TOBA: Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association
Owner Education

Public Auction

Auction sales offer the widest selection and often assure fair market values for horses. It is safe to say that they are the option of choice for many buyers.

The table below summarizes the advantages and disadvantages associated with purchasing a horse at the various ages:

Age/Type Months of Sales Advantages Disadvantages
Yearling Jul - Dec Large selection; can oversee all breaking and training; pinhooking options. 8-12 months until ready to race and will incur expenses during this time.
2-year-old Feb - May Ready to race; more developed; better able to assess ability. Smaller selection; horses may be rushed through training for sale.
Weanling Oct - Feb Reasonably priced; pinhooking options; can oversee growth. Hard to evaluate ability this early; 18 months until ready to race.
Broodmare Oct - Feb Choose matings; can sell foals or enjoy success of homebreds. Mares can be purchased in-foal (foal in utero), barren, or with a foal at her side.) Pregnancy can be complicated; lots of risk, time and cost involved.

To familiarize yourself with the sales process, we suggest you attend several as an observer; consider it a dry run. This exercise should include selecting horses to inspect, evaluating them based upon their pedigree and conformation and estimating their selling price. As you compare your figures to the actual selling price, a sense of the market will develop. In addition, through attending the sale, you will gain an understanding of the auction environment.

The auction purchase process can be separated into three stages: Before, during and after. However, each phase is dependent on the other. The after phase is somewhat a misnomer as proper provisions for this final stage, such as payment, insurance needs and boarding arrangements, should be made in advance.

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