SDQHA honoree: Weishaar family raises, rides, promotes and auctions horses
When he was five years old, the barn on the home place for Lynn Weishaar was the sale barn. He tied up his favorite dog and got up in the hay mow, pretending it was the auction block, as he sold bucket calves to the pup.
Sixty-five years later, Lynn and his wife Connie have been recognized by the South Dakota Quarter Horse Association for their contributions as promoter of the industry.
Lynn was born in 1947 to Art and Bernice Weishaar on a ranch near Lemmon, S.D., and Connie was born to Les and Ollie Fritz near Belfield.
Lynn grew up participating in 4-H and FFA. During his high school days, he worked in the back pens in the auction barn in Lemmon. As he worked, he sang out his auctioneer chant. One day the boss, Robert Schnell, stepped outside and heard it. He told Lynn, “you’d better do something with that.” And he did.
In college at North Dakota State University, Lynn competed on the horse judging team, winning the quarter horse judging class at the American Royal. He gave the highest oral reasons score, holding the record for nearly forty years.
Then he attended auctioneering school in Billings. He and Connie, who married in 1968, started ranching, and Lynn sold everything: farm sales, cattle and hogs, and then horses. As time went on, his reputation for being a good auctioneer grew and his calendar was full. At one time, he sold more than three hundred sales a year, spending days at a time away from home and selling in every state west of the Missouri except for New Mexico and Washington.
He’s sold everything from the little to the big, some of the highest selling Angus, Charolais and Hereford cattle in the nation. During last year’s Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, he estimated that of the fifteen barrel racers, he had sold either the barrel horse or the sire of eight of the barrel horses.
But it’s not always the money. “I’ve sold them in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and I’ve sold them for little to nothing,” Lynn said. “We all like to talk about the high dollar horse but I’ve sold some for not much money.”
And the job of an auctioneer goes far beyond the chant. He does his homework before a sale, knowing what the genetics and statistics are for the animals that will be in the ring. “There are always genetics more popular at times,” he said. “It’s pretty important to know what bloodlines are popular, who owns them, their numbers, their EPDs and performance records.”
It all boils down to the people, and Lynn’s auctioneering schedule has stayed full because people trust him. “The people who have faith in you trust you. They hired you because they thought you could do the best job you could. That made me feel good.” For years, he had trouble finding open dates to work sales, because he was in demand. “People having trust and faith in you means a lot.” And it didn’t matter if the sale was for hundreds of thousands of dollars, or hundreds of dollars. “Whether they’re high dollar or not, every sale is important to the seller. Whether it averages a lot or not, it’s important for the people you’re working for.”
Working alongside Lynn is John Johnson, a “pedigree man” who travels with Lynn frequently. John, who lives in Piedmont, S.D., is there to elaborate on the pedigrees of the horses or cattle that Lynn is selling. During the sale, if there needs to be a break to give potential buyers time to think about bidding, Lynn will “poke” John and John discusses genetics. Johnson is “very astute in the horse genetics,” Lynn said, and Connie attributes her husband and John with making sales more professional with their partnership.
Lynn met Connie at NDSU. She had been in a horse wreck and was hobbling across campus. She caught his eye, and as Lynn said, “she had a broken leg and couldn’t get away from me.” The two celebrated fifty years of marriage in the fall of 2018.
When they first married, they leased a ranch. As time went on, they had enough money to buy a place. As Lynn sold, Connie stayed home, ran the ranch, sewed the family’s clothes, raised two kids, and “was very capable of doing it,” Lynn said. “She’s been the mainstay,” he said. “I’m serious when I said she ran the ranch by herself. We lived in a remote place, and there were days I’d come home and she’d have everything done. She’s been the backbone of this outfit.”
But Lynn’s sense of humor shows itself. “She’s a lucky woman,” he chuckles. And Connie has her own retort: “he’s been telling me that for fifty years.” The pair have raised quarter horses, ranch horses, and commercial cattle for years.
Lynn doesn’t list the production sales he’s worked, for fear of leaving someone out. Although he doesn’t put on the 120,000 miles a year that he used to, he still sells production horse and cattle sales across the nation as well as the weekly sales at Philip and Belle Fourche.
He’s seen a lot of changes in the quarter horse world since he began. Years ago, most horses sold as ranch horses. Now, it’s getting more specialized, with the demand for team roping or barrel horses, for example, or even for those who choose to trail ride, “and are at retirement age, and want to spend a lot of money on a nice, gentle horse,” he said. “You can’t take them lightly.”
But some things never change. There’s still a high demand for ranch horses, and soundness and temperament are always needed. “Soundness is a big issue, something that will last and be with you quite a while,” he said. “And disposition is a big factor. It’s a big factor in any part of the business.”
He’s cut down on his schedule, and Connie is able to go with him more often, since the kids are grown. But he still savors the best part: the people and the livestock. “I’ve had the privilege of selling the best horses and cattle that walk the face of the earth. I enjoy the people and the livestock.”
Lynn has been honored with several awards. He is an inductee into the National Livestock Marketeers Hall of Fame, was Ag Businessman of the Year at the Black Hills Stock Show, and is a Hero-Legend honoree at the Black Hills Stock Show and Central States Fair, among others.
Lynn and Connie have two children: Seth, who is married to Nicole and who also an auctioneer, and their children Shaine, Sern and Slone, and Jodi, who is married to Rob Hendrickson, and their children Ollie and Scout.