Uncertainty surrounded many aspects of the 2020 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity, including the NRHA Markel Insurance Futurity Sales. With numerous COVID-19 constraints imposed on the event, including changing the location to Arena 6 and condensing the Sales to one day instead of three, everyone waited to see what the result would be. Would the new format work for buyers and sellers? What would the averages be? Would buyers show up?
Those worries were quickly assuaged. The buyers came and stayed from beginning to end – both in-person and online – and the bidding was vigorous. Although fewer horses were consigned in the Futurity Prospect Sale than in the previous year, the sale average was substantially higher. The 23 horses through the ring averaged $35,522 against the prior year’s $34,257, while the 16 horses sold averaged $37,235, obliterating 2019’s average of $33,086.
That momentum continued in the Select Yearling Sale, where the 108 horses through the ring averaged $22,856, and the 96 sold averaged $22,697. That was up from $20,919 and $21,322, respectively.
In the Marketplace Sale, 60 horses went through the ring, averaging $14,367, compared to $13,046 in 2019. With only three pass outs, the remaining 57 sold averaged $14,088, compared to the prior year’s $13,718.
New for 2020 was the Select Breeders Sale, which showcased 21 horses that averaged $27,571. The 19 that sold averaged $29,111.
Angie Honeywell, NRHA Senior Manager of Futurity Sales was excited about the success of the sales. “Overall, they went really well and everyone seemed to embrace the changes.”
One of those changes, the new online sales option, provided real convenience for buyers unable to attend in person. “We had a lot of bidding online and actually sold 11 horses to online buyers.”
“The atmosphere at this year’s sale was very upbeat,” noted NRHA Sale Committee member Jake Dahl. “I think that the one-day format this year was great. Everyone was in sale mode all day – either buying or selling. You saw more trainers there looking at yearlings and two-year-olds than I ever remember, and overall, there was a positive feel. Both buyers and sellers were upbeat.”
Dahl, who serves on the sale committee with Chairman Clint Haverty and members Casey Hinton, Fred Thomsson, Spence Bell, John Tague, and Rosanne Sternberg, added, “That vibe seemed to start during the Wednesday night preview and just stayed consistent throughout the sale.”
NRHA Chief Financial Officer John Foy commented, “2020 has been a challenge for many equine associations, including the NRHA. We had seen a reduction in some of our revenue line items and had to make expense adjustments to offset those. So, we were very hopeful that the futurity and sale would perform well not only for the association but for the industry as a whole.”
The hopes became reality when the North American Affiliate Championships at the Futurity had record entries and payouts and the show came very close to breaking the overall payout record set in 2012. “Plus, the total sold for the entire sale was the best it has been since 2007. Foy added, “It goes without saying that the NRHA Board and Management all very appreciative of everyone who participated in the sale and the show!”
Along with the upbeat tempo, there was a distinct poignancy during the sale, with many folks wearing masks with stickers that read “Mask up for Doug” in memory of the late Doug Carpenter, who passed away due to COVID-19 the week before the futurity began.
Carpenter, a wheel horse on the sale committee, had predicted the Sale’s success back in November, referencing the quality of the horses consigned. “I have never seen the depth of the horses we are selling – not only in how well-bred they are but also in their conformation. I think we are seeing the breeding coming together – throughout the industry people are breeding great mares to great stallions and it really shows,” he said.
Planning is already underway for the 2021 NRHA Markel Insurance Futurity Sales, and information will soon be available. To learn more, contact Angie Honeywell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-946-7400.