Boom in native pony sales despite pandemic

  • Horse prices seem to be strong across the UK this year. H&H looks into how this trend has been affecting native pony sales

    THIS autumn’s native pony sales have achieved some of the strongest turnover in decades, echoing what appears to be a boom in horse prices across the UK.

    The Fell Pony Society’s annual sale on 31 October also achieved the strongest prices for many years, with Townend Oran, a black mare put forward by Mrs E Robinson of Penrith, selling for 3,700 guineas.

    Foals were particularly popular, with almost 100% sold. Fillies averaged £1,296 and colts £965. The Potter family’s grey colt Greenholme Olaf, sired by Greenholme Diego, was the top lot in this section, going for 2,200 guineas.

    The pandemic led some pony societies to switch to online-only bidding, which attracted a wider audience.

    At the 61st annual Shetland pony sale in Lerwick, Scotland, on 2 October, the number of registered bidders more than doubled this year from 36 to 84.

    Auctioneers Shetland Livestock Marketing Group (SLMG) and Aberdeen and Northern Marts (ANM) achieved an average price of 624 guineas, up from 375 guineas last year. All 41 ponies sold, 33 during online bidding. The hammer fell at 3,100 guineas for top lot Bergli Lanca, a six-year-old skewbald miniature mare from Norway.

    “The sale was exceptionally good this year,” Sheena Anderson, chairman of the Pony Breeders in Shetland Association, told H&H. “We had fewer lots, in part because we held a select sale last year, but although numbers were down, the quality wasn’t.”

    The pandemic forced the cancellation of the New Forest Beaulieu Rd drift sale, which was rescheduled for November before the second lockdown pushed back the date. A sale hosted by Southern Counties Auctioneers was due to take place online from 2 December, dependent on restrictions.

    Rendell’s sale of Dartmoor Hill Ponies in Chagford (8 October) also enjoyed success; 100% of stock sold for an average £178 – a marked turnaround from 2013, when only 32% sold, at an average of £18.The top price was £1,491 for a coloured filly from Mr A Steed, who averaged £909 per animal. The drift sale’s success has been attributed in part to an increased appreciation of the ponies’ value and the impact of the pandemic on people’s lives and interests.

    “I realised there was a wave of interest before the sale as we had a lot of enquiries, but I was still nervous,” the Dartmoor Hill Pony Association’s Charlotte Faulkner told H&H. “People have begun to realise the ponies are worth their weight in gold, and the buyers were all knowledgable homes.

    “When people pay more for a pony, they invest more time in it and treat it with more respect, and a better pony is produced.”

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