Eyler taking reins of family horse, tack sales
THURMONT, Md. — With the horse and tack sales at The Eyler Stables in Frederick County coming back under family management, there will be little change in the sale’s operation. But it’s a big deal for the stable’s owner, Niki Eyler.
“It really is the opportunity of a lifetime,” Eyler said. “I feel like I’m carrying
on a family legacy. It does mean a lot to me.”
In 1933, Harry Eyler, Niki’s great grandfather, opened The Eyler Stables and held horse and livestock auctions there. At that time, draft and workhorses were a necessity on a farm.
Harry would go out to Billings, Mont., and buy loads of horses that would be shipped to Thurmont on rail cars to the local train station.
In the mid 1930’s Harry allowed his daughter-in-law, Ruth, to have sales for riding horses at the stables. Up to that point, the sale was primarily livestock and workhorses. Niki said Ruth would travel down through Virginia, the Carolinas, Kentucky, Tennessee and many other southern states buying loads of quality riding horses and shipping them back to sell.
Harry died in 1937, suffering a heart attack in the auctioneer’s box. At that point, Niki’s grandparents, Joe and Ruth Eyler, took over management of the stables.
Nikis father, Albert Eyler, joined management and worked side by side with his parents until Joe’s death in 1988.
“My dad was really involved in the auction his whole life, Niki said. “He started riding horses and ponies through the auction when he was young.” He would drive out to Joplin, Mo., and bring in tractor-trailer loads of riding horses.
“My dad was the kind of horseman that people wanted to do business with. He was honest and knowledgeable when it came to horses,” Niki said. “He could really spot a diamond in the rough and saw the potential in every horse.”
Through the years, additions have been made to the stables to accommodate more horse events.
“There are many memories people have made here at the stables,” Niki said. “People have been coming here for decades.” A local supporter recently wrote on the stables’ Facebook page, “I bought my first horse there on December 2nd, 1962. I cannot remember my anniversary but I definitely remember that day.”
Niki said she remembers when her father told her that an older gentleman came to look at a horse to purchase. Her dad was riding the horse around the arena and all of a sudden the horse started bucking and threw him off. He was lying there on his back and the old man walked over, looked down at Albert and said, ‘I’ll take him.’ Stories like these are endless,” says Niki.
Niki said the family built Eyler Stables into a place where you can come and purchase a good quality horse, take them home, improve them, and sell them for a profit.
“They put their heart and soul into this place,” she said. “This place is a big piece of history.”
She recalled in 1992, a grand prix jumper was purchased at the auction for $1,200 and resold several years later for $250,000.
In 1999, Niki’s father died, and the following year Niki took over the stables.
As a single mother working full-time away from the stable, she said managing the sales got to be too much and in 2010, Niki subcontracted the sales to an auction company. That not only kept the sales tradition going and helped Niki retain ownership. In 2014 she launched a weekend flea market at stables that still operates Friday through Sunday from 9a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
Earlier this year, the leasing auction company left the stables and Niki said several things fell into place helping her to take over the sales again.
Niki said she knew that it would be difficult to manage the entire stables and its events on her own, so when a friend, Brian Smith, approached her about some ideas he had, a business partnership formed. She said Smith will be oversee upgrades and improvements to the stables, and handle other events like a farmers market, car show, peach festival and estate auctions scheduled for this year.
“He is a good business person and I am super excited to work with him to bring Eyler Stables back to its heyday,” says Niki.
Niki will be managing her first sale at the stables on Friday, May 3. A ribbon cutting ceremony is set for 5:45 p.m. at the stable, 141 Emmitsburg Road in Thurmont and the sale is set to begin with tack at 6 p.m. and horses at about 8:30 p.m. Niki said future sales will be held the first Friday of each month.
“This barn has seen almost 90 years worth of horses and horsemen (and women) come and go,” says Niki, “there is something to be said for that.”
1-800-634-5021 410-822-3965 Fax- 410-822-5068
P.O. Box 2026 Easton, MD 21601-8925