A few tips to help you be better informed when bidding on a horse.

Purchasing a horse at a sale can be a great way to choose from a wide selection of animals. However, it’s not always an option to ride the horse or do an extensive exam before the sale. Research the horse before bidding. Info can be found through the sale catalog, radiographs of the horse’s legs, talking with the seller, watching the horse in the sale preview and even listening to the auctioneer share details about the horse as it’s in the sale ring. Rick Machado of Shandon, California, has been an auctioneer for 45 years, and hosts The Main Event Sale in Paso Robles, California. He shares tips to help you be better informed when you’re bidding.

Read the Fine Print.

Before the sale starts, familiarize yourself with the sale’s terms and conditions.

“Some sales have additional registration and transfer fees,” Machado says. “Some have a time requirement of when you need to get your horse shipped home from the sale. If you don’t have a trucker lined up to haul them, clear that with the consigner. Familiarize yourself with those terms and conditions, because you’ll be bound by them.”

Talk to the Seller.

Whether you’re attending a sale in person or bidding remotely, Machado says talking to the seller will give you additional information. Look for the consignor’s phone number on the sale website, ad, or talk to the seller in person.

“It’s important to research to make sure the horse lines up with your needs,” Machado says. “Usually, sellers will provide you with that information, and you can ask them if the horse will work for your discipline.”

You can also visit with the horse’s rider before and after the preview portion of the sale.

“Get yourself as sound as you can on the information provided for that particular horse,” Machado says.

Sit Close to a Ring Man.

If you’re unfamiliar with the bidding process, sit close to a ring man—the men or women signaling to the auctioneer who is placing bids. “Sitting close to a ring man will help you follow the cadence of the auctioneer, and know what the price is of the bid, if there’s not a board listing the current price,” he says.

Listen to the Auctioneer.

Generally, the auctioneer has been provided with the same information available to buyers; however, he or she may have received additional tips, which is information worth listening for while you’re bidding.

“A good auctioneer will try to visit with consignors and riders—do some additional homework,” Machado says. “You’ll want to pay attention, because if there’s any corrections or updates to the catalog, the auctioneer will share that information.”

Stay in Your Seat.

If you have the winning bid, don’t rush to go look at the horse. Machado says to stay in your seat until a runner meets you with an acknowledgement of purchase form.

“The form verifies the price and the bidder, and it can save you from clerical errors when you’re settling up with the cashier,” he says. Below is a collection of horse sales sure to have great options for your next partner.

Click here to view the collection of horse sales.

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