angle-left Ranch Horse Auctions: A Hosting How-To

Ranch Horse Auctions: A Hosting How-To

Tips and best practices for hosting a ranch horse production sale.

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Putting on a ranch horse production sale can seem like a big chore. But for many ranchers and AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeders, it’s the best way to get horses in the barns of new owners. While ranch horse buyers are concerned about landing the perfect horse, the producer has a few factors to consider to ensure buyers not only come to the sale, but that they have an enjoyable time.

Advance Planning

If your ranch has never put on a production sale, you might consider some help.

  • An auctioneer. Hire one who knows your market and can start you off with the right advice – even if that advice is to not have a sale.

    “You’ve got to weigh the expense (of putting on a sale),” says auctioneer Steve Friskup, who has been in the business for more than 30 years and conducts many on-site ranch sales. “I like to know what kind of customer base the owner has had previous to the sale. It’s sometimes feasible and sometimes not. I don’t do much total management. I’m the auctioneer, but I give a lot of advice.”
  • Sale management staff. Some ranches with established ranch sales handle their own sale management. Others may rely on an experienced auctioneer to advise on sale management staff.
  • Catalog builder. AQHA’s RGP Catalog Builder allows users to create their own printer-ready Quarter Horse sale catalog, complete with internet listing and phone app.

Factors to Consider

Steve’s checklist of needs for a ranch horse sale includes:

  • Advertising.
  • Location.
  • Clerking.
  • Ring men.
  • Sale ring set up.
  • Sound system.
  • Bleachers and parking.
  • Food.
  • Restrooms.

All of these are topics that should be addressed before horses even come up in conversation.

Location, Location, Location

After you make the decision to have a sale, the next decision is to pick a site, either your ranch or a sale facility.

  • Off site. Weaver Quarter Horses of Big Sandy, Montana, transports its horses to a sale facility about an hour away in Great Falls, Montana, a decision with pros and cons.

    “Our ranch road is 30 miles of gravel,” says Stan, who is the 2019-20 AQHA president, “and we felt our location was too remote to have a sale at the ranch. Great Falls has worked pretty well for us. Our out-of-state customers can fly in easily.”

    Renting a building is an added expense to the cost of the sale, as is the horse transportation. On the other hand, the rented facility has parking, concession stands and restrooms on site. And, like Stan says, is convenient to airports and hotels.
  • On site. The Four Sixes Ranch of Guthrie, Texas, hosts an annual sale with ranching partners Pitchfork Land & Cattle, Beggs Cattle Co. and Tongue River Ranch.

“We do our own sale administration,” says Dr. Glenn Blodgett, AQHA past president and horse manager of Four Sixes Ranch. Handling sale administration means hiring a tent company, erecting a sale ring and bleachers, arranging for trash bins and portable restrooms, and all of the other logistics that will give buyers a pleasant day at the sale.

“It gives us a chance to showcase the history of the ranch,” Dr. Blodgett says. “Our buyers can see an authentic chuckwagon and the way it’s set up in a ranch atmosphere, and it adds to the décor and the festivities on the ranch.”

Partners and Guest Consignors

Very few ranches put on sales these days without partners or at least guest consignors.

“It’s a trend nowadays, several ranches joining forces,” Steve says.

The obvious benefit of having other ranches involved in your sale is sharing the cost of putting on the sale.

“We could probably do it on our own,” Dr. Blodgett says, “but (having others involved) enables you to maybe sell a few more animals and, hopefully, attract a few more buyers by having other people involved.”

If your ranch has nearby ranches raising horses of known quality, you might consider sharing the workload, the cost and the benefits, says Stan, who adds that Ted and Barb Crowley of Treasure State Quarter Horses have partnered with the Weavers since they started having a production sale.