Horse Auctions

Horse AuctionsMy gosh I have been sitting here for the past two nights trying to work on this blog post about sale barns and how to best approche the subject, get all the proper research, and give you the best advice. Well… nothing, I can’t come up with nothing. So I am thinking I am going to take this post with the approach of saying just what I think as I tend to be rather good at this. So here we go… this is your official warning. No research, no professional opinions, but just my thoughts and opinions. Watch out!!! (-:

Oh all the questions that run through your mind:

  • Is it a good place to buy?
  • Is it a good place to sell?
  • How do I know what I am getting?
  • Are they going to act that the same way when I get them home as they did at the sale?
  • Are they truly sound?
  • How do I know a good horse sale from a “not so good one?”
  • What happens when I end of with a horse that is totally different once it is at home?
  • Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

I think maybe we should talk about the different types of sales. To jump from one extreme to the next…there is what I refer to as the “killer sales” which is generally the local monthly sale. This is the kind of sale that you take horses to that you can not sell privately without having a guilty continuos, or it maybe be the horse that you can not afford to feed any more and should have gotten rid of a month or two ago before they are a bit on the “rough” side. It is the kind of sale you can run a horse through lose if you do not really want to claim he is yours or if you happen to have a five or six your old at home that you have not gotten halter broke yet. Or….circumstances might just not be ideal and somebody has a nice horse that they simply need to move.

On the other spectrum there are sales such as the NCHA futurity sales, NRHA futurity sales, dispersal sales of some of the most thought after breeders in the industry. These are the kinds of sales that require a consignment fee, months of preparation, a lot of advertisements, and achieve respectable prices on the horses they sale.

Horse AuctionsSo in case you are wondering what brought this spell of rambling on about horse auctions… A trip to the local monthly sale brought this on… and a great suggestion. Oh how I love the feel of a horse sell. Instantly gets my heart to pumping and I am in my element. There is a bit of a thrill to pick through all the “stuff” to find the diamond in the rough. I love the challenge of finding a horse that somebody brought to a “killer sale” as they wanted rid of it most likely due to issues they could not resolve. I love the challenge of taking a horse like that and taking them out to the ranch and working on those problems and turning into something I can honestly and proudly sale privately. So if you feel you are an experience horsemen/horsewomen and can find that diamond and weed out the ones that might be crippled, or are the kind that will break in two when you step in the saddle, or seem to act nothing near as calm as they did at the horse sale when you get them home then the monthly horse auctions can be a great place to pick up a “heck of a buy.” However, if you are a beginner rider/horse owner that is looking for a cheap horse please keep the following in mind.

99% of the time you will pay for what you get. If I have a horse that is honest as the day is long, sound as can be and is the kind that is broke to death and will babysit your kids then do not expect to find that for $500 at the local horse auctions. These are the kind of horses that hold true value and they are the kind you are going to pay money for. If you are willing to sell the horse you have invested a lot of time in and the horse is exactly what you say then why take it to the local horse auctions and be willing to lose money on it. Now as I ramble on…..please keep in mind that this is my opinion and nothing else. When I am at the local horse auctions looking for my diamond in the rough here are some things I look for.

  • a horses legs and feet are the most important thing….without them you have nothing so be sure to look for any blemishes, scaring, puffiness, etc
  • I look at the horses eye. I like a soft eye, not one that shows extreme anxiety, stress or fear.
  • teeth….it never hurts to check a horses teeth.
  • if the horse is in the lose pen I like to watch how they interact with the other horses in the pen…are they agressive, dominante, submissive?
  • I like to be able to get a hold of them with or without a halter and see if I have any give when applying pressure.
  • I like to be able to rub them all over, see if they seem cinchy at all around the cinch area
  • I do not want to bother with something that is starved to the ground but if they need a little weight that is generally not something that bothers me
  • make sure they have clear eyes, breathing sounds normal, for sure no snotty noses and no swelling underneath the jaw…nothing like bringing strangles home and having it go through the whole herd. Great fun there.
  • if the owner of the horse is there…DO NOT BE AFRAID to ask questions, but be prepared that you might not get the complete truth as they are there to sell there horse and they want to get as much as possible
  • try to watch the horse move away from you and to you at a trott and look for any lameness issues.

horse auctionsThe above are all good tips to keep in mind when on the hunt but ultimately my best piece of advice I can offer is that if you are a beginner or intermediate rider/horse owner do not rush into horse ownership. Do you homework, look at a lot of different horses and if you must buy at a sale look at the higher class sales. However in my opinion the best solution is to buy private. Below are some things I would keep in mind when shopping privately… and yes some of these things are going to be a bit of a pain in the rump for the seller (trust me I know as I am a seller) but ultimately it does not matter. You are spending your hard earned money to purchase exactly what you want and it is the sellers job to take their time and represent the horse for sale as honest and rightful as possible.

  • talk to people that have purchased from that trainer/breeder before and hear what they have to say
  • take your time when looking at the horse (don’t take all day but do not feel like you need to hurry)
  • never be afraid to ask questions
  • if you have any doubts at all about the horse, come back by another day. Maybe even last minutes…as sellers we love those calls that go something like this “hi I just pulled up to the pens and was wondering if you would mind if I took a second look at the horse I was looking at purchasing.” (-: But once again… it is your hard earned money you are spending and you should not have any worries.
  • I personally let all buyers know that if they run across any problems with the horse to please contact me as I am available to help them fix it… look for a seller that stands behind their product
  • If you have any concerns about the horses soundness spend the money and have a basic vet check done….don’t waste your money and have the horse x-rayed from head to toe but start with having a basic sounds exam done and go from there. Also….some good not spend more on your vet check then the cost of the horse.

As it is now nearing 3am I am running out of things that I look for so I wanna hear from you guys. What do you look for when you go to a horse sale? What are things people need to watch for in your opinion? What do you place importance on when buying a horse privately? I challenge you all to share this as much as you can and lets all give our thoughts and share experiences. We can all learn more and benefit each other on this topic.