Horse Sale Bidding Tips

Auctions are designed to be fast paced and adrenaline inducing. Keep your cool while bidding with these tips from Professional Auction Services.

From Cathy Jennings at Professional Auction Services

You're at a reputable horse auction. You've carefully shopped. You've found a horse (or preferably two, in case you don't get one of them) that will suit you. You have talked to the sellers and are comfortable with your choice(s). You have read the conditions of sale and are satisfied that you can comply with them.

Now comes the part that can be fun, nerve wracking or both! Bidding on the horse!

Auctions are designed to be fast paced and adrenaline inducing. You have the auctioneer's chant, the ringmen's shouting and the gavel pounding. Things are happening very quickly. It is important to understand the process, so you don't get too caught up in the moment and spend more then you originally intended, or get confused and frustrated. You need to have a plan.

    • Determine the price you are willing to pay. You probably had a pretty good idea what your budget would allow before coming to the auction. Sticking to the budget can be hard to do. If you have been searching for that perfect horse for months and months, and all of a sudden, here he is, chances are he is the perfect horse for someone else at the sale as well, and you might have to stretch to get him. If that is the case, do not let a few hundred dollars stand in the way of you and your dream horse. If you are looking for something less exacting, perhaps,  several horses might fill the bill for you, then you can afford to stick to your budget. If you don't get the first one, another one will come along.
    • Listen to the auctioneer. Well before your potential purchases come into the ring, you should sit and listen to the auctioneer's chant. Sit through several horses until you can understand what he is saying, and tell where the bid is, and what he is asking for. Then, when it comes your turn, you won't lose your place and not know how much you are bidding. Different auctioneers have different styles. They also sell out in different ways. Some give fair warning, and some just hammer down sold! You need to know this, so your horse isn't sold before you have a chance for a final bid.

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    • Decide where you are going to bid. Are you going to be out in front? Are you going to be behind the box? There are pros and cons to both places. Out front, you can see more of what is going on, and who you are bidding against. The downside to that is the other bidders can see you. It is very easy to get into a battle of egos and spend too much for a horse. Also, very seldom will you bid directly to the auctioneer. More likely, you will be bidding to a ring man. Sit down several horses before the one you want, and establish contact with him or her. It is sometimes good to let him know when your horse comes into the ring, or that you have some interest in this horse, so he can be watching for your bid.
    • Listen to the announcements when your horse comes into the ring. All announcements take precedence over what is written in the catalog. If the announcer calls the horse a cribber, and you didn't hear it, it wasn't in the catalog, and you are the buyer, it is still your horse. It is your responsibility to listen to those announcements!
    • Do not wait too long to bid. If you do, you might end up losing the horse. Let the ring man know you are interested, then wait a little. You can usually tell when the auctioneer is getting close to the reserve, as the bidding is sometimes fairly fast up until that point. It will then slow down considerably and that is when you should jump in again. The exceptions to that would be the horses that sell with no reserve, or the horses that are so popular that they fly past their reserve with many people bidding on them.
    • Know the psychological barriers. Buyers unconsciously set these barriers for themselves not to go beyond. You might have set your budget at $5,000. The person bidding against you might also have a $5,000 budget. So, whoever gets there first wins, right? Say the bidding is going like this: $4,600, I have 46 do I hear $4,800. I have $4,800, 48, 48, do I hear $5,000? So, if you have the bid at $4,600 and the auctioneer is asking for an advance, he first might ask for the $5,000. The other bidder probably won't want to do that, unless he is really aggressive and wants to shut you out. $5,000 is a psychological barrier. So is $5,500 and so is $6,000. All increments of $500 are barriers. If you have the bid at $4,600 and the other bidder advances it to $4,800, that's great. This way, you can be the first person to $5,000. The worst thing you can do at this point is go to $4,900, thinking you are going to save a hundred dollars. That leaves the door open for the other bidder to reach $5,000 first. But what if the other bidder reaches $5,000 first? Do you abandon your budget? Do you concede defeat and move on to another horse? This is where it's good to understand psychological barriers. If he gets there first, sometimes all it takes is for you to bid $5,100. Now you're beyond his budget, and he has to make a decision to keep bidding or stop. If it doesn't, then you will have a decision to make. Is this horse worth the extra few hundred dollars? Have you spent enough time and gas money looking for a horse just like this? How much more money am I going to spend trying to find another? These are questions that only you can answer.
    • Be subtle in your bidding. If possible, only let the ring man know you are bidding. This will keep the other bidders guessing who they are bidding against. People like to know this. If they can't see who they are bidding against, they are much more likely to stop biding.

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    • When you win, stay seated until someone comes to you with your buyer's contract. Usually it will require your drivers license information, your signature, and it will have the hip number of your purchase on it and a copy for you to give to the cashier. Then, settle for your purchase, go see your new horse and congratulate yourself on a job well done! Hopefully you have bought a new partner that will bring you pleasure for years to come.

AQHA World Championship Show Sale

Looking for a reining prospect? A cutting champion? An all-around show stopper? Don't miss the AQHA World Championship Show Sale on November 18-19 in Oklahoma City! Performance demonstrations begin November 17. Put your bidding knowledge to work and come home with your next champion American Quarter Horse!