On a perfect northern California day, October 20, 2012, the 2012 Pacific Sporthorse Selection Auction, the first auction in Northwestern USA in over a decade brought a unique experience for the region. Gorgeous young horses with impressive bloodlines, a huge white tent, frisky foals with well-behaved mothers, a beautiful facility, warm hospitality and flowers everywhere was an event more than a year in planning by Christiana Noelting, Ellie Johnson and Christian Hartung. Christiana Noelting's Dressage Center in Vacaville, northeast of San Francisco, presented 15 horses and 5 foals. The elite equines had been pre-selected by expert dressage judges, vetted with X-rays and trained by FEI-level riders for 5 weeks prior to the auction. Prospective buyers could watch the daily works and try the horses by appointment for two full weeks before the auction.
The weekend began on Friday afternoon with wine tasting and hors d'ouevres during demonstrations of musical freestyles, vaulting, jumping and trick dogs.Saturday morning was filled with short educational presentations on a variety of useful topics. A nice group of equine specialty vendors were on hand to offer retail therapy to the group. A comprehensive catalogue was developed outlining all the details of the event and presenting each equine in full color. The booklet and even contained bar codes to watch each horse's video which was also on the website for the auction sporthorse-selection.com
An elegant lunch was served under the tent and champagne was poured as the foals and horses were presented individually to the knowledgeable crowd. Oohs, ahhs and sighs were heard as the happy foals entered at their mother's side … or way out ahead of her in some cases! Beautifully ridden, the horses appeared one by one.
With spirited bidding the auction was very exciting, and I was glad to be a part of it. It was fascinating to watch the auctioneer's rhythm, he got the bidding started, paused to re-state the horse's breeding, then rolled back into the bidding. The average price this year for the dressage horses was $27,150. The last horse presented was sold for the highest price of the day - $57,000. A breeder sitting next to me said that he thought the horses were a real bargain and he would be back to bid next year.
October is breast cancer awareness month, and two Sandro Hit breedings were donated for a raffle to benefit The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Dozens of other donated items were raffled off to benefit of the California Dressage Society 'Club 100' for young and junior riders' dressage education, among them a new Schleese saddle valued at $3700. More than $4,000 was raised for the two charities.
Christiana was glowing at the end of the day, she had successfully led her team to create a truly first-class event. She reported that more than 80 riders had come to try the horses and community support was strong. Asked directly, she laughed and said she'd do it again next year.