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Perfect Fit: Tips for Preparing Your Prospect for Yearling Sales – with Gary Trubee of Masterson Farms


It’s that time of year – the show season is in full swing, championships are happening or just around the corner, and the most significant yearling sales of the year are on the horizon. 

There is more to preparing a yearling for sale than quality photos and top bloodlines. We spoke with Gary Trubee of Masterson Farms to get the scoop on how leading industry breeders get their yearlings ready for the big sales.

Assess The Horse in Front of You

Trubee says the first step to preparing a prospect for sale is to “assess the horse in front of you.” Indeed, every horse should have some form of an individualized program that maximizes its strengths and minimizes its weaknesses.

Trubee advises that you look over the animal you want to prep with a critical eye to determine, “Where does the horse need to gain or lose weight? Does the horse have a conformational flaw that can be minimized with feed or exercise? Does the animal need certain veterinary care or farrier work? Is the animal up to date on vaccines? Is the horse shed out? Is it sun bleached?” 

The answer to these questions will help you determine what you need to do to get them in tip-top shape for sale. 

Trubee reminds readers, “There is no such thing as too much time to prepare a horse, but there is such a thing as not enough time. Therefore, the earlier you start prepping a prospect, the more likely they will be in peak condition at the time of the sale.”

Know Your Buyer

Trubee believes that a good horse is a good horse regardless of trends in color or bloodlines. However, if you intend to sell a horse in any market, you must understand that market.

Trubee laughs and says that color can significantly impact the sale price, even though it’s irrelevant to performance. He also says a horse sired by a “hot stallion” or out of a known producer is worth more in the sale ring – it’s simple supply and demand. Knowing the market trends can help you better promote and invest in prospects.

Health Program

Trubee believes, “You can’t make the outside of the horse look good if the inside is in poor condition.” 

As a matter of course, Trubee x-rays all prospects before consignments because he “doesn’t want any surprises” when he goes to sales. Trubee wants the animals he sells at sales to build on a reputation of quality, and, to ensure his stock is quality, he has them vetted for any issues.

Trubee recommends investing in a good farrier who will ensure that your prospect is appropriately trimmed and sound. Then, if necessary, he will put shoes on a yearling. However, Trubee admits that he is hesitant to do so because it will make it appear the horse has a soundness issue to prospective buyers and because he fears shoes could potentially interfere with the expected growth of the foot at such a young age. However, if corrective work is necessary, Trubee believes it should be done to protect your investment and the horse’s well-being.

Finally, a regular worming regimen is critical to ensuring that your horse gets the most out of its feed and that it builds a quality hair coat.

Feed Program

“Fat is a beautiful color on a horse!” Trubee chuckles. “Although there is such a thing as being too fat, you don’t want them to look like a potato on toothpicks!”

Trubee believes that a quality feed program forms the foundation of having a horse look their best. Because horses are set up to eat a little all day long, he tends to feed his prospects smaller meals multiple times daily. 

Initially, Trubee feeds his youngsters’ grass hay. However, when they come in to be fitted for a sale, he will put them on alfalfa for a limited timeframe to help add some bulk. That said, he cautions against feeding too much alfalfa to youngsters as it can make them grow and gain too quickly and cause many other growth-related issues. Therefore, when it comes to protein intake, he recommends moderation.

Fitness Program

While Trubee believes the feed program is the cornerstone of presenting a yearling in their best condition, exercise remains a critical component of their appearance, mental health, and overall desirability.

Trubee will do essential round pen work with his sales prospects to teach them to go and stop on demand. He admits not much can be done to slow them down on a longe line, but “if they’re bred right, they’ll want to go slow naturally.” 

Trubee will also work on patience tying with his yearlings. To kill two birds with one stone, he uses the time they are tied to sweat their necks. “You want them to have a big body and a lean neck, which can be a struggle because if the body gets thick, the neck will too.” Therefore, sweating their necks is critical to ensuring they are set up to appeal to buyers.

Beauty Program

“Shiny is almost as pretty as fat!” Trubee quips. “You can’t just have their bodies in good physical condition. Their coat needs to look great as well.” 

Trubee spends a lot of time grooming his prospects. But, he says, once you have a proper feed program, a little currying and elbow grease will go a long way to making your horse stand out from the crowd.

“You must ensure your horse is clipped and bathed to present their best at a sale.” Trubee prefers short bridle paths as he believes it makes the neck look longer. He also recommends that you take extra care with the white on the horse, so it glows at a sale.

The timing of a sale can have a tangible impact on the horse’s coat. Trubee will begin putting his sale prospects under lights in August, and if you live in a cooler climate, he recommends placing a sheet on them at night to ensure they don’t grow a hair coat before the sale. Also, keeping their coat short and shiny and avoiding bleaching is essential to present them in their best light.

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As a parting thought, Trubee reminds readers, “The time you spend getting the animal ready for a sale is the best time you can spend. A cleaned-up car will bring 30% more at auction than one that hasn’t been detailed. And horses are no different.”


About the Author:  Megan Rechberg has been riding horses on and off since sixth grade. She works as a full-time mom to son Jackson and daughter Sterling, part-time litigation attorney, and social media manager for up-and-coming APHA stallions.

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