I spent last Friday watching horse after horse going through the sale ring, and listening to bid after bid far surpassing my budget. I never went with the intent of buying anything anyway. And it’s a good thing, since my favorite horse sold for approximately $160,000 higher than I could have afforded (more about him later) at the first of these North Texas sales. But I digress.
I went, as I usually do to sales, with the intent of seeing good horses, studying conformation and pedigrees, and trying to understand more about the current market. Sales always provide lessons that you can’t learn anywhere else. You can set any price you want on a horse, and maybe get it. But when you go to a sale, it gives you a better picture of what horses are really worth, which is generally what someone will pay for them.
Some prices are understandable. Some remain mysteries. I watched as a few horses brought prices far beyond what my checking account will ever hold. Some seemed to be bargains. Most were somewhere in between. And mostly what people were buying was potential and promise in the form of yearlings and 2-year-olds.
That was clear at both the Carol Rose Quarter Horses Production Sale in Gainesville and the Legacy Reining Breeders sale just down the road in Aubrey. Carol’s sale was highly anticipated and drew a big, enthusiastic crowd. I suspect some were there to be part of history. Carol has been a leading Quarter Horse breeder for many years, and hasn’t held a sale at her ranch in decades. Her legendary stallion, Shining Spark, is no longer breeding, and some of his last sons and daughters were offered at the sale.
As Carol led Shining Spark into the sale ring as part of a presentation of reference sires, the 23-year-old stallion looked, and clearly felt, like a much younger horse. He seemed to know that many in the crowd were happy to get a glimpse of him. After all, his get have earned more than $8 million, mainly in reining and cow horse events. And I’m betting Carol has told him that. He’s got a reason to be proud.
Horses sired by him, two of his sons (A Shiner Named Sioux and Shiners Lena Doc) and outstanding cutting stallion CD Lights dominated the sale. The high seller was Pony On The Boat, a drop-dead gorgeous dark sorrel 2-year-old colt. The resident ranch trainer, Jay McLaughlin, has him riding like a dream, and Carol says he’s one of the best she’s ever raised. The son of Shining Spark is out of a daughter of Reminic that has produced several money earners, including the great Hes Wright On (look for a story on him in an upcoming issue of Western Horseman).
I’ve had my eye on him for months and also had admired his older full brother. Turns out a lot of people liked him! He brought $165,000 to top the sale. But I don’t think anybody who bought a horse went home unhappy, no matter what they spent.
It was a similar story at the Legacy sale, held annually at Green Valley Ranch, where top reining breeders gathered to offer some of their best yearlings and a few broodmares.
One of my favorite reining horses to watch was Hollywoodstinseltown. Beautiful and athletic, with a quiet and kind disposition, he won a lot. His first foal crop (of two) is just now of show age and one is already a champion, so yearlings sired by him were in high demand. As always, so were those sired by the great Gunner (Colonels Smoking Gun). And as usual, I picked out a few favorites before the sale to watch. Not surprisingly, they sold too high for my pocketbook!
Both sales signaled a horse market that is getting healthier every day, and buyers showed optimism for the future. It’s a good sign for everyone involved with Western stock horses.
One day, I will pick out a horse and raise my hand so the bid spotter can see it. I’ll be among those leaving full of excitement and hopefulness, with a new pony in the trailer. For now, I will keep going to sales, keep listening to the familiar voice of auctioneer Don Green, keep being caught up in the excitement, keep studying pedigrees, and never, ever stop dreaming. Sales are always a good place to do a little wishful thinking.
For information on Carol Rose Quarter Horses, visit http://www.carolrose.com. For details on the Legacy Reining Breeders Sale, go to http://www.legacysale.com. To see a video from the Carol Rose sale, visit Western Horseman’s Facebook page.