Even though the National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning for Central Kentucky July 7, it didn't keep buyers and consignors away from Fasig-Tipton’s Newtown Paddocks complex. They couldn't stay inside in the air conditioning to avoid the sweltering conditions because they had to get ready for the Kentucky July select yearling auction in Lexington.
As the temperature soared into the triple-digit range, sellers tried to keep their horses as comfortable as possible while being inspected by shoppers.
"It's brutal; it's just miserable," said Elm Tree Farm's Jody Huckabay. "At our farm this morning, the mares were sweaty while just standing in the field."
To help his sale yearlings cope with the heat, Huckabay was giving them oral doses of a gel containing electrolytes in the morning and the afternoon. Pat Costello was administering a similar electrolyte product orally in the afternoon to horses under his supervision in the Paramount Sales consignment.
"It's just to pick them up," Costello said. "We’re monitoring them very closely and we might even have to 'jug' one or two of them – give them IV (intravenous) fluids – later if they get shown so many times that they get stressed."
At the Select Sales consignment's barn, each yearling had two fans attached to the door of its stall.
"The only thing that sucks is the heat," said Select Sales’ Carrie Brogden. "We’re doing lots of spray downs. We spray the horses with water to cool them off if they get real sweaty over their haunches. We're treating the horses really well, but the people are kind of getting short-changed."
For Gainesway Sales' yearlings, "we have fans, electrolytes, and lots of water to drink," said Brian Graves, who was in charge of the consignment. "We have to play it by ear and later on, we’ll probably end up sponging these horses off or spraying them with water if we can get a break. But if the buyers are looking, they (the yearlings) are going to have to tough it out like the people for the most part."
The Eaton Sales consignment's heat-beating strategy also included fans and electrolytes, Reiley McDonald reported.
"We keep water in front of them," he said. "One problem is that some of them don’t get back in their stalls enough to get water (because they are getting shown so much), so you really have to keep track of who’s drinking and who’s not getting a chance to drink. We’ll also give them baths at the end of the day."
According to McDonald, heat increases the stress on yearlings and, as a result, he believes, the number of abnormal endoscopic throat examinations by veterinarians rises.
"Last year, as we got into the high temperature ranges, I started to hear vets saying they were getting more bad scopes," McDonald said. "To me, that’s a direct result of the heat. If I were buying horses, I would want my vet to scope them in the morning because you’ll get a fresh, cleaner-looking scope and it will reflect the real condition of the horse’s throat."
Trainer Kenny McPeek didn't mind the extremely hot weather at all.
"I'm fine with it," he said. "I have plenty of sunscreen on and I'm wearing shorts. You just have to go steady through it, no rush. It doesn't seem any hotter here than it's ever been to me."
The Fasig-Tipton select auction is scheduled for July 10. Selling will begin at 10 a.m. (EDT).