Well-trained horses are wanted: Great American Ranch and Trail Horse Sale a spring hit

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The Great American Ranch and Trail Horse Sale takes place each April at the Virginia Horse Center and along with the auction on Saturday, includes two competitions for sale horses.

As the weather warms and the sun starts to feel just a bit warmer, daydreams shift to the promise of another great season of trail riding and hours spent on a favorite horse climbing the Blue Ridge Mountains or cantering along a river at James River State Park.

Last weekend (April 13-14, 2018) in Virginia, both fabulous weather and plans for great trail rides converged at the Virginia Horse Center for the Great American Ranch and Trail Horse Sale as 120 horses, hundreds of buyers and even more spectators gathered for another sale.

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Unique to this sale are the competitions open only to consigned horses. The ranch horses go first on Friday afternoon in a class the requires them to perform an AQHA ranch horse pattern and then box and rope a cow.  On Friday evening, another class of horses tackles a trail course that features obstacles such as logs, a bridge, brush, a campsite complete with campfire and a bear, an outhouse in which they must ground tie outside while the rider steps inside and a horse trailer that the horse hops inside. It also often includes a few surprises like a live animal. This year it included a goat along the trail. Horses may only enter one of the competitions.

After the Top 10 performers from Friday night came back for the Trail Horse finals on Saturday morning, Steve Meadows of Virginia and Ima Sweet Machine (Hip No. 10) took home the top prize in an especially strong group of finalists. Meadows’ 2008 black gelding then later sold in the sale for $30,000. The Reserve in the trail class went to John Roberts riding Marion G. Valerio’s AQHA gelding Get Your Shine On. He later sold for $11,700.

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Steve Meadows and Ima Sweet Machine took home the big check in the Trail Horse competition.
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Get Your Shine on and John Roberts (left) were the Reserve Champion in the Trail Horse competition.
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Tanner Keith and Hy Rem Cowboy took home the Ranch Horse title.

The ranch horse competition is in just its second year at the sale. The class showcases the working ranch horses and their ability to work cattle. In his first year consigning horses to the sale, Tanner Keith of Virginia had three of the Top 5 horses. Winning the class was Keith’s Hy Rem Cowboy, Hip No. 68. Later in the sale his price did not reach the reserve. Reserve champion was Keith’s RobPaulPayPeter, Hip No. 111. He later sold for $6,600.

While many years a champion for the competitions is also the high seller, this year it was pure beauty that took the sale by storm. Hip No. 45, GG Jonah, a gorgeous 2008 black Gypsy Vanner gelding consigned by Buckeye Acre Farm of Ohio stirred hearts all across the country before the sale. And it was a series of phone bids that sent his sale price to $40,000, topping this year’s sale. A video of the bidding can be found here.

Horses really are available at all budgets. Some prices came in at less than $2,000, many ranged between $3,000 – $8,000, and then top sellers brought more than $10,000. Some of 2018’s top sellers included:

  • Roan Hancock Gin (Hip No. 15), 2012 AQHA gelding, $33,000
  • A Pleasure Bar Time (Hip No. 116), 2008 APHA sorrel overo gelding, $31,000
  • FQHR Buddy Blue (Hip No. 49) 2011 AQHA blue roan gelding, $24,000
  • Dun Dun It Again (Hip No. 51) 2007 AQHA Buckskin gelding, $20,000
  • BJs Perty Charlie (Hip No. 31), 2008 AQHA grullo gelding, $19,500
  • Buckeye’s Breeze (Hip No. 60), 2013 Gypsy/QH cross gelding, $19,500
  • Buckeye’s Phantom (Hip No. 23), 2010 Andalusion/AQHA cross gelding, $18,500
  • The Principle Chip (Hip No. 87), 2004 ApHC Brown gelding, $16,000
  • Just Driftin Roan, (Hip No. 25), 2014 Bay Roan AQHA gelding, $14,000
  • You Can Call Me Darlin (Hip No. 21), 2011 Molly Mule, $12,500
  • FQHR Cortez (Hip No. 33) 2012 AQHA Dun gelding, $12,000

Live videos and photos from the sale are also available for viewing on the sale’s Facebook page. Watch the slideshow below for more photos from around the sale.

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The Great American Trail Horse Sale adds ranch horses to name, competition schedule

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Ranch horse competition champion Stars Stripes N Spike boxing his cow.

The Virginia Horse Center recently hosted The Great American Ranch and Trail Horse Sale, drawing nearly 170 sale horses and hundreds of potential buyers together from April 7-8. While the weekend centers around the auction of well-broke trail and working horses, it is much more than just a horse sale. Many of the horses also vied for $1,000 Ranch Horse competition or the $2,000 Trail Horse competition the day before the sale.

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Click here to find a gallery of photos from the sale. We are still uploading photos from the weekend, so check back if you don’t see what you are looking for.

The trail horse competition includes eight obstacles, six of which the consignors know such as loading and unloading from a horse trailer or crossing a bridge, and two surprise elements. This year’s surprise included an adorable yet formidable donkey and the ringing of a hanging dinner bell. The course also included live chickens in a cage nearby a tent campsite, log crossings, an outhouse that required the horses to ground tie while their riders answered the call of nature and walking through brush.

All of the horses handled the course well, but only 10 could return the next morning for the trail finals. The finals included some of the same obstacles as the preliminary round, a few twists on the old obstacles, plus some new obstacles. And after each tackled the obstacles, they were given the opportunity to show off their horses in a freestyle routine that showcased the horses’ abilities. Some did reining spins and stops, illustrating their horses’ great handles, others jumped over logs, dragged barrels and spun flags and ropes over head.

In the end, a flashy 2013 sorrel APHA gelding, Doug Only Wishes, consigned by Marion G. Valerio and trained and ridden by John Roberts Performance Horses rose to the top of the 70 trail horse competitors and took home the winner’s paycheck.

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Doug Only Wishes won the Trail Horse Competition.

This year, the sale also included a ranch horse competition. Horses could be shown in either of the two competitions, but not both. The ranch horse class was meant to show the horses’ abilities at working with cattle and performing ranch-type tasks. One at a time, each horse completed a working pattern, then boxed a cow and then illustrated the ability to be used to rope the cow.

Topping the class of about 15 was Hip #18 Stars Stripes N Spike, a 2004 sorrel AQHA gelding consigned by Odel & Susan H. Grose of North Carolina. He later sold in the sale for $14,500, the No. 4 high-seller. The high-seller of the sale was Hip #10 Shiners Spinning Top, who was reserve champion in the Ranch Horse Competition. The 2010 gray AQHA gelding, consigned by Steve Meadows, sold for $25,000.

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Shiners Spinning Top

Gaited horses were showcased on Friday night as well in a “Gaited Horse Show Off” just prior to the start of the trail horse competition.

Besides all the competitions, horses for sale, and the general excitement surrounding the auction, the Coliseum’s concourse was packed with vendors and shoppers including booths from World Class Saddlery (who also sponsored the Ranch Horse Competition), Lucky B Trailers (who sponsored the Trail Horse Competition), Bar C Designs, Cats Tack, Cavalor Care Products, Fisher Tack, Hidden West Jewelry, In Stitches, Richard Toms and many more.

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Incredibly Kool sold for $16,000.

Some other stars of the sale included Hip #56 Buckeye’s Lottery Diamond, a 2014 Gypsy Vanner/Haflinger cross tri-colored paint gelding, who sold for $20,000. He was consigned by Buckeye Acre Farm. Standing 14.3 hands high, he rode and drove.

Hip No. 24, Incredibly Kool, a 2013 sorrel gelding sold for $16,000. The proven show horse had more than 80 halter points and 30 grands and reserves.

Top 10 high-sellers:

  1. Hip 10 – Shiners Spinning Top, $25,000
  2. Hip 56 – Buckeye’s Lottery Diamond, $20,000
  3. Hip 24 – Incredibly Kool, $16,000
  4. Hip 18 – Stars Stripes N Spike, $14,500
  5. Hip 88 – Marissa, $13,500
  6. Hip 27 – Bo Jack BB King, $12,500
  7. Hip 70 – Mr Montana Peppy, $11,200
  8. Hip 46 – WR Missn Dash Jet, $11,000
  9. Hip 36 – Home on the Range, $10,500
  10. Hip 26 – Cowboys N Margaritas, $10,000

Prices were mixed throughout the day and went down to under $2,000. But many of the horses sold in the $4,000-$7,000 range. And several consignors didn’t get what they were looking for and “no sale” was announced at the close of the bidding. While some announcements of what the seller was looking for brought grumbles of disbelief from the crowd, at least one got what they were looking for and ended up with a sale afterall.

Next year’s sale and competitions will be April 13-14, 2018, at the Virginia Horse Center.

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