Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue Thanks For The Stud Fee Here’s A Present For You

By Maryjean Wall

How do I love thee on Valentine’s Day? Let me count the ways … with oats and corn rolled into a decorative memento to be given to the [lucky] fillies and mares in Kentucky on this special day.

The concept is for the heart-shaped box to coincide with the arrival of the ladies for, you know, service. The timing couldn’t be better: Valentine’s Day coincides with the traditional opening of the breeding season for thoroughbreds.

The mares will leave participating breeding sheds with swag that even the most discriminating blue-blooded distaffers would approve of.  Moreover, it’s a nice fillip in a branch of the industry that could not be more lacking in romance: slam, bam, and here’s your gift box, ma’am. Next in line, please.

The gift boxes are adding a bit of interest to a routine chore. That’s probably why they sold out almost immediately

“How has the industry not thought of this before?” asked Anthony Koch, director of sales and marketing at Hallway Feeds in Lexington, where the gift boxes were made. He said he was surprised at how many farms wanted gift boxes. Prices are not disclosed but are arranged on a case-by-case basis.

Photo Courtesy of Hallway Feeds

Julia Hall, daughter of the feed company’s founder, Robert ‘Bob” Hall Jr., hand-crafts the horse treats. Actually, they’re faux treats because they’re inedible – for man or horse. Hall said grain was glued to Styrofoam balls, with the balls placed in heart-shaped boxes that the feed company also made.

So, if a horse can’t eat them, why gift a horse with them? The appeal apparently is in the idea. Hallway Feeds came up with the concept last year but too late for Valentine’s Day. This year’s effort has been more like Beta-testing. Who knows how it will be expanded next year?

Consider this: Kentucky is home to 17,241 thoroughbred mares. That’s a huge population just waiting to receive gift boxes from some 228 stallions.

Photo Courtesy of Hallway Feeds

Koch, whose father, Gus Koch, was longtime manager of Claiborne Farm, said Hallway Feeds worked with three stallion farms to test the gift boxes. They were Claiborne, Spendthrift Farm, and Pin Oak Stud. Five stallions were involved in the rollout: Alternation at Pin Oak; Blame and War Front at Claiborne, and Authentic and Vino Rosso at Spendthrift.

Clifford Barry, longtime manager at Pin Oak, was amused at the gift box idea and said Hallway Feeds delivered not only the large box of Styrofoam balls to Pin Oak but also little boxes of edible sweet feed treats and candies.

“I guess they were looking for a nice young stallion,” Barry said of Alternation’s invitation to participate in the rollout. He thought the gift boxes a great idea, saying they will bring social media chatter and attention to the horse business.

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