Meyer, Lopez end 43-year run with dispersal sale
September 1 will mark the end of an era for the South Dakota horse business. Bob and Karen Meyer and Lee Lopez, two-thirds of what has been recently called the Lauing, Lopez, Meyer horse sale, will bid goodbye to the last of their breeding stock at their final annual sale.
The Meyers started making a name for themselves when they partnered with Lee Lopez, a neighbor, in the 1970s.
Karen Meyer said, “We bought this ranch in 1972 and we didn’t have enough cattle to stock it. Lee had extra mares and didn’t have enough room for them. We took about a dozen mares and a stud. We took half the colts for our share. We flipped a coin for first pick, and alternated. We figured we couldn’t keep them all, so we decided to have a sale.”
They sold in Mobridge for the first few years. Then they took on another sale partner, Geno Hunt, Lopez’s brother-in-law.
While it may have been opportunity and luck that brought the Meyer and Lopez programs together, the quality of Lopez’s horses didn’t hurt.
“We liked his horses,” Karen said. “He had nice bloodlines, especially for ranch and rodeo horses—roping, pick-up—using-type horses.”
Some of the studs they started using back then still show up on the pedigrees of their horses—Docs Willow, Drop Of Frost, Starlights Lenny, Gringo Pistolero, Fixers Crystal Brick. Some of daughters of these studs will be on the sale bill on Sept. 1.
They are selling more than 30 mares, at least 60 percent of which they’ve raised themselves.
Lee Lopez is selling his last two mares.
The mares are selling as exposed, having been with the stallions all summer, but they haven’t been preg-tested and there are no guarantees. Their brood mares have always been just that—halterbroke and gentle to varying degrees, dewormed twice a year, but otherwise they mostly fend for themselves, unless the snow gets too deep.
Karen remembers that in the 1980s fillies brought more than stud colts and it seemed like there were six horse sales every weekend, as the market was stronger than ever and people were expanding their herds.
“For the times, it was good. Especially compared to raising cattle,” she said.
They’ve seen some hard times in both the cattle and horse market, but their horse herd has always carried them through, as there’s always a market for good horses. “We raised cattle until about 10 years ago,” Karen said. “We droughted out and sold everything, just kept most of the mares. We bought back once and droughted out again. Now we just have the mares and take in summer cattle. You don’t miss it, not after a year or two.”
They’re not sure they will be able to say the same of the horses, but they figure it’s time. Bob and Karen halter-break all the colts themselves, and Bob is in his 70s. “We’re getting up there. It’s getting to be more than what we want to do,” Karen said.
Karen points out that many of the people who have supported their business and sale since the beginning are still with them. “Lynn Weishaar has been the auctioneer for every year but the very first one. John Johnson has been the pedigree man, and Scott Dirk and Dan Piroutek are much appreciated and do a lot to promote our sale. They’ve been a lot of help and we appreciate their help, advice and friendship.”
Geno Hunt is another person she credits with helping strengthen their horse sale and program. Even though Geno and his son, Jim, split off and started their own sale, Karen says, “We appreciate Jim Hunt and how much he’s trying to do to improve the horse industry. He’s a promoter and he’s doing a lot to help the Quarter Horses come back.”
They know their customers are the reason they’ve been able to have a successful sale for 42 years. “It seems like every year at the sale, probably 60 percent or better go back to people that have bought from us in the past,” Karen said.
John Hoven has been their best buyer. “At one time I think he had 18 of our horses,” Karen said. One of those horses won the South Dakota Rodeo Association senior men’s breakaway horse of the year.
Others have carried high school kids to championships, hazed for college bulldoggers and made a name for themselves in the AQHA, including Larry Larson and John Baltezore. “Larry Larson showed horses for us and did really well in the South Dakota Rodeo Association. John Baltezore made the whole thing fun. He qualified a couple of our horses for the AQHA World Show.”
Larson owned a stand-out filly from the Meyers, who won the Wyoming State Fair Weanling Filly Futurity and the Sioux Falls Quarther Horse Show Circuit Champion Weanling Filly. He said, “I showed several others for Bob and Karen from their breeding program and a yearling gelding of my own that I purchased from them sired by their Jimmer Jr stallion. I led foals through the sale ring for several years too and they were always great people to work with. They always had outstanding horses to choose from and top of the line stallions to breed my mares to over the years.”
Meyers have also shipped horses twice to the Czech Republic. “They found us through an advertisement, then emailed and just showed up here one day and wanted to look at the horses,” Karen said. “They bought over the phone. We got an email from them just last month. They just sold those horses, but are leasing one back and are going to breed her.”
That’s one of their favorite parts—hearing back from satisfied customers about how the horses have worked out.
Saturday, Sept. 1 at Faith Livestock will be the end of an era for the Meyers and for Lee Lopez, but they hope the sale will give someone else the opportunity to start their own legacy.
The Lauings and select consignors will continue the sale at Faith Livestock in 2019.
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the Oct. 23, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News