Changing The Game for the Better – A Look at the 55th Mid-Winter Sale 

Professional Horse Services Continues to Cater to Ever Evolving Industry Needs. 

Like every part of our day to day life, times have changed. We can order our groceries and even cars online and have them delivered to our house, we can shop for clothing from around the world and thanks to Amazon many items can be on your doorstop the next day. We have become a society of unlimited marketplace. 

In the horse industry Mike and Stephanie Jennings are the Amazon of horse shopping. Their platform and work allows buyers and sellers from all locations to come together. Tomorrow their 55th annual signature Mid Winter Sale will close, with buyers bidding on 100 horses including show horses, prospects, breeding stock for Western Pleasure, Hunter Under Saddle, All Around, Reining and Ranch events, plus experienced trail horses.

We Dive into the History!

1979 Mid-Winter Sale.  In the auction box from left to right – Mike Jennings, Tim Jennings, and Ike Hamilton with ringman, Tony Langdon in the front.

“The first Mid Winter Sale was held in January of 1970 at the Virginia State Fairgrounds in Richmond, VA and managed by my parents Bill and Betty Jennings, with me and my brothers Tim and Steve helping” shared Mike Jennings.  “Consignors included well known TV and radio entertainer, Arthur Godfrey.  The Sale drew a large crowd and the horses sold very well and put the Jennings’ in the auction business!”  In 1979, Mike and Tim Jennings took over management of the auction through their company Professional Auction Services, Inc..  The Mid Winter Sale was a highlight event for the horse industry in the central Atlantic area. In addition to the horse auction there was a large vendor area that attracted as many as 5,000 people for the event.  Due to the recession that hit the horse market in 2008 and the bad luck of two years with inclement weather the last live Mid Winter Sale was held in 2011.  In 2012, the auction transitioned to the Internet only auction format.  Professional Horse Services, LLC., owned by Stephanie and Mike Jennings, has continued as an Internet auction since. The Jennings Families have sold more than 80,000 horses since the 1979 Mid-Winter Sale.

Chart Topping Sales

Throughout their auction career many great horses have passed through the Professional Horse Services’ ring. We asked Mike to highlight a few that are most memorable sales.  

VS The Fireman Selling for $2,250,000

“The top of that list is be the VS Dispersal Sale in 2023 for Kristen and Wesley Galyean and the Glover Family.  We were excited to manage that sale in partnership with auctioneer, Kyle Myers, son of Kim and Renee Myers.  That auction saw VS The Fireman sell for $2,250,000 (only $100,000 below the industry record price set by Invitation Only) as well as VS Code Red for $1,000,000, KM Suddenly So Easy for $900,000 and VS Flatline for $250,000.  In 2012, Professional Auction Services managed the Dispersal of Rita Crundwell’s horses for the US Marshals Service.  Highlight sales from that Auction included Good I Will Be for $775,000, Execute for $245,000 and I Execute Class, which topped the Internet portion of that auction for $226,000.   Through our live consignment auctions that included the AQHA World Championship Show Sale, Congress Super Sale and NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Sale we had the pleasure to sell Flashy Zipper for $400,000, Huntin For Chocolate for $300,000, Coosa Lad for  $262,000, An Awesome Mister for $227,000, Image of Kid for $200,000, and more outstanding horses.”

“2023 was the 4th year we will host Internet Auctions for Lorenzo Lotti’s Pro Fit Equine Online Sales, SELLING 619 horses for gross sales of $14,080,250 with an average price of $22,747.  In the October 2023 auction for 2-year-olds the High Seller, Gunna Berry, Sold for $235,000, the second highest price ever paid at auction for a Reining two-year-old.  The yearlings and two-year-olds were offered with x-rays.”

Offering Up the Elite

Grace In The Irons

Speaking of x-rays one of the newest advancements in your auctions is the elite sessions which offer horses with current radiographs and vet report.  We asked Mike how he came up with this idea.  “We decided to offer the Elite Session after seeing that most of the major performance and racing auctions require yearlings and some older horses to have x-rays to enter the auctions.  X-rays are an important part of the decision-making process for buyers shopping for prospects and show horses.    A buyer can’t justify the expense of doing a pre-purchase exam with x-rays on multiple horses in an auction when they run the risk of not getting any of them bought.  Many buyers reduce the amount they will pay for a horse if they don’t have x-rays since that involves a greater risk.  Sellers that provide x-rays with their horse stand a greater chance of receiving full value because buyers feel more comfortable with spending money on that individual.  In most cases the expense of the x-rays is more than offset by the price that is received on a good quality horse, especially if one hopes to get $10,000 to $15,000 or more.  While we have sold many thousands of horses without x-rays, we see the benefit that providing x-rays has brought to the major Cutting, Reining, Cow Horse and Racing auctions.  Since offering x-rays has not been common in the Pleasure and All-Around part of the industry, we expect to start with fewer Elite Session entries and hope to see that session grow.  The next step we plan is to offer a Pleasure Prospect auction with x-rays and vet reports required for the entries.”  

Mike and Stephanie Jennings

Mike and Stephanie are dedicated to this industry and bringing the best options to their buyers and sellers. It is in their blood!  “The Quarter Horse industry has been our life.” Mike continued “we have enjoyed the business as exhibitors, World Champion breeders and owners, as well as selling Quarter Horses, Paints and Appaloosas.  Stephanie is an NRHA World Champion in Limited Non Pro Reining and a 3 time Congress Champion in Amateur Working Hunter and is now a National Reserve Champion in Working Equitation.  I was an AQHA judge for 35 years and an NRHA judge for 10 years. As an exhibitor I have been an NRHA Reserve World Champion Limited Non Pro Reiner and 3 time Congress Reserve Champion in NRHA Reining and Ranch Riding and currently compete in NRHA Reining and AQHA Ranch classes.  Being involved in many aspects of the industry gives us the experience to help many customers market their horses.”

“In the auction industry we have always tried to offer the best opportunities for sellers and buyers to participate in our auctions.  With the live auctions we had to be aware of conflicts with major events, selecting auction facilities with the best features, advertising in the right places and hiring the best auction staff.  We were continually improving and updating the auction experience, even if it wasn’t noticeable to everyone.  The recession of 2008 required us to change more things.  Horses weren’t selling very good and owners were watching their expenses.  With the advent of online horse classifieds like, people were selling online since it didn’t require the travel costs of going to a live auction.  We had been watching the livestock industry using Internet auctions with success, so we started looking into the Internet format.  Working with a livestock Internet auction web company we developed a unique horse-oriented platform that would present horses in a way we felt would give our customers the best chance to sell and buy.”

To keep up with changes in technology Mike and Stephanie continue to make updates to improve the customer experience with their auctions and strive to stay at the top of the industry. Mike and Stephanie partner with Tim and Cathy Jennings, and on the Internet Auction platform.  Since Sport Horse Internet auctions are very popular in Europe, they also borrow ideas from those auctions.  “We are proud that we have been at the leading edge of horse auctions in our industry and want to continue to offer that level of service to our customers.”

The team at Professional Horse Services is primarily Stephanie and Mike.  They understand the pedigrees, paperwork, show records and many small details that are important to sellers and buyers better than anyone they can hire locally.  “We do get some part time help from our daughter, Kendall, and our son, Tyler, particularly when the bidding closes on an auction so we can handle all the communication with customers.  Two ladies that worked full time with Professional Auction Services still work with us for bookkeeping and some data entry, making more than 25 years we have worked together.”

Vitals Are Good

Open for Bidding

The 55th Annual Mid-Winter Auction features frozen embryos by Machine Made, Bank On The Best and When In Chrome.  “Offering frozen embryos has become popular in the Sport Horse industry and we are pleased to offer these to breeders.  The Elite Session which requires sellers to provide x-rays and vet reports includes Lot 101 – Grace In The Irons (AQHA) that qualified for 2023 AQHA World Show in Working Hunter Under Saddle, Hunter Hack and Working Hunter and was Top 10 at Congress and NSBA World Show;  Lot 104 – LG Texas Invite (ApHC) ApHC Reserve World Champion in Longe Line;  Lot 102 – Dual Shots of Patron (AQHA) 2023 NYRCHA Non Pro Boxing Futurity Reserve Champion, competitive Cow Horse and Ranch horse; Lot 103 – CLR Happy I Will Be (AQHA) Trail point earner and Ranch Riding winner.  Another feature of the auction is the Dispersal of Anding Acres, a Leading Breeder of Appaloosa Halter Horses and AQHA World Champion breeder offering stallions, broodmares, show horses and prospects like Lot 401 – AA Premonition (AQHA) Champion at the Breeders Halter Futurity WCHA and Big Money Futurities. Another highlight is Lot 316 – Vitals Are Good (AQHA) Superior Western Pleasure, multiple ROM producer and out of the mare that produced VITAL SIGNS ARE GOOD”

Bidding is open now in this sale and will begin closing tomorrow Saturday, January 27th starting at noon EST.