Insider Tips for the best horse auction experience

Most all of us have been to a horse sale. If not, you should. Even if you don’t do business there, just observing can create a memorable experience. You’ll see lots of shapes, sizes, talents, and dispositions. The horses will all be different too, lol.

If you feel like you’ve been to a million sales in your lifetime, there are still ways to improve your routine. Sometimes old habits are hard to break, but read through these tips, and you might find something you haven’t thought of before.

I can’t guarantee a great day at the sale barn, but the tips below will definitely help, as you make your horse sale debut or return to your regular stomping grounds.

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Familiarize yourself with the surroundings

Do a quick walk through, ask directions if needed, get acquainted with your surroundings while stress levels remain low. Find the restroom and the cafe, the riding areas and the main office.

Do some research on the surrounding town/city also. You’ll want to know what’s available for things like fuel, fast food, a celebration dinner, hotels, etc. Most of this can be looked up quickly but why not use the travel time on the way to the sale to get it out of the way?

Complete Registration

If you’re a seller, buyer, or both, you’ll need to register. Sellers need to check in the horses and any paperwork. Buyers will need a bidders number. Items like videos, entry fees, coggins, also fall into this category. Know the terms and/or regulations for each auction. Different sales have different rules. Most of these can be found in catalogs or on company websites. Waiting until the last minute will only cause stress and aggravation- long lines and rushed service can be avoided by completing these tasks early.

Treat the office staff with respect

Technically, you should treat everyone, everywhere, with respect, but its not always easy. Make it a priority to be kind to the office staff. Not just because I’ve sat on the other side of the pay window, but because those ladies (usually women) are your go-to if you have any problems. Need a band aid? Someone paged over the intercom? Your phone charged or make a phone call when you don’t have service? They’re your lifeline- don’t make them mad.

They’ll also remember you- whether good or bad. And if they don’t recall a bad experience or someone new comes to work, they’ll could be notified. Insider secret… employees can type notes in the computer system that pop up along with your name. Just like a bad review about a restaurant can hurt business, the same can be said for poor-acting customers. Nice comments show up too- strive for that!

Pack a Bag

Have your essentials packed and ready. If you don’t want to pack it around during the sale, have it in your truck or in your trailer. It will easier to retrieve them than to make a special trip to Walmart or a convenience store. This may include drinks and snacks, prescription or over-the-counter medicine, cosmetic items, layers of clothing for changing weather, etc. Find a more in-depth list here. You’ll also want to remember your catalog and a pen. Extras may be available at the sale location, but it’s not a guarantee.

Voice your opinion, but realize it may be just that- your opinion

Rules and deadlines are set for a reason. Not everyone will like all of them. Consignment deadlines may seem to early to you, but have you lined up, typed, printed and mailed out a catalog? Then don’t criticize. Wanted to sub a horse but it was against policy? Have you ever driven hundreds of miles to look at and buy a horse and then not have it even show up? Take a look at the other side of the coin. Rules aren’t made for inconvenience sake- they’re made with the best intentions in mind.

Complaining to the wrong person won’t get you anywhere

Things don’t always go your way. Your horse may get an undesirable stall location, the high bid may fall short in the auction ring, or your name may be misspelled on the check- this can all be frustrating, but don’t freak out. And more importantly don’t freak out at the wrong person. Mistakes need corrected and constructive criticism is welcome, but griping at the load out guy because the auctioneer didn’t spend enough time on your horse, so you’re taking it home, doesn’t get anything accomplished. Much like telling the office cashier that your stall didn’t have enough bedding: your comments are less likely to be addressed if directed at the wrong person.

Find someone in charge and speak to them directly. If everyone with authority appears busy and it is not a problem that can be fixed immediately, wait a day or two and call back. You’ll likely to get a better response when there’s less commotion at the sale barn. Plus you’ll have had time to calm down and devise a plan to address the situation in a constructive manner.

Dealing with auction employees is different than auction owners. Remind yourself that employees are working for a wage. They are not responsible for auction policies and sometimes have nothing to do with how they’re enforced. They are simply doing what they are told. Don’t blame them for what they cannot control.

Do your “shopping” before the horse enters the sale ring

Do your research and inspections prior to the auctioneer saying sold. Really its best to do it before the horse even comes in the ring. Often, large crowds, muffled microphones, and quick moving horses can hinder your ability to see faults or even hear them when announced. Inspect the horse in the pen; watch it perform in the arena. Visit with the consignor in the back of the barn or even prior to sale day. Look them up on Facebook or on a website. Watch posted videos and research the bloodlines. Game time decisions will still happen in the auction seats, but you’ll avoid many surprises later and have a better idea of what you’re taking along home with you.

Have Fun

Auctions can be stressful for all parties involved, but they can still be fun. Take some time to visit with your “old horse buddies”, report progress to the original owner of one of your past horse purchases, and make new acquaintances and friends. Remember, you’re surrounded by like-minded people at a horse sale. Rarely will you see so many cowboy hats at an event. Buy, sell, market, network, learn and enjoy!

Related Posts & Pages:
20 Items to Pack For a Day at the Auction
Top Tips for Buying and Selling Horses Through Online Auctions

61 thoughts on “Insider Tips for the best horse auction experience”

  1. Sounds like a lot is involved, but sounds exciting too! And you are right, everyone, everywhere deserves respect. And it does a person good to be kind to the gatekeepers!

  2. When you have lived in the city all your life you have no idea of all the interesting things that happen outside your world. This was fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I love horses, but have always assumed I can’t afford to have one. I didn’t realize there were auctions for them. Thanks for sharing your advice!

  4. Great advice! I’m sure it must be an added level of stress purchasing a horse without the added insurance of a vet check as I’m assuming it’s purchased it’s yours when winning a bid?

  5. There is normally a vet on site at most auctions and horses are usually guaranteed sound unless something is disclosed in the auction ring. There is still risk involved when purchasing through auction, but it is minimal as far as health is concerned. Riding ability and training can be another story.

  6. Excellent suggestions! My daughter used to ride and show horses. She purchased her horses through individuals but she attended several horse auctions.

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