’s Equine Reproduction Laboratory and Orthopaedic Research Center are no different. They seek funds to support their clinical services and research efforts to improve equine health in the areas of reproduction and musculoskeletal disease.

But these world-renowned equine organizations aren’t baking cakes or washing cars. Instead, they conduct an annual auction of semen from a group of highly-prized American Quarter Horse sires, and they do it online.

Bidding is open January 4–16 for the seventeenth annual auction. Lindsay Bass, office manager and client coordinator for the Equine Reproduction Lab at CSU explained that the auction got started as a way to raise funds, make it possible for clients to promote their services and for horse owners to breed their animals at a reduced cost. Bidding opens at half the advertised cost for breeding and increases in $50 increments. “It’s a win-win situation,” Bass said.

How does it work? Horse-owning participants volunteer to donate sperm from their animals for the cause. They benefit from exposure during the auction. Many have developed relationships with CSU equine operations over the years, appreciate their services and are happy to donate to this cause.

Horse owners looking to breed their animals, for either competition or ranch work, register on the auction website, recognizing that they may be able to save some money or have a breeding opportunity that would not otherwise be available to them. Top sires are often fully booked.

Over time the auction process has become more sophisticated. This year the auction will be open for a longer period of time and bidders can sign up to bid by proxy, using a service that automatically monitors bidding for them up to a pre-determined price they are willing to pay, then notifies them if they have won the bid.

Will every winning bid result in a guaranteed pregnancy and live birth? “That depends on the breeding contract,” Bass said. She explained that usually there is something called a live foal guarantee in the contract.

The 2016 auction offers more variety than it has in the past with a new emphasis on barrel racing. Dr. Jerry Black, director of CSU’s Equine Reproduction Laboratory and the undergraduate Equine Science Program said they hoped to offer something for everyone interested in breeding American Quarter Horses, whether for performance or ranch work.

Breeding fees vary greatly according to a number of factors including the lifetime earnings of the animal and the winnings of their progeny. National winners in barrel racing, cow-horse, cutting, ranch horse and reining competitions are included among the 45 stallions in this year’s auction.

This is big business. And it’s brisk. For example, at the time of this writing a stallion named Gunnatrashya already had nine bids, the highest at $2,250. The winner of a bid is responsible for several additional fees including a chute fee to cover handling of the stallion, cost of collection and semen evaluation. They are also responsible for booking fees and associated reproductive and veterinary costs.

It is a select group, from all over the country, who are likely to participate in the stallion auction. Owners and bidders alike benefit from a unique fundraiser and the proceeds go to a cause they believe in and benefit from.

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