If you are on the Heritage
Sale mailing list, you received a catalog prior to their Winter Mixed Sale.
That is the largest sale catalog that I have ever received. There were 1328
horses in that sale. It was held January 20, 21st and 22nd.
There were many barrel racing buyers there looking for prospects to
train. Some of the horses in the sale had been raced and had established
speed indexes and some had not been. There were horses out of famous sires
of every color and build.
It is interesting to walk
through the sale barns and talk to the people who bring their horses to the
sale or bring them for someone else. You will often hear the same things as
you go from isle to isle looking at horses. One of the things that I hear a
lot is that this horse is in the sale because he would break out fast and
only run about 200 yards in the lead and then be passed by the competition.
That is always music to the ears of a barrel racer, as we all know that our
barrel horses do not have to run long distances. The famous sire Three Bars
was known for his early speed and then would tire before reaching the finish
line in the thoroughbred distances. He became an all time leading sire of
quarter horses. His name is in the pedigree of many great barrel horses and
other performance horses as well. Leo was another horse that had a great
burst of early speed and he too went on to become an established sire of
great horses. An early burst of speed is very desirable in the arena events
certain sires have passed that quality on to their offspring.
But, there are so many
other things to consider when buying at a sale. One of the main things is
that the horse is sound. There are vet stations set up at the larger sales
where you can get a pre-purchase exam on any horse that you are thinking of
bidding on. You can go as extensive as you want on this exam.
Another thing to consider
is the breeding on the horses you have checked in your catalog. Your sale
catalog paints a picture of each horse. It identifies the animal, the
consignor and provides extensive details about the relatives of each horse
offered. You can also tap into other record keeping companies. The barrel
horse industry has realized the value of keeping records and you can tap
into that information to check up on what stallions are siring multiple
barrel racing winners. If you do your homework before the sale, you can
even find out what sires have produced horses that amateurs and children
have been able to win on.
If the horse does have a
Speed Index, you can find out at what distances he ran and if he ran
consistent. You can also find out if his speed was early or gaining as he
ran. Horses that gain as the distance increases will usually be better in
the longer outdoor patterns. The quick and consistent horse that runs
shorter distances will have a lower speed index, but may be the best barrel
horse in smaller patterns. Okie Leo sired many great barrel horses. He had
a very low speed index on the track. I personally rode at least 6 Okie Leos
that were awesome and consistent.
You have a good
opportunity to study the horse in the stall in a very strenuous situation.
People are everywhere, the lights are always on and the sound of the speaker
can be heard in each isle. How that horse is re-acting to this situation
will tell you a lot about his personality. Many horses are getting ulcers
in the barrel horse industry. Some types of horses are so nervous that they
acquire ulcers from fretting at the shows.
There will be some horses
that go through the sales for astronomical sums that some people are willing
and able to pay, but the great buys are also available. Perhaps the
greatest buy of all went through the Heritage sale in 1989 when a bay colt
named Refrigerator came through the ring. He was purchased for $3800 and
retired a few years later with many championships and earnings in excess of
As the sales get larger
and larger, the opportunities to find some good barrel racing prospects are
increasing. Just be sure to do your homework in every way. Keep in mind
though that there is one thing that we cannot know for sure and that is the
size of the heart and desire of the mind of
the animal. When all is said and done, we can only do our part, but I
believe that if we do our part consistently, we will come out with some good
prospects to train.