Story by Jan Falstad of the Billings Gazette
Domestic Horses Seek Forever Homes
Planning started in earnest Tuesday to set up for this weekend’s sale of as many as 829 horses on a ranch east of Billings.
The sale of the horses formerly belonging to James Leachman of Billings is an ambitious undertaking.
“We’re basically taking a six-month process and cramming it down to four days,” said Justin Mills, executive director of the Northern International Livestock Exposition, which is assisting the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the sale.
The BIA confiscated the horses for trespassing on tribal lands and is selling them April 2 and 3 to pay the bills racked up to feed them, round them up and prepare them for sale.
Rick Young of Absarokee was hired as the auctioneer for the sale at the Home Place ranch 16 miles east of Billings. The sale is expected to attract thousands of people, including buyers from as far away as Wisconsin and Texas.
As many as 44 people will handle the sale, including eight from Rick Young & Sons Auctioneers. The rest of the crew will be employees of the BIA, the Crow Tribe and the NILE.
After the preview day Friday, a handful of horses will be in the sales ring and the high bidder gets first choice of horse. Then the second-highest bidder will get a choice, and so on.
“There may be four or five in the ring at one time, but technically they will be sold individually,” Mills said.
Logistics include setting up a big tent, sound and video systems, backup computers, three or four food concessionaires, a dozen toilets and a possible bus service from the parking lot to the sales barn.
Gates must be set up to control the flow of the hundreds of horses. The sale requires a veterinarian to draw blood for Coggins tests. Out-of-state buyers must prove the horse doesn’t have a contagious viral disease called equine infectious anemia before they can haul the animal across state lines.
Horses that are registered with the American Quarter Horse Association in Amarillo, Texas, are more valuable for breeding and showing.
But NILE horseman Ward Fenton said probably only the horses carrying Leachman butt brands, as many as half the horses, can be registered. The AQHA is not guaranteeing registration.
“The colts last year definitely have no record, and the colts bred this year will have no records because they were just bred to these 2-year-old studs they were running with,” he said.
Leachman has been charged with 14 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty, which carry a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and a fine of up to $7,000. He has pleaded not guilty and a jury trial has been set to start June 3.
Leachman had until 5 p.m. Tuesday to redeem his horses by paying for the expenses they have accumulated since the massive rescue effort began several weeks ago.
Click (HERE) to view listing of Horses for Sale
- Tribal horsemen round up hundreds of Mont. horses (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Hay Dropped to Starving Horses at Montana Ranch (abcnews.go.com)
- Authorities airlifting hay to starving Montana horses (reuters.com)
Categories: Horse News