St James Station Horse Sale, NZ
I’ve dreamed of attending the St James Horse Sale ever since I was 12 years old. These tough horses run in the New Zealand high country (the St James Conservation Park), with a herd of 80.
It’s a significant undertaking bringing the young horses in from the Ada Valley to be auctioned, requiring an experienced crew of musterers. This is the reason why the sale is held biannually, rather than annually.
This year, 20 unbroken two and three year old horses were mustered 55 kilometers over several days to go under the hammer. On a hot summer’s day in the remote Clarence Valley, behind Hanmer Springs 600 people gathered to attend auction.
Viewing of the horses took place from midday until 2pm when the auction commenced. The horses were moved in groups of four through the stock yards during the 2-hour viewing period, so that the 100 registered buyers (plus all the spectators) could get a good look at them and make their auction selections.
As well as station and trekking work, St James horses have successfully taken on hunting, jumping, and eventing. The herd is owned and managed by the Dampier-Crosley family in an agreement made with the New Zealand Department of Conservation.
The youngsters on sale had received only minimal handling (the colts had been gelded) and so it was encouraged that only experienced horse riders take them on, and the details of credible horse handlers for breaking the horses-in were available.
Here are a selection of photographs from the auction day.
Photography: Kate Bolton, Horseshoe Mementoes
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