Horse Auctions are one of those things that tends to polarize people- either you are totally on board with buying a horse from an auction (and maybe have even done so), or you would never-in-a-million years buy a horse from an auction and think those that do so belong in the loony bin.
I’ve been to lots of auctions in my time, of all different calibers. Legitimate Haflinger auctions in Ohio, Draft horse [read:Amish central] auctions in Pennsylvania, Canadian sport horse auctions in Ontario, the po-dunk auction up the street, and everything in between.
As a kid we would frequent a local auction where routinely, between the many horses, saddles, etc, you could also expect to see a herd (flock?) of emus be escorted into the ring to be bid on by lot number. We rarely bought anything there, more attending for the entertainment value and the people watching. But still, the excitement of hearing an auctioneer in full swing and the adrenaline of even a remote chance at adding a 4-legged-member to the family in a matter of 60 seconds or less is intense.
The family obsession with auctions goes further than horses, though. Both my father and my brother have their auctioneers license, and they’ve ployed this trade occasionally in everything from Alpaca auctions calling the bids, to charity functions and beyond.
Despite auctions being exceptionally exciting, there are of course pitfalls to buying horses this way. There was a horse named Strawberry Bill that was described as a kid’s horse, only to come home and attempt to kick my parents’ heads in. There was a pony mare that was not advertised as pregnant and dropped a baby to our surprise just a month after arrival. And in case you haven’t been to an auction, some of them can be dangerous places. Horses crammed into every corner, running up and down aisles, being chased with plastic bags to make them step higher, and carts and trailers and children all running amok. It’s like the worst, busiest horse show you’ve ever been to, on crack.
But there’s been some brilliant horses we’ve had over the years that came from an auction, really too many to list here. Most notable, perhaps, were Blue Boy, the appaloosa gelding my mother purchased for $500 including tack at an auction that became her winning showjumper.
Others include the Haflinger stallion I evented, a draft cross named Scrumpy Jack, and even a little donkey weanling.
Have any of you ever attended a horse auction before? If so, what were your impressions? If not, would you ever go to one? What are your thoughts on buying a horse (or equid) in this way?