Last week, I went to a horse auction in Christchurch. The auction was for two year old horses and mixed bloodstock. Hundreds of horses were in stables, so you could cast your eye over them before attending the auction. The auction itself was held in something that reminded me of a boxing ring. The horses would be led into the central arena area and paraded around. Bidders and spectators were seated around the ring. The auctioneer would describe the horse being paraded and then get going on the bidding. Half the time, I had no idea what the auctioneer was saying. When he had a bid, let’s say of $10,000, he’d say something like: “10,000 salmonella salmonella salmonella“.  Of course, he wasn’t actually saying salmonella but whatever he was rattling off so fast sounded like that to me.

Catalogue for auction

It was fascinating to watch what was going on. There were some dudes from Singapore who bought a horse for NZ$30,000. Furious bidding went on over one particular horse but I could hardly tell who was bidding as the nodding was so subtle and things were moving way too fast. I was too scared to move my hands or head in case I accidentally bid $20k on a nag!

Then there were two horses that absolutely no-one bid on. They both looked gorgeous to me. I felt like I should have bid on them because when the auctioneer said “no-one has $500.00 for this horse?”, I really wanted to say “me, me!”. I felt sorry for the horses. But very clearly there was something wrong with both the nags.

I went off to see the two horses that had not received a single bid. The first one was a colt and had nobbly bits on the inside of the front leg, which everyone in the auction room must have seen. Apparently, it means that the poor horse was probably broken-in too soon and the bones weren’t allowed to form properly. Hence, the horse would be no good as a racehorse. He looked way too spirited for me, so off we went to check out the second horse – a pretty little filly.

The owner was an old guy who paraded her around for us. Looked like a good horse so I made an offer but the old guy was holding me to ransom, asking me to pay for the filly’s service fee and so on. I politely declined and walked away, knowing that there are many more horses out there.

That’s the thing: you have to be judicious about this horse stuff. If it were me, I’d buy practically every horse I see. They all are pretty, intelligent, cute or whatever in their own way. But you can’t have every horse – some are too spirited for the inexperienced like me; some are “dirty” (which doesn’t mean they need a shampoo, it means they have nasty habits or evil intentions); some don’t have “honest eyes” (this means too much white is showing and this could signify a worried, anxious horse. An “honest eye” means a horse has a kind and gentle nature); some have issues with their legs and so on.

I’m rapidly picking up “horse sense” but it’s a way to go before I have any remote idea of what to look for in horses being auctioned!

This was my view from the stands - here a horse is being paraded around the ring as it's auctioned off.

This is where the auctioneers were standing - just in front of the ring.

A view of bidders and spectators

I was keeping a track of how much every horse went for. This horse went to the highest bid of NZ$30,000. I think this was the horse bought by someone from Singapore.