Plato once said “Excellence is not a gift, but a skill that takes practice.” Over the past decade, or so, I must have written hundreds of stallions advertisements. And I’ve come to the conclusion that there are three categories of stallions; each with their own challenge for creating an advertisement.
These ads write themselves. The horses are expensive because they have superior race records, pedigrees and/or stud records. These are the ads that are a pleasure to write, the words flow easily, and the point of difference for each stallion is readily discernible. Typically these ads can be written quickly, which is of great benefit when the typical payment is by word count, eg 500 words for $x. The key challenge here is that the stud masters demand a high standard given the profile of their horse. It can be tempting to dash off a quick summary, but that attitude leads to problems (a useful analogy for most of life).
Very cheap horses
Every time I look up one of these horses I think “Why on earth is someone bothering to stand this horse at stud?” I have to remind myself that the owner is paying me to find something nice, and more importantly, they believe in this horse and believe the horse has merit. These horses are a brilliant exercise in seeing beyond the basic facts on the page. It takes creativity to take the facts and make them exciting, and it does help to remember that the marketplace for these horses is (obviously) different to the expensive horses. This alone makes the story different, and if my writing can encourage mare owners to consider a horse – and perhaps even send one mare, then my job has been done.
The middle ground
In many ways, these are my favourite horses to write about. There is a challenge in taking a horse that has a perceived reputation and turning that on its head with some facts that counter it, or in finding the balance between merit and value. Often in this category are the emerging sires who are about to get that good horse to make them fly, and these horses have a buzz about them that helps the words flow. Sometimes, you find an older horse or a bread and butter horse who is forgotten, but more than worth consideration at the price in the market.
To read 2017’s stallion advertisements written for Breeding & Racing, click here. Note: some of these were written in house by their stud farms, but the majority were done by me.