Im Gunna Shine led the way at the 2020 NRHA Markel Futurity Sales, which officials say were a success in spite of challenges facing the horse industry. * Photo courtesy of NRHA.

In Spite of Uncertainty, Averages Up at NRHA Markel Futurity Sales

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 alleviated. The buyers came and stayed from beginning to end –both in-person and online – and the bidding was vigorous.

Futurity Sales Averages

Although fewer horses were consigned in the Futurity Prospect Sale than in the previous year, the NRHA reports that 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, which was higher than 2019’s average of $33,086.

The high seller in the Futurity Prospect Sale was Colonel Chic Gun, a son of Colonels Shining Gun and out of Million Dollar Chic (by SMart Chic Olena) who brought a top bid of $65,000.

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. The Select Yearling Sale high seller was Starjac Enterprise, a son of Shiners Voodoo Dr who brought a high bid of $88,000.

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 and the top seller was Shiners Topgun, a son of Colonels Shining Gun who brought $69,000.

The overall high seller was Im Gunna Shine, a 2010 stallion by Colonels Smoking Gun (Gunner) out of Shiner Light (by Shining Spark), who was purchased out of the Select Breeders Sale by Onofre Gomez from California for $95,000.

Sale Changes in 2020

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,” she said.

One of those changes, the new online sales option, provided real convenience for buyers unable to attend in person. Officials say 11 horses were sold 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.”

NRHA Chief Financial Officer John Foy said 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,” he said. “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.”

Show Entries & Payouts

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. 

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, according to the NRHA.

“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,” the NRHA recalled him saying. “I think we are seeing the breeding coming together – throughout the industry people are breeding great mares to great stallions and it really shows.”