The Callaho Stud auction day

The horses receive a diverse education, making for a well-rounded athlete

In the last article we gave you some insight into our preparatory work between auctions. Here, we provide more detail regarding exactly what is entailed.

The auction is a team commitment. There are no specific individuals who stand out. From the car guard on the road all the way through to the stud manager, each plays an essential designated role. There are managers and co-ordinators in place to ensure a smooth flow of events: Marike Swanepoel controls the entire horse aspect of the auction, while the admin manager, Helette Pieterse, co-ordinates the logistical arrangements. The maintenance team ensures that we have electricity and that all the plumbing works!

Leading up to the auction

After nine successful auctions, the week leading up to the auction is surprisingly mellow. Due to thorough pre-planning and co-operation from all the team members, in the last few days, it’s simply a matter of dotting Is and crossing Ts. The Tuesday of that week is rehearsal day, where we follow precisely the programme of the auction and rehearse the entire flow of events. This gives the riders one more chance to get the feel of the horses they are going to present, as well as giving the auctioneers and announcers a chance to become au fait with the combinations. Any last-minute fine-tuning is done on this day.

The Wednesday and Thursday are off days for the horses so that they are not flat on auction day. Turn-out touch-ups and lots of polishing and cleaning are the order of the day. If there is a stallion presentation, this will be practiced on the Thursday by the individual riders. Friday is a busy day as potential buyers start arriving and come to look over their possible future partners. Friday is also free-jumping night, during which the audience are treated to in-depth commentary by the very knowledgeable Gunther Friemel and equally vocal Rogan Asken. The day ends with a cash bar and dinner, available in the auction hall.

Auction day

Long before sunrise on auction day, you will find the Callaho team busy with the very final finishing touches

Long before sunrise on Saturday, the day of the auction, you will find the Callaho team busy with the very final finishing touches. Supporting the extremely capable and professional Clare Marcus Maloney and her daughter Alexandra, the tack-up team, along with Marike and her stable management team, will be found busy in the stables. Horses must be fed, stables need to be cleaned, teff is supplied and water buckets are cleaned and refilled. As at any stable yard, the normal routine of treatment and checking on all the other, non-auction, horses must still continue as usual. After an early breakfast, Lot No. 1 will go into the indoor arena at 9am sharp and the demonstration begins. During the presentation, the horses showcase their paces at walk, trot and canter, and are ridden over a small course of jumps to demonstrate their way of going and jumping ability.

At this point in time, any serious potential buyer has followed the following steps:

  • Made a long list from the auction list.
  • Made a short list after try-outs.
  • Discussed the possible lots with the riders, stable manager and veterinarian.
  • Stood up the short-listed horses and inspected them.
  • Viewed the short-listed horses’ radiographs.
  • Read the pre-purchase report.
  • Seen the free-jump.
  • Watched the chosen lots under saddle.
  • Decided on which lots will be their first to last in bidding order, as per lot presentation.

The main event

After all lots have been presented, including broodmares in hand, we break for lunch. A fanfare indicates the end of lunch and moves the crowd back to their seats, and it is time to generate some funds for the ‘not so lucky horses’ via the auctioning of Harry the Horse, who is always decorated in Callaho colours. All monies received from this go straight to the Highveld Horse Care Unit. We then move on to the stallion presentation, which showcases the talents of the Callaho stallions whose progeny will be auctioned. The stallion presentation is changed every year, so as to be unique to each auction.

As the last stallion exits the arena, Lot No. 1 enters and the serious business of the auction begins. After half of the lots have been auctioned there is a short break, after which the auction resumes until the last lot is sold. The highest priced horses return for photos with their new owners and then the party begins!

At the close

Come midday, most of the horses have left for their new homes, and the team gets together at the clubhouse to say goodbye to the external Callaho staff such as our riders, our German friends and our trainer. By about 2pm, an eerie silence descends over the stud as exhausted people relax before the evening feeding starts.

Monday morning brings empty paddocks and much cleaning up and packing away. The new auction lots are brought in and the end-of-auction paperwork starts. Thank you letters are written to each buyer, and finance consolidation, stock-take of what was used and debriefing are done. Lessons learnt are noted so as to make the next auction even better and ensure there is no repeating of mistakes.

By the end of the week, we wander down the new auction line and think, ‘How are we ever going to get these hairy monsters into shape?’

Text: Grant Store, on behalf of Callaho Stud 

The full article appears in the May/June issue (133) of HQ > Shop now

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