Buying | Selling A Horse, Pony Or Donkey At A Sale | Auction or Fair


What Happens at a Horse and Pony Sale?

To the uninitiated, to sell or buy a horse or pony at a sale or auction can be a daunting prospect

Some people regard these sales as terrible places that encourage poor breeding and poor practise but as with most things in life,they vary dramatically, in livestock quality and how they operate

At the top end the auctioneers Tattersalls of Newmarket can achieve prices of hundreds of thousands of pounds while at the other end of the scale, small local sales may well be selling ponies for a fiver or less

A well-run sale with decent animal welfare standards can be an exciting place to buy or sell and being prepared for the procedures in place can make it a great day out

Each auctioneer works in a similar way, most will have websites or auction catalogues that will display their terms and conditions and its common sense to check beforehand so you know what to expect on the day

Auctioneers Fees | Payment Terms

Traditionally horses are sold in guineas, this still happens at a lot of sales, the guinea is equal to one pound and five pence, and historically the five pence was taken by the auctioneer as commission

Nowadays, the auctioneer will take a pre-determined % of the selling price and sometimes additional fees (vetting costs being one example) are added to the hammer price, check for these fees before bidding so you are clear about the total costs, also allow for VAT being added on

Ensure that the auction house takes your method of payment, some have stopped taking cheques, and some may only take cash for smaller transactions

If you are selling, do not assume you will receive your payment on the day, it is likely that you will have to wait a week or two for them to process it and forward it on to you

Vet Checks | Guarantees

Some horse auctions have all horses vetted beforehand with records that you can read before the sale starts. The cost of this is often added to the final hammer price

Another option sometimes offered is for the animal to be vetted after being sold, you will still pay for this, should the animal fail a vet check you can then cancel the purchase

Others offer no vet checks or guarantees at all and the animals are sold as seen

Viewing The Horse Before The Sale

The animals are kept in pens or stables prior to the sale starting, giving potential buyers the opportunity to assess them. If the auction house has a catalogue of animals for sale, details given will include lot numbers, this is given with a sticky label on the animal’s hindquarter, and details of the horse sometimes with a photograph.

In sales where horses are sold as seen, its unlikely there will be a catalogue as they are often entered on the day of the sale

If its possible, ask the seller to trot the animal to assess its movement, if it has tack on then ask for it to be removed, a saddle could be hiding an “L” brand. This is the letter L in a circle

This brand means that an insurance company has designated a “loss of use” for the horse where the animal is no longer capable of fulfilling a specific role, it does not necessarily mean that the horse is worthless but it would be impossible to make an informed decision about going ahead with the purchase if you were unaware of the brand and strangely the seller has no legal obligation to inform you of it

It may be possible to also ride the horse or to see it being ridden; these options vary from sale to sale. If the seller is there, ask as much as you can about the horse’s background, ability, vices, health and by law details of known conditions such as sweet-itch have been to given to the buyer. Prepare a checklist before you go

Check with the auctioneer what the timescale is for removing the animal once the sale is over, it is unlikely that you will be able to leave it there for any length of time so obviously travel arrangements should be in place beforehand

Stay aware of the risk of infection from handling horses from different backgrounds and locations, if you do buy it is sensible to keep the animal in quarantine for a few days when you get home to reduce the risk of spreading infection

Bidding In The Auction

If you intend to bid you will probably need to register at the office before the auction starts where you will be given a bidding card with a number on

As each horse comes into the ring, the auctioneer normally starts off with a high starting bid, if no-one bids the price is reduced until an actual bid is made, always wait for someone else to bid or you could end up paying more than you need to

Ensure your bid is noted by waving your card high in the air, if you win, that bidding card number is noted by the auctioneer and then duly processed by the office so that you can pay for your horse and take it home

Horse Sales & Auctions In The Uk

Ashford Market  Hobbs Parker 01233 502 222  Horse & Saddlery Sale Held 5 Times Per Year

Beeston Cheshire Wright Manley 01829 262 170 Monthly Horse & Pony Sale

Borderway Mart Carlisle Harrison & Hetherington 07860 589 690 Bi-Monthly Horse & Pony Sale

Brecon – Llanafan & Cwmowen Mc Cartneys 01874 622 386 Annual Sale In October of Welsh Mountain Foals

Brecon Livestock Market Mc Cartneys 01874 622 386 Monthly Horse & Tack Sale

Brecon Livestock Market Mc Cartneys 01874 622 386 Annual Horse Fair Held

First Saturday In November Of Section A Foals & Mares

Builth Wells Fayre Oaks Brightwells 01568 611 166 Annual Sale In September Of Welsh Ponies

Builth Wells Spring Sale Brightwells 01568 611 166 Annual Sale In The Spring Of Welsh Ponies & Cobs

Builth Wells Brightwells 01568 611 166 Annual Sale In October Welsh Cobs

Cardigan West Wales JJ Morris 01239 612 343 Annual Pony Sale Held On The Last Wednesday In October

Carmarthen Livestock Market BJP Auctioneers 01267 236 268 Monthly Horse & Pony Sale Held On The 2nd Saturday Of Each Month

Clitheroe Auction Mart 01200 423 325 Monthly Horse & Pony Sale

Hay On Wye Market Brightwells 01568 611 166 Annual Sale In October

Called The Breeders Sale

Leominster Mart Brightwells 01568 611 166 Weekly Horse & Pony Sale

Llanybydder West Wales Evans Bros 01570 480 444 Monthly Horse & Tack Sale Held On The Last Thursday Of Each Month

Melton Mowbray Market 01664 562 971 Monthly Horse, Pony & Tack Sale

Newmarket Tattersalls 01638 665 931 Regular Sales Of Thoroughbreds

Reading Auction Market Thimbleby & Shorland 0118 950 8611 Monthly Horse & Saddlery Sale

Reading Auction Market Thimbleby & Shorland 0118 950 8611 Annual Sale Of Shetland Ponies

Shrewsbury Auction Centre 01743 462 620 Horse & Pony Sale Held 3 Times A Year

South View Equestrian Centre Wettenhall 01248 422 386 International Pony Showcase Auction Held Annually

York Auction Centre 01904 489 731 Monthly Horse & Pony Sale

Please use the comments box if you wish to add sales in your area

What Is Your Experience Of Buying or Selling a Horse or Pony at a Sale, Auction or Fair? Please Do Let Us Know By Commenting Below

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  1. Hi there
    Sorry to hear that, but unsure why you imagine that we can help? We sell used horse stuff , you need to seek legal advice through the appropriate channels
    2nd hand horse stuff

  2. 29/03/18 I bought a horse in good faith at Llanybyther horse market for £1575 and have spent 5 months and much money trying to find out what is the problem with her. She was dangerous to ride on my 7 attempts to ride her. Eventually I employed a professional rider 3 times and horse threw the rider on last occasion going into a full rear.
    I’ve had the horse Xrayed and she’s diagnosed with a long standing spinal condition that vet says makes her unrideable. As a result of the long standing spinal problem she has also developed a stifle joint problem. The two conditions require approx. £3,500-£4000 of surgery and aftercare. I have been in touch with Evans bros auctioneers who are going to relay the rip off to the original owner:- Blanca Trekking, Llanllwni, Carms. I do hope you can help, I feel very depressed by this situation and very stupid I retrospect.
    Yours sincerely,

  3. Please could you tell me when the next annual sale will take place and where the one coming in October?
    Many thanks

  4. although should also say that none were novice rides either

  5. bought quite a few from ascot, only one was a dirty shitebag

  6. its good to start off with such a positive statement….:)

  7. I have bought quite a few horses from sales,mostly young stock, and never had any problems.I thoroughly enjoy the whole process.

  8. who bought their first horse or pony at a horse sale or auction? and would you do it that way again?

  9. should they be banned? add your thoughts.

  10. any sales / auctions in your area that could be added to the list?

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