Dwight and Melodee Glossip bring buyers, sellers and horses together at the Missouri Horse Auction
For more than a quarter-century, Dwight and Melodee Glossip have been selling horses on the last Friday of the month, with few exceptions, at the Missouri Horse Auction.
It was a business that began with Melodee’s late father Clell Osburn.
Clell was a horse trainer and trader, traveling across the country for his trade. He started in the horse sale business with sales at Pumpkin Center, Calif., then at the old Springfield Stockyards in the 1970s.
“I don’t think he ever punched a clock,” Dwight, who joined Clell in the late 1980s, said.
“He just trained horses, and raised horses and kids,” Melodee added.
Dwight considered himself a cattleman, and admitted he was a little reluctant to get in the “horse business.”
“When we were just starting to date, Dwight told me he wouldn’t give me a nickel for a horse,” Melodee recalled. “I asked him to do me a favor and not mention that in front of my dad. I told him he could think about what we wanted, but just keep it to himself.”
“Clell and I went to a sale together and we bought five or six head, including this grey stud,” Dwight said. “Clell might take a load of horses to Texas or anywhere. He loaded up those horses we bought and came back with a stack of hundred-dollar bills. I thought this might not be too bad.”
Clell told Dwight it would take more than a year to get a calf ready to sell from his cows, so buying and selling horses was a quicker return on his investment.
“He had horses on the farm growing up, but it wasn’t his bag, but guess what?” Melodee continued. “It is now.”
Dwight and Melodee haven’t completely given up on the cattle industry. They have a mixed commercial herd of about 45 cows, which are currently being bred by a black Brahman bull. They plan to switch to a Hereford bull next year to breed retained heifers in order to produce highly-marketable black baldies.
The Missouri Horse Auction began at the Nixa Livestock Auction. For a short time, they also had a sale at Blansit Dairy Cattle Auction in Ozark, which was held on Saturdays. In 2004, they moved to the Springfield Livestock Marketing Center. The inaugural sale at Springfield was in January 2004.
“When the Nixa barn closed, we didn’t have any place to go,” Dwight said. “We went and talked to them at Springfield and it worked out… It’s a really nice place and it’s been great. We bring in more people and it’s a bigger, cleaner barn.”
The monthly sale average about 100 head, with tack and other equine-related items selling prior to the horses.
“It’s kind of a potluck,” Melodee said. “We don’t require early consignments, but if (sellers) send me a picture and tell me about their horse, we will push it out there and get the word out… If we get in good horses, we typically get good prices.”
The couple shared stories of draft mares, registered stallions – including a gaited stallion selling for $55,000 and a son of the stud that followed that brought $10,000 – and others that have come through their ring over the years, but Melodee said they have a soft spot for all animals, especially senior horses. They try to help each horse find a new home by showing it’s potential.
“Horse sales have a bad reputation,” she said. “We try everything we can to get those seniors homes. Our staff is instructed to ask everyone if (sellers) want the horse ridden through the ring. If they do, we have a guy who will do it for $10. It’s good for the buyer and seller, and more importantly, the horse. We encourage people to represent their horses.”
Dwight added sellers can also ride their own horses through the ring.
The commission is 10 percent to sell at the Missouri Horse Auction, plus a 5 percent yardage fee, and the payout is on sale day.
“We don’t allow any alley trading,” Dwight said. “If you bring in a horse, you can’t sell it outside. If a guy’s sitting on the top shelf waiting for this little pony to come in then it doesn’t, that’s against free trade.”
They also sell a large amount of tack each month.
“We have lots of people who come to buy and sell tack,” Melodee said. “We tried to separate the tack sale from the horse sale, but it’s double the expense. We tried it and it didn’t work. Tack and horses go together.”
“Most of the people who bring the tack have horses back there too,” Dwight, who can be found inside the ring at every sale, added.
Dwight and Melodee own none of the horses sold, nor do they buy any for themselves. They are content with their few remaining horses, and also have several boarding customers at their Nixa, Mo., barn.
“We are the commission company; we bring the buyers and sellers together,” Melodee said.
Concerns about COVID-19 prevented the sale in April and May, but the Glossips and their crew were back in June. Melodee said there were a few “glitches,” but they were glad to see the people they considered friends and family back at the sale.
“We missed them,” she said. “Not doing something for a while makes you appreciate it more. It made us realize that we aren’t ready to stop doing this. This is just our way of life. We enjoy the people, and they are people we have known for years.”
In addition to the regular monthly sale, Missouri Horse Auction also holds the Missouri Trail Horse Auction at the Cold Creek Cowboy Church north of Ava, Mo., and is held the last day of the nearby Missouri Fox Trotting Horse World Show and Celebration. The sale is capped at 75 consignments, primarily Fox Trotters.
Church leaders contacted Dwight a couple of years ago about a sale, but he had his doubts.
“I hadn’t thought much about it because it would cost so much to put it on because I would buy all of the stuff to do it and rent a tent for a few days. They asked what I needed a tent for, and I said people aren’t going to sit outside in the hot sun or the pouring rain. They said we could have it in the church. That kind of took me back, so I said I would come to church Sunday and look the situation over. We walked in there, and it’s a different deal.”
“We just said, ‘Wow,” Melodee added. “We just fell in love with it, and the people. We go to church there every Sunday now.”
Cold Creek Cowboy Church isn’t a typical church. It has it’s own riding arena, chutes and a large overhead door allows horses to easily enter and exit during the sale. The church also hosts roping and other events, and a youth rodeo is in the works.
“We bought some mats, some panels and set up a pen,” Dwight said. “The seats are all individual, so we just moved them back. We work to keep the sale moving so people can get back to the celebration to either watch or show.”
This year’s sale is Sept. 12.
Horse sales are a little different than livestock sales, yet the same. Both depend on buyers and sellers, and there have been times when sellers outnumbered buyers.
“The horse market used to be great,” Melodee said. “We’re one of the last ones standing. There were times the horses weren’t doing it for us, but the tack helped us out.”
“Bring in a big ol’ horse and it brings $200, you can’t operate a sale on 100 head,” Dwight added, saying there is no set market for horses. “It fell off in about 2005, and it got to the point where people would bring a horse and not even get a bid.”
Despite the ups and downs, the Glossips have no plans of stopping.
The couple pride themselves on missing only two, maybe three, sales. Dwight missed one because he was in St. Louis following a kidney transplant. Melodee missed after her appendix ruptured, requiring a hospital stay, but she still managed to take sale-related calls while hospitalized, helping a woman take home the horse she had hoped to buy.
“This is just who we are; it’s in the blood,” Dwight said.
“Our customers show up for us, and we show up for them,” Melodee added. “My dad has been gone since 2007 and we still show up for him. We’re getting older and we’re slowing down a little, but we’re hanging in there.”