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Has anyone ever purchased a horse at one of the Warmblood Elite Auktions?

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  • Has anyone ever purchased a horse at one of the Warmblood Elite Auktions?

    I'm intrigued by the concept of the "Elite Auktion." You can see pics/videos of the Hanoverians that were auctioned off last year, and for the most part, they all seem to have sold for less than what their perceived value would seem to be.

    I know that you can go over to Europe ahead of time, once the horses that will be in the auction are announced, so that you can ride the ones you're interested in. I'm just curious to find out more about the process - has anyone ever purchased a horse this way? If so, were you satisfied with the result?

  • #2
    I have been to several auctions in Germany and the Netherlands. It is a lot of fun. And the prices are good from an American perspective though somewhat higher than what you'd pay in a private party transaction. Still there are advantages to buying at an auction.

    First, you get to see lots of horses in one location. Typically there are 70 to 80 horses at the Hannoverian auction (though I have been at couple where there were more than 100). The Oldenburg sales are somewhat smaller. The sales I have been to the Netherlands were foal auctions. Those are really fun but structured differently.

    In Germany, all horses are pre-vetted and the vets are available to discuss things with prospective buyers. They share information (good and bad) freely. European vetting standards are a little different than what we normally do here. But if you familiarize yourself with the differences, things go pretty well.

    Horses are regularly worked in the auction hall for at least a week before the sale. You can sit there and just watch them go. That is a good way to get impressions about horses you might be interested in. Horses are available to try for a few days before the auction. That can be an "exciting" experience. Small rings with a lot going on! But you get a chance to talk to the horse's regular rider. They are forthcoming about the horse's personality and temperament in my experience. You can also go back into the barns and see how the horse is in its stall.

    The other thing that is pretty cool is that horses at these auctions carry insurance coverage for some time after the sale (60 or 90 days) that includes most transportation costs (like 80%). I believe quarantine fees are excluded. So if your horse arrives here with a problem, you have some recourse.

    My overall impression of auctions in Europe is positive. If you are really interested, you can call the Verband. There are plenty of people who speak English at both organizations. And they will work to make the experience successful. The last thing they want is an unhappy customer from the US.
    Last edited by nhwr; Mar. 7, 2011, 11:59 AM.
    See those flying monkeys? They work for me.


    • Original Poster

      Wow! Thanks so much for the detailed information. The auctions seem like a great way to go - especially for an American like myself who wouldn't have any idea which barns to visit on a trip to Europe.

      You mentioned that European vetting standards are somewhat different. What do you mean by that? Are they typically more and less stringent?

      Thanks so much for all the info!!


      • #4
        They are just different, impacted by consumer attitudes (there are lot of regulations for consumer protection in Germany) and different methods of equestrian management practices (like the NFS rules). For example, because the use of medication and supplements in heavily regulated in Europe, treatment of a problem, where we might use a pharmaceutical approach, commonly involves surgery. This shapes the way horse heath is thought of, in subtle but very real ways. And I have seen horses at the auction that had had surgery. But the Verband vets were the ones who pointed it out to me. I guess my impression as an American was that they think surgery is not necessarily a big deal, but to give a horse some bute there must be something very serious going on.

        They also think we x-Ray way too much, but they aren't buying your horse's plane ticket I believe the standard auction xRays are now posted on-line, at least for the Hannoverian auction, so your vet here can look at what is available and ask for more info. Very cool, imo.

        Just best to understand that there is no perfect horse even in Europe and to understand what your hot buttons and deal breakers are.
        See those flying monkeys? They work for me.


        • #5
          I am thrilled with my auction purchase. My mare is super and despite quarantine fees, I am quite satisfied with the price as compared to the prospects I found in the US. She was not as expensive and is better quality. The US breeders won't like that comment, but it is the truth based on MY experience. I looked for a quality youngster for years and had a decent budget, upwards of $50k. I tried very hard to support US breeders - got on planes, drove for hours, etc... I purchased my mare as a rising 4 year old and she had a much better start than ALL of the youngsters I tried here and in Canada. And no, she had not been pushed. I spent a fraction of my budget and would do it again. There is no perfect horse. I had a solid idea of what I was looking for and did not settle for anything less. My mare was well worth the wait - she is beautiful, talented, athletic and just a doll. I wanted a solid FEI prospect and that is exactly who she is...time will tell.


          • #6
            We have sold, purchased and found horses for clients repeatedly at Verden and Münster-Handorf. If you know what you're doing these Verband auctions are a great tool to horseshop. If you are in the right spot at the right time you can have a super experience and get a lot of horse for the money especially if you are looking for the 'under the radar' ones.
            It can however be tricky to spot the right ones because the horses are all under a significant impact and they are often young, sometimes too young to really be there. It is also a good idea to prescreen exhibitors prior to buying and you also want to know that while many horses go through the auctions underpaid or paid according to their value there are also some that end up ridiculously overpriced. This is only natural and of course it is what keeps the boat afloat and keeps breeders motivated to cater to the Verband auctions.
            I wouldn't disregard the smaller auction models. They tend to have lower exposure, lower stress level and the topsellers are often of the same or even better quality as some of the lower priced ones during the Elite-formats. Your prospects of finding an absolute bargain are definitely better during the Winter, Summer or in between sales especially if you are looking for something very specific.
            Froh zu sein bedarf es wenig...


            • #7
              Great comments above, but want to add that you need to be very honest with the auction personnel about your own riding ability, experience, goals, and finances. If you can't sit a big trot or deal with a more athletic, sensitive type of horse, don't ask to ride the fancy, big moving, reactive types. If you only have 30K to spend, don't ask to sit on the ones that will undoubtedly sell for more. It isn't fair to the horse, the auction staff, or other folks who are interested in the horse and are more suited to it.


              • Original Poster

                Thanks so much for all the great comments!! I'm hoping to purchase my next horse in the next couple of years. I currently have a TB gelding, who has been an absolute blast to event for the past 14 years. He's off the track, so even in his more mature age, he's still neurotic and acts like a 4 year old. He and I have gotten more and more interested in dressage in past 10 years, but I want to find a horse that is also a good jumper so that I can still event. I was particularly drawn to the Hanoverian auction because they posted videos along with the horses, and I noticed a lot of the horses were also marketed as show jumpers.

                I'm experienced enough as a rider to want a young horse that I can train and work with myself, hopefully to sell later on for a profit. As a result, I wouldn't be looking to purchase the $50k+ horses. I'd rather find a bargain whose value I can help increase. It seems like an auction may be the way to go.


                • #9
                  All of the auctions (Hanoverian/Oldenburg/Westfalen) post videos of the horses, have live streams and sell dressage horses as well as jumpers and sometimes eventers as well.
                  I agree with Kareen that your best "value for the money" horses are usually found at the May and November auctions vs the Elite auctions.
                  RoseLane Sportponies
                  Golden State - 2012 Bundeschampion & 2014 USDF Horse of the Year
                  Golden West - 2014 & 2015 Bundeschampion Pony Stallion
                  Petit Marc Aurel- FEI Dressage Pony Stallion


                  • #10
                    If you know what you're doing..

                    I'd like to echo Kareen's comments.

                    It can be very tricky to buy from any auction, but especially one in a foreign country. Most of the Germans will answer your questions fairly honestly but if you don't know what to ask, they're probably not going to tell.

                    You need to have confidence/experience in evaluating horses quickly. There's no perseverating about this or that in the gaits or the x-rays. What the Germans are willing to live with on x-rays is often very different from what an American vet would be willing to pass on a prepurchase (important to know if you're thinking of resale.)You have to know pretty much beforehand what you can live with. It is possible to have your vet at home look online beforehand, but the auctions only take 10-12 views total. Theoretically you can ask the auction house to take additional views, but it's hard logistically and probably on your dime.

                    As I believe DownYonder implied, the level of riding in the individuals trying the horses tends to be very high. If you don't have a lot of experience riding barely broke young horses, there's a significant chance you're going to have a problem. It's not uncommon to see folks getting dumped...it's rarely a German, btw.

                    it's also important to realize that what you're seeing in the auction hall is not necessarily what you're going to be taking home. Often the environment is pretty exciting and the horses can look a lot fancier than they really are-that's not to mention that the auction riders (most of them) have an inordinate amount of experience riding YH and can make it look a LOT easier than it really is.

                    The other thing to remember is that the knockdown price is not what you pay for the horse. The auction house adds about 15% on top of the knockdown. About half of that is VAT which you can get back after you've shown proof of export but that takes months. Also be sure to add the import fees-depending on where you live in the States, that can be another 7-10 thousand dollars.

                    One of my favorite articles in Dressage Today gave a very 'sweetness and light' perspective on buying a horse at the Hanoverian auction. Nothing in the article was untrue, it's just that the perspective IMHO made it seem a lot easier than it usually is. I was pretty amazed when I saw the article and not so amazed when I saw the same horse for sale in Florida the next year.

                    Bottom line:

                    I wouldn't recommend doing it unless you can get someone with a lot of auction experience to go with you.


                    • #11
                      An acquaintance of mine bought her horse a few years ago through a trainer's contact in Germany.

                      They were profiled on COTH:
                      2012 goal: learn to ride like a Barn Rat

                      A helmet saved my life.


                      • #12
                        If you want to purchase a European horse, I think that you are better off using a broker than buying at the auctions. I have done both more than once, and the success rate with a broker is WAY better. The horses we got from the auctions were nice, but needed some let down time, and, as was mentioned above, were not quite what we thought we were getting. The artificiality of the auction environment made the horses seem a bit different than what they really were. OTOH, working with a respectable broker has had amazing results. We have purchased two horses through this broker, and both times have gotten exactly what we asked for (in all the best ways). I additionally know of several other horses purchased through this broker that have also more than fulfilled the requirements.

                        Just my opinion, and your mileage may vary. I am happy to give you the contact information for our broker if anyone is interested.

                        Liz Steacie
                        Porcupine Hill Dressage
                        Maitland, Ontario



                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Kareen View Post
                          I wouldn't disregard the smaller auction models. They tend to have lower exposure, lower stress level and the topsellers are often of the same or even better quality as some of the lower priced ones during the Elite-formats.[/QUOTE

                          hi there...could you name one or two of the smaller auctions ?

                          Tamara in TN
                          Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                          I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


                          • #14
                            Agree with Liz. I have bought my last two horses through a broker, and they have both been perfect for me. I think it would be fun and educational to go to an auction, but it would not be my first choice for buying a horse for the various reasons others have mentioned.


                            • #15
                              could you name one or two of the smaller auctions ?
                              She is probably referring to the "non-Elite" auctions run by the Verbands. For instance, each year, Oldenburg holds two "Elite" auctions, and two "special auctions". This year the Spring Elite Auction is April 1-2, and the Fall Elite Auction is Sept. 30 - Oct. 1. Oldenburg also holds two "Special Auctions" - the Summer Mixed Sales Auction will be on June 4 this year, and the Winter Mixed Sales Auction will be on Dec. 3.

                              And don't let the term "non-Elite" fool you. There are often very, very nice horses in these auctions that could easily have qualified for the Elite auction under other circumstances (perhaps they were not quite ready under saddle, or the owner wasn't quite ready to sell at the time of the Elite auction, etc.). IIRC, the Sandro Hit stallion Starlight originally came from an Oldenburg special auction, and not only won darned near everything in hand here in the U.S. (including Devon), but he also made up quite nicely to FEI with his owner Rick (Rockefeller) Silvia, then was sold back to Germany for a very good price at one of the Elite Auctions. So good deals can definitely be found at the smaller auctions.

                              FWIW, the collection for the upcoming Oldenburg Elite Auction can be found here. http://www.oldenburger-pferde.com/horses/67_692.php

                              Also want to add that if you don't want to use a broker, you can often find someone connected to the Verband to help you sort through the horses and work with you during the bidding process, but again, you have to be very realistic about your situation and not blow smoke at these folks as they are usually helping several people and some of you may be interested in the same horse.
                              Last edited by DownYonder; Mar. 9, 2011, 08:28 AM. Reason: clarification


                              • #16
                                I helped FEI1day buying her mare:-) was (another) good experience

                                I have bought many over the years and can only agree with the others

                                May go to the elite auction in April, shoot me an email and I will be happy to guide you more specifically if you like

                                Best of luck
                                Linda Woltz
                                standing Benidetto (Belissimo M/SPS COrdoba)


                                • #17
                                  The catalogue is available for the Westfalen Elite auction at www.westfalenpferde.de if anyone wants to window shop I've already picked out a couple that I would love to have!


                                  • #18
                                    I will also be in Verden and Munster for the auctions in April.
                                    RoseLane Sportponies
                                    Golden State - 2012 Bundeschampion & 2014 USDF Horse of the Year
                                    Golden West - 2014 & 2015 Bundeschampion Pony Stallion
                                    Petit Marc Aurel- FEI Dressage Pony Stallion


                                    • #19
                                      I just purchased 2 at the Westfalen auction on Sunday- wonderful horses and very excited to ship them to the USA next week!
                                      RoseLane Sportponies
                                      Golden State - 2012 Bundeschampion & 2014 USDF Horse of the Year
                                      Golden West - 2014 & 2015 Bundeschampion Pony Stallion
                                      Petit Marc Aurel- FEI Dressage Pony Stallion


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by honeylips View Post
                                        I just purchased 2 at the Westfalen auction on Sunday- wonderful horses and very excited to ship them to the USA next week!

                                        You can't post that you bought 2 without giving the details!!!!!
                                        I wasn't always a Smurf
                                        Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
                                        "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                                        The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.