Loose Horses at Auction
There is often a group of “Loose Horses” at horse auctions. These horses are so unwanted that no one even bothered to see if they were halter-broke or broke to ride. They are chased into a ring (loose); most have signed papers and will sell immediately to the killbuyers. If a horse appears in the ring with “Signed Paperwork” it means their previous owner has signed-off on the paperwork that confirms the horse has not received carcinogens (ivermectin/wormers or bute/banamine) for at least six months. When the auctioneer announces “Signed Papers” the killbuyers in the audience take notice.
The Loose Horses are ‘Wild-Card’ horses because you just don’t know what you get. They are a mixture of ages and training. At auctions when horses are ridden in the ring, I always wonder if the seller has slipped the horse a bit of bute to mask lameness, or some Ace to mask bad temperament. The good news about ‘Loose Horses’ is that they tend to be what they are. No one slipped bute in their feed or injected Ace to calm them. No one cared enough about the horse’s future to even attempt malice.
You might just find a diamond in the rough or you may just find an unhandled, unhalterbroke beast that has been cast aside and discarded. Either way, it’s a horse that needs a chance. I have found it’s always worth hanging around for the Loose Horse’s at auction, but I have been rescuing so long that I learned to play the hand (or horse) I was dealt, like it was the one I always wanted. If a horse has a halter on, walks calmly into the auction ring, is young and sound, it may just be worth the chance for a experience equestrian.
The auction price of the Loose Horses is a good indication of the going-rate of horses to the killbuyers. If you note from the crowd at a recent auction in Bowie, Texas; the audience for the 20 “loose horses’ consisted of 6 killbuyers in the front row. The loose horses ran through the auction at the end of the night. Each horse entered the small ring, and circled around for less than a minute before the gavel dropped and the horse was sold. The prices on the loose horses varied from $350 to $925. These horses mostly likely will ship directly, however there is a slight chance one may appear on a kill-buyer pages like Kaufman, Bowie or Bastrop. If they do appear, it will be interesting to see the markup the killbuyer will charge from the price paid at auction to the “bail” to rescue from slaughter.
I bought one of these “Loose Horses” once at the auction in Billings, Montana. “Wallace” was a bit scared and ornery at first, but two years later, he was a perfect fox hunter. So perfect that I was approached to sell him for $20,000. Although, I loved Wallace, I couldn’t get off fast enough and hand over the reins. Wallace went to a great home, who I never told of his origins. I invested that $20,000 in saving more donkeys and horses through the Equine Rescue Network. It was a wise investment (although my financial advisor and teenage son hoping to go to college may argue differently).
Wallace, like so many loose horses at auction, just needed someone to give him a chance. And because of Wallace, I am always careful to consider the “Loose Horse” Pen. Many are broke to ride, others are just too young, too old, or too wild. The “Loose Horses” at auction are like shopping at the $2 bin at a consignment store. SOMETIMES, you can pull a pair of jeans out of the $2 bin that are slightly worn, that will be comfortable to wear in the barn and have plenty of life left. Other times the $2 bin smells like moth-balls.
Learn more about Unwanted Horses and the adventures of rescuing horses by reading “LOST HORSES” available on Amazon