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Horse People and Horse Sales: An Array of Emotions

Horse People and Horse Sales: An Array of Emotions– Sale time evokes quite the mixed bag of emotions. Grooms, owners, consignors, buyers – each feel differently when it’s time for the horses to be sold, and when it comes to the yearling sales, these diverse reactions can especially easily be witnessed.

Horse People

When it’s time for the horses to be gathered from their farms at which they were raised to go to the site of the sale, be it at Keeneland or a Fasig-Tipton location, emotions reach an all-time high to match the quintessential busyness that engulfs the sale grounds. Photo: Keeneland

With yearlings, there’s so much promise and inklings of greatness that it’s a wonder any owner is ever able to part with a horse they’ve literally had a hand in designing and creating. Grooms, those handlers whose daily lives revolve around the young colts and fillies, are perhaps most aware of which youngsters are destined to display powerful performances in their upcoming careers. Even if the horses do nothing, they each leave some sort of impact on those who help shape their early beginnings.

Consignors are certainly the ones who experience the most stress due to their responsibility of getting the horses prepped and sold, but they are likewise subject to some of the most gratifying feelings when they ultimately succeed. Shuffling between thousands of pages of hip numbers thrills potential buyers, who assemble their short lists while also being sure to leave time for others that may catch their eyes.

When it’s time for the horses to be gathered from their farms at which they were raised to go to the site of the sale, be it at Keeneland or a Fasig-Tipton location, emotions reach an all-time high to match the quintessential busyness that engulfs the sale grounds. As horses arrive, the consignors are quick to ensure that each horse is placed in its respective stall decorated with its hip number and pertinent information. Items to decorate the barns are unloaded and dispersed – bright red and white décor for Eaton, petite blue and white flowers in turquoise flower boxes for Denali, that familiar trio of arrows on green backgrounds for Lane’s End. Each barn is quite quickly prepared for the crowds of visitors.

The daily routine begins before the sun rises over the sale grounds. Grooms and showmen arrive first, when the bright lights surrounding the barns are the only lights illuminating the way. Empty feed tubs from the night before are removed, water and hay are refreshed, stalls are cleaned, horses are hotwalked, regular halters are replaced with show halters, shanks and chifneys and long chains are assigned to each stall, and horses are groomed to be show-ready, all before the sun’s rays finally appear.

When the time comes to show a horse, all four of those essential characters in a horse’s life are affected. A groom may be showing a horse they cared for during the months prior, and pride can easily be detected as they show the horse. Consignors watch, perhaps a bit nervously, to get a handle on how the horse is being perceived – does the potential buyer think the horse is worth the investment, or are they thinking that there are others with more to offer in the way of future success? While the buyer ruminates on the inherent risk associated with buying a racehorse, they are likewise imagining the triumphs and awe-inspiring feelings that could result from owning the horse, the main reason why these horses continue to be worth the risk. Often absent at the sales themselves are the owners, but their concerns about their prized horses are all but missing. While it’s obvious that the owners simply hope for their horses to sell well, it is just as obvious that they excitedly anticipate seeing where their horses go and what they do on the racetrack under their new ownership.

Although the whole process of the sale eventually seems rather routine to outsiders, it is loaded with emotions that can only be experienced by being a part of it. The horse industry has a way of sucking people in, but it is a blessing to all who surrender to it and the array of emotions it is certain to evoke.

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