The first horse auction at the WNC Regional Livestock Center in Canton on April 22 exceeded organizers’ expectations.

The event, which started around 5 p.m. drew a standing-room-only crowd inside the auction house and approximately 70 horses from sellers representing four states, not including North Carolina. According to paperwork filed by those registering horses for sale, animals were brought in from South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia.

“The workings of the sale went well,” said WNC RLC General Manager Dan Messer. “People were excited to have a horse auction back in this part of the country. They were excited to have somewhere to go and something to do, and they showed up in droves.”

The idea for the sale, Messer said, was the brainchild of the Livestock Center’s new operator Stephen Matthews, who, along with new management, has introduced new ideas to the arena.

“He is a large animal vet and his wife is a small animal vet. He’s been going to cattle auctions since he was a kid. He has a love for animals and a love for the industry. Plus, he really enjoys horses,” Messer said.

In addition to the equine auction, the Center also scheduled a small animal sale that took place two days later.

That sale, which featured goats, sheep, chickens and all kinds of poultry, also featured a vendor selling plants and vegetables, along with a food truck.

“The horse auction and small animal sale are not very profitable, but they’re fun for the community,” Messer said. “The small animals bring a different atmosphere with families and kids. And that’s really what we’re going for, a destination kind of thing.”

As for the feedback he’s received following the two events, Messer said it’s all been positive.

“The folks I was relying on to tell me if the sale was a good idea were telling me if we had 50 horses that would be incredible, and then we had 70,” he said.

As for those in attendance, Messer added, “We’ve heard nothing but good things, except for the parking but we had nothing to do with that. The main question from people has been when’s the next one.”

Sale a success

For John Hinde, who drove out to the horse auction from Panther Creek to check things out, the evening was about as good as he could have expected.

“I bought the last horse,” he said, describing the paint mare he was happy to score. Hinde said he plans to add his new acquisition, whom he now calls Moon Pie, to his stable of 20 horses soon.

Hinde operates a trail-riding business, which he has done for 30 years, and said he attends all kinds of horse sales.

“I heard about this one and it was good. In fact, the next day after the sale a guy called me to see if he could buy the horse I just bought. He said he was in the parking lot during the sale and couldn’t get in.”

“If they have another one, I’ll be there,” Hinde added.

Second sales planned

For those who didn’t have an opportunity to attend the Livestock Center’s horse and small animal auctions, two more sales have been scheduled this month.

A second horse auction has been announced that will take place on Thursday, May 20, while another small animal sale is planned for Saturday, May 22.

For more information on the upcoming auctions or to register an animal, call 828-646-3700.

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