Keith Fontenot | 8/27/2009 7:33:02 PM
You could almost hear the gates fly open and the thunder of hooves on August 14-15 during the two days of the Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders Association (LQHBA) Annual Louisiana-Bred Yearling Sale. Held at the Coushatta Casino Resort facility in Kinder, this was about as fine a display of yearling racing horseflesh as you could ask for in this part of our world. There were 578 fillies and colts entered in this two-day sale, prior to any scratches or withdrawals, with owners and buyers from several states in attendance.
I was there for two reasons: primarily, one, I went last year and thoroughly enjoyed visiting with many of our Evangeline Parish producers and observing the excellent animals they raised, and, two, I was there to find out more about and to let people in our parish realize how large the race horse-related industry is and what it means to our parish. Although almost as many horses were nominated for sale this year, the markets were fairly tight. It was very surprising to see how many people from our parish had animals either through consignment or direct ownership in this sale. I am positive we did not see nor visit with or get pictures of everybody who was there, but with those we did get you should get a glimpse of how this industry is developing and what it means to our parish.
In a situation like this sale, you don’t want to ask too many questions or publicize the wrong information. We also did not want to interfere with people doing business, as this was a very busy time when horses were being shown to potential buyers. We visited with several of the breeders and consigners prior to the start of the sale out in the barns and stalls where the animals were being prepped prior to the sale. From the catalog and visiting with folks, there were around 146 horses from Evangeline Parish at this sale, an increase over the 110 from last year, and a substantial number when you consider there were 578 total. Not all the owners are from here. For example, Blanchet Farms LLC had around 90 animals in the catalog listing, with Tate Farms having around 31. Several of these animals were born and/or raised in the parish but belong to folks from outside the parish. Still, in all, these animals being bred and raised here bring in valuable economic stimulus to our parish through this business and also all the suppliers and businesses they use and support.
We had a chance to visit with some of our local horse breeders. We also took a few photographs as they were washing and preparing animals, showing them to potential buyers and, in general, getting ready for the sale.
Pictured are Linda and Tucker O’Connor from Mamou with one of their two entries in the sale. As seen here, a lot of final brushing and grooming gets the shine up on the animals prior to the sale. There are many smaller farms such as the O’Connors that have consignments in this sale, as well as the larger farms that we commonly hear of.
Pictured are Stephen Tate, and to the right his brother Robbie Tate, showing us one of the 31 consignments they brought to the sale. These two brothers, along with some hired help, stayed very busy showing consignments to buyers and prepping horses for the sale as their numbers came up in the sale order.
Pictured is the beautiful set-up displaying the racing silks and colors of Blanchet Farms LLC, with Chris and Kim Blanchet taking a short break from a very busy and nerve-wracking week. This lady and her husband stayed very, very busy. Not only with the 90 consignments in the sale, but also taking care of all those animals and the many workers assisting, as well as having a large cooking trailer on hand to feed workers, owners, buyers and just about anyone around the area. Combine this with visiting with owners, showing horses to potential buyers, keeping track of the sale and just organizing all this had to be a major undertaking. They had a beautiful display for their farm and I hope they had a very successful sale. This year their son, Ethan, was giving them assistance getting animals prepped and moving them to and from the makeup and sales ring. We were fortunate in that Chris took a few very valuable minutes to speak with us a little about this sale, all the preparations for it, and their operations at Blanchet Farms in general. No one realizes the amount of work, time and people it takes to run an operation like he and Kim have. While speaking of their operation, in his words, “I couldn’t do this without her” and commenting on the very large and important part in their total operation she plays. We certainly hope Blanchet Farms had an excellent sale and wish them the best in the future.
As the horses were called in by their sale order lot number they would come into the ring, where the potential buyers could get one last look at them. From this point they would walk into the sale ring where the bidding would start. Several times in the makeup rings things got exciting as these horses were pumped up and excited, especially with the different environment, bright lights, and noise. There were a total of 578 lots in the ring being sold. The floor men were taking bids as the auctioneers went through his call. The electronic display above the auctioneer kept the crowd current on the lot number and current bid.
As stated earlier, we didn’t get to visit with everyone and we probably missed some, but folks we saw with consignments in the sale from our parish were: Blanchet Farms LLC, JLS Speed Ranch, Leroy Fontenot, Teryl Soileau, Dr. Tommy Fontenot, Norman Glen Fontenot, Randy Morein, Ervin Lafleur, Briley Farms, Linda & Tucker O’Connor, Tim Manuel, Jerry West, Gerald Vidrine, Jude Vidrine, Rebecca Brown, Randall Brown, and Tate Farms with Robbie & Christy, Steve, and Stephen.
During the first day of the sale, we were in and out of the sales pavilion and barns, probably for the first 280 or so lots as they went the sale. Prices that we observed went from about $800 to a high of over $45,000 during that short period. I heard later that prices fluctuated quite a bit. Consigners had the option of buying back their animals if they didn’t bring what they expected or wanted in the sale.
As you can imagine with around 146 horses from this parish in this sale, this industry is a big business in the agricultural economic makeup of Evangeline Parish. The farms where the animals are produced are economic engines generating a flow of resources both in and out of the parish. Jobs, homes, utilities, groceries, automobiles, fuel, not to mention specifics dealing with horses such as stabling fees, mare care, pasture, fertilizer, lime, seed, fencing, vet care, etc. All these items make the race horse industry a major cultural and economic engine and a very colorful part of Evangeline Parish.