The largest group of horse enthusiasts are those whose interest is in trail riding or just riding for pleasure. Finding the right horse for these activities can be a costly and time-consuming process. The Great American Trail Horse Sale and Competition, held April 10–11, at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Va., caters specifically to the trail and recreational rider. This will be the 15th year for this unique, annual horse auction. They will be selling trail horses and performance horses of all breeds, priced for all budgets. There will be a rainbow of colored horses, from palominos to buckskins, duns, Paints, roans, grullos, and Appaloosas, including a multitude of breeds and gaited horses, and mules and ponies. All events are free to spectators and buyers.

D. Yoder and sonThe criteria for consigning a horse to this sale is that the horse must be at least 4 years of age, and may be registered or unregistered. No stallions or pregnant mares are accepted.

Friday starts off early with buyers and spectators in the barns viewing the horses, talking with consignors and watching the horses prepare to ride. The action moves out to the covered arena where buyers watch the horses demonstrate and can try horses in which they are interested. At 11 a.m., there is a clinic performed by Perfect Partners Equine (http://www.perfectpartnersequine.com/). Four clinicians, Joe Most, Jackie Turnbull, Trent Rhea and Odell Grose, will teach the skills and communication necessary for your horse to perform well on the trails, at home, or in competitive trail events. With their years of extensive experience in training and showing, they will help you gain knowledge and techniques that will develop communication and trust with your equine partner.

2014 Trail Comp WinnerAt noon, Jackie Turnbull will give a seminar on “How to Purchase the Right Horse for You and Your Family.” Having made a career from training and showing horses, along with teaching youth, amateur and adult riders, Jackie is familiar with all the ins and outs of horse and rider compatibility. She also produces the Great American Trail Horse Sale and will help you learn purchasing do’s and don’ts that can make all the difference in your horse ownership experience. At 2 p.m. the demonstration of sale horses begins in the Coliseum. Buyers can watch the horses demonstrate their gaits and perform freestyle riding.

The Friday evening events draw spectators from far and near, which begin at 6:30 p.m. with a grand entry of sale horses, followed by the gaited horse “show off.” A popular feature of this unique sale is the $2,000 added, natural trail horse competition starting at 7 p.m. This competition is open only to horses consigned to the sale and is designed to allow prospective buyers the opportunity to see the horses perform activities consistent with the trail horse environment. This is a judged event, with the course consisting of eight obstacles, including natural trail hazards, loading in a trailer, and ground manners. The course consists of natural obstacles found on the trail and ranch. The top 10, high scoring horses will be selected to come back Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. to the finals of the trail competition. The winner of the trail competition will receive $1,000 and an award buckle. The remaining $1,000 will be divided among the second through sixth place winners, and awards will be given to the seventh through tenth place winners.

Bridless PaintThe horse sale begins Saturday at noon! Held in the large Anderson Coliseum, there is plenty of seating and ringside chairs. There will be approximately 100 horses in the sale. A large sale ring allows for easy demonstration of all breeds of horses. There also will be vendors selling products for both horse and rider.

For information on consigning a horse to the sale or attending the sale, visit the website at http://greatamericantrailhorsesale.com/. See the schedule of events, consigning and purchasing information, lodging, and directions. In March, the website will have photos and videos of horses in the sale. Don’t miss this exciting event, whether looking to purchase a good horse or just a great weekend of horses and fun!