In a week when one of Britain's leading livestock auctioneers, Brightwells, closed the door on its equine department, the industry can only hope that another will open during the coming year.

Probably best known for its sales of Welsh ponies and cobs, it has been the leading light within the performance world in recent years, as well as the sole outlet for trotters and pacers in Britain. The company leaves a marvellous legacy within equine sales many of which had become 'go-to' events for enthusiasts as well as breeders from home and abroad.

Terry Court, former managing director of Brightwells, who retired three years ago, was the driving force behind the equine interest of the company since its emergence from the former Russell, Baldwell and Bright in 2000.

He brought style and innovation to the equestrian sale ring, as well as a well-oiled operation. His big personality was a feature of the rostrum at Addington for the dressage and jumping horses, Cheltenham and Ascot for the race horses, or at the Royal Welsh Showground for the Welsh ponies and cobs.

Ironically, the announcement comes on the back of the best averages gained in 2019 for Welsh ponies and cobs for more than a decade however, obviously, the equine department just didn’t pay.

As if by coincidence, three pieces of sale ring memorabilia came my way this week which were of particular interest – one concerning a prominent character in Scottish livestock sales and the others catalogues from a historic sales held near Hamilton and Inverness.

The first concerned the sale of Clydesdale horses at the Duke of Hamilton's Merryton Home Farm, near Hamilton, where prominent Clydesdale breeder, Lawrence Drew, farmed and offered for sale some of the best horses available at the time.

As a sign of the times, the original hard-back catalogue devoted a page to travelling arrangements by train from all over Britain to the nearby station and illustrated with life drawings including one of Prince of Wales, a stallion regarded as one of the most influential at the dawn of the breed's stud book and reputedly purchased from David Riddell for £1500 in 1867 (£170,000 equivalent today).

The sale was held in 1879, the year following the publication of the first Clydesdale Stud Book and five years before the death of Drew, who was considered, along with Riddell, to be most significant in the development of the breed as we know it.

Like many of that Victorian era, he was stickler for detail and was meticulous in his breeding programme, which was firmly based on excellence of conformation particularly strong limbs,flat bone and good hooves.

And, like many of that time, it would appear that he was not averse to using the Shire as an out-cross to enhance his own bloodlines. His selections proved fruitful, as the catalogue reveals victories at all the major shows in Scotland, England and even in Paris.

At the final Merryton dispersal sale in 1884, John Riddell bought back Prince of Wales for 900gns. By strange co-incidence, a painting of Prince of Wales – commissioned by Drew from the celebrated Victorian artist, Charles Lutyens – came up for sale by auction in Glasgow this weekend.

The second catalogue recorded a sale held more than a century later when a change in policy witnessed the Department of Fisheries and Food for Scotland disperse its famous Knocknagael Stud of Highland ponies, at Inverness Market, in 1977.

The Stud had been initially founded on Skye by the commissioners of the Congested Districts Board in an effort to make good stallions available to the crofters in the Highlands and Islands. It later moved to the mainland in 1913, settling at Beechwood, outside Inverness.

Needless to say, the best bloodlines in Scotland were made available to breeders at this sale and many of the purchases subsequently had a major impact on their studs.

It was during a camping holiday in 1967 that I visited the stud where the famous showman and stock manager, Jimmy Dean, proudly showed off the Department's mares, a wonderful sight which remains with me to this day.

Unlike some of the heavier types we see within the breed, every one of them was pony through and through, with beautiful heads and silky feather. I came across him the following year when he showed the Department's famous stallion, Glenmuick, to qualify for the Horse of the Year Show's Fredericks in-hand championship at the Ponies of Britain Show, at Peterborough.

Macdonald, Fraser and Co conducted the Knocknagael Sale at Inverness and this name is connected to the third piece of memorabilia, a hard-back booklet recording a testimonial to John M Fraser held in December, 1923.

This interesting record lists the subscribers (350 to 400) present at the Station Hotel, Perth, for the presentation to him of a portrait by Sir William Orpen. The Duke of Atholl led proceedings, which marked Fraser's 60 years of business life within the agricultural sector.

His name was first associated with auctioneering through the local Perth company of Macdonald and McCallum, firstly as an assistant and later as a partner when the name changed to Macdonald, Fraser and Co in 1870. The following year, he witnessed the erection of Perth Auction Mart, after which the company became celebrated among auctioneering firms in Scotland and still operates today under the United Auctions banner.

Livestock markets were commonplace in rural areas around Scotland servicing the needs of the industry, as well as fulfilling a social purpose by providing a meeting point for farmers. In the coming days and weeks, it will be interesting to see whether or not the coronavirus closes their doors to all but essential users.

It may well be that the Scottish Government takes the current restrictions to gatherings a stage further, which doesn't bode well for early shows and events round Scotland. Given the relatively congested nature of the annual agricultural calendar, the uncertainty may lead to cancellations rather than postponements.

It will all come at a cost but early intervention may lower the penalty of cancellation nearer the time of the event.

It's too early to tell but let's hope the situation has levelled out before the major agricultural shows are due to take place, the Royal Highland in particular. The foot-and-mouth restrictions of 2000 dealt a bitter blow to the equestrian industry, shows and showing especially.

It was amazing how their absence provided opportunities for individuals and families to try our other things never to return to the show ring. This has had a lasting effect on competition at such events, so there must be a realistic worry that the coronavirus may land a critical blow.

Let's hope that the outdoor activities which horses and ponies provide is the tonic people need to get out and about in the relative safety of contracting the virus and the doom and gloom currently surrounding our population gradually subsides, allowing some sort of normality to return.