Annual Horse and Mule Sale, Salmon Idaho

2017: 18th Annual Salmon Select Mule Sale 
2017: 45th Annual Salmon Select Horse Sale


History of the Salmon Select Horse Sale

The first Horse Sale was held in August, 1971 and was labeled the Diamond F Ranch and Walter Ed Jones Production Sale. Fred H. Snook and Ed Jones were longtime friends who loved to raise and race their horses. Their wives, Elizabeth H. Snook and Libby Jones were best of friends. Fred Snook Jr. just graduated and returning home from the University of Idaho Law School was the Sale Manager. 

The Sale was held at the old Salmon Sales Yard owned and operated by Dennis Colson and Doyle Dance. The high selling horse sold for $640 to Jack Omohundro of Salmon.

There was no Sale in 1972 as Fred H. and Elizabeth consigned their Diamond F Ranch racing thoroughbreds to sales in Oklahoma City, Raton, New Mexico and Pomona, California. note: The Diamond F always had Quarter Horses in addition to Thoroughbreds. Fred Sr. had brought some of the first quarter horses to Lemhi Co. from Tucson, Arizona in the late 1940's.

The Sale resumed in 1973 with the Diamond F Ranch providing most of the consignments together with Ed Jones, Doc John Maheras of Blackfoot, Idaho and brothers, Judd & Scott Whitworth of May, Idaho. JoAnn Carroll started consigning the next year and has consigned horses ever since. * Doc Maheras has also consigned ever since until this year (2008). All four of the original founders have since passed away with Elizabeth Snook leaving us in May, 2007 at the age of 97. Mom truly loved the Horse Sale and always enjoyed the social festivities each year.

There has been a Sale ever since. The Sale moved to the present location at the Lemhi County Fairgrounds when the Indoor Arena building was moved from Leadore to the Fairgrounds.

For many years, Auctioneer Gale Harding has presided over the Sale. We appreciate Gale for his ability to keep the Sale entertaining for one and all.

As the Sale grew, other activities were added: 4-H Stallion Auction, the brainchild of JoAnn Carroll, was an early addition. Then Food Concession by the Salmon area 4-H clubs. The Salmon High School Rodeo Club started an annual fund raising horse raffle. Saddle maker Cary Scwartz was one of the first to have a commercial booth at the Sale. Now more than forty vendors attend the Sale. Western Art Work has long been on display. For several years in the early 1990's the western art was sold through the sale ring by lot # just like horses.

Team roping was next added to the Sale on Sunday. The Salmon Roping Club hosts this. It is an all day roping starting Sunday a.m. The barrel racers were next to join and barrel racing starts on Friday p.m.

Then in 2000, retired USFS supervisor, John Burns of Carmen, Idaho (Carmen is the post office by the Fairgrounds) suggested a Mule Sale to Fred Snook, The Mule Sale would be on the Friday night before the Horse Sale. Fred said sure and the Mule Sale was born. Many Idaho/Montana mule owners were contacted but they were all dubious. John's job was to get some mules and Fred's job was to get some buyers. John went back east and bought a trailer load of good quality mules. Well, the first Mule Sale was held in 2000 with 22 mules and a dog for sale. The Sale was well attended and prices were above expectations. 

Since then the Mule Sale has grown every year. This year we are capping the mule entries at 50! Prices have increased from a high of $2,800 to $5,300. 

Back to the Horse Sale, for many of the early years the Sale was primarily for racing stock/prospects, both thoroughbreds and quarter horses. The thoroughbreds dominated the Sale through 1985. Then using quarter horses started to prevail. The 1990's saw a surge in paint horses. Now the Sale emphasis is on good quality, using horses for use in the arena, in youth activities, for pleasure riding, and day to day use on the ranch.

Judd Whitworth was the first to break the $1,000 barrier when in 1973 he topped the Sale at $1,025. Judd then broke the $2,000 mark when he topped the Sale in 1975 at $2,900. Fred Snook and Judd both broke the $3,000 figure when the tied for top honors in the 1978 Sale at $3,500. *note: last Sale at Sales Yard was 1978. Veteran horseman, breeder, trainer Dale Bagnell of Missoula, Montana pushed the record to an even $5,000 in 1980 when his TB stallion sold for $5,000 to Bill Hoffman of Oregon. That record held for fifteen years until broken by Gary and Linda Thoreson in 1995. In 1996, Gary and Linda Habeck of Corvallis, Montana pushed the record to $7,600 with their yearling paint stallion. The Thoreson's hit $9,000 in 1998 but their record only held for an hour as Brad Ford sold his good gelding for $10,000!

Brad's record was smashed in 2006 by the Tom Spencer family from Flint Creek QH Ranch in Montana. They first sold the highest selling paint ever at $10,500 then followed that with their QH gelding at $13,000! That is the all-time highest selling horse in Sale history. In 2007 the Spencers set the all-time highest selling mare record at $12,000. Also, in 2007 Albert Miller & his son, Wyatt set the all-time high for a grade horse/kids horse with the big white horse, Gus at $10,000! 

As the buyers have become more concerned over performance and less concerned with pedigree, performance events have been added to give the sellers a chance to show off their horses before the Sale. First there is the Open Performance Show Saturday morning in the outdoor arena. All Sale horses are eligible to be ridden in the arena. Second, is the Trail Horse Competition. Held Saturday morning in the 4-H arena, the horses perform a variety of tasks and are judged. Third, is the Ranch Horse Competition. This will be held Friday morning at 11:00 a,m, in the outdoor arena. The horses all perform a set pattern then perform cow work. The crowd truly enjoys seeing all these good horses perform. It is quite a show.

Now more than 300 horses apply each year to become part of the Sale. Entries are limited to about 130 head. This year over 120 top quality gelding are consigned. The Salmon Select Sale is truly Idaho's Premier and Horse Sale.

The Salmon Select Horse Sale is more than just a sale, IT IS AN EVENT! More than the calendar, it is the signal to the folks in Salmon, Idaho that Winter is over and Spring has again arrived!