After leaving the Dover Tent Sale on Friday, S and I journeyed back south towards home, but we stopped in Lexington, VA at the Virginia Horse Center. You may remember my previous posts on the Great American Trail Horse Sale. This year was no different in that this sale offers very high quality horses in an environment in which they prove their abilities in front of a crowd.
S and I were only attending for the competition, as the finals and the auction are on Saturday. We got there plenty early enough to check out all the vendors and to grab really good seats (and soda…) before the competition started. There we SO many nice horses in the competition this year. The horse who won the competition on Saturday ended up selling for $30k and he wasn’t even the high seller! Two other horses broke $30k and another horse sold for $40k! You can see more about the sale (that we missed by only attending on Friday) with pictures here.
The real reason I wanted to go to the sale (other than to justify 2/3 of the drive up I81 towards Dover…) was to stalk potential trainers. While I’ve done a lot of ground work with Joey, I do intend to send him off to be started/finished under saddle. While that is still a ways off, I’m trying to get an idea of who I want to send him to well in advance. Since I’m hoping to show him in ranch riding, it makes sense that I’d send him to a ranch riding trainer. Unfortunately, there aren’t any in our immediate area that I know of, but I’ve got a few picked out in a few hours radius that I’m interested in.
As we all know, I’m pretty attached to Joey, so the thought of sending him multiple hours away and only seeing him occasionally isn’t really a happy thought, but in order to progress, we’ll need professional help. And in order for me to be okay with sending him away to said professional help, I need to be confident in how they handle horses before sending him off. Joey doesn’t need a heavy handed trainer, so I don’t want to send him to anyone who is the least bit rough or unfair.
So far I have three trainers on my list. I got to watch one work through a training hole with her competition horse while we were
stalking her wandering the barns at Lexington. She was encouraging her mare to step into a plastic kiddie pool of water and the mare was politely saying “no.” The trainer kept quiet and patient, and I was impressed by how she didn’t escalate the situation, even when the mare did. Eventually she resorted to dismounting and attempting to get the mare to step in the pool from the ground. The mare continued to move around the edge without lifting her feet. Several men walked up and asked her if she needed help, to which she smiled politely and shook her head and continued to work solo.
S mentioned that she may be less assertive than typical with the mare since people were watching her, but I didn’t see any level of frustration in her body language, something that I feel would’ve been easy to spot if she were tensing up in response to the mare’s antics, whether she intended to act on the tension or not. I did introduce myself to this trainer after the competition that night and talked to her some about Joey and my plans. She breeds reining type paint horses, so Joey is a colt that I think she’d definitely be interested in working with since he is so similar to what she prefers.
My second step in this trainer hunt, so to speak, is that I’d really like to clinic with each of the trainer’s that I’m considering. The trainer I spoke with Friday, T, mentioned that she loves teaching clinics and that if one of her already scheduled clinics was too far of a drive for us, she’d be more than willing to travel to us if I could put together a group of 8-10 riders. At this point the only drawback to sending him to T would be the distance as she’s the furthest away of the group at just under four hours from home.
The other trainer I was watching at the competition was actually the trainer who won the competition the next day. He’s one of the bigger names in ranch riding, and is also an AQHA judge. Also, his farm is only two hours from home, so it would be much easier to visit Joey in training than with T. I didn’t speak to this trainer as I only saw him literally ride in the competition. He also shows at the APHA shows that we attend, so the opportunity to talk to him will reappear in October when we show. K and I may try to squeeze in a lesson with him prior to that since she wants to dip her toes in ranch riding at the October show. My main concern with him is price and that he will be in high demand and won’t have room for Joey. I have no idea what either of these two trainers cost, but my gut instinct is that this trainer will be higher.
So that was this year’s experience and rationale for attending the Great American Trail Horse Sale. Now if only I could come up with a reason to make a day trip to Tryon for the dressage/para dressage qualifier going on this weekend… 😉