By Jim Nowlan
Chase Anderson and Leigh O’Brien operate what Leigh calls a “mom and pop sale barn” on the west edge of Wyoming—and they are loving every minute of it.
Anderson Equine Sales has operated for going on two years at what this writer remembers as a child as the Alva (Alvie) Peterson Sale Barn.
Chase and Leigh hold a sale the second Saturday of every month, and they draw 300 or more folks from all over the Midwest to buy tack and buy and sell horses. The business operates as the commission agent for sellers.
The greatest demand, according to Chase, is for gentle, family-type, trail horses, followed by performance or show horses.
Chase says there are not a lot of monthly horse sales operations—only three in Illinois. And he says the horse business “is on its way back” after several down years, so prospects look good for the young couple and their operation.
Sale day is a family affair, with both the young couple’s mothers working the office, settling sales.
Chase’s dad checks in the tack from wholesalers, which is sold throughout the day, while the auction of 30-plus horses (they had 100 horses for one sale) starts about 6 o’clock.
Leigh’s younger sister Madison runs the food stand, while her dad does the cooking.
Other helpers include Alex Rider, of Delphi, IN, a student at Black Hawk College East Campus in, what else, agriculture, and Todd Benson, of Williamsfield.
Horses sell for “from 50 bucks to $6,000,” says Leigh.
From this writer’s two visits during Saturday sales, I have a sense that folks come to enjoy the camaraderie of fellow horse owners, plus the opportunity to take care of their tack needs for saddle pads, halters and much more—and enjoy a piece of pie and a pork chop.
Chase and Leigh love their horses
Chase, 31, grew up in Hopedale, IL and, according to Leigh, has been barrel racing since he was old enough to sit on a horse.
Leigh, 25, grew up in town in Cedar Rapids, IA. She boasts of a great childhood.
“I grew up racing BMX pedal bikes. My Dad would take me all over. I have wonderful parents.”
But when asked at age 16 by her parents if she wanted a car or a horse, she jumped for the latter.
Leigh studied equine science in Iowa and met Chase, who has done lots of equine dentistry, when he worked on one of her horses. They have been together ever since, now over five years.
Chase says it is relaxing and rewarding to work with horses, and Leigh nods emphatically.
The couple thought about moving to Florida to try something new, but when Wyoming sale barn owner Jamie Lueking said he was selling, they jumped at the chance to own their own horse business.
They have a small apartment at the sale barn and are never apart.
“We spend 24/7 together every day of the year,” says Leigh, who has a warm, winning smile and an equally endearing personality. “And it works for us.”
The couple compete in barrel racing all around the Midwest, and Chase believes that having one’s own horses and working with them, “makes a difference in how you handle other horses. It’s not just our job.”
“Wyoming has been so welcoming to us,” reports Leigh, who says she is in SuperValu Wyoming “all the time.”
Leigh says the key to their success thus far has been that, “We cater to consigners. We try to make’em happy. We sure don’t gouge them with this or that add-on charge, and we don’t charge on a ‘no sale’. We want them to come back.”
Chase and Leigh are constantly working to repair and bring back the old sale barn to what it once was, and they are going to add more pens as well.
Leigh has 4,000 followers on Facebook (Anderson Equine Sales), which is their primary means of advertising, and she is adding 30-40 new followers every day.
“I spend hours and hours on Facebook,” she says.
Readers might stop by for part of a sale. It’s almost a family-like atmosphere. But don’t everyone go at once. Leave some room for the buyers, so Chase and Leigh can build on their already thriving business, right here in Stark County.