The adrenalin rush of the roundup was over and relief washed over us as we looked back on a very safe, successful roundup. Now it was time to concentrate on those animals who would be hauled to the sales barn in Dickinson and sold to the highest bidder. My friends and I had worked tirelessly to get the word out about these beautiful wild horses. I had been hearing from a lot of prospective buyers, and it seemed as if we were going to have a good crowd at the sales barn Friday, so there was nothing more we could do now but wait.
This sale would be different from those in the past. Now all the horses had names and those names would be the way the buyers who had seen our fliers, articles, and photos would know them. Thursday afternoon we were lucky enough to watch the horses come in and be unloaded. I prayed none of them would be injured here at this strange place. They all seemed to settle in very easily and were not alarmed as a few early arrivals tried to figure out which one matched the names they had picked out. By the next morning more people were pouring into the parking lot. Mike had filled in all the hip tag numbers with the appropriate horses and brought the sale lists that morning. Excited potential buyers moved from pen to pen spotting their favorites and discussing each one's potential in hushed tones. Some buyers were on the phone describing horses for others who could not be at the sale, but wanted to buy. Most of our group headed into the auction area early to get good seats. I would be up in the auctioneer's box so that I could identify those whose hip tags were either missing or too crumpled to read, so I had a little time to get my head together. Then the bidding began.
There were a few domestics sold first. Prices were low; a nice Quarter Horse foal went for $7.50. Then, the first TRNP foal came into the ring. It was Sheila, the pretty filly from Blaze and Little Brother's Girl. The bidding began, and as amazed murmurs rippled through the crowd, the bidding continued, bringing a respectable amount for the chestnut filly. As each weanling appeared, the bidding picked up. The auctioneers burst into giddy grins as the auction took on a festive nature. Cheers broke out as buyers won the baby they had hoped to buy. Badlands Bill, the beautiful red dun with a bald face and four high stockings, that I had predicted would bring the highest price, was finally won by our good friends for $1450. Several other foals brought very good prices with the weanlings averaging $361. The yearlings, lanky and thin, struggling to grow into their limbs, also sold very well, averaging over $200 each. The handsome blue roan, Full Moon, brought $575 from some more good friends from MN.
Two and three year old studs came next and experienced horsemen vied for the chance to gentle a young stallion, born in the wild and already testing his power among the bachelor bands. They too were going well until the blue gray two year old, Bashful, ran timidly into the ring. At first he froze when bombarded with all the light and noise in the auction ring. Another friend from ND had the bid and they were about to let him out, when a ring man pressured him too much. He stood to his hind legs and easily launched himself over the 6 foot, double ring fence into the seating; only his right hind leg hanging up on the fence prevented him from running headlong through the scattering crowd! Screams irrupted as frightened onlookers ran from the building. A quick thinking horseman jumped into the ring and wrapped the frightened horse's tail around the ring rail and another tied the hind leg to the rail with his own belt.
An older gentleman with a walker had been unlucky enough to be right in front of the horse when he cleared the fence with his entire front end. The man was under the frightened stallion as it pawed to be free of the biting fence. The man's wife and a brave cameraman were able to drag him to safety before he was mortally injured. Once the man was safely outside along with the majority of the crowd, the sales barn staff was able to deal with the horse, who was thrashing and raging at anything he could reach. A man's jacket, the chair the old man had been sitting on, anything he could get his teeth into was a target of the hurting stallion's wrath, since he could no longer run from his pain. Miraculously the men were able to sedate him, remove him from the fence, and walk him down the stairs and out the door to the freedom of a quieter place! He stood quietly, lost in the fog of the sedative, but relieved to be rid of the noise and the monster that had held his leg.
People milled around outside on the warm, sunny day, shaken and not sure what to do next. An ambulance came to take the injured, but alert man to the hospital. Thoughts of fresh ownership of horses were momentarily forgotten while prayers were said for the man and the horse. When both had been dealt with in a proper manner, the owner announced that the rest of the horses would be sold in the pens inside the barn where they had been waiting to enter the ring. Though it was announced that only buyers were to enter the barn, the alleyway was soon filled with the curious along with the serious buyers. Unfortunately, the young stallion's behavior had frightened off all but a few tough trainers and some horse traders. Prices dropped to under $100 on the last few horses. I had a lump in my throat as I indentified those older horses for the auctioneer, not knowing what would be the fate of these unsuspecting animals.
All were soon sold except Bashful, the groggy, bloodied two year old who had just been pushed more than his young mind could handle. What was to happen to him? Earlier, just before the auction had resumed, a tall young man , the son of my dear friends, whom I had known since he rode his little black pony with us in the badlands, slipped in beside me and said in a determined voice, "I want that horse!" Just as quickly, he slipped away into the crowd and I lost sight of him, but when the bidding started for Bashful, there he was; he bought the frightened young stallion. Bashful was safe!
To follow his progress, go to: http://ahorsenamedbashful.blogspot.com