It was a historic and record-breaking weekend for the horse industry when over 300 horses, equipment, and tack was auctioned off at the Rita Crundwell Sale in Dixon, Illinois. The live sale grossed close to five million dollars. It was a bright spot in the sad fall of Rita Crundwell, who has been one of the most prolific breeders and competitors in the industry. As most are aware, Crundwell has been accused of pilfering 53 million dollars from the small town of Dixon who has had recent financial troubles, largely in part due to Crundwell's alleged misuse of funds.
GoHorseShow interviewed several individuals at the live sale including: Mike Jennings of Professional Auction Services, Sydney Miller and Taylor Hanes who helped at the sale, as well as spectators and trainers, Wayne Halvorson, Luke Castle, Leonard Berryhill, Tom Lange, and Kevin and Amy Smith.
Mike Jennings of Professional Auction Services told GoHorseShow that the sale was an amazing success.
"It was way beyond our expectations," says Jennings, about the outcome of the sale. "We made arrangements for all the horses, and there was a huge crowd. It was exciting to see people spending money and enthused about the horse business."
Leonard Berryhill and Tom Lange both mentioned that while the sale went well--it was still depressing to see their friend and former customer Rita Crundwell in this situation.
"I know her really well and was quite close with her, so I knew she loved her horses and her dogs and had great compassion for them," Lange says, who bought, Invest In A Hot Star at the sale with his wife, Leslie. "When I first found out, I was sick to my stomach, and I couldn't believe what was happening. I think she just got caught up in the lifestyle, but I feel sorry for the people of Dixon."
Berryhill also agrees, "I've been hoping to wake up from this bad dream. It was such a shock to me and the entire industry. She hasn't been found guilty yet but it doesn't look good. I know Dixon will probably just get back pennies on the dollar but I hope they get back some of their money."
Leonard also says that he is "ecstatic" to have his buddy, Good I Will Be, back at his farm, and he said he was honored that the new owner Sandra Morgan trusted him with her new horse. He looks forward to showing him at the AQHA World and Congress in the Western Riding.
The auction company broke their personal record of the highest horse they have ever sold with Good I Will Be going for $775,000. The only horse ever going higher at a quarter horse sale was Invitation Only who went for over two million dollars a few years back. Also, they had record breaking sales of halter and performance quarter horses including the highest mare, gelding, and stallions sold at auction. The highest mare being, I Execute Class, which sold for $226,000 to Gary and Linda Gordon in the online auction. The previous record being, This Misters A Lady, who brought $140,000 at the 1996 AQHA World Show Sale. IE Copy was the highest gelding ever sold at auction at $101,000. The previous record holder was, Mac, which sold for $77,000 at the 1998 World Show Sale. Before Good I Will Be and Invitation Only, the highest stallion sold at auction was Flashy Zipper for $400,000 at the 1997 Raleigh Spring Sale.
Kevin and Amy Smith of Capall Creek Farm located in Falmouth, Maine bought two horses in the sale for great prices, including hunt seat stallion, Iron Enterprise for $40,000. The multiple world champion sire will be standing at Mike Hay's Pilot Knob Ranch this coming breeding season.
"We were surprised Iron Enterprise was going so low," Kevin told GoHorseShow. "So when the bidding stalled we jumped and bought him for $40,000. So, we are exciting that we were able to get him for that price."
Smith also mentions that it was nice seeing the community spending money despite the sad situation that brought everyone there. "Some of the tack went for a lot more money than what the item was really worth. I heard people say that they just wanted to be a part of it so it felt more like a memorabilia sale at times. The place was jam packed with people and the shuttle buses ran around the clock--so there was a lot of excitement in the air."
There was also a rumor going around that Rita Crundwell was at the sale--which apparently was just that. Amy Smith told GoHorseShow that she had to sign three forms--one that the horse they were buying was not being bought to be sent to slaughter, one form stating that she wasn't an agent for Rita Crundwell, and another stating that she wasn't in fact Rita Crundwell, herself.
World Champion halter trainers Wayne Halvorson and Luke Castle were also impressed by the sale. "I thought all the horses looked great and they were slick and fat and happy," Halvorson says. "It went really well as far as comparing it to the sales of the same quality of horses in the industry."
When we asked Halvorson what he thought about halter stallions, Acoolest and Mr Touchdown Kid selling for a lot lower than Execute (pictured right) in the sale---he says he wasn't all that surprised. "Execute is at the top of his game and he has all the hype and buzz around him," he explains. "There is a very limited amount of people looking to expand their breeding business, so that is probably why there wasn't as much as a demand for them."
Castle adds, "I think it will be really positive for the industry because a lot of good horses have hit the market and are now all in different hands--not monopolized by one person."
Amateur Sydney Miller and trainer Taylor Hanes went up early to help Professional Auction Services get the horses ready for the sale. "It was a huge event, and I thought it was run flawlessly," Miller says. "It was a unique situation because potential buyers couldn't touch the horses or ride them, but that was rules put in place by the government, so, I think people were very understanding that this sale had to be run differently than most sales."
Trainer, Taylor Hanes from Shelbyville, Tennessee was up there for two weeks and explained that he did everything from riding, teaching the yearlings how to lunge and halter breaking the weanlings.
"I was mostly working with the yearlings and two year-olds," Hanes says. "It was sad to see them go in a way because after spending so much time with them and seeing them learn so quickly you start to get attached. I'm glad with the prices they all went for that we can be confident these horses all went to good homes."
Berryhill says, "This sale was definitely not a Thursday night auction. I believe we will never see another sale with this highest quality of horses selling at one time. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
They make it sound like she was the only person in the industry, and I guess from their payoffs, she probably was. I wonder if anyone every questioned those 'donations' she made to AQHA and the foundation?