Horse people are patient people.
Some came at 7 a.m. Saturday and stood in the rain until 10 for the 10th annual tent sale at Dominion Saddlery in Chantilly, Va.
They waded through a sea of breeches, bridles and blankets looking for the right sizes.
They queued up again behind the checkout table for two or three hours, ready to spend their $75 or $200 or $500.
And they didn't seem to mind. They seemed accustomed to making sacrifices for their animals.
When Don Golding moved to the East from California, he had strict instructions for the real estate agent. "We had to have someplace for the horses. The house came second," he said.
He and his wife and daughter left their seven-acre place in Chesapeake, Va., at 5 a.m. so they could arrive on time. "Just about everybody in Virginia knows about the sale," he said.
The horse lovers snapped up 600 manure buckets within 20 minutes. In the two-day sale they bought about 150 saddles at such prices as $460, cut from $635. The 4,000 buyers, who come from as far as California and Ohio, will make July sales higher than those of any other month, according to the tack shop's coowner Alan Van Weiren.
People in muddy black boots and stretchy breeches wandered among the tents, calling out: "Anybody seen hay nets anywhere?" They filled laundry basket-sized muck buckets to overflowing with hoof dressing, fly spray, screwworm and ear tick spray, Dr. J.H. McLean's Volcanic Oil Liniment, leg wraps, bits, girths, whips and crops. Not that anyone whips his horses if he can help it.
"Is that to hit the instructor with?" someone asked, looking over a $2 crop.
Horses are more trustworthy than people, if horse lovers can be believed. There was hushed talk of harness racers who cheated their way to victory by making other horses break stride, and not-so-hushed talk of people who had tried to cut in line at Saturday's sale.
"I'd rather have a horse than a neighbor," said Tom Ginaven, who came up from Charlottesville Friday night and stayed in a motel. He and his family arrived at the tack shop at 7:30 so they could have first shot at the discounted equipment for their 12 ponies.
His daughter, Tammy, 16, came too. The broken collarbone and right leg she suffered when her pony fell last month did not dampen her enthusiasm a bit.
"Daughters do have their affection for that horse or pony. That daughter can just about talk you into anything," said Dominion coowner Reynolds Young, whose daughter Jinna, 17, shows her thoroughbred in the junior hunter division.
Many sale items were tailored to young girls. In the clothing tent, a saleswoman called out, "32 long is the biggest women's size I have," to sighs of disappointment from women looking through the piles of breeches.
"I don't even like horses," said Vern Wingert of Reston, who planned to spend $850. "Really, this is all for our daughter. She eats, drinks and sleeps horses."
His 11-year-old daughter, Rebekah, couldn't make it to the sale. She was at riding camp.