You could almost hear the gates fly open and the thunder of hooves last Friday and Saturday, August 8-9, 2008, during the two days of the Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders Association's 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 584 fillies and colts entered in this two day sale, prior to any scratches or withdrawals, with owners and buyers from several states in attendance.
We were there for two primary reasons. First, my daughter loves almost any type of activity dealing with horses. Second, I was there to find out more about and to let people in our parish know how large the race horse related industry is. Man, is it ever blowing and going. 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, visit with or get pictures of everybody who was there, but the pictures we got should get a glimpse of how this industry is developing.
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. There were around 110 horses from the parish at this sale, a substantial number when you consider there were 584 total. Not all the owners are from here. For example, Blanchet Farms had around 60 animals in the catalog listing, with Tate Farms having around 18. 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 valuable economic stimulus to our parish -- through this business and also all the suppliers and businesses they use and support.
As I said earlier, we took a few photographs of some of the people we had a chance to visit with as they were washing and preparing animals, showing them to potential buyers, and, in general, getting ready for the sale.
Linda and Tucker O’Connor from Mamou were there with their only entry in the sale, which happened to draw the very awkward and difficult position of Lot No. 1 in the sale. Being Lot No. 1 is tough because everyone is apprehensive, waiting to see how the bidding will go. Although their gelding brought a good price, it was not quite what they were expecting.
Gerald Vidrine is pictured below with his gelding, which brought a substantial price which he seemed to be very pleased with. Mr. Vidrine had three very nice consignments in the sale.
Howard B. Fontenot had four horses in the sale, with three being sired by his own stud. His son was at the sale assisting him with the preparation and presentation of the animals.
Mary Beth Guillory assits in the washing and grooming and also getting the horses back and forth from the barns to the sale ring pavilion. I ’m not real sure how many folks she may have been assisting, but I know she was working with Tate Farms. She stayed pretty busy most of the day.
Robbie Tate, along with his wife Christy, as well as Steve, and Stephen Tate, were kept very busy with the 18 consignments they had in the sale.
Blanchet Farms stayed very, very busy. Not only having 60 consignments in the sale but also taking care of all those animals and the workers assisting, as well as having a large cooking trailer on hand. 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.
As the horses were called in by their sale order lot number they would come into the makeup 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.
The floor men, standing outside the ring all with western hats on, were taking bids as the auctioneer at the top of the podium went through his call. The electronic display above the auctioneer kept the crowd current on the lot number and current bid.
The sale started at 10 a.m. inside the exhibit hall and arena. This was a very nice setup since this building is climate-controlled and there was plenty of seating for everyone. Also with the air conditioning in the building, it made it very nice and comfortable for all the buyers and observers of the sale.
As stated earlier, we didn’t get to visit with everyone, and we will probably miss some, but folks we saw with consignments in the sale from Evangeline Parish were: Blanchet Farms, JLS Speed Ranch, Leroy Fontenot, Teryl Soileau, Dr. Tommy Fontenot, Glen Fontenot, Landris Guillory, Harold Saucier, Linda and Tucker O’Connor, Tim Manuel, Jerry West, Gerald Vidrine, Howard B. Fontenot, Randall Brown, and Tate Farms with Robbie and Christy, Steve, and Stephen.
Also, we couldn’t help but mention another individual at the sale, “I’m not in love with them and they gotta go” Randy Morein was hobbling around on a bad foot visiting with everyone.
During the first day of the sale, we were in and out of the sales pavilion and barns, probably for the first 100 or so lots as they went the sale. Prices that we observed went from about $1,800 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 110 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 and so forth. All these items make the race horse industry a major cultural and economic part of Evangeline Parish.