Holy Horseflesh! Part 2

A first timer's trip to the Elite Hanoverian Auctions at Verden
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outside hanvover verban

After all this talk of the Hanoverian Auctions in my last blog, now you’re probably wondering about the actual bidding! Let me begin by answering some auction FAQs:

How many horses were for sale at the auction?

At this year’s 133rd Elite Auctions, there were 50 dressage horses presented, 37 show jumpers presented and 44 foals presented.

Could you ride a horse before bidding on it?

Yes! If you were interested in test riding, you could arrange appointments to ride them during daily training between September 27and October 7. The actual bidding took place October 8.

What about a prepurchase exam?

The horses are inspected in detail prior to the auction, which includes x-rays. Independent veterinarians also assess the x-rays and each horse comes with a written report. These documents are available to all prospective buyers, as well as their vets and trainers.

What is the minimum amount that you can pay for an auction horse?

According to the Hanoverian Verband, the minimum auction sales price is 6,000 euros. Given the current exchange rate, that converts to about $6,617 U.S. dollars. Now, whether you can find a horse that sells at a price that low is another question.

Are the horses insured?

Yes, when the bidding is concluded, all riding horses are insured by the same company. Insurance coverage is provided for eight weeks after the auction at the price of 1.25 percent of the horse’s sales price.

Do you have to be a millionaire to buy an auction horse? 

Here’s the good news! No! Don’t get me wrong… there were some pretty expensive horses that sold, but not all of them were six-figure horses. We saw a few horses sell for 16,000 euros (or $17,646 U.S. dollars) and many others sold in the 30,000 euro-range. There were also plenty of horses that sold for over 60,000 euros and few that sold for over 100,000 euros. I was surprised by the wide range of prices.

What were some of the most popular bloodlines?

To name a few in no particular order: Sandro Hit, Weltmeyer, Rotspon, Rubinstein I, Wolkenstein II, Londonderry, Vivaldi, Donnerhall, Florestan, Pik Bube, Furst Romancier,

How old are the auction horses?

There’s a range. There were some horses who were as old as seven or eight, but the bulk of them were three or four years old. And then of course there were the foals, who hadn’t even been weaned yet and were presented with their dams.

 Now that we've discussed the basics, on to the actual auction experience:

On the day of the actual auction, we arrived in the morning as the foals were presented with their dams. After we saw the foals, there was time for a lunch break and the auction ceremonies began at 3 p.m.

With quite a bit of pomp and circumstance, the auction officials entered the ring, with some on a horse-drawn carriage. All of the officials sat at a large booth at the equivalent of “C” in a dressage ring. The auctioneer stood in the middle of the booth, with agents sitting at tables on the side who were on the phone with international buyers. There were also several private agents in the stands who were on the phone with buyers who would watch the live stream of the auctions from home.

auctions at verden officials

Each horse entered the ring one at a time and was ridden at the three basic gaits while the auctioneer took bids. If you were interested in bidding, you held up your yellow auction card up high. There were six women who stood along the quarterlines of the ring, with three on each side. They held up signs and pointed to people in the stands who raised their auction cards so that the auctioneer could identify bids more quickly. I thought this was a pretty clever and efficient arrangement.

Here's what an auction card looks like. Don't hold it up unless you want to buy a horse!

Here's what an auction card looks like. Don't hold it up unless you want to buy a horse!

Each horse took less than three or four minutes to sell, and when someone won the bid on a horse, a few girls with a basket of beverages and a rose came and delivered the goodies to the winner. It was really fun seeing people sitting beside us in the stands gleefully receiving their drinks and roses. I was definitely living through them!

On a personal note, I decided that while I think the auctions can be a great resource for buying a very nice quality horse at a reasonable price, I don’t think this kind of buying situation is well suited to everyone. For a lower-level adult amateur like myself, I think it would be very difficult to confidently navigate this fast-paced situation without a really experienced professional at your side. Plus, with the added stress of bidding against other people and if you win the horse, then actually importing him to the U.S., it’s quite a lot to keep track of, from emotional and financial standpoints.

I also wonder how much of what you see is what you get when you purchase an auction horse. I’m sure that all situations vary depending on the horse, but surely some of the horses are going to behave differently in their new homes from how they were in the auctions. At the auctions, they are ridden by very experienced riders and they are presented in electric atmospheres, which really amps up their movement. They’ve also had a number of people trying them and sitting on them for several weeks, so I can imagine that tires them out a little bit. For a professional who is looking for some good raw material, I imagine none of this is that much of a problem. But for an adult amateur looking for a finished product, this is probably not the best route. However, finding the right partner at an auction obviously can be done and there are many people who successfully do it and end up with lovely partners. Personally, I think in 10 years I might be ready to purchase a young horse at the auctions in Germany, but for where I am now, shopping stateside with my trainer in close contact was ideal.

Another thing that I think is worth mentioning is the fact that the riders who present the auction horses are truly very skilled riders. All of them sit so still and so quietly on these huge movers. I can only imagine the kind of core strength that requires. Many of the horses have a ridicules amount of power in their hind ends and the atmosphere with the audience can be quite electric, therefore magnifying their already intense power. Plus, the horses are young and sometimes very reactive. Bottom line: it’s impressive to watch their riders handle them with such stillness and composure.

So, I head home with a new goal: emulating the stillness and strength of those riders I saw at the auctions. And no, I will not be bringing any horses home with me. Although the temptation was very, very real.

Bis später! See you later!

If you want to read some of my previous blogs, check them out here:

Blog 1: To Hell With Comfort Zones --> http://dressagetoday.com/blog/hell-comfort-zones-54076

Blog 2: Goodbye USA, Hello Germany! --> http://dressagetoday.com/blog/goodbye-usa-hello-germany-54142

Blog 3: Holy Horseflesh, Part I --> http://dressagetoday.com/blog/holy-horseflesh-54181

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