Van Norman and Friends Production Sale

Posted in: Horse Training, Ranch Life

Pretty roans, fall colors and good friends are always present at the annual Van Norman and Friends Production Sale. The first is for sale, so if you’re in the market for a good ranch horse, grab a bidder’s number and don’t be shy about sticking your hand up in the air; if a horse is consigned to this sale, it’s bound to be a good one.

Started by the late horseman Bill Van Norman 19 years ago, the sale is now continued by his son, Ty, and his family, and Linda and Randy Bunch of nearby Deadwood Quarter Horses. In addition to Van Norman Quarter Horses, main consignors include the Rhoads Ranch, TS Ranch, Journigans, Tuellers, Moris, Shelmans, and Porath Quarter Horses. This year’s sale will be held September 18-19 at the Elko County Fairgrounds in Elko, Nevada. Prior to the sale, the annual Van Norman Stockhorse Challenge will be held, featuring specical prizes for horses bought at previous sales.

Weaner colts in this sale are born outside on the high desert, so they are bound to be sure-footed. Yearlings are also offered for sale.

Here’s Ronda Van Norman, ready to lead a red roan colt through the sale ring. Don’t you just want to give her a squeeze and scratch her between her cute little ears? The colt, not Ronda. Fun fact: she is also one hell of a good cook. Ronda, not the colt.

Van Norman sale

Started two-year-olds are sold with a spring and summer’s worth of riding, depending on the consignor. The colts have much more outside ranch experience than most 60-day colts, and don’t be surprised if a few have doctored calves tied off in the sagebrush.

Matt Mori of Paradise Valley, Nevada, rides a two-year-old colt through the sale ring. He’s pretty dang handy, but don’t tell him I said that. The last thing we need around this country is another big-headed buckaroo.

Matt Mori

When I worked for the Van Normans, I rode horses through the sale a couple different years. Visiting with buyers who came from across the country to buy a JP Bar horse was fun, and I enjoyed telling them about the ones I’d ridden and what they were like. I knew I was lucky to get paid to ride these great ranch horses every day, which are so very different from the average cavvy horse. Ty makes sure each horse on his ranch progresses at a rate satisfactory to him, so that horses wearing his brand have a good reputation when sold to the general public.

For a ranch employee, riding gentle, good-minded horses to work every day was a treat. Ty and I went to help the neighboring Mori Ranch brand some calves on the IL Desert one day, and I loaded up two bridle horses. I thought, “This cowboying gig ain’t bad at all. If I weren’t me, I would totally be jealous right now.”

And then we sold those geldings and I was sad. But then we started some colts and I was happy again. It’s a beautiful cycle.

See how happy I looked about ready to swing a leg over a good Van Norman-raised mare? Just another day in the life.

Cowgirl and horse

Broodmares of all ages, sizes, colors and bloodlines are sold as well. These hardy, proven producers would be assets to anyone’s program.

Bridle horses are of course the best sellers. Between the surrounding ranches and trainers, there is no shortage of steady, finished bridle horses available for sale. Basically, pick your favorite color and you’ll find a good one there.

The Van Norman sale is locally known as the last big social event of the season. See these guys? Look at how much fun they’re having. Their facial expressions practically scream “WE’RE HAVING FUN!” They’re probably talking about roping, which is pretty serious business. See that baby stroller in the background? That held tiny baby Zane, who is now a big, rowdy two-year-old. Ah, how time flies.


Three cowboys

For more information, visit Look them up on Facebook, and view the complete 2015 catalog at either web location. The sale will be broadcast live over the Internet. To register as an absentee bidder, contact Linda Bunch at 775-756-6508 or 775-934-7404.

Whoa. Holy blue roan hip. Are you drooling yet?

Mare and foal

Okay, how about now? Go check out the catalog for more equine eye candy!

Bay horse

Posted in: Horse Training, Ranch Life

About Jolyn Young

Jolyn Young lives near Montello, NV with her cowboy husband and 3 small kids. For more, visit

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