Horse News

Wild Horse Auction Goes Off Without a Hitch, Thanks to Advocates

Source: By Lauren Donovan of the Bismark Tribune

“This was a team effort,”

WISHEK, N.D. — Before Saturday’s wild horse sale, the Wishek Livestock auctioneer called the kill buyers and told them not to come.

“I told ’em the sale would probably go smoother if they stayed home,” said Clyde Meidinger.

The attitude of this pair of horses in the sales ring was typical of the calm demeanor and stance of the wild horses as they came through the sales ring in Wishek on Saturday afternoon.

The attitude of this pair of horses in the sales ring was typical of the calm demeanor and stance of the wild horses as they came through the sales ring in Wishek on Saturday afternoon.

And smooth was as good of a word as any to describe the sale of 103 wild horses from Theodore Roosevelt National Park at the old Wishek Livestock barn. There was not a mishap with the horses and hardly so much as a worried whinny as they came through in pairs and threes in front of a live audience of more than 250, a remote audience on local cable and a simulcast feed to an overflow auction location.

All the horses sold and one — Lance, a red roan yearling — fetched $2,800, the top price of the day and the highest priced horse Meidinger says he’s sold in years.

Other horses commanded some serious cash from $1,200 to $2,700, but the average was around $450, making Saturday a gross dollar day of about $40,000, though Meidinger said the total value of the sale was the park’s information to release.

After paying out a commission, proceeds from the sale go back to the park for the horse program.

After the sale, while snatching a late lunch of pork sandwich and potato salad in the livestock barn lunchroom, Meidinger took a few claps on the shoulder and atta’boys from people stopping by to compliment him on how well the four-hour sale went.

One who stopped for a handshake was Frank Kuntz of Linton, who has purchased park horses for conservation and was an outspoken critic of the Wishek facility. Kuntz said the horses were likely to get injured because of the metal guard rail bumpers in the chutes and alleyways.

A few were nicked and one yearling was hurt in transport, but the sale was remarkable for the calm and sleek looking animals.

“You did a good job here today,” Kuntz told Meidinger.

Meidinger said he heard Kuntz’s earlier criticisms loud and clear. “I said I’m not gonna bash him; I’m gonna show him,” he said.

One trick was the use of eight specially hired horsemen who rotated though with the horses into the small sales ring in front and worked the pens out back.

“These were just good horsemen that I know, that I called,” he said.

After the sale, the riders got a standing ovation from the audience.

David Just was one of the horsemen. He said “calm and patience” were watchwords of the day, along with a few hand gestures, a few quiet whistles and no flags.

“I was nervous. Some were pretty high spirited” out back, he said.

There were 93 people who picked up bid cards and 38 actual buyers.

“This was a fabulous turnout for a sale,” said Wishek Livestock office manager Denise Morman. She said buyers came from California, Canada, Virginia and states in between.

Many of the horses were purchased in an orchestrated effort among groups and individuals to keep them out of kill barns, or bad situations.

Nearly three dozen will be transported to Legacy Mustang conservancy in Virginia, where they will be trained and some adopted.

“This was a team effort,” said Deb Fjetland of Minnesota and member of the North Dakota Badlands Horse. “I could not be happier.”

Maggie Bauer, who has worked for three years with the park’s wild horses as part of a contraceptive research program, was at the sale, sitting shoulder to shoulder in the packed auction house like everyone else.

She has observed and been among the wild horses hundreds of times and said it was odd to be out with the remaining park horses this past week. She said she couldn’t help looking for the ones that were gone forever.

Still, she had a good feeling about the sale, even as the wild horses were being split up from their traditional bands and family groups.

“I’m impressed with how much they sold for and the quality homes they’re going to. There were a lot of good people here,” she said.

34 replies »

  1. Apparently it is humanly possible to run a horse auction in a civilized calm manner without a bunch of yahoo cowboys flinging plastic bags, whipping, electric prodding, and basically terrorizing horses that are the standard when killer buyers are present. This sale appears to have set a fine example of how it should be done and hopefully a higher standard for others to follow. Job well done Mr. Meidinger.


    • TerryW you make an excellent point! Is it possible that all that cowboy crap is on purpose to keep the horses worked up so that the average public private buyer doesn’t think they are a good fit so then most of the horses end up with the kill buyers at low prices? Hmmm. Just a thought.


  2. Yes, well done and done right. thank you. thank you to all who made it a calm and peaceful experience as much as possible for the horses. a big thank you to all of the buyers who gave them a chance at good homes.


  3. I am elated for the horses, but I must admit that there is a part of me that saddened that the horses could not be allowed to be where they belong on the Range with their herds !!! I must also Thank all the wonderful people who were there to give to them the serenity of New and gracious homes, instead of the Horror of a Slaughter truck……… also Thank You Mr. Meidinger for presenting the calm atmosphere for the horses.


      • Dear Robyn, I remembered an old song while reading this, It was called I think Home on the range, it was about cowboys and not horses, but I thought it applied for the Horses also !!!!


    • Sorry, don’t agree with the removal. It was a sad day for these horses who were taken from their families by humans, no matter how it’s spun.

      Thanks to all the people who helped to make the lesser of two evils go smoothly with minimal mishaps. Thanks to the auction for doing their job unlike others who fail miserably. Thanks also for booting the KBs to the curb where they belong.

      The pic may show calm, but there is sadness there too. So no kudos yet to humans who think they know what’s best for the wild ones


      • Easy to wish for perfection, pretty much impossible to achieve. Too many horses, not enough adopters, cattlemen lusting for more and more Federal lands, and not enough Americans who even CARE, much less will get involved. Contraception is a HUGE part of a solution but even finding the funds and the means and the WILL to implement THAT in a government where the purse strings are held by those who say they were ELECTED to ONLY CUT CUT CUT funding for anything not defense related! Rules and regulations for the sake of animal welfare AND environmental protection for our grandchildren’s sake are doubtful until Teapartiers are voted OUT and TRUE conservatives (notice the WORD? It is a sister to CONSERVATION) and more liberals who see our wild places and all our wildlife including horses as TREASURES, not just a RESOURCE to be pillaged and used up in the name of ‘capitalism’, are voted IN. This is one case where it is a good thing to let your Representative know you ARE a ONE ISSUE VOTER and you VOTE! For some reason, they understand THAT!


  4. I am happy to hear that there were no kill buyers allowed at this auction. If this took place at all the horse auctions around the country just think of how this change would come about. Hats off to you Mr. Meidinger and all the good people that purchased these find horses. Thank you for all of the horse rescue groups and good people involved with purchsing these horses.


      • Dear Geri, What an awesome video , it captured how I feel, set them free if they come back to you then they are truly free………………… This is truly all About the horses and FREEDOM !!!!! to Roam on the Land that Belongs to them !!!! The Goal is Freedom !!! Please dont take this wrong and I really commend everyone that made this bearable for the Horses, but my eye is on the Prize FREEDOM


  5. This should be an eye opener for any who are aware that when kill buyers do NOT attend auctions, bidding is brisk when they are NOT present is a clear indicator of the damages they have done to this countries horse sales. They are agents of death and many people back away from attending or even bidding if they are unsure they may believe the kill buyers know something about the horses they are wanting and not bid thinking they avoided a problem horse. The mental perceptions that kill buyers spread to the innocent auction goers and novice or new horse people who are unsure of the horse selection skills are very damaging to the auctions, so I do NOT understand why many auctions just don’t mandate no more kill buyers and then they WILL see the undeniable higher prices at auctions that need to be there. This is really a travesty and wonderful story at the same time. The very auctioneers who long to make tons of money off of horses are the very same people who keep themselves from seeing REAL money come the horses they auction because they allow horse kill buyers to run the prices downwards. Our small auction house that supplied many many horses to DeKalb, Illinois plant got a rude awakening when several years before it closed in 2007 the attitude of kill buyers being there had changed and those men were ASKED to stay home before EVERY sale for the last 3 years before they closed the auction due to retirement. They made more per head of horse than in the 35 years prior, they also had such a large turnout of bidders feeling safe from the kill buyers being removed there was no room for them inside and had to wait for opportunities to bid. That all started with me and an argument with a kill buyer-I hit a nerve, I said to him out loud in front of God and Every one that what he was doing was despicable and that if any one backed up this horrible trade they were just as responsible as the people who were in it. I saw the looks on peoples faces that night, the remorse, trying to hide their shame for selling animals to their deaths, for the lies and the stories, for the injuries, and the auctioneer had every right to throw me out, but he pulled me aside and he said stay RIGHT here I am getting your total, he said were there horses you bid and lost to the buyers? I told him which ones, he pulled them out, he then announced on the loud speaker i’m sorry folks we have to ask some folks to leave, if you are buying by the pound, if you work for a trader who kills, if you contract for DeKalb, you are now asked to relinquish your numbers, empty trailers, and you are not expected to return. They went killer buyer free for the last 3 years. Then DeKalb closed. The auctioneers retired. The building shuttered. We can revive this ideal, horses would sell better, stronger without Interference. Auctioneers are missing out on the REAL money in horses by allowing kill buyers to meddle with the REAL high dollar sales.


      • Share! I am not ashamed of anyone knowing who said this either! I am tired of horse lovers feeling like they hide behind a veil. This veil was thinning and now its torn wide open, please share the truth. Auctions are MORE profitable, and recognized more by true horse people that would actually drive out the kill buyers. The profit is NOT just in volumne sales its in higher prices for the stock and no one to drive the profits DOWNward! These horses should not have even come close to the prices killer buyers would offer at all! Our auction barn in our area needed a facelift and it gave itself one, it was a fun place to frequent and was well worth it when the kb’s were no longer appearing.


    • Cynthia, you are so very right. Good for you to stand up to the kill buyers many years ago at DeKalb. We need more people like you to stand behind the innocent horses being auction off to who knows. Where these horses denstiny lies could be between life or death. Some of these very horses going to slaughter were someones’ horses that believed they were going to a home not to be slaughtered. This is so sad and every time I think of the poor unknowing horses walking to their death brings tears to my eyes. It is heartbreaking.


  6. What a wonderful thing, knowing that our wild horses have ended up in good homes. Is there an address I can write to the Auctioneer praising & thanking him for being caring & sympathetic. He sets a whole new standard for how auctions should be run. If someone has a horse that needs to go to a “killer” they should just contact them directly. Stop sending our wild horses to their deaths! I have adopted many mustangs over the past few years and have sold only one! He went to loving man who was really in love with him! You CAN find homes if you are patient enough!


  7. This is how close these auction houses have always worked with kill buyers. This is the reason most folks looking for a horse for their kids or themselves gave up going to auctions. The after hours auctions are the very places that breeders have always used to unload their used up broodmares instead of giving them some training so they could find homes. And many of the breeders just call their local kill buyer to come over and pick up the horses they want rid of, for a price of course. They either haul them directly to slaughter or put them in their feed lot to fatten them up.
    This business is a sneaky and underhanded and the only way to stop it is to pass the anti-horse slaughter bills gathering dust in committee. Two more reps. signed on to cosponsor, but no senators.


  8. This made my whole month a lot brighter! So often it is bad stories, bad news and hopelessness. Kudos to all who made this happen. I want to know more on the contraception research. THAT is the solution as it is with the overpopulation and mass slaughter of our dogs and cats!


  9. It is sad the horses were taken from their herds but boy, what a different outcome!
    Wouldn’t it be great if more auction houses smartened up. Push the KBs out once and for all. Good news.


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