My Thoughts About One of My Favorite Places--Northeastern Indiana's Amish Country

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Going to a Horse Auction

So, one day in early January I had nothing pressing to do, and I wandered over to Shipshewana to the Michiana Events Center, or as the locals, call it, “The Mec.”  It is a big new building south of downtown, with two wings.  The first is a big, open, well-lit all-purpose area, and the second is an arena with rows of seats. Two events were taking place there that day.

I intended to go to the consignment auction in the all-purpose area—five auction rings featuring all kinds of stuff—because one of the rings had an estate sale with some Amish genealogy books I wanted.  I enjoyed sitting in the front row for an hour, waiting for my Amish best friend to join me. 

I didn’t get the books—too expensive!—so the two of us wandered over to the other wing, where the Standardbred horse auction was being held.

Wow, what a nice arena!  We watched from the area above the seats for a while, and then my friend went back to the consignment auction to bid on a piece of furniture (which she got).  I got some French fries and a bottle of water and found a seat.

As you can see, the crowd was nearly all Amish, but I’m getting used to that since I moved here and started getting deeper into the local culture.  (I said to my friend before she left, “Now I know how you guys feel when you’re in downtown Chicago!”) 

This auction was for Standardbred horses, which are the type commonly used to pull Amish buggies.  Many of them are former racehorses from Canada which weren’t quite perfect enough for a career on the racetrack.  Others are brought in from horse breeders in the Amish areas of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Anyway,  the whole thing was fascinating.  For instance, I loved the names of the horses.  American Anthem,  Majestic Stone, Sapphire Sue, Fear the Major, FiFi LaFleur, Hashtag Fast, Vicki Jo Buffalo, Linda’s Lucky Chucky, Decisive Moment, Gold Dust Darling, Magic in Motion—so creative!  The program listed each horse by name, consigner (seller), Sire (father), and Dam (mother). 

I also loved the comments section on some of the listings.  These stallions, geldings, and mares were being sold as Amish buggy horses, so the comments reflected that.  A few examples:  “If you’re one of those particular guys looking for that nice driving mare with looks and drive, check her out.”  “Fresh mare right off the track.  Very classy—all trot!”  “Sharp driver, stands to hitch and at corners.  Very well mannered.”  “Nice headset and front end motion...  A horse that when you walk out of your barn, he makes your bad days turn into the best days.”

Most of the horses sold for $5,000 to $8,000—but one went for $13,000!  The price depends on age, size, looks, pedigree, and level of training.  The price of buggy horses is going up in recent times, due to the explosive growth of the Amish population—from 217,000 to 317,000 in the last ten years!

There is a Clydesdale auction coming up at MEC this spring, and I think I’ll be in attendance.

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