Finding a Horse at Auction

ArticleHow to - General Equine AdviceThursday 19 January 2012
Horse Auction

With prices of horses at an all-time low, more and more people are considering the auction as a place to purchase their next horse.  Perhaps they are seeking the joy of rescuing a horse from an uncertain fate, or maybe they are just looking for a bargain.  Either way, it is important to know what you are doing when looking at horses for sale through auctions.

If you can only afford one horse, and are not prepared to manage a horse with issues, you should steer clear of auctions.  No matter how good a deal you may find, it is far too easy to get stuck with something you have no purpose for.  Even worse, you might get stuck with a horse who is unsafe.

If you know an experienced horse person, bring him/her with you.  It is far too easy to miss something if you do not have the experience.  The more auction experience you have backing you, the better your chances of buying a good prospect.

When looking at horses at an auction, keep in mind that the horse that looks nicest, may not be the best horse at all.  Many times horses that look too nice to be at a sale, are, in fact, too nice to be at that sale.  There is always a reason a horse winds up at an auction, and you need to look for it.  Sometimes there is a soundness issue, sometimes the horse is not mentally sound.  Beware the perfect-looking animal that doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the stock at the sale.

Sometimes the best deals can be found in young horses who look a little worse for wear.  Make an effort to look past the ribs, and consider the overall structure of the horse.  A dull coat is usually a sign of poor nourishment, something often solved with a bit of TLC.  

Look for a kind eye, not dull, but aware and alert as you visit him.  Beware of horses who present their quarters towards your, or who hide at the back of the stall.  Also beware of horses who seem too calm, or even dull as they may have been tranquilized before the sale.

Another type of horse to consider is the older horse, who may not have as may years ahead of them, but could still be well trained and perfect for the pleasure rider.  Many older horses are dumped by riders who want to go further with their riding career, or by schools who no longer have any use for them.

If possible, watch the horses being worked under saddle.  Unless you know someone who can train, don’t take home a horse you have not seen ridden.  There is usually a reason that they are left untried.  Some auctions will allow buyer to try the horses.  If you are a competent rider, this may be a good idea.  Be sure to wear a helmet, and consider a safety vest.  You don’t know these horses and accidents can happen.

Consider any information you get on a horse with a grain of salt.  While it may not be false, it may not be fully truthful either.  Plan for the horse to stay in quarantine at least a week after it arrives home, and be ready to vaccinate and deworm it as soon as it arrives.  Read up on any soundness guarantees or other policies that the auction may have, and make sure to take advantage of them as needed.

Finally, before bidding on any horse, set you maximum price.  It is far too easy to get carried away with auction bidding.  Only bid on horses you have looked at before they enter the ring, and stick to the prices you have set.

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