For summer and fall ranch horse sale season, think about shopping smart. Following are 10 tips based on advice from three savvy horsemen: Roger Daly of Roger Daly Performance Horses in Aubrey, Texas; John Snyder of Colorado State University’s equine sciences program and Legends of Ranching Sale; and Joe Stricklin, DVM, a team roper from Greeley, Colorado.
Research horses before the sale and have in mind what you want in conformation and pedigree.
Come with a list of horses to look at, and your budget set.
Be direct with consignors about what you’re looking for and ask questions.
Watch the horse under saddle. If there’s a preview, don’t miss it.
Watch horses you’re interested in walk and move, and how they act while being haltered and led. It tells a lot about temperament and possible soreness.
Visit prospective horses at an odd time. Notice how a horse reacts to strangers, and how it acts when alone, especially in a strange sale barn.
Get advice from knowledgeable friends, trainers or veterinarians you know. If you’ve never bid before, ask an agent or experienced friend to help.
Make a short list of horses to see again—you’ll notice different things the second time.
Be honest with yourself. Don’t buy too much horse—be realistic about your abilities and what you need.
Place a premium on personality. A big, soft eye and good temperament might be worth much more than a beautiful horse with pinned ears.