Builth Wells 1 Coast and Country Auctions


Builth Wells 1

Series looking at Britain's traditional markets. This episode visits the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells, Wales, which hosts the Welsh Cob Autumn Sale.


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Transcript


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We may live in a digital age,

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but a surprising amount of British trade is still done

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the old-fashioned way...

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-1,200...

-INDISTINCT CALLING

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..at traditional auctions.

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Now's your time to get a bargain.

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These sales may feel like throwbacks to a bygone age,

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but for the buyers and sellers who flock to them,

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they're still the best way to conduct business.

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At 1,600, blow your nose and bid again.

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We'll be visiting the UK's most dynamic traditional markets.

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BELL RINGS

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..selling everything from pigs to cattle,

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sheepdogs to ponies...

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..fish to veg,

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and discovering how they are the heartbeat of rural life.

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There'll be bargains to be had today.

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-4.50.

-Best part of being in an auction.

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Today, we're in Wales,

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at the UK's biggest annual auction of Welsh Cobs,

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the classic British horse breed with a global reputation.

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We'll be meeting the auctioneers in the hot seat...

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At £300...

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To be an auctioneer at an event like this, it's a massive buzz.

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..and following the fortunes of three buyers and sellers...

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It's like being a child in a candy store.

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You know, you want to look at everything.

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It's really exciting.

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..as they experience all the excitement...

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Mine are just going through.

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..and tension...

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At 1,000... Oh, I say.

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..as the hammer falls.

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We're in the ancient market town of Builth Wells on the River Wye,

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in the rolling hills of the Powys in beautiful mid Wales.

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On the outskirts of the town is the Royal Welsh Showground,

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holding a very special auction, held here once a year -

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the Welsh Cob Autumn Sale.

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The buzz, the atmosphere. I really like the atmosphere.

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It's exciting already that we're down here, and you can just feel

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people are bit excited at the beginning of the day.

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-How are you?!

-Yeah, good.

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And you see people you haven't seen sometimes for years.

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It's surprising how the horses bring people together.

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Good girl, good girl.

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500-plus animals here,

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so there's a good selection of animals to suit most people.

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Any prospective purchasers or sellers,

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this is the place to come.

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He's looking more handsome than ever.

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There is no other sale like this anywhere in the world,

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in numbers and in attendance.

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Andrew Elliott has been selling horses at this sale

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for the last 20 years.

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All good? Morning, madam, how are you?

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Andrew Elliott. How do you do?

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Mark, I am your auctioneer for today.

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Over the three days of this sale,

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there will be somewhere in the region of between 5,000 and 6,000 people here.

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They've travelled from the tip of Scotland, they've come up from Kent,

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they've come from Cornwall. There won't be a county...

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There's barely a town in the United Kingdom which won't be represented

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at this sale. And, then, of course, we go overseas, as well.

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So, it's special.

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Well, you'll be fine, you'll be fine. I always say it doesn't matter

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where they are, they sell on their merits.

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They sell on their merits, so...

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Andrew's finishing his first task of the day,

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walking the ground and visiting some of the horses and owners.

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That's fine. As long as I know what the worst-case scenarios are.

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I'm going to try and make you wealthy,

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I'm going to try and make us wealthy.

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-OK?

-You keep trying!

-We'll keep trying. Thank you.

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-Thank you.

-See you later, bye-bye.

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Bye-bye, bye-bye. Bye-bye, bye-bye, bye.

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With the start of the sale fast approaching,

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the pressure is mounting.

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I think it's a bit like being on stage.

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I get stage fright because I have a stammer,

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which thankfully doesn't often present itself on the rostrum,

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but it's always there, and I'm always thinking about it,

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so, yes, I do get nervous. I get stage fright.

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And because I want to keep these people happy.

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Today, Andrew is performing to a maximum capacity crowd.

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2,500 people have turned up,

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bringing much-needed revenue to the local economy.

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Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of Builth Wells, the warmest, the very,

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very warmest of welcomes to this,

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the 54th annual Autumn Cob Sale,

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here on the good Showground at the Royal Welsh.

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Now, then, quality, performance.

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I don't need to do any more talking here.

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This good fellow will do it all for me.

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A Welsh Cob is one of the UK's native breeds.

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It's a very, very hardy, tough animal.

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2,000 now. 500, I got.

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Six. Seven.

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In the arena, buyers assess the horses in three key ways.

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50. Come on.

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The first thing that a prospective buyer is going to look at

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is blood. By blood, we're referring to breeding.

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What a type to have in this ring.

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Buy the stallion.

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Now, you know what he's produced.

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You've got a great chance to buy a son. Come on.

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Second thing is how it looks.

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The physical attributes of a Cob.

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900. It's your turn.

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50. 1,000.

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But just because it looks good,

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doesn't mean it's going to move well.

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£1,000 in front.

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Sold. 50!

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Buyers want to see the horse's movement

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as it runs around the arena.

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For the sellers, this is a big moment.

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1,200, 1,200.

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Your vendor, his moment of glory in the ring,

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to whether he's going to shine or whether he's going to crash

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and burn, whether it's going to make £100,

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whether it's going to make £10,000.

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His time in the ring is probably no more than two minutes.

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1,200. Come on, ladies.

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1,200.

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He's a bit of a star.

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1,200.

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They take him, you lose him.

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To be an auctioneer at an event like this, it's a massive buzz.

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At 1,400, there it is!

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1-4. First time, sold here.

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Hammer's up. 2-2-3.

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Well done, that team. Thank you, there.

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Seller and breeder Marilyn Beach is a regular here,

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who's hoping to sell four horses at the auction

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to help ensure a solid future for her stables.

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All right, Gran?

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Thank you.

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I really enjoy the sale.

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I enjoy the preparation, I enjoy the day, I enjoy the work,

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and if we stay for the party tomorrow night,

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I'll enjoy that, as well.

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Marilyn has been breeding and training Welsh Cobs

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for the last ten years.

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I think I love everything about horses.

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I always have done.

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They give me peace,

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they gave me purpose, and...

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Well, I just love everything about them.

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SHE CHUCKLES SOFTLY

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Marilyn is keen to maintain good finances at the stables...

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Ooh, sorry, sweetie.

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..so that one day she can hand them down to her granddaughter, Robyn.

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-Is that going to fit her, Rob?

-Uh, this might be a bit big.

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One day, I would hope that, yes, we can pass the reins to Robyn,

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but nobody's going to make her do it.

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She'll do it because she wants to,

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and I'm sure she will want to,

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because once they're in your blood, they're there for ever.

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Marilyn's daughter, Claire, also loved horses, but in 2008,

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she died suddenly at the age of just 43,

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and the stables became a lifeline for the grieving family.

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Robyn adores her horses,

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and she's always been passionate,

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and when she lost her mum,

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then they were her saviour.

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You know, she used to spend hours and hours in the stables with them.

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And, really, they were what sort of what pulled her through

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such a rough time.

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Good girl.

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Sometimes I get tearful,

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and I think I shouldn't be here,

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it should be her mother doing it, but there you are.

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It's how things are, and we just have to make the best of it.

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And I think we do.

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Grandmother and granddaughter are keen to get good prices

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for their horses at auction.

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Three of the animals they're selling are foals

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that Marilyn has nurtured since birth.

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Celtic Prince,

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Kez,

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and Marilyn's favourite, Hattie.

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She's a bit of a character.

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But she's a very pretty foal.

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In fact, she's probably one of the prettiest that we've bred.

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I hope she gets a good home,

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and so the price I would expect to get

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is in the region of £400-500.

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Hello, girl. Oh, you're a sweetie, aren't you?

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You're a sweetie. Yes, you are.

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But the horse they're banking on for a big price

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is an older mare called Lexley Eclair.

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We're hoping to get about 4,000 for her.

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Well, when I sell her, I will obviously cry a lot,

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because I always do.

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Because, you know, I do such a lot with them.

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You're a very special, girl, aren't you?

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Yes, you are.

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At the auction, Lexley Eclair will be ridden by granddaughter Robyn.

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It's important that people see her riding up there,

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otherwise, you start to question - or I do, anyway -

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you know, why isn't it ridden? You know, what's wrong with her?

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Whether she's ridden in the ring or not all depends

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on how she takes the day.

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You know, she's only been riding eight weeks.

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It's a big ask of anything.

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It'll all depend on how...

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You know, how she takes it and how she's coping.

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If she does it all right, then we go in the ring.

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It's a loud old noise, and it's a...

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It's a great atmosphere, it's quite exciting,

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but I don't think they feel the same.

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Sometimes, they're like, "Oh!"

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If everything goes to plan at the auction,

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Marilyn could earn up to £6,000 for her horses,

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and keep the stables that have seen her and Robyn

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through such hard times

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in good shape for the next generation.

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-Where's the trailer to?

-On the back of my car.

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Could you just walk her down and walk her back for me?

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Would that be all right?

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Oh, there's a good boy.

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Oh, bless you, too.

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Big scary world, isn't it?

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At the auction, Marilyn and Robyn

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have 30 minutes to groom and settle Lexley Eclair.

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You will find vendors that are on edge, are nervous.

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A lot of these stock, as well, that we're selling here,

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it's the first time away from home.

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A lot of them have been born and raised and grazed

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on Welsh hillsides.

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They've not seen this amount of people.

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So, then, to bring their stock down to this environment,

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it's a whole new world.

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My biggest worry is the start.

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That first getting them out and riding them around

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and seeing how they take the environment.

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Normally, once they've done that,

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me and the horse are a lot calmer.

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Because she's only a baby, I was quite worried for her,

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but she's taking it really well, to be honest.

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Potential bidders take the chance for a last-minute look at the mare

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before she goes under the hammer.

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She's like, "What are you doing in there?"!

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Had to be quick!

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She's a big girl.

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I think once she's got a bit of muscle in her, as well,

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-she's going to...

-Yeah.

-..she's really going to chunk up a bit.

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Yeah, she is.

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She's caught the eye of a nice family,

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but they'd like to see her out and, uh, ridden.

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Buyers are looking to see what the horse looks like on the move,

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and its temperament with the rider.

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People are quite drawn to her because, obviously,

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she is a beautiful girl,

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but she's actually taking it quite well,

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and she's reacting quite well to the crowd.

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She's quite quiet.

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So, I think she's catching people's eye for the fact that

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she's taking it quite well.

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For a baby, anyway. Come on.

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Today, I'm feeling extremely nervous.

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There's a lot of hustle and bustle.

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I'm hoping that the horse will behave well,

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which is a big ask for such a youngster,

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and that she'll perform to her best,

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and hopefully get a good price, and a good home.

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Mine are just going through.

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-Number nine?

-Yep.

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Marilyn has a reserve price of £4,000 on Lexley Eclair,

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If they don't reach this, they'll be taking her back home.

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Now, then, this is lot number 28 in the ring.

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Lexley Eclair.

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Now then, Eclair is as sweet as her name.

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First bath yesterday, excellent, as she was with the farrier.

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She loves to be made a fuss of.

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Loves her work.

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Granddaughter Robyn is taking the horse around the arena

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to show her off to the crowd.

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2,000 now. From a very, very good stable now.

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2,000, 1,500, 1,000 starter, away.

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At 1,000 now. Yes, I hear the yes. 1,000 I'm bid. Two.

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1,200 the outstanding bid is at.

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1,200 I've got. 1-2, 1-4, 1-6. At 1,600...

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Then nerves start to get the better of the horse.

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At 1,000...

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Oh, I say.

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These horses are supposed to be cool-headed,

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not jumpy and skittish.

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Here we go. At 1,600.

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At 1,800, 2,000 I'm bid now.

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At 2,000 now.

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At 2,000 I've got now.

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2,000 bid. At 2,000 we are bid.

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At 2,000 now. Hammer's heading up.

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At 2,000, take a little one if it helps you.

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At 2,000. Take a little one, two, one.

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The same applies there. At 2,100. 2-1, 2-3.

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2-3.

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2-6, have I?

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2-8. Do you fill it up?

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At 2,800. The blood is worth double this money.

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At 2,800, at the very least.

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It's nowhere near the £4,000 reserve,

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and the horse looks jumpy again.

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At £3,000, then.

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Bidding grinds to a halt.

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Away today, then, at 3,000.

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I'm afraid we won't let her go there. Not sold. Thank you, ma'am.

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Well, the auction was more than a bit of a disaster.

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She's never ever behaved like that at home.

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I think it was just all too much for her.

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A four-year-old. It was just too much.

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Robyn feels rotten.

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She feels really sick, because she rode beautifully,

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she did everything she could do,

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but the horse just wasn't playing ball today.

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With Lexley Eclair unsold,

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all their hopes now rest with the three foals.

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They'll have a chance to try again soon at this three-day

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mid Wales market, the home of the Welsh Cob.

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Are you going to talk to her nice? Hello, beauty.

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-Pretty chilled out about life, isn't she?

-She is!

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The Welsh Cob dates back at least 1,000 years.

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For centuries, they were our national workhorses,

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from transport to farming...

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..and mining.

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But they remain as popular today as they were then.

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They're known for their resilience, their hardiness.

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They're used to living in tough conditions,

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on the sides of hillsides.

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It has a massively passionate, passionate, passionate following.

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Not just from the Welsh,

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not just from the rest of the UK,

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but internationally, as well, worldwide.

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Cobs are exported to around 17 countries worldwide,

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an export trade worth millions of pounds a year to Wales.

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Here we go. Alone with company, loves to please, willing Cob,

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good with the farrier...

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But with the breed so popular,

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the sheer scale of the Autumn Cob Sale presents unique challenges

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for auctioneer Andrew.

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With a crowd this big, how exactly do you spot the bidders?

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1,000 anywhere? 500 I've got. 500's the opening bid.

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This particular sale ring is a massive sale ring.

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You are quite a long way away from your buyers,

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because you need this big ring to allow the animal to show itself off.

0:17:530:17:58

We're looking, in that sale ring there,

0:17:580:18:02

at maybe 2,500 people.

0:18:020:18:04

Now, you will get bidders that will bid to you in the most discreet

0:18:040:18:08

fashion, because they want to keep their powder dry.

0:18:080:18:10

They don't want anyone else to know they're going to be bidding.

0:18:100:18:13

And then you get the very flamboyant bidder, as well,

0:18:130:18:16

who really gives a big flourish and a flash of their bidder's card.

0:18:160:18:21

You have got to tune yourself in, as an auctioneer.

0:18:210:18:25

Thankfully, you've got spotters as well,

0:18:250:18:27

and we couldn't do it on our own.

0:18:270:18:29

We've got other guys and ladies that are looking out where we can't see.

0:18:290:18:34

But you're constantly, constantly looking around

0:18:340:18:38

the whole ring for any bid.

0:18:380:18:40

You can't afford to miss them.

0:18:400:18:42

As an auctioneer, you can't afford to miss them.

0:18:420:18:44

920. Thank you, sir.

0:18:440:18:46

574 over there. Five for the black one at the back.

0:18:540:18:57

She has a lovely temperament and is totally unspoiled.

0:18:570:18:59

She has four straight moving paces,

0:18:590:19:01

and a definite future ridden or fantastic broodmare.

0:19:010:19:03

For many people at the Builth Wells auction,

0:19:050:19:08

buying horses is crucial for their business.

0:19:080:19:11

-Some nice horses going through there, look.

-Yeah.

0:19:110:19:15

It's looking good.

0:19:150:19:16

And especially for buyer Janet Alderton,

0:19:160:19:19

who's at the sale for her disabled riding school.

0:19:190:19:21

It's like being a child in a candy store!

0:19:230:19:26

You know, you want to look at everything. It's really exciting!

0:19:260:19:29

Janet runs the business from her farm in Herefordshire.

0:19:340:19:37

As a one-to-one riding school for people with disabilities,

0:19:370:19:41

it relies on sourcing good horses for the job.

0:19:410:19:44

So, in 2013, a group of like-minded people

0:19:440:19:48

and myself got together,

0:19:480:19:50

and we formed a group called Ride To Achieve,

0:19:500:19:52

which was very much looking at having one-to-one sessions,

0:19:520:19:57

and it's found a niche market,

0:19:570:19:59

and we're thriving.

0:19:590:20:01

That's a good boy, aren't you? Hey?

0:20:100:20:12

How are you, Janet? Are you all right?

0:20:120:20:13

Every week, the school works with around 40 riders

0:20:150:20:18

with a wide range of physical and learning disabilities.

0:20:180:20:22

For customers like Jackie, it's worked wonders.

0:20:220:20:26

Because they give you one-to-one attention.

0:20:260:20:28

They recognise your dreams and your hopes and your potential,

0:20:280:20:32

and they really help you to achieve what they want you to achieve.

0:20:320:20:35

And nothing's impossible.

0:20:350:20:36

Push the hand down a little bit so it really takes the contact forward.

0:20:360:20:40

For somebody like me, in a wheelchair, they give you freedom,

0:20:400:20:43

because, you know, moving about isn't always easy.

0:20:430:20:45

Get on something like Victor and you're away,

0:20:450:20:47

and that's an amazing feeling in itself.

0:20:470:20:50

Janet's daughter, Jo, is the head trainer.

0:20:500:20:53

I think it's essential as a coach

0:20:530:20:56

to have the correct horse

0:20:560:20:58

that will work with us,

0:20:580:21:00

that will help our riders.

0:21:000:21:03

I think they need to have a good nature, be safe.

0:21:030:21:05

So, it really is essential that the horse and the coach works as a team,

0:21:050:21:10

and can work as a team with the rider.

0:21:100:21:13

That's it. Just watch that outside shoulder.

0:21:130:21:15

To work at the riding school,

0:21:150:21:17

a horse has to have just the right mix of qualities.

0:21:170:21:20

And with their strength, intelligence and calm temperament,

0:21:200:21:24

Welsh Cobs are ideal.

0:21:240:21:26

It'd be really exciting if we could find two horses.

0:21:260:21:29

One that's already broken in and going,

0:21:290:21:32

and that we were able to sort of ride on and produce fairly quickly,

0:21:320:21:36

and then a youngster for us to bring on in the future.

0:21:360:21:39

That would be our ideal result, would be to have two.

0:21:390:21:42

So, yes, fingers crossed.

0:21:420:21:43

The school needs a regular supply of horses to operate.

0:21:450:21:48

Otherwise, they'll struggle to keep up with customer demand.

0:21:480:21:52

He's a good boy. Yes, he is.

0:21:520:21:54

He's a good boy.

0:21:540:21:56

Yes, he is.

0:21:570:21:59

For Janet's riding school customers,

0:21:590:22:01

there's a lot resting on this auction.

0:22:010:22:03

It's really important that we find the right one.

0:22:060:22:09

Because, actually, this horse potentially will be life-changing.

0:22:090:22:12

You know, it changes people's lives.

0:22:120:22:14

It's going to be inspirational for

0:22:140:22:17

such a range of people.

0:22:170:22:19

And, yeah, we're always excited about that.

0:22:190:22:21

With this school demanding a regular supply of exceptional horses,

0:22:390:22:44

and Janet and Jo having a limited budget,

0:22:440:22:46

they certainly have their work cut out.

0:22:460:22:50

-He's got a kind face.

-Yeah. There's a mare down there.

0:22:500:22:53

-OK.

-It's in foal, though.

0:22:530:22:55

-OK!

-No, no, but... But I like it.

0:22:550:22:58

You know, when you're enthusiastic about horses,

0:22:590:23:02

what more can you want? This is better than Disney World,

0:23:020:23:05

this is just perfect, it's just so exciting, so stimulating.

0:23:050:23:08

It might be fun, but buying horses is a serious business.

0:23:100:23:13

And Janet has a game plan.

0:23:130:23:15

All right, baby.

0:23:170:23:18

Sales are a little bit of a cloak-and-dagger thing,

0:23:200:23:22

because you don't want to show any interest in anything,

0:23:220:23:25

because if you show an interest,

0:23:250:23:27

then they think that that prices are going to go up.

0:23:270:23:29

Would it be possible just to sort of walk him up and down here, please?

0:23:290:23:34

Thank you.

0:23:340:23:35

So, you know, I want it as cheap as possible, the sellers,

0:23:350:23:39

the vendors, want as much as possible, so,

0:23:390:23:41

you take on a little bit of a slightly protective layer

0:23:410:23:45

of being a little dismissive.

0:23:450:23:47

You ask a few questions, but you walk away.

0:23:470:23:50

You don't stand there raving about how exciting something is,

0:23:500:23:53

because you don't want them to know that.

0:23:530:23:55

That's just not your poker hand at all, you know.

0:23:550:23:57

Good boy.

0:23:570:23:59

They found a horse they like the look of.

0:23:590:24:01

A strong, four-year-old male called Lucky Ace,

0:24:010:24:03

that would be perfect for their disabled riders.

0:24:030:24:06

He really fills the eye.

0:24:070:24:09

He's got a lovely big front on him, which is really important.

0:24:090:24:13

-He's got a kind eye.

-He's got a kind eye. Lovely, real nice example

0:24:130:24:17

of the qualities of the Welsh.

0:24:170:24:19

Yeah, he's certainly one we'll look to follow.

0:24:190:24:21

-It's...a lot to like about him.

-Yeah.

0:24:210:24:25

Yeah, nice horse! Hello, beautiful!

0:24:250:24:27

Everywhere you look, there's quality.

0:24:270:24:29

You're looking at it, you're thinking, can you make that work?

0:24:290:24:32

Would it happen? Whoops, sorry.

0:24:320:24:34

We have to come back to being realistic about what we're actually

0:24:340:24:37

looking for, at the moment. Because, from a business point of view,

0:24:370:24:40

we have to buy the right animal.

0:24:400:24:41

This isn't a hobby, this is a business.

0:24:410:24:44

But, yeah, this is the best environment ever.

0:24:440:24:47

Absolutely love it!

0:24:470:24:48

Disabled riding school owners Janet and Jo are ready to place their

0:24:520:24:56

first bids in the arena.

0:24:560:24:57

This is really electric, this is really exciting.

0:24:570:25:00

Next up in the sale is Lucky Ace.

0:25:030:25:05

The horse they've just been inspecting.

0:25:050:25:08

It's the perfect horse for their school.

0:25:110:25:13

Strong and calm, without being too wide

0:25:130:25:15

for their disabled customers to ride comfortably.

0:25:150:25:18

This is the type of horse that could change people's lives.

0:25:210:25:25

500, 500, 500, 500 here!

0:25:250:25:28

But as this sale starts, competition is strong.

0:25:300:25:33

Buyers have got to decide how many pound notes are in their wallet,

0:25:360:25:40

and how far they're prepared to go.

0:25:400:25:43

If you like that Cob, you've got to think to yourself,

0:25:430:25:46

"How much am I going to spend on that?"

0:25:460:25:48

"How much would I be prepared to spend on that?"

0:25:480:25:52

-How much more, do you think?

-Huh?

-How much more, do you think?

0:25:520:25:56

Just see where they're going.

0:25:560:25:58

The price has rocketed up,

0:25:580:26:00

and head has to rule over heart.

0:26:000:26:03

1,800 is on top.

0:26:030:26:06

2,000 down below.

0:26:060:26:09

At 2 I'm bid down below.

0:26:090:26:10

Janet drops out of the bidding.

0:26:100:26:12

2,000 I'm bid there. 2-2.

0:26:120:26:14

-Yeah, he's going... I hope he keeps going.

-Yeah.

0:26:140:26:16

-Because it's a nice horse.

-Yeah, it's nice. He is.

0:26:160:26:20

2-4, 2-4.

0:26:200:26:21

-Yeah.

-2-6.

0:26:210:26:23

Yeah, no, he's out for us now. He's out, yeah, yeah.

0:26:230:26:25

-Yeah.

-2,600's in again.

0:26:250:26:28

It's really, really, really, nice but out of our price range now.

0:26:280:26:31

He's gone on up. I hope he keeps going for more money.

0:26:310:26:34

He's worth a lot of money, this horse. He's lovely.

0:26:340:26:37

£2,600, then. There it is. On top. Hammer's up.

0:26:370:26:40

Coming down. 2-6, well done you.

0:26:400:26:43

It seems Janet and Jo need to set their sights a little lower,

0:26:430:26:47

or risk not getting the horses their stables really needs.

0:26:470:26:52

Yep, that was nice.

0:26:520:26:53

There's a good boy.

0:27:020:27:04

Oh, bless you, too!

0:27:040:27:06

Sellers Marilyn Beach and granddaughter Robyn

0:27:060:27:08

are getting ready for their final sale in the arena.

0:27:080:27:12

Shall we put these on? Or we can try.

0:27:120:27:14

They need to make some money to help the financial future

0:27:140:27:17

of their stables, and now it's all down to their three foals.

0:27:170:27:22

We've just come down to the collecting ring,

0:27:220:27:25

and shortly we'll be going into the sale ring,

0:27:250:27:27

and I'm very, very nervous and excited.

0:27:280:27:32

Electric, the mood is.

0:27:320:27:34

Having raised the foals since birth,

0:27:370:27:39

parting with them is bittersweet for Marilyn.

0:27:390:27:42

I'm hoping at the end of it, that they will be sold,

0:27:420:27:46

and there'll be smiles all round,

0:27:460:27:48

but I'll certainly have tears.

0:27:480:27:50

No question.

0:27:500:27:52

As the previous lot goes through,

0:27:540:27:57

bidding seems to have slowed down.

0:27:570:28:00

Not so good.

0:28:000:28:01

Six-month-old Celtic Prince is first up.

0:28:030:28:06

2 I got. 200 a bid. At 250.

0:28:080:28:10

250, 250, 300.

0:28:100:28:13

Look at the size of him.

0:28:130:28:15

Proper boy. Proper fella.

0:28:150:28:18

The price is slowly creeping up.

0:28:180:28:20

At 300 bid, four!

0:28:200:28:22

400, 400.

0:28:220:28:24

Take a big step, sir. If you don't, he will.

0:28:240:28:26

450, 450.

0:28:260:28:27

450.

0:28:270:28:28

Close the door.

0:28:280:28:30

450, last call, last look.

0:28:300:28:32

Gone left. Sold, then, at 450.

0:28:320:28:35

Thank you, sir.

0:28:350:28:37

Buyer is 200 at 450.

0:28:370:28:40

Next in the arena is Kez, also about six months old.

0:28:400:28:44

At 200, 200. 200 now.

0:28:440:28:47

At two, 200. Thank you, sir.

0:28:470:28:49

300, 300, 300, 300.

0:28:490:28:52

£320.

0:28:520:28:54

Last look at the good Kez.

0:28:540:28:57

Sold at 320.

0:28:570:28:59

And the foal sells for a good price.

0:28:590:29:01

Last up is the filly called Hattie.

0:29:020:29:05

Marilyn thinks it's the prettiest foal she's ever bred.

0:29:050:29:08

She wants £500.

0:29:090:29:11

But auctioneer Andrew is having trouble getting the crowd going.

0:29:110:29:14

1,000 anywhere?

0:29:140:29:17

200 in the ring. At 200 now.

0:29:170:29:19

It may be in your eyes an absolutely

0:29:190:29:21

drop-dead gorgeous beast that you're offering,

0:29:210:29:25

but, for some reason, the audience doesn't agree with you,

0:29:250:29:28

and no matter how much you talk it up,

0:29:280:29:30

you can't get those purchasers to put their hand in the air.

0:29:300:29:33

Very disappointing. At 150.

0:29:330:29:35

I've loved it. Why don't you love it?

0:29:350:29:38

Last look. 180. 180.

0:29:380:29:40

-180.

-Yes!

-200.

0:29:400:29:41

£200, my good man, close to me, is out, there's the bid.

0:29:410:29:45

At 200, I look at you again, sir. At 200. 200. Look at me, sir.

0:29:450:29:50

-Very disappointing, but...

-£200. Selling here.

-..that's the trade.

0:29:500:29:53

Last chance.

0:29:530:29:55

At £200. Thank you.

0:29:550:29:57

389 at 200.

0:29:580:30:00

Thank you. Thank you.

0:30:000:30:03

Marilyn may not quite have got the prices she hoped for,

0:30:030:30:06

but she still managed to sell the three foals.

0:30:060:30:09

I'm a bit disappointed with the prices,

0:30:090:30:11

but I'm really happy and proud at the way they looked.

0:30:110:30:15

So, today has been a mixture of emotions.

0:30:160:30:20

Yeah. A mixture.

0:30:200:30:23

And I always cry.

0:30:250:30:26

For Marilyn and Robyn, the auction has served its purpose.

0:30:310:30:34

With the sale of their foals,

0:30:340:30:36

they've raised £1,000 to reinvest in the stables.

0:30:360:30:39

At 520, 520.

0:30:470:30:49

-1,002.

-70.

0:30:490:30:51

The Autumn Cob Sale has been a big feature of Welsh life

0:30:510:30:55

for over 50 years.

0:30:550:30:57

In the early days, it was held on a farm over the course

0:30:580:31:01

of a single day,

0:31:010:31:03

with one or two auctioneers selling around 100 horses between them.

0:31:030:31:07

The scale of the auction today is so large, it needs a whole team

0:31:100:31:15

of auctioneers, carefully pacing themselves.

0:31:150:31:18

One, five. One, five.

0:31:180:31:20

600, 700. 700, 800.

0:31:200:31:23

At 150. Hammer's coming up.

0:31:230:31:25

Sold at 2,000.

0:31:250:31:27

On a day like today, we'll have cut the catalogue up

0:31:270:31:30

into equal chunks of 20 lots.

0:31:300:31:32

There are four auctioneers that are in operation today,

0:31:320:31:35

so you have 20 lots, then you're off, give it to the next guy,

0:31:350:31:39

he has 20 lots. You're revitalised,

0:31:390:31:41

you haven't used all your energies up,

0:31:410:31:43

so you're there, bright and buzzing again and ready to hit the ground.

0:31:430:31:47

Hammer's up. Comes down.

0:31:470:31:48

Sold. Well done, team.

0:31:480:31:50

That effort involved to sort of cajole bids out,

0:31:500:31:54

because you want to get the best possible price,

0:31:540:31:57

you want to make it worthwhile for the vendors.

0:31:570:32:00

The modern Autumn Cob Sale prides itself on its heritage,

0:32:000:32:03

adhering to old traditions.

0:32:030:32:05

Many families have been buying and selling here for decades.

0:32:050:32:09

1,500. Sold at 1,500.

0:32:090:32:12

Like David Oliver, who's been coming to the auction for nearly 30 years,

0:32:150:32:20

when his father and grandfather first brought him as a little boy.

0:32:210:32:25

-All right? How far are you off?

-Two minutes, we'll be ready

0:32:250:32:28

-to bring them out.

-And do you know which numbers...

0:32:280:32:30

Now the 35-year-old is in charge of the family horses,

0:32:300:32:33

with father Des helping out.

0:32:330:32:36

And they have a surprising use for hair gel.

0:32:360:32:39

A bit of hair gel, just to make

0:32:400:32:43

the mane and tail lie the way you want it.

0:32:430:32:45

Just makes them look...

0:32:450:32:47

Just makes a difference to the way they look.

0:32:470:32:49

It's all sort of neat and tidy.

0:32:490:32:50

They look like they've got a little bit more quality.

0:32:500:32:53

A little bit for the foals and then a little bit for me after.

0:32:530:32:56

The Oliver family farm, about 50 miles from the Cob sale,

0:33:050:33:09

earns its keep with 400 sheep,

0:33:090:33:11

but it's the horses that dominate.

0:33:110:33:14

I think it's in your blood, especially for us.

0:33:150:33:17

It's something we were born into,

0:33:170:33:19

and we know no different and it's a passion

0:33:190:33:21

that's been handed down through generations,

0:33:210:33:23

and I don't think we could do without them.

0:33:230:33:26

I couldn't imagine life without a horse.

0:33:260:33:28

Good girl.

0:33:280:33:30

What started years ago as a hobby has gradually become the focus

0:33:300:33:34

for David, sister Sarah and the whole family.

0:33:340:33:37

Go back in now, I think.

0:33:370:33:39

It's our passion, it's what we love and that, for us, is...

0:33:390:33:42

That gives us a lot of fulfilment as a family.

0:33:420:33:45

The next generation, David's nieces,

0:33:450:33:48

have already been drawn into the family passion.

0:33:480:33:51

Whoa, steady! Whoa!

0:33:510:33:52

Whoa. Whoa.

0:33:520:33:54

Whoa!

0:33:540:33:55

Oh.

0:33:570:33:58

We're quite lucky, as well, I've got two nieces, Macy and Jodie,

0:34:000:34:03

who are absolutely in love with the horses.

0:34:030:34:06

They're very, very keen, and they're getting a little bit older now

0:34:060:34:09

and I'm starting to have to fight them for duties.

0:34:090:34:12

They want to come and lead the foals and make a fuss of the foals,

0:34:120:34:15

and they've got their own ponies here on the farm, as well,

0:34:150:34:17

and they do come down most nights to try and mess and play with them,

0:34:170:34:21

as well, so, yeah, it's great that they're showing an interest.

0:34:210:34:24

But the line between passion and obsession is a fine one.

0:34:270:34:30

And David admits that they may have crossed it.

0:34:330:34:36

They seem to have crept on us, numbers, to be honest.

0:34:370:34:40

We've got about 40 horses, at the moment.

0:34:400:34:42

But if anyone asks, we tell them 25.

0:34:420:34:44

Doesn't sound so much.

0:34:440:34:46

The family with 40 horses that says they have 25

0:34:460:34:51

is perhaps in denial.

0:34:510:34:53

Downsizing is needed, but it's easier said than done.

0:34:530:34:57

I often say we should cut down.

0:34:570:34:58

Dad argues which ones we should sell.

0:34:580:35:01

And then he likes certain ones, I like certain ones,

0:35:010:35:03

my sister likes certain ones.

0:35:030:35:04

So we end up then keeping them all, which isn't good news. But, yeah,

0:35:040:35:08

we will cut back a little bit before this winter.

0:35:080:35:11

We have to, really.

0:35:110:35:12

With winter approaching,

0:35:130:35:14

reducing the huge number of 40 horses is essential,

0:35:140:35:18

if the farm is to function.

0:35:180:35:19

We do have to house them over winter. Because it's farm ground,

0:35:200:35:24

we can't afford to let the horses run out all winter, really.

0:35:240:35:27

They cut the ground up and there's nothing in the spring

0:35:270:35:29

for the ewes and lambs, so it's a case of perhaps having to sell,

0:35:290:35:32

just to make life a lot easier over the winter.

0:35:320:35:36

And, of course, Dad isn't getting any younger.

0:35:360:35:39

He won't thank me for saying that.

0:35:390:35:40

So, yeah, it's just trying to keep the work down, really.

0:35:400:35:44

It's not been an easy decision,

0:35:440:35:46

but to avert their impending horse crisis,

0:35:460:35:49

the family have chosen four animals to take to the auction.

0:35:490:35:52

Three foals and a young adult mare.

0:35:550:35:58

This is Claire.

0:35:580:36:00

She's a four-and-a-half-month-old filly foal.

0:36:000:36:04

She's a nice filly. There is no reserve on her, so, hopefully,

0:36:040:36:07

fingers crossed, she'll find a nice home. This is Prada.

0:36:070:36:10

She's looking a little bit, uh,

0:36:100:36:14

scruffy! We have washed her this morning in preparation for the sale.

0:36:140:36:18

So it's just taking a little bit of her coat...

0:36:180:36:20

Because the foals' coats are quite thick,

0:36:200:36:22

it does take them quite a bit of time to dry out,

0:36:220:36:25

so, yeah, she isn't looking at her best!

0:36:250:36:27

And we thought, she's quite saleable, she's a lovely colour,

0:36:270:36:30

with four white socks.

0:36:300:36:31

This is Cara.

0:36:310:36:33

She's about the same age again, four-and-a-half, five-months-old.

0:36:340:36:38

And she's very closely related to Claire.

0:36:380:36:41

This is one I'm in a bit of trouble with Dad, actually,

0:36:410:36:45

for entering for the sale.

0:36:450:36:46

It's one of his favourites this year.

0:36:460:36:48

But we've got to sell something.

0:36:480:36:50

But we have got a reserve on this filly.

0:36:500:36:54

We would like about £1,000 for her.

0:36:540:36:55

This is the final lot we're selling, this is the mare.

0:36:550:36:58

This is Pavereen Glamour Chick.

0:36:580:37:00

She's very, very well bred,

0:37:000:37:02

and we think she will make somebody else a good mare.

0:37:020:37:05

So fingers crossed.

0:37:050:37:07

Selling four horses will create much-needed space on the farm.

0:37:090:37:13

If we do happen to have a lucky day and we do happen to do well with

0:37:130:37:16

the ponies, I think the biggest treat we'll have, maybe,

0:37:160:37:19

is improving a few of the facilities at home,

0:37:190:37:21

improving the stables and things like that,

0:37:210:37:23

so it's sort of putting it back in, into the enterprise, really.

0:37:230:37:27

No holidays. And we might buy a drink or two.

0:37:280:37:30

Yeah, but there'll be no posh cars outside.

0:37:300:37:33

Back at the auction, sales seem buoyant.

0:37:390:37:42

£4,800.

0:37:420:37:45

Well done to you.

0:37:460:37:48

And big prices are getting cheers from the crowd.

0:37:480:37:52

-£5,500.

-We're in the wrong game!

0:37:520:37:54

That is a lot of money.

0:37:570:38:00

It's the perfect time to sell Cara,

0:38:000:38:02

the horse David's dad doesn't want to part with.

0:38:020:38:05

It looks like it might go jousting, but she's...

0:38:050:38:09

It's just a Lycra hood and it just keeps the coat flat,

0:38:090:38:12

and it just helps keep the mane over, because the mane wants to be

0:38:120:38:15

on the opposite side to the side to the side you lead.

0:38:150:38:18

It's just presentation again.

0:38:180:38:20

I just hope it makes a difference later on.

0:38:200:38:22

We'll take that off her before we take her down to the ring.

0:38:220:38:25

It's like seeing somebody with her curlers in.

0:38:270:38:29

It is down to the vendor to present their lots in their best possible

0:38:300:38:35

light, and there's a lot of cosmetic loveliness that goes on.

0:38:350:38:39

There's whitener going on.

0:38:390:38:41

They're making their socks look brighter.

0:38:410:38:44

They'll even put glitter on them, as well,

0:38:440:38:46

to add a bit of pizzazz and a bit of showmanship.

0:38:460:38:49

There's a £500 reserve on Cara.

0:38:500:38:54

David's dad might still get to take her back home.

0:38:540:38:57

£500 away. 500, 500.

0:38:570:38:59

3,300 away.

0:38:590:39:01

300. 200 bid.

0:39:010:39:02

150, 250. 300.

0:39:020:39:03

300 bid 300.

0:39:030:39:05

50. 350, 350. At 350.

0:39:050:39:08

Under 350.

0:39:080:39:10

We cannot go there, 350.

0:39:100:39:12

Didn't sell her. Quite happy, really.

0:39:120:39:15

That's a surprise.

0:39:150:39:17

So Cara's going home after all.

0:39:170:39:19

But, over the next two lots,

0:39:220:39:23

the family's fortunes change, and both Claire...

0:39:230:39:27

At 200. A bid 200. Last look round.

0:39:270:39:29

Sold then at £200.

0:39:290:39:32

Yeah, we sold that one.

0:39:330:39:36

..and Prada....

0:39:360:39:37

Sold at 450. In the stands.

0:39:370:39:39

..sell for a good price.

0:39:390:39:41

Last up is the family's star item,

0:39:430:39:45

the adult mare Glamour Chick,

0:39:450:39:48

with an ambitious reserve of £2,000.

0:39:480:39:50

And David's last chance to make much needed room on the family farm,

0:39:520:39:56

even if he is reluctant to part with her.

0:39:560:39:59

Older breed. Behind her there.

0:39:590:40:01

2,000, 1,500. 1,000, away.

0:40:010:40:03

1,000 away. 1,000.

0:40:030:40:04

800 where? 500 I'm bid.

0:40:040:40:06

Glamour Chick is struggling to impress, and the bidding's off

0:40:060:40:09

to a sluggish start.

0:40:090:40:11

600, 900. 900 a bid.

0:40:110:40:12

900. 900 a bid.

0:40:120:40:14

900 a bid. 900.

0:40:140:40:15

900 a bid.

0:40:150:40:16

1,000 bid. 1,100. 1,100, 1,100.

0:40:160:40:18

1,200. A bid. 1,200. 1,200. Last lots round and all.

0:40:180:40:21

We cannot go there, 1,200. That'll stop.

0:40:210:40:23

It's a no sale for Glamour Chick.

0:40:230:40:26

But David's still feeling upbeat.

0:40:260:40:28

The two we had a reserve on we're taking home, that's fine.

0:40:280:40:32

We wanted more for them. We knew they were good enough,

0:40:320:40:35

and the other two have found fabulous homes.

0:40:350:40:37

It's swings and roundabouts, but we're still smiling.

0:40:370:40:40

With the sale coming to a close,

0:40:500:40:52

buyers Janet and Jo are running out of time to buy the horses

0:40:520:40:56

they need for their disabled riding school.

0:40:560:40:58

But they have their eye on two excellent foals.

0:41:000:41:03

We might be bidding on this one, OK.

0:41:030:41:06

It all depends how quickly it goes up.

0:41:060:41:09

It's a young filly, Crow Eyed Rosebud,

0:41:090:41:12

whose smaller frame will be perfect for younger disabled riders.

0:41:120:41:16

-Do you want it?

-Yeah.

0:41:160:41:18

180. Sold right at 180.

0:41:180:41:20

180 buys to the team here.

0:41:200:41:23

They snap her up at a bargain price, a small investment for their future.

0:41:230:41:27

I might as well take two home on the lorry.

0:41:270:41:30

So if this one goes the right money, I'll be buying this one, as well.

0:41:300:41:33

-It's on 50 at the moment.

-Yeah.

0:41:370:41:40

And luck is with them.

0:41:400:41:42

They get a good deal on another foal.

0:41:420:41:43

It wasn't exactly what they planned,

0:41:450:41:47

but Janet and Jo got two quality foals

0:41:470:41:51

for £350, and after training they'll join the ranks

0:41:510:41:54

of the riding school, ready to change the lives of future clients.

0:41:540:42:00

It's taken us on a roller-coaster of experiences.

0:42:000:42:04

We've seen some really lovely horses,

0:42:040:42:06

but actually to be going home with two is great.

0:42:060:42:09

Absolutely great.

0:42:090:42:10

Three days, 6,000 visitors

0:42:140:42:18

and 359 horse sales later,

0:42:180:42:21

the auction is over.

0:42:210:42:23

Elated. We've had a good sale.

0:42:240:42:27

A little bit tired.

0:42:270:42:28

I'm a little bit hoarse.

0:42:280:42:30

We've been selling little horses and now I'm a little bit hoarse,

0:42:300:42:33

but it's gone well. Gone smoothly, and there's been a lot of

0:42:330:42:35

very happy people here.

0:42:350:42:37

At Janet's stables, the two foals have already started

0:42:420:42:46

their training as future horses for the disabled.

0:42:460:42:49

On the Oliver land, David still has 38 horses

0:42:500:42:54

to nurse through the winter,

0:42:540:42:56

but hopes to slim things down in the spring.

0:42:560:42:59

And at Marilyn's farm,

0:42:590:43:01

Robyn is determined that Lexley Eclair

0:43:010:43:04

will finally do them all proud at next year's auction.

0:43:040:43:07

The Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells, mid Wales, hosts the Welsh Cob Autumn Sale. In front of crowds of up to 3,000, the three-day event sees more than 400 horses go under the hammer. One of the UK's most popular horse breeds, Welsh cobs were once the national workhorses. Now they're in high demand for riding and showing, both in the UK and internationally. Buyers from Japan and Germany are regularly seen at the auction.

For seller Marilyn Beach and granddaughter Robyn, there's lots at stake. They have four horses to sell, and success will help ensure the future of the family stables that Robin hopes to run one day. Janet Alderton and daughter Jo need new horses for their riding school and know that if they can get what they need, they can change lives. Seller David Oliver's motivation is different. The family horse hobby has got out of hand, and they own 40! Selling some is essential to make the family farm more manageable.


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