Annual Horse Sale Returns to Kirkby Stephen

September 11, 2012

In the region of 500 horses will be going under the hammer at Harrison & Hetherington’s upcoming annual Cowper Day Sale. The sale, whose history dates back to the early 1900’s, will be held on Saturday 22nd September at Kirkby Stephen Mart.

All sorts of breeds and horses of different shapes and sizes will be presented in the sale ring at one of the largest sales of horses in the United Kingdom. This is one of the North of England’s oldest horse sales and reliably attracts a large amount of animals as well as buyers and sellers from as far and wide as Kent.

Both broken and unbroken horses will be up for auction. The most popular breed are of course the reliable fell ponies who make up the vast majority of animals for sale on the day.

Cowper Day has been around since almost the origins of the Kirkby Stephen Mart which opened in 1932. The sale built up hugely in the 1950s when there were large numbers of horses roaming the fells, local people gathered them in and walked them to the mart for the sale. The sale did stop for a number of years through the 60s and 70s as the amount of horses involved were becoming unmanageable. Stuart Bell, Senior Auctioneer at Kirkby Stephen Mart began working there in 1975 and saw the sale reinstated after a local farmer retired and needed to sell a large number of horses.

The sale’s reputation has continued to build in the decades since as Mark Richardson, Auctioneer at Kirkby Stephen Mart explains:

“This is a truly traditional sale that we hold every year and we will see a wide range of ponies and horses including the many coloured ponies brought to Kirkby Stephen by the travelling community coming together to trade.”

“In the last few years, probably as a result of the recession, the horse trade has suffered, as for many owning a horse is a luxury item. This is an opportunity to take advantage of the availability of horses and ponies at cheaper than normal prices.”

“The Cowper Day sale is something the entire community get’s involved with at Kirkby Stephen. It is a tremendous sight to see one of the local horse breeders droving his horses right down the main street to the mart. On Cowper Day, there is a real buzz about the town, as this is a day everyone looks forward to whether they have in interest in the horses or not”.

The average price of a horse varies from 50 guineas right up to £2000. Mark is anticipating that the average price on the day will be between 300 and 400 guineas.

For more information contact Harrison & Hetherington or to view the sale catalogue visit

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