Sunday, August 31, 2008

So, I went to the Horse and Pony Auction

I've been a horseperson for a long time. More than 20 years (formally) and my mother would swear that I started at 1 on my Wonder Horse. In all of those 20 years, and some buying and selling of horses, I had never attended an equine auction. Only once did I attend an auction for any other sort of animal, and that was to help a friend work in the office when I was in High School one night.

On the last Friday of every month the local area has a Horse and Pony auction. I asked the Reluctant Farmhusband if he wanted to go, and due to a conflict in scheduling, he could not.

I knew this was going to be bad before I went.

The Reluctant Farmhusband and I have a bit of a history regarding my purchasing of horses, namely, I seem to acquire them with money that just sort of appears and disappears from the checkbook, and very rarely do they actually do anything besides lose lots of money for me. This is not because they are not good horses per se, or anything other than the fact that it seems to be my luck to buy high and sell low in general, and horses are something that I do not skimp on. I will wear my dirtiest nastiest single pair of breeches with the holes in the knees but my horse has every saddlepad known to man and then some. Oh, a gel pad? You've got it. I think I have 6 saddles in the house currently ( rideable horse...) I'm a sucker for all things horsey and always have been.


So, off to the auction I go. I knew that I really didn't *need* another horse, as I barely have enough time for the one I *have* at the moment. But they do a tack sale as well and it gave me an excuse to see what horses and ponies were going for in the local market (or so I told the Reluctant Farmhusband).

If you've never attended a livestock auction, it's an overwhelming affair. There were Amish and English driving horses being "shown" at super-fast paces and trots on an oval "track" lined with emergency tape and throngs of observers eating ice cream, drinking sodas and smoking cigarettes. There were horses being unloaded and entering the barns, people going every which way, and it just seemed a huge hustle and bustle...somewhat like a carnival.

I wandered around, looking clearly lost for awhile, until I found a sales list which seemed indecipherable to me (until I figured out that most of the animals listed were the standardbreds, and though I vaguely understand the standardbred racing world, the terms are not familiar to me) and acquired a bidding number. I sat in the bleachers and watched the auctioneer auction off bits and doodads, manure forks and halters by the dozen. It wasn't until I finally figured out that sometimes if they had more than one to sell they would set a price through the bidding and then they would offer up the other items. I got big feed buckets for $6 a piece and a feed scoop for $2.50. Not a great deal, but an okay one. But I was starting to get the rhythm of the auction and starting to understand what the auctioneer was saying (which...really is difficult depending on the auctioneer).

The horses started coming out after the tack, first the riding horses and ponies. There were precious few of these, and they all had descriptions, some were clearly broke and others...not so broke. The people riding them...I have to give them kudos because there is no WAY I would ride a horse under those conditions. Not a single one of the horses I have ever owned would deal with that. People shouting, horses neighing, the auctioneer calling out a steady stream of numbers over a loudspeaker.

The average price at this sale for a broke riding horse was $375, and the average cost for a pony was $75. I could have taken 10 for the price of my youngster who is currently in training. But I digress. Nothing really caught my eye, but I was texting my friend to ask her if I *did* see something if she would have any room and...would she be willing to trailer.

Sooooo, she comes and finds me at the auction just about the same time as this Belgian gelding is led into the aisle. He's got a super-kind eye and just looks like an overall nice fellow.

"He's Cute" (says I)
"I like his eye" (says friend)
"I should bid on him" (says I)
"Heck, I would bid on him at that price" (says friend)
"Would you trailer him?" (says I)
"Yep" (says friend)

To make a long story short...He's mine. For $225.

I looked at friend and said, ohmigod we just bought a horse. She laughed. Somewhat hysterically. She said - where are we going to put him? I said, well, I've got fencing left over from Wendall's old pasture but I think the fencer got hit by electricity. She said, well, I've got a fencer and possibly part of a pasture so go settle up and get your fencing and I'll go get my truck and trailer.

I settled up at the auction office, laughing a little and still in shock at the whole thing - what an impulse buy - a whole HORSE. I've impulse bought tack before, and books, but never...well not as MUCH of an impulse buy as an 8 year old ex-Amish workhorse. Why do I need an 8 year old ex-Amish workhorse?? I don't drive. I don't have a farm (yet). And yet here I am, with an 8 year old workhorse. (Truth be told, no one was bidding on him except for a middleman buyer who would take him to yet another auction until he ended up in the "very bad place" and I didn't think he deserved I bought him)

I called the Reluctant Farmhusband from my cell phone as I got into the car and told him what I had done and that I would be home late due to the recovery of the fence and the installation in said horse's new location. He said "okay, love you, see you later, stay safe" at which point I was stunned. Somehow *I* was more shocked that I had done this thing than he was. And I wasn't sure quite how I felt about it, but boy was I overwhelmed with ooey-gooey feelings for a few minutes.

Fence procured, I raced back to the auctionhouse where I was to meet friend, fearing that somehow I would "miss" the transfer and lose my horse. I looked at the receipt from the sale barn on which it was simply stated that he was an 8 year old Belgian Gelding and that he pulled all sorts of farm machinery and his hip number was 255. It had an Amishman's name on it, and address (obviously, no phone number) that was quite far from this auction.

I wander through the barns, looking for my horse. Until I find, finally, the draft horse "section" with horses tied in the back. A row of belgians all tied to the building - possibly 20-30. I started to peer at the row when I turned my head and looked at the trailer.

I believe the comment that went through my brain when I did was "oh sh*t".

Belgians are typically 16-18 hands, but most often they fall somewhere in between, usually in the 17h range. This horse, this 255, was towering over the horse that was somehow intermingled with him (who appeared to be percheron and behind him in the photo or a cross, I'm not sure). He was enormous. Somehow he didn't seem so big from the top row of the auction seating.

Keep in mind, I'm used to big horses, my current gelding is upwards of 17h, and I've had a 17.3 hander...this one....seemed like a dinosaur (a really really really big one) compared to those.

I walked over, and gave him a rub, and said, well, Mr. No Name, guess you're coming home with me. I paced for awhile, anxiously awaiting my friend to show up with the trailer because to be quite frank, the hustle and bustle was getting to me a bit and I had been either sitting on a hard bench or standing for much of the day and was, quite frankly getting tired.

She finally showed up with the trailer and said - bring him out front. I could barely reach the tie rope, and when I did I realized that I knew NOTHING about this horse. His eye was gentle, but if he didn't want to listen to me there was not going to be a d*mn thing I was going to be able to do to stop him. Not a chance. Not with a flimsy web halter and a sore back and a skinny little lead rope.

So we show up at the trailer, and he's quite calm about everything (thank god, because I do NOT ever want to see that much horse freaking out...not ever) and she says "Uhhhh, I don't think he's going to fit". She tried to walk him in and he hit his head - just a bonk, and decided to back out.

"Wannabe Farmwife, " says friend, "I'm not sure we can load him into this"

I stand there, lead rope in hand thinking - well NOW What. I don't know of anyone with a trailer big enough to haul this behemoth in, nor do I think anyone would appreciate me calling them at 9 pm on a Friday night to haul a horse from the auction for me, oh and pardon me, could you bring your extra fancy extra extra large warmblood trailer?

Frozen, trying to picture whether I was going to have to attempt to LEAD this horse somewhere, she called out to one of the other people to help load the horse, and he came up and assessed the situation.

"Friend" (said he) "That horse ain't gonna go in there"

But he tried anyway, and the good horse that he is, ducked his head and got in the trailer. He looked like a sardine in there (oh, and it was a 4 horse stock type, just in case you were wondering) but he was in.

So, off we went, down the road. Reluctant Farmhusband texted me and asked if we got him loaded - luckily so, so off we went to go fix fencing. Should I mention at this point that it's getting dark?

More to come in Part II.


Anonymous said...

OK, Im hooked! Can't wait for Part II. Thank you for opening your heart to him!!

Wannabe Farmwife said...

Part II is there :) I'm trying to improve the readability of the blog so see if that nav makes sense to you :)
Thanks for reading!