By BRIAN SMITH
True friends are few and far between in this world. Shelly Mowery and Norma Sanders would qualify as those.
The two women have known each other since 1990 when Mowery was inducted into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, located at that time in Hereford, Texas, as a cutting horse competitor, a year after Sanders was inducted into the same organization for being a rare female auctioneer at livestock auctions.
Sanders originally went to college to pursue a degree in music but went into auctioneering as a “way to make a living.”
With college becoming too expensive, a friend in Sanders’ hometown of Texico, N.M., who had an auction business and knew she had trained and traded horses while in high school suggested she become an auctioneer. After being turned down at three other auctioneering schools, Sanders, at the age of 20, was the only female of 40 auctioneers to graduate from the Missouri Auction School in 1952.
Sanders and Mowery stayed in touch over the years, Mowery admiring Sanders’ accomplishments as an auctioneer in a male-dominated world. Mowery and her husband, Rick, own and operate Mowery Cutting Horses, a top cutting horse facility south of Weatherford. When Shelly saw she might have a top-notch yearling, a sorrel stallion named Some Kinda Kat, ready for auction, she knew exactly who to contact, despite Sanders not having called an auction for 23 years.
Sanders said she was ready to come out of retirement to help an old friend, but said she was unsure if Mowery would be able to convince auction officials to allow Sanders to auction off the horse. Mowery was successful.
Some Kinda Kat was the first horse auctioned by Sanders at the National Cutting Horse Association’s Summer Spectacular Sale on Friday in Fort Worth, where 85 yearlings were expected to go up for grabs at the invitation-only event. The sale was produced by Western Bloodstock Ltd., of Weatherford.
“The men were always nice to me, but it was obvious they didn’t like me in their world,” Sanders said. “I don’t know what rabbit she pulled out of her hat, but I’m glad she did.”
Once the deal was finalized a few weeks ago, Mowery said she couldn’t wait to call Sanders and give her the good news.
“We’re joined at the hip,” Mowery joked about the relationship with Sanders, who came in from New Mexico to do the sale. “I’m confident that she will get top dollar for my horse, and I appreciate everyone who has helped make this possible.”
Despite the 23 years since her last auction, Sanders said she is very confident and ready to get back behind the microphone.
“It means a lot to me to have the honor of selling my close friend’s yearling,” Sanders said. “I’ve never seen such a pedigree in my life. He’s royally bred with lots of conformation. Anyone who buys that colt will get it all in one package. All he needs is a little training. Like I was born to be an auctioneer, he was bred to be a cutting horse.”
Sanders says she still has her auctioneering spirit, showing her chops while trying to auction off a teapot during an interview.
“I hope I still have my magic touch,” said Sanders. “I still have my rhythm; it’s a part of me.”
While still having her touch, Sanders says this auction will be something special because she’s doing it for a friend and also hopes to get top dollar for Mowery’s horse for another reason.
“I’m planning on giving 10 percent of the sale of the horse to the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame,” Mowery said.
“I’m going to shoot for $100,000 (for the horse),” Sanders said.
Mowery on Saturday said everything went great Friday with Some Kinda Kat going for $20,000. As promised, 10 percent of the proceeds will be donated to the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.
Mowery also said Sanders “did a helluva job and didn’t miss a lick.”