Horses, and the lifestyle and equipment that come with owning one, took center stage the past two days at the Iredell County Fairgrounds.
The Spring Dixie Horse Auction attracted a couple thousand people Friday and Saturday to an event billed as the largest horse, mule, tack, equipment and carriage auction in the Southeast.
From grandiose carriages to miniature horses to every type of saddle imaginable, the equine world came out in full force to sell their goods on the open air market. There were also hundreds of general items ranging from dirt bikes to grills to stacks of lumber up for grabs.
“I’d say they got about anything you could want,” said Marion resident Rick Laws, who brought his two sons on Friday. “With a pocketful of money, you can buy the world.”
Nora Hill and her husband were checking out horses before they went to auction on Saturday. The pair own two quarter-horses and a thoroughbred and have been breeding horses for more than 20 years.
“There’s just a character about them,” said Hill. “You talk to them, brush their hair. They need love like a human. To me, it’s more special than a dog or a cat. They seem more human.”
Hill’s connection to horses is about more than her love for the animal, though. It’s about her love for her man as well.
“That’s how he got me, with a horse,” she said. Hill’s first date with her future spouse was a horse ride, an impression that stuck with her.
“If you ain’t got no horse, you ain’t sexy to me,” Hill said.
Many people came out to the auction event just for the spectacle. During the day on Friday, there were a half-dozen auctions happening at once on the fairgrounds. People gathered in pockets around golf carts to hear the rhythmic tone of the auctioneers’ calls.
Friday night and Saturday the rodeo hall was full, as 607 registered horses were sold to the highest bidder.
Gastonia resident Wayne Gullett made the hour drive with his wife on Friday just “to watch other people buy things,” he said. The two exited the fairgrounds without making a winning bid, but didn’t leave without a laugh.
“We had horses in our younger days, but we don’t no more,” Gullett said. “They ate more than me.”
The auction attracts people from long distances as well. The temptation to view the wares was too much to keep Florida resident Paula Tishken away. She was still contemplating on Friday whether or not to place a bid on a carriage, but in her third trip to Troutman, said the Dixie Horse Auction is tough to beat.
“It’s just all the different equipment, the carriages – a lot of stuff to look at and buy,” said Tishken.