A Cash Crop of Foals

Mississippi ranchers Larry and Diane Meadows market their produce through a local auction barn - their own.

The numbers seem staggering-120 broodmares, their foals and the ranch's stallions cover the rolling, Mississippi pastureland. Obviously this outfit is in the horse business. But few people make a long-term success at it the way Larry and Diane Meadows have.

The couple, who live in Mize, enjoys their well-bred, often colorful horses and puts great effort into maintaining their herds. But make no mistake: The Meadows' horses are their business. Their cash crop of foals is marketed at an annual August production sale, held at the couple's Mize auction barn, with Larry calling the bids.

"We sell everything in August, all our babies, and those of a few people we've partnered with,"Larry says. "We'd sure love to keep some of the horses, but this is a business. We sometimes buy back a few, usually as 2- or 3-year-olds. It's nice to have that opportunity."

Diane also acknowledges the difficulty in selling every foal every year.

"It's hard, but the horses are our livelihood, our business, just like the auction barn and the cattle are,"she says.

But more than the three complementary enterprises-horses, cattle and the sale barn-contribute to the Meadows' success. Integrity is another factor, as well as the couple's keen understanding of the horse market. Plus, they hold an annual futurity for their production-sale foals, which will pay out about $10,000 this November.

For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of the July 2007 issue of Western Horseman.