I recently heard of an interesting (OK interesting because I'm not involved, otherwise it might be MORE than interesting.) situation. The original stallion owner sold several breedings and, after MANY years, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. This person lived for several years after the diagnosis and continued in business during that time. A letter was sent out to inform holders of breedings that the end was near, probably at least a year before the owner died, and if they wished to use their breeding they needed to do it because after the owner's death, there was no guarantee that any breedings would be honored. The owner passed and left the horse to someone new, who actually tried to honor some of the breedings and then re-sent a letter to all outstanding breeding holders to use them by such and such a date as the stallion was going out on lease and the lessee would not be required to honor the breedings. BTW, 3 years have now passed since the original owner passed on and these are still breedings that original owner sold.
The stallion has moved to the lessee, who actually is planning on buying him in the fairly near future. Several people have contacted the lessee requesting that the breedings they bought from the original owner be honored.
Even had the original owner NOT died, I would think that 3 to 4 years after the purchase of the breeding would be adequate time to use it, if you're going to. I don't know how long ago the people bought the breedings, conceivably 15 plus years, the stallion isn't a spring chicken and they've had lots of time to use the breedings.
Because of this, I've rethought my breeding contract and now limit the FIRST use of the breeding to 3 seasons. So, if you bought a breeding in 2013, you'd have until 2016 to use it the first time, with no penalty. I'm not talking about a live foal guarantee, I'm talking about trying for the first time to breed the mare. After 3 seasons, I think that the mare owner either faces the risk of loss due to death of an aged stallion or gelding in the event the owner decides to no longer stand the stallion. If, after 3 years, the mare owner wants to use the breeding, then I think a handling fee is appropriate, whether or not the stallion owner is the seller of the breeding or not.
For instance, I sell a breeding to Skippy and 5 years later, sell him to someone new. I think it's perfectly OK for the new owner to charge a handling fee to honor the breeding, IF they chose to honor the breeding at all. After 5 years, I would feel fine about charging a handling fee if I still was standing the stallion. Either that or I'd be ok with charging the difference if the stud fee had gone up.
How long would you expect a stallion owner (regardless of whether they are the actual seller of the breeding) to honor a breeding purchased from a particular stallion? What is your reasoning for your thinking?