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Horse Sales

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 $2.1 million. 

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.


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Copyright 2004 - 2011 Joyce Loomis-Kernek
Last modified: January 05, 2014
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