I went to the local horse sale this weekend and I'll admit it was a difficult feat to get out of there horseless. I guarantee, if I was not paying board per head at the moment, I would have at least a couple new horses.
Unlike a lot of people these days, I LOVE horse sales, particularly loose horse sales. Every horse I have ever bought in my life came as "loose horses". All but one turned into exactly the kind of horse I thought they would.
I will say one thing about this sale, there were no skinny horses or obvious cripples. Hopefully a testament to both the nature of the horse people in this area and the sale barn refusing to sell horses in those conditions. I hope a bit of both.
Another thing I really noticed was an obvious top and an obvious bottom in the quality of the horses. What was lacking was the middle of the road type horses. There were a few big, plain geldings that ran through-horses that had been used in the mountains as saddle and pack horses for dudes and hunters. To be real honest, they were some of the very few that had any sort of type of muscling I like to see on a horse. But my god, most of their heads and necks were so ugly, unless they were winning the world at something, it would be hard to get anyone to look twice at them, if a person was inclined to purchase one and clean it up for resale. They all sold for between $85 and $250.
The lower end of quality was what the lower end always is...horses that are lacking in pretty much every way. A mass of mixed breed, no conformation, no muscle and no training. It always amazes me that people hold onto this stuff until they are like 6 or 8 years old. Ya know, not that many people are interested in breaking out mature stock like that! Come on people-either get it broke or get rid of it earlier so someone else might take an interest in putting the time in on it.
Ourselves, we have some older horses who are not broke, but we aren't dumb enough to haul them to a sale and think that anyone except the meat guy would be interested in them. They may never get broke, but that pretty much guarantees them a permanent home in our pasture.
I had the lovely fortune of having a couple and their friend sit next to me at the sale. I overheard quite a bit of their conversation and figured out they had horses coming through. At first I thought they were ride-ins, but no such luck for their horses. They had brought 3 head of 6-7y/o's, mixed breed, completely untrained horses to the sale. The wife was very happy that the same cowboy had bought all three. Their horses brought; $25, $85 and $125 a piece. Their friend asked me if I knew who the cowboy was. Oh yea, I had that guy's number very shortly after I got there. Without even thinking, I told them that was the killer buyer. The look on their faces would have been comical, if it wasn't so sad that they didn't have a freaking clue. The friend was like, "Uh-uh, they shut all of the kill plants down." Ummm-delbert, they are still shipping them to Canada and Mexico...duhhh! I thought the wife was going to start crying. A little bit of me felt bad for blurting that out, but most of me was thinking they deserved to know the cold, hard truth.
The friend didn't want to believe that is where the horses were going, so I nicely gave him a piece of my mind. I told him, "Look, the economy is in the toilet, people are broke. They have figured out they need to get rid of whatever crappy horses they have had parked in their backyards for several years now, that they have not done anything with. Since all of us horse people are in the same boat and horses are pretty damn cheap across the board, do you really think someone is going to waste their time and efforts on an ugly, mixed breed, completely unhandled mature horse that may or may not turn into something Orrrr...do you think they are going to invest the same money into a registered or most likely registerable, better-quality, younger horse that they can start at an appropriate age and be pretty confident that in the end they are going to have a nice using horse?"
Christ people are stupid!!!
I have mixed feelings about equine slaughter. To be brutally honest, I don't care that people want to eat horsemeat. What I do care about is that in all of the decades that equine slaughter has been around, people have never gotten over the "OMG" factor of it. They spend all of their time fighting for or against the principle rather than fighting for making it as humane for the horse as possible. The ones stuck in the middle is the horses and they have suffered mightly. Anytime something is bastardized, it leaves the door wide open for abuse and suffering. While everyone has fought for and against the actual killing and eating of horses, every other aspect of how these horses were handled and treated from the time they were dumped has been neglected.
I think I'll leave that discussion for another post. It's one I know everyone has a usually strong opinion on.
Back to the low end of quality...
There was a grullo stallion that was led in. I was pretty sure this horse was in his twenties. He had a big crest, but it was just sort of stuck on the top of his neck. It was like all of the muscle had fallen away. He was in good flesh, so it looked even more weird. He was incredibly long and sway backed. And lacked any sort of muscle on his forearms or gaskins. To be blunt-he was a puke! Stallion or gelding, this horse didn't measure up. Now if he had been in his twenties-I might have been a bit more forgiving. But he was a mere 14y/o. If he had had any quality to begin with, he never would have looked like this at 14. The lovely thing was, the owner was selling him because she had kept his fillies as replacement mares and had purchased a new stallion to breed them too. Ugghhh! To top it off...he was a breeding stock paint. I'm guessing her breeding program was strictly about producing grullo paints. She ended up no saling him because the high bid on him was $100.
The last craptacular horse that made an impression on me wasn't actually crap. Out of all of the horses presented at this sale, this is a horse that made me scratch my head and wonder why he was dumped here?
I thought for sure when this horse was led in that he was a stallion. He was a monstrous mountain of muscle. Groomed and clipped within an inch of his life, he pranced on the end of his silver show halter. But he was a gelding...and one that had been a gelding throughout his entire show career.
That career had actually garnered him the accolades of being the 2005 Congress Champion Halter Gelding. They kept saying something about a World Championship too. But it was a bit confusing, so I'm not 100% sure if this is the same horse or not...
The Coolest Te
I cannot get the picture I have of him to post here. I found it by searching google for 2005 Congress Champions and the picture and description are in PDF form. It looks like the same horse to me.
Yeah! What the heck was this horse doing at this sale?
You had to read between the lines on that one. The owner would not guarantee him sound. He said he was sound, but no guarantee. That's not hard to figure out though...1480lbs of muscle...parked on O sized feet! Gotcha! The other thing that was not mentioned was his HYPP status. Not a single word about HYPP.
There we go! The "catch". I highly suspect that this horse was HYPP positive and/or symtomatic. The auctioneer tried to "sell" the horse by saying that he didn't think it would take much to turn the horse into a saddle horse. The owner immediately shook his head and said, "I wouldn't recommend that". I think he may have been referring to both the likelyhood this horse would be a rank bucker and the unmentioned HYPP status. Considering this horse's bloodlines-he's a grandson of Tardy Too on the bottom and lots of Impressive on top, I'd be very inclined to agree with the owner that this horse would enjoy bucking very much. The reason I say that is because both the Tardy Too and the Impressive horses are known to be a bit tough. Impressive out-crossed on riding stock usually make very good saddle horses. But his blood definitely needs to be crossed on "riding" blood. I've yet to be around a Tardy Too bred horse that wasn't inclined to buck-crossed on riding blood or not. Crossed on "halter" blood-they are usually some rank-minded POS's.
No matter how much we despise the current halter horses, there is no doubt that they are fairly impressive(LOL-no pun intended) when you actually see one in real life. It's hard not to be awed by all that bulging muscle covered by sleek, shiny hair, prancing lightly on the end of a lead.
The price to take that top of the line halter horse home?
A mere One Thousand Dollars!
One of the top sellers of the day for sure. But a mere pittance of what that horse was worth at one time. Not to mention the tens of thousands of dollars invested into him during his show career.
As for the horses, I would have considered bringing home? I'll have to fill you in tomorrow or this won't be a post, it'll be a novel-LOL.