Got My Horse

Mastering the Art of Buying a Horse at Auction

Buying a horse at an auction can be an exciting experience, but it can also be daunting if you don’t know what to expect. Before attending a horse auction, you need to familiarize yourself with the different types of auctions and tips on buying a horse.

It’s important to arrive prepared and with a budget in mind. This article will provide you with all the necessary information to make an informed decision when buying a horse at an auction.

Tips for Buying a Horse at Auction

Horse auctions are an excellent opportunity to find your dream horse at a reasonable price. However, without proper preparation, it can also lead to disappointment and financial loss.

Here are some tips to help you make a wise purchase at a horse auction:

  1. Do Your Research and Study the Sales Catalog

    Before attending a horse auction, it’s important to do your research on the type of horse you want and the auction’s format. Study the sales catalog carefully to identify the horses that fit your criteria, including breed, age, sex, and height.

    The catalog will also list the horse’s pedigree, which is useful in determining the horse’s potential and value.

  2. Arrive Early and Observe the Horses

    Arrive at the auction site early, giving yourself enough time to observe the horses. Look at their behavior, movements, and conformation.

    Observe the horses without the seller’s presence, as sellers may train their horses to hide their flaws. This will allow you to make a more informed decision when bidding.

  3. Set a Budget and Stick to It

    Before attending the auction, set a budget for yourself and stick to it.

    Avoid getting caught up in bidding wars and overspending beyond your budget. Remember that there are other horse auctions, and you can always find a suitable horse within your budget.

  4. Bring an Experienced Person

    If you’re not familiar with horse auctions, bring an experienced horse person with you.

    This person can provide guidance on the suitability of the horse you’re interested in, its conformation, and pedigree.

  5. Don’t Fall in Love With a Horse

    It’s easy to get emotionally attached to a particular horse when attending an auction. However, keep in mind that you’re buying a horse for its suitability to your needs and not for its looks.

    Avoid making an emotional decision that could lead to financial loss.

Types of Horse Auctions

Horse auctions come in different types, and each has its unique format and purpose. Knowing the different types of horse auctions will help you identify the right auction for your needs.

Here are the most common types of horse auctions:

  1. Yearling Sales Auctions

    Yearling sales auctions are held to sell thoroughbred horses who have turned one year old.

    The horses sold at these auctions are bred to compete in races.

  2. Two-Year-Olds in Training Auctions

    Two-year-olds in training auctions are held to sell thoroughbred horses who have turned two years old and have undergone some training. These horses are also bred for competition.

  3. Mixed Sales Auctions

    Mixed sales auctions offer a variety of horses in different breeds, ages, and disciplines.

    These auctions are ideal for horse enthusiasts who are not looking for any specific breed or discipline.

  4. Open Animal Auctions

    Open animal auctions are similar to mixed sales auctions. This type of auction sells different animals ranging from horses, cows, pigs, and other livestock.

  5. Specific Breed Auctions

    Specific breed auctions sell horses of a specific breed.

    These auctions offer horse enthusiasts the opportunity to buy horses from the breed they’re passionate about.

Considering Your Equine Activity

Before purchasing a horse at an auction, it’s crucial to consider the intended use of the horse. Different equine activities require a specific type of horse.

Here are some factors to consider when choosing a horse for your activity:

  1. Dressage

    Dressage is an intricate and precise equestrian sport that requires a horse with excellent movement, balance, and temperament. The ideal horse for dressage is a warm-blooded breed with a good conformation and strong hindquarters.

  2. Barrel Racing

    Barrel racing is a fast-paced rodeo event that requires a horse with speed, agility, and responsiveness.

    Quarter horses are the ideal breed for barrel racing due to their speed and athleticism.

  3. Trail Riding

    Trail riding requires a horse with a calm temperament, good endurance, and sure-footedness. Mature horses are preferred for trail riding due to their experience and training.

Deciding on Sex and Type

The sex and type of horse you choose should correspond with your activity and personal preference.

Here are some factors to consider when deciding on sex and type:

  1. Mare, Gelding or Stallion

    Mares are ideal for breeding and have a reputation for being sensitive, while geldings are the most commonly used horse in riding activities due to their docile nature.

    Stallions, on the other hand, are not recommended for inexperienced riders or handlers due to their behavior.

  2. Age, Breed and Color/Sex Preferences

    The age, breed, and color/sex preferences of the horse you select should correspond with your activity and goals. Consider the breed and age that best suit your intended use and choose a color/sex combination that suits your taste.

Importance of Conformation

Horse conformation is an essential factor to consider when buying a horse at an auction. Conformation refers to the horse’s physical structure and affects its abilities and potential.

Here are some factors to consider when assessing a horse’s conformation:

  1. Horse Conformation

    Horse conformation refers to the physical structure of a horse. Good conformation is essential to a horse’s quality and potential as it affects their mobility, strength, and balance.

  2. Breed Ideal Conformation

    Different breeds have specific ideal conformation standards.

    It’s essential to understand the ideal conformation standards of the horse you’re interested in to determine its suitability for your activity.

  3. Back Length, Neck Length, Height of Withers, and Irregular Conformation

    The length of a horse’s back should be short, allowing for freedom of movement. The neck should be in proportion to the body, the withers should be prominent, and irregular conformation, such as crooked legs, should be avoided.


In conclusion, buying a horse at an auction requires preparation, knowledge, and a critical eye. With the tips provided, you should be able to find a suitable horse for your activity and budget.

Remember to arrive early and observe the horses, set a budget, and avoid getting emotionally attached to a particular horse. Knowing the different types of auctions, equine activity, sex, and type preferences, and the horse’s conformation will help you make a wise purchase.

With these factors in mind, you can make an informed decision and find your perfect equine partner.

The Auction Process

Attending a live horse auction can be overwhelming for first-timers. It’s essential to understand the auction process, bidding and payment rules, registration requirements, and identification requirements.

Here are some essential guidelines to keep in mind when attending an auction:

  1. Learning about the Auction Process

    Before attending an auction, it’s essential to read and understand the auction rules. Most auctions require bidders to register with their name, address, phone number, and email address.

    Some auctions may also require a credit card on file for verification purposes. Different auction houses may offer different payment types, including cash, credit cards, or wire transfer.

  2. Bidding Rules

    Bidding rules can vary from one auction to another, and it’s important to understand the auction house’s bidding system. Some auctions use a traditional bidding system with paddles, while others use online bidding platforms.

    Regardless of the bidding system, it’s important to listen to the auctioneer and know when to raise your bid.

  3. Examining Horses Before the Auction

    The sales catalog provides a brief overview of each horse’s breed, age, sex, height, and pedigree. However, it’s important to examine the horses in person before the auction begins.

    Most horses are kept in stalls or designated areas, and it’s important to observe their movements and behaviors. A horse’s manners can also provide an indication of its temperament and training.

  4. Setting a Budget and Bidding

    Before attending an auction, it’s important to set a budget for yourself. This includes factoring in additional costs, such as transportation, veterinary checks, and board.

    It’s also important to remember that there will be other bidders present, so it’s crucial to keep an eye on your budget and not get caught up in bidding wars. When bidding, it’s important to listen carefully to the auctioneer’s call and acknowledge your bid.

    If your bid is successful, an auction employee will give you a nod or a signal. You will also need to provide payment based on the auction’s payment rules.

Horse Auction Market

Horse auctions are a misunderstood industry. Some people assume that horse prices at auctions are low, while others think of auctions as an opportunity to sell unwanted horses.

However, horse auctions come with their own set of factors that affect the prices of horses and the demand for them.

Horse Auction Market Overview

Horse auctions offer a marketplace for buyers and sellers to find and sell horses. These auctions cater to different needs, including breeders, owners, and trainers.

The demand for horses at auctions can be influenced by several factors, including the economy, supply and demand, and market trends.

Factors Affecting Horse Prices

Several factors affect the prices of horses at auction.

  • The breed
  • Age
  • Training
  • Pedigree
  • Region

Well-known or popular breeds are likely to command a higher price, while younger horses typically attract more buyers. The price of a horse can also be influenced by their training and pedigree.

Horses with specialized training or skills are more likely to attract buyers willing to pay a higher price. Horses with a desirable pedigree will also attract more buyers and higher prices.

Unwanted horses can also be sold at auctions. These horses are sometimes purchased by kill buyers who send them to slaughter.

The presence of these horses can have a negative impact on the prices of other horses in the auction.

Online Horse Auctions

In recent years, online horse auctions have gained popularity. These auctions offer the convenience of buying and selling horses from home.

However, online auctions also come with their own set of risks, and buyers should take precautions to ensure they are buying a quality horse.

Online auctions require extensive research by buyers.

It’s essential to review the horse’s photos, videos, and descriptions carefully. Buyers should also ask for additional photos or videos if necessary and should communicate with the seller to get a better understanding of the horse’s temperament and behavior.

Before purchasing a horse online, it’s essential to get a veterinary check to ensure the horse is healthy. Online auctions also require a reliable and trustworthy payment method to reduce the risk of fraud.


Attending a horse auction can be a rewarding experience. It’s essential to arrive prepared with an understanding of the auction process, the types of horses being sold, and your budget.

Understanding the factors that affect horse prices can help you make an informed decision when bidding for a horse. Online horse auctions offer buyers a convenient way to purchase horses.

However, with convenience comes risk, and it’s important to take precautions to ensure you’re buying a quality horse. In conclusion, buying a horse at an auction requires preparation, knowledge, and a critical eye.

Familiarize yourself with the different types of auctions, the horse’s conformation, and the auction process. Consider the horse’s breed, age, and training when bidding and setting a budget.

Online horse auctions offer convenience but require extensive research and precautions to reduce risks. Horse auctions offer a marketplace for buyers and sellers, but factors such as the economy, supply and demand, and market trends affect horse prices and demand.

In summary, attending a live horse auction or purchasing a horse online can be a rewarding experience when done with proper preparation and knowledge.


  1. What are the different types of horse auctions?

    The different types of horse auctions include yearling sales auctions, two-year-olds-in-training auctions, mixed sales auctions, open animal auctions, and specific breed auctions.

  2. How should I choose a horse for my activity?

    Consider the type of activity you’ll be doing, the horse’s sex and type, breed, and conformation.

  3. What factors affect horse prices at auction?

    Factors affecting horse prices include breed, age, training, pedigree, and region. Unwanted horses can also have a negative impact on prices.

  4. What are some existing risks when buying a horse online?

    Some existing risks when buying horses online include fraudulent listings, misrepresentation of the horse, and lack of adequate vetting.

  5. What should I do before bidding on a horse at auction?

    Before bidding on a horse at auction, it’s important to review the sales catalog, examine the horses in person, set a budget, and understand the bidding rules.

  6. How does horse conformation affect a horse’s value?

    Horse conformation, such as physical balance and structure, affects a horse’s mobility, strength, and balance. Good conformation can lead to higher price and potential valuation.

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