Originally created 02/04/01

Annual auction attracts a herd

It had the characteristic patter of the auctioneer, a crowd of well-mannered bidders, and plenty of lots up for sale.

What made this auction different is that the lots were of the four-legged variety at Saturday morning's annual Augusta Futurity horse sale.

Buyers in cowboy hats and boots filled the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center arena floor watching, waiting and calculating in their search for the best of the bunch.

"There's a lot of risk involved in this," said Carter Jones of Scottsboro, Ala.

With the simple wave of a hand, Mr. Jones bought a 1999 chestnut stallion called Jameenalenas Sambo for $3,500.

"That's pretty good," he said, adding that the stallion was young and could someday prove to be a good cutting horse in competition. "They're going low today."

Using phrases like "future Futurity horse," "bullet proof" and "pedigree," auctioneer Col. Don Green ended the day by selling 60 cutting-breed horses for a grand total of $242,200. It was an amount $30,000 higher than the previous year.

Ben Emison, owner of Ben Emison Sale Co. of Weatherford, Texas, said shows like this take place year-round throughout the country and are major suppliers to cutting horse breeders and riders.

He said the local sale is a 20-year tradition. This year, it attracted about 2,500 bidders and spectators"It went exceptionally well," he said. "Here we see we're supposedly headed for a recession, but it's not being felt at all in the horse industry."

Jeff Griffin, who attended Saturday with his wife, Kathy, from Greenwood, S.C., was among those looking to purchase a pony.

"You just got to be in the horse industry," he said of what makes a horse auction different from any other auction. "And it's interesting because you get to see what's winning and what's losing. Blood lines, you know."

Mr. Emison said the most popular breed Saturday was the brood mare, and the highest bid on a horse was $10,000.

Ralph Sons was also at the auction, but he didn't come to buy. What he likes is the excitement.

"We've been coming down here for almost 14 years just to watch," said Mr. Sons, who lives outside Columbia and attended with his wife, Cindy, and two sons. "It just keeps getting more and more crowded every year."

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 110.


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