The Horse Sale at Rancho Rio, in its sixth year, reaffirmed 2021 as the Year of the Rope Horse—selling 52 horses for a staggering $2.5 million March 5, 2021, in Wickenburg, Arizona. 

That's nearly double the record-breaking $1.3 million the sale commissioned back in 2020, just one week before the COVID-19 shutdown.

The 52 that sold (of the 65 consigned) averaged an impressive $48,000. In 2020, the average was $30,965.

The sale saw four horses top the $100,000 mark, headlined by Decatur, Texas’s Trevor Brazile’s Smartys Dunny, a 7-year-old dun gelding, to Bryan Beaver for $250,000. 

"That sale proves how strong the market is for quality horses," Miles Baker, who consigned the horse for Brazile, said. "I’m glad to see trainers getting paid for bringing top quality horses to the public. Team roping has been behind every other equine industry as far as people being willing to pay for great horses, and we are in one of the only industries that you can go win hundreds of thousands on a good horse in his/her lifetime. The demand for horses is as strong as ever and I think we are starting to see people understanding the value of a great one. The demand for great horses will never go away."

Trevor Brazile Miles Baker

Baker and Brazile during the Horse Sale Preview at Rancho Rio. 

The top 10 horses in the sale averaged $111,200, the top 20 $78,700 and the top 30 $65,000. 

"Six years ago when we started that sale, typical horse sales outside of barrel racing and cutting, there wasn't a true performance horse market," Ty Yost, owner of Yost Events and President of the Ariat World Series of Team Roping, said. "If you sold at auction, something was wrong with them. We're proving the best way for price discovery is at these sales. The best place for a buyer and a seller to come together is at auction. We can build on this—these are not horses that are rejects, these are horses that are highly desirable. It's the best way to buy a horse. Where else will you hear about them?" 

[The Score's Rope Horse Market Report (PART 1)]

[The Score's Rope Horse Market Report (PART 2)]

The sale offered a preview March 4, as well as two horse sale showcase jackpots at Rancho Rio and Dynamite Arena, allowing buyers to see the horses in action.

"We show those horses in action during the sale, not some cut-and-copied sale video," Yost said. "The consumer knows what they're getting, and the sellers are bringing top-notch product." 

The event—held in a white tent in the Rancho Rio parking lot, with VIP buyer treatment—also featured live music to the raucous crowd and also catered to online bidders. 

[Read More: BULL MARKET: The Rise in Rope Horse Prices]

“That was a lot of fun,” Brazile, the 26-time PRCA World Champion and $7-million cowboy, added. “Unless you’ve been to the tent at Rancho Rio, that thing is as loud as the Thomas & Mack.” 

Steve Friskup with Premier Horse Sales auctioneered the event again this year.

"That sale is the whole package. That sale is a great event, great roping, great venue, and everyone is there for the winter," Friskup said. "The consignors are doing a fantastic job. Of course Ty Yost always has the ultimate production, and now he's got six years under his belt and he's really good at it." TRJ

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