The whinnies of hundreds of horses could be heard intermittently Sunday as bidders and spectators alike made their way toward the sales floor for the final day of the horse sale at a ranch formerly owned by James Leachman.
The auction closed at about 5:20 p.m. Sunday. Ed Parisian, Bureau of Indian Affairs regional manger, said final numbers from the auction will not be available until Monday.
Some of Saturday’s auction winners were back to pick up their prize — if they could find it.
Rider Jay Blankenship from Rosebud, who was loading horses into trailers, said there was some confusion with a mix of Saturday’s and Sunday’s purchased horses in the same pens.
“There are not enough pens,” Blankenship said.
Even by 2 p.m., the line for loading up horses reached about 10 trucks. By the close of auction, 16 trucks and trailers were waiting.
With only two loading areas, the new owners had to be patient.
“We knew that was going to happen,” Parisian said. “They did pretty well and got a system in place to get them to move quicker.”
Dan and Heather Leaming, of Park City, purchased a red roan yearling Saturday.
The couple returned to the auction Sunday. They were planning on purchasing a second yearling that morning but said things got too crowded by noon when the stallions took the stage.
“We were really squished in,” Heather said.
Their only concern was what they were going to get loaded into their truck.
“I fell in love with a horse, and that’s the one I want,” Dan said. “I just hope it’s the one I waited for.”
After purchasing the horse, the Leamings received the registration papers of a female red roan and the photo of a male blue roan — both known as No. 209.
Roan horses have white coats with red or gray-blue hairs.
When No. 209 was corralled to the loading pen, both were devastated. It wasn’t the horse Dan fell in love with.
“That’s not the one we bid on, not even close to the color — and it’s hurt,” Heather said.
The blue roan colt had a gash on its chest, and it was a colt, not a filly.
“The horse we bid on is probably sitting back there and won’t get claimed,” Heather said as the couple walked back to the auction building for their $200 refund.
The misplaced colt was taken back to the sales floor for resale.
But not every seller had such issues. Parisian said one Canadian buyer purchased 40 horses.
“He was going to take them and ride them and try to get them ready for another sale,” Parisian said. “Broke and rode, you can sell them for a pretty good profit.”
Kelly Baber and Dori Hertel, of Houston, were able to successfully bid and load 19 red and blue roans Sunday for just over $11,000.
“They are Montana horses,” Baber said. “Good withers, good size and quiet — a really quiet bunch of horses.”
Baber heard about the sale in a most unlikely way, in an even more unlikely place.
Baber said he was at a horse race in Abu Dhabi when he heard about it from a belly dancer.
The dancer was from Billings. Baber is a native of Miles City. Once the two got to talking about home, the Leachman sale popped up.
“I asked if they are big Montana horses, and she said yes, that they are a good deal,” Baber said.
The 19 horses, one being a stallion, will add to the six they have back home.