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Smiths hold final WYO Quarter Horse Sale

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

The WYO Quarter Horse Sale has been known as an elite, arena, ranch-broke gelding and Quarter Horse production sale for 39 years. 

Bill and Carole Smith started the sale in 1983 and have hosted 59 sales over the years. They will hold their final sale on May 21 in Thermopolis.

Love for horses

Bill grew up with horses and found a special interest in saddle bronc riding. He rode professionally for 20 years. 

Bill won the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association World Championship in 1969, 1971 and 1973.

“Horses have always been a big part of Bill’s life,” says Carole.

Carole grew up on a dairy farm where her dad always made sure she had horses to ride.

“I would ride them bareback,” she says. “I was always with my horses, and when I got older I became interested in competing in barrel racing.”

She participated in barrel racing throughout her high school and college years and barrel raced professionally. Bill and Carole met through these competitions, and their shared passion for horses created a bond between them.

First sale

Bill and Carole decided starting a sale of their own would be a better idea than taking their horses to other sales.

“We thought because we liked horses so much it would be a way for us to ride some horses and put them in a sale,” she says. “There were other family members interested at the same time, so we just all got together. It has mostly been a family sale since the beginning.”

Carole notes about 49 horses sold at the first sale and it brought a “pretty good crowd.”

“We didn’t have any trouble selling the horses the first year,” she adds. “The horses didn’t bring the big prices they do now, but we had some nice ones to sell.”

Carole notes their initial sales mostly consisted of ranch horses and most of the buyers were ranchers looking for work horses.

“The horses we get now are better broke and easier to handle,” she says. “There’re a lot of people that don’t know a lot about riding the ranch horses we used to have.”

Carole notes many buyers want a good horse they don’t have to worry about while riding on trails.

“The sale has evolved into a sale for gentle trail horses with buyers who want the horses just for fun,” she adds. 

Final sale

The final sale on May 21 featuring 66 horses, and Carole and Bill are expecting the sale to bring many interested buyers.

“I look forward to it being a big crowd, maybe 300 people,” she says. “There are friends coming to support us but also a lot of buyers.”

The horses are mostly from Wyoming and Montana, with a few from Minnesota. Bill and Carole pride themselves in knowing where the horses come from so they can offer the best quality.

“We know these horses really well,” she says. “We don’t just have different people putting the horses in – we can’t track it that way very well.”

Time to hang it up

Bill and Carole agree it’s time to move on from the sale. 

“Bill and I are ready to step back and do something else,” she says. “We have been pretty tied down for the past 39 years.

This decision is partly due to the rising cost of horses and other expenses.

“We want to keep our quality up but when we go out to buy a horse for a sale we are spending more for them, and if we find one and we don’t buy it, the next person will,” she says.

“Horses are just hot right now,” she adds. “People don’t seem to care about prices, it’s tough this way. Expenses in general are getting up there as well.”

Carole says they are looking forward to traveling, visiting friends and working on projects with their free time.

“It has been a great run and we wish to thank all the buyers over the years, our fantastic crew and a multitude of friends,” Carole and Bill say. “It’s time to hang it up.”

For more information on the WYO Quarter Horse Sale, visit

Kaitlyn Root is an editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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