Top Tips for Buying and Selling Horses Through Online Auctions

The internet continues to gain traction in all industries and with the recent pandemic situation, virtual “everything” has taken precedence. This is no different in the horse world.

Buyers and sellers are adjusting to lighter live crowds or possibly the idea of no on-site buyers. Even at auctions conducted in an old-school fashion, with bidders in the seats and horses ridden through the sale ring, internet bidding still has a growing presence.

How will this affect you as a buyer or a seller? Here are a few tips to prepare for this industry adjustment.


Do your research ahead of time. Read through catalogs, visit websites and Facebook pages for all horses you’re interested in. Purchases made at the spur-of-the-moment while watching the live auction can be risky. You don’t want to miss something important because you simply failed to read the catalog description, etc.

Go as far as contacting consignors individually. If you can’t make it to the auction, you may be able to arrange an appointment to view the horse prior to auction. If not in person, you can request additional videos or pictures demonstrating a desired discipline or extra angles used to judge conformation.

Familiarize yourself with the bidding platform. Online auction websites are easy to navigate and similar but do some prep work prior to auction time. Many sites offer bidding tutorials, like this one on dvauction. Many questions and scenarios are addressed on the FAQ page from Cattle USA. These are only a select few; explore the website for the company handling the bidding and broadcasting- knowledge is power.

Get preapproved through the bidding website and also the auction company conduction the sale. These are often times different entities. Just because you have an account with the website doesn’t always automatically approve you for all auctions broadcast.

Be aware that online auctions may also have live, on-site bidding. In this case, live bidders take precedence over online if there’s a tie bid.

Take payment fees into consideration when making a bid. Be aware of buyer’s premiums and/or handling fees associated with online purchases. Additional charges may be tacked on and you don’t want to be taken by surprise; calculate them into your budget.


Now is the time to up your quality when it comes to photos and video production. If your horse won’t be seen in person until delivery, this is your only opportunity to make a visual impression.

The same is true for the written description. Give a brief, yet descriptive run down on the horse’s accomplishments or potential. Note the characteristics or talents that set this particular horse apart from others.

Create a website or Facebook page for managed promotion of your consigned horses. Have the information about your horses well organized and the site or page easy to navigate.

Be prepared to field online messages and phone calls prior to auction time. This will be your opportunity to promote your horse and answer any questions.

Familiarize yourself and promote the bidding platform. Assist your potential buyers by providing links to online catalogs and events. Guide users through the process and everyone benefits in the end.

Be honest while highlighting your horse’s strengths and disclose any problem areas. You may be able to fool someone over the phone, but the truth will come out upon delivery. Save both parties stress and heartache and be upfront from the start.

Beneficial For Everyone:

This new way for conducting auctions online (or at least as an addition to live, on-site sales) can be beneficial for both buyers and sellers. These new and improved options generate greater promotion with a larger audience for the sellers. They also result in a greater assortment of horses available for purchase for the buyers.

Preparation, knowledge and practice will assist both parties as we embrace technology and some form of social distancing remains.

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