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My kingdom for a horse

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Mar 18, 2010 9:33 pm

You know how we all do that "efficient frontier" diagram which shows our perfect mix of fixed income vs. equity, int'l vs. domestic, large cap, small cap, etc?  And we act like it's a secret that only we are capable of sharing with this particular client, and that it's sheer awesomeness should really require the wearing of a lead apron and a welder's helmet when being viewed at midnight during a lunar eclipse falling on the winter solstice?  Because it's really, really important, and those who hold this key from the Keymasters (us and/or Rick Moranis), will be forever able to enter through the Gatekeepers (Sigourney Weavers) to the land of Investment Perfection, where cats and dogs live together peacefully, and you're never a little shaky on the good vs. bad thing.

Well, several years ago while still at AGE and attending a regional in which one of the breakouts was about "Non-Correlated Assets," I fell under the spell of a particularly witching female speaker,  who captivated me with her firm, upthrust mountain charts; her husky whispers of "alternative investments;" her moist, parted pages of data; her ripe, rounded paranthetical notations; her rich, lustrous waterfall of auburn tinted analyses (pl).  I was smitten with the conviction that, yes, I must pursue this outlying grail of investment excellence, the non-correlated asset.  But how?

As fate would have it, the very next Monday I'm meeting with a solid client, great guy, veterinarian who owns his practice and has been dabbling in a little of this and a little of that through the years.  He shares with me that several months ago he bought a thoroughbred mare in foal, ran the little baby filly through the auction as a weanling after she was born and old enough, she sold for "X", he had originally paid 1/3 of "X" for the mare in foal, so he's hugely in the money and he still has the mare to breed again.  I can do that math in my head, and it sounds full of crunchy goodness to me.  What's more non correlated than a horse!

Fast forward several months and we've got a righteous thoroughbred partnership put together with about 5 of us.  I'm coming off a solid year and feeling pretty good, the overall post 9/11 economy seems to be recovering, and this is going to be great!  I even filled out my official Outside Business Activity report and got the whole thing blessed by the Orcs that inhabit Places Which Shall Not Be Named.  We each kick in the seed money, and my client the vet goes off to the next auction with a wish list already filled out and that shameless harlot called Opportunity hotly whispering in our ears.

He makes a solid mare-in-foal purchase, and we still have some dough left over for carrying costs, so we're off and running!   We all go out to farm on the edge of town to see our investment when he gets back with her, and she really is beautiful.  Hugely pregnant, but still every inch the thoroughbred.  My kids are thrilled that we have a horse (well, 20% of a horse), but a little puzzled by the fact that none of us will ever be able to ride her or the baby.  When I explain that to my youngest, who at the time was about 3-4, she reacts like the kids in that commercial where the guy asks if the kids want to ride the bike, but then makes them stay in that box outlined on the floor.  She throws her little carrot chunks at our investment for the rest of our visit to the farm that day, and henceforth calls it the "stupid, stinking horse."

Foal is born, a filly, and now there's a vet bill.  Not my client the vet, but some sort of neonatalogist equine bionic nuclear physicist former Ukranian gymnast don't look directly at me while we talk or you'll be struck blind by my mightiness, specialty vet.  And now our extra dough is gone.  But that's ok, because the horses live on the farm and eat grass and grow and then are sold and we cackle while we count our money, right?  Right? 

You know how much fun a margin call is?  Then you know how much fun it is to be a partner in a thoroughbred venture in the months leading up to The Auction!  Prep for this, xray for that, fitment for this, etc.  It's a good thing I had the check writing on my AGE account, or else The Bride of My Youth would have called an early end to this venture had she been writing checks out of the household account.

Finally, Auction Day arrives!  We travel out as a family to the actual event several hours away, because it will be a Learning Experience for the kids!  Our filly is scheduled for a mid-morning auction slot, so we get there an hour or so before and find our way into the facility.  We watch horse after horse go through successfully, with some sales prices into six figures, so we're pumped.   It's been going down like this - The name of the horse and stable is called out, two grooms escort the horse out through a curtain and big overhead door onto a raised stage area where they walk it back and forth, stop a few times, turn a few times, and walk back out  another curtained overhead door on the other side of the stage, all the while the bidding is building to a climax!  Theoretically.

Things have been running like clockwork, each sale building on the excitement of the previous one, and then it's our turn.  Our filly's name is called, the stable named, and.......silence.  A brief pause, the name called again, more silence, followed then by much shouting and sounds of things banging and breaking and yelling, and consternation ripples through the crowd.  Finally, our filly emerges out of the curtained door...backwards.  The grooms are trying to get her turned around, she lunges across the stage mightily, and then just lays down and shoots a stream of urine across the stage.  And then the auctioneer calls for his first bids....

Even the 30 crazed Koreans in the row in front of us who had been bidding on EVERYTHING were silent.  Then my youngest says loud enough for the whole quiet building to hear, "Daddy is our stupid, stinking horse really going to die up there?"  No, baby, but I think my commitment to Non Correlated Assets just fell on its Warrior's Sword for all to see.

Epilogue:  That filly actually sold off the trailer after the official sale for enough to cover her costs, we re-bred the mare and she gave us a colt, which sold the next year for enough (wait for it) to let us buy 3 more mares in-foal using the proceeds from that one hot colt.  My commitment to Non-Correlated Assets remains inversely proportional to the Glue and Petfood Index.

Mar 18, 2010 10:12 pm

Beemer, I love your stories, man. You should seriously consider a second career publishing this stuff. By the time I got to the part of the story about your filly urinating on the auction stage, my sides were hurting. Let's shut this off for now and get outside. It's motorcycle season!!!

Mar 18, 2010 10:12 pm

Somebody is a huge producer with free time......

Mar 18, 2010 11:00 pm

Your stories might be the only reason to keep coming back here from time to time.  That and the access denied screen at the other site. 

I have this mental picture of the Korean guys doing two things:  ducking for cover as your horse sprays the crowd a la Shamu and grabbing for their digital cameras at the same time so they can snap a few photos to email back  home. 

I never pictured Koreans as horse people.  Arabs, yes.  Can Korean people even get on a horse?

Mar 20, 2010 2:13 pm

[quote=Spaceman Spiff]

I never pictured Koreans as horse people.  Arabs, yes.  Can Korean people even get on a horse?


Can you say Kung Pao Equine, Thourobred Dim Sum, etc.

Mar 24, 2010 5:44 pm

Beemer, great story as is the the usual from you!

I coulda warned you though, I grew up in the horse racing biz. Dad was a big time horse trader/salesman. This was, no pun intended, back in horse racing's hay day. Mostly, for rich folks, the ponies are either a fun hobby or a write off or both. The mix of rich people, famous people, and backside characters coming through our lives as well as our front door made for an interesting childhood. When the phone rang at our house it could be Wally the groom or John F. Kennedy. Pretty wild!

Dad warned us all off the biz as we got older.

Good luck!!!!!!

Mar 24, 2010 7:37 pm

Beemer/Bond Guy (and any other motorcycle enthusiasts),

This is our summer trip jump-off spot...

Man, am I pumped...

Mar 26, 2010 4:04 pm

Indy, an upgrade from the Bates Motel on last year's trip?

Looks good!

When do you leave?

Right now getting Homer ready for a Mountain biking trek  in Florida. We're going to do a lap of the state, hit all the major trails, and then get in some kayaking and canoeing on some of the spring fed rivers. From there, around Ocala, we'll hop over to Quest Air for some Hang Gliding and then down to the Keys for some Hobie sailing after hitting one of the better East Coast trails. I'm putting a kayak and a canoe on top of the Grand Cherokee and three bikes on back and then flat towing the whole mess behind the bus. No room for a motorcycle this trip. But, the season is here and i'm as excited as always to get my saddle time.

Motorcycling, unfortunately, is taking a backseat to the pedal bikes as both my sons have gotten into mountain biking big time! When i'm not riding with them I'm putting on training miles so I can keep up with them. A lost cause! But as a card holding member of the "Over the handle bars club" one must keep up apearances.