A trip to a horse action – in warmer climate, with my parents and an old friend and his wife going along – and getting paid for it! When speaking of vacations, what more could a fellow want? Perhaps I used the term vacation rather loosely. This was a working vacation. Early in the morning we loaded up and headed out. Our destination was Troutman, NC. I will attempt to provide a bit of a diary on the trip.

Thursday – We  go east on the toll road into the eastern part of Ohio, then take I-77 South. I recalled from past trips that I-77 will take us through some of God’s scenic handiwork in West Virginia and Virginia, so I was excited about seeing some mountains.  We stop somewhat frequently to eat and check on the six horses in the trailer we’re taking along.

A handsome horse awaits the auctioneer.

On the way, Dad notices a valley and mentions how nice it would be to live in it. Mom does not share his enthusiasm. She points out that with the mountains to the west, the sun would set halfway through the afternoon. I guess if Dad ever decides to move there, he won’t need a very big house.

We arrive at the sales grounds late Thursday evening. After unloading the horses and unhooking the trailer, we drive to the hotel for some rest. I know we’ve got a long day in front of us.

Friday – Dixie Draft Horse Sale is the name of the auction. It is a two-day sale with the bulk of the first day taken up with equipment, saddles, harnesses, tack and carriages. In the evening, 150 horses are sold. The plan for the next day is to sell 600 horses. Draft horses are joined by ponies, saddle horses, donkeys and mules in this auction. At 8:45 Friday morning, we (the help), gather along with the auction crowd for Dean Beachy’s speech. Dean is the auctioneer in charge of the sale and the one who gave me the opportunity to help. He makes a few opening remarks, then finishes giving the help their assignments.

I am sent inside to sell in the main sale arena. We sell some tack, which is small, horse-related items such as halters, ropes, etc. I think this may be a bit of a promotion because in times past, Dean assigned me to sell tack on the outside in the morning. However, one of the leading auctioneers at Dixie, Eli Detweiler, Jr., did not make it this time. So if Detweiler is back next spring, I may be outside again. Dean relieves me for a bit part-way through the day. When I return from my short break, he has the auction going at a rapid clip. I take over the mike, feeling obligated to keep up the fast pace. Dean Beachy is a good guy to work for, but he has little patience for an auctioneer who dawdles around and begs too long. I have heard it said, “A snappy auction is the best auction,” and Dean practices it.

Another idea I am reminded of is, when opening bidding on an item, rather than spending much time asking for a high opening bid, Dean prefers to drop very low where the crowd will bid quickly. This leads to rapid bidding, which I am quite fond of. A fast-paced auction, four or five ringmen and a decent sized crowd, lead to some stressful moments but it’s rather enjoyable. One of the ringmen is Dean’s son, Davey, an excitable 10-year-old lad. Davey Beachy does a fine job of working the ring, especially for the age he has. Soon after we get done with harnesses and saddles, they roll carriages into the sale ring and we sell carriages. I am now done auctioneering for this trip, but instead help on the auction block or in the ring, spotting bids.

Saturday – Today is pretty much all horses. I help in the ring some and read pedigrees for a short hitch. Reading pedigrees at a horse sale involves telling the ancestry of the horse for sale, announcing age and consignor’s recommendation and trying to point out the positives in the steed, if necessary.  Dad has one team of horses to put through today, and shortly after they sell, we load up and head for home, our trailer considerably lighter now.