High bidding: MM Auction Services thrives on strengthening horse market
Powell – Armed with a mission to help auctions exceed expectations and over 25 years of experience, Codi and Colby Gines of MM Auction Services have made their mark on the thriving horse market and hope to see the market continue to grow.
Coming from an auction family, Codi was no stranger to the scene and helped her parents put on horse and mule auctions for many years prior to starting MM Auctions with her husband, Colby.
MM Auction Services provides customers with event staffing such as auctioneers, masters of ceremonies, ringmen and clerks. They can also provide livestreaming and online bidding platforms for online-only and hybrid sales.
“We got started doing conservation events and auctions,” Codi explains. “We were booked up all winter with sales for those types of events, but Colby and I are really focused on the horse side of the business and usually send our crew to those types of events.”
“Horse sales are by far the biggest for us and the most time consuming,” says Colby.
MM Auction Services puts on a number of horse sales, most notably those of Premier Horse Sales. These sales include Diamonds in the Desert, held in both Reno and Las Vegas, Ride the Wave, in Ocala, Fla. and Best of Texas, in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Diamonds in the Desert horse sale in Las Vegas was held during the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and boasted an overall sale average of over $46,000 in 2021.
Thriving horse market
Colby describes the horse market in one single word, “strong.”
The pair note several factors are driving the horse market to what many say are astronomical levels. The first is a dwindling number of breeders.
“Awhile back a colleague of mine told me there just was not the number of breeders and horses as there were 15 years ago,” Colby says. “At the time, I didn’t really understand it, but now I do. The American Quarter Horse Association has seen declining numbers of horses over the past 10 to 15 years. There just are not as many horses in the market as there once was, but it’s slowly rising.”
The Gines note the second thing driving the market is marketing and internet tools.
“We have more marketing opportunities at our fingertips now than ever before,” they say. “Social media has allowed us to market to more people and get horses and sales advertised to people who would not have ever known about them before.”
“People are learning about sales who may not have considered horse sales before, and they can more easily find exactly the type of horses they are shopping for,” they continue.
A third major driver, one Colby notes many people do not realize, is the popularity of TV shows such as “Yellowstone” and “The Last Cowboy.”
“The show “Yellowstone” has been huge for the Western industry, not just for horses. They have brought to life the industry we are involved in. From horses, to American Hats, to Kimes Ranch jeans and cow horses; “Yellowstone” put our lifestyle on the TV,” he explains. “But it’s not just buying jeans and hats, the show prompted people who have the money and maybe always wanted to ride horses to take the plunge.”
In addition to a number of external drivers, the Gines agree the biggest price driver for their sales is the assurance of quality.
“The process in which we are sifting and vetting horses and holding sellers accountable has driven a lot of good horses and sellers into these sales,” Colby says. “You add in social media and TV popularity, and Premier Horse Sales are changing the market for the better.”
Colby notes their sift process is extremely rigid, and the Premier Horse Sales are nomination based.
According to their website, trainers nominate their horses which are scored from a rubric, months in advance. All horses sell with a pre-purchase exam including X-rays for buyers’ vets to view prior to sale day. Trainers guarantee their horses to be sound and to be exactly as they represent them.
“When these horses are highly vetted and sifted beforehand, people aren’t afraid to spend the big money and we want to give our buyers confidence in their purchase,” Colby says.
While these sales are not a “run of the mill” sale, Codi notes smaller sales have their place and the market as a whole benefits from high-end sales.
Keeping the market strong
“We try to converse with other sale barns and producers, and it makes for a stronger industry,” Codi explains. “I would like for there to be a place for all horse sales to get together and become stronger as an industry.”
She continues, “While the market is strong, it can always be volatile. It can be shaky on the top but people end up falling off the wire when they stop moving forward. Everyone is wondering if high horse prices are here to stay and I think if we are hitting the right buyers, it’s good for the business as a whole because producers and trainers are getting paid fairly for the time they are putting into their horses.”
“A lot of people are thinking outside the box when it comes to marketing horses,” Colby notes. “There has been a rise of futurities for events such as roping and barrel racing and it promotes the industry greatly.”
“As long as we have stronger live sales, the industry will continue to grow and push all the online and smaller sales,” Colby stresses. “Once sellers stop promoting and contributing to the higher-end sales, the industry will fall no matter what the horse numbers are.”
For more information on MM Auction Services, visit mmauctionservices.com.
Callie Hanson is a corresponding writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.