Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's even worse than I thought...

I went to a couple of auctions yesterday, which I hadn't done for a while. First I went to the Washington Thoroughbred Breeders' Winter Sale. That wasn't depressing at all...WTBA seems to have done a very good job of conveying the message that their sales are only open to properly presented horses in excellent condition. I do believe they had to whack a few people over the head with a 2 x 4 to get the message across, but it worked. The oldest horse I saw was 18 and she was ready for an Aged Mares halter class. The young stock pretty much without exception looked excellent. Prices reflected that - the lowest to sell while I was there went for $900 and my friend's three yearlings went for $8500, $7000 and $3500.

Yes, yes, yes, I know, one injury and they'll likely be free for the taking but still, it's good to see something sell well. And it bears noting - we all hear about the breakdowns, but the fact remains that most racehorses don't break down. The recently rescued Bold Engagement and Aly's Question, as discussed previously on the blog, have remarkably clean legs and both those mares won six figures. By the way, I believe a blog reader is getting Bold Engagement soon, so just so you know, we like to hear how they do for their new owners, so start blogging!

Then I went to Enumclaw, which I knew was going to be hideous and depressing, and it did not disappoint. I came late and didn't stay very long but did get some sale notes from a friend. My comments in blue:

"Ron started the horse auction with his typical speech. He read an article in the AQHA Journal. In 1998 there were 4.5 million horses in the U.S. and now there are 9.2 million. Horse prices have hit rock bottom due to over breeding. I quote Ron here – His solution: "We gotta stop breeding, and slaughter more horses." Ron would like us to slaughter more horses, because that is how Ron makes a great deal of money. Ron needs a vacation home, y'all, so slaughter your horses already! He also threw in some profanities regarding politician in D.C. trying to ban the export of horses to slaughter in Canada and Mexico. 'Cause those vacation homes cost money, dammit! Seriously, I'm glad he talks about not breeding because God knows looking at the foals people drag to Enumclaw, somebody needs to tell them to stop, but I'm so sick of the pro-slaughter crap while he laughs all the way to the bank. He did, however, call someone out on having a skinny horse so I gotta give him a few brownie points there.

501 Sorrel and white paint colt, 8 or 9 months old, registered, nice temperament $60
502 White/brown medicine hat type filly, coming 2 years, dirty, hot, saddled but not ridden, $75 to KB
503 Solid Dun paint gelding, 2 years old, clipped, clean, cute, saddled but led in, No sale at $1100 (Seller wanted $2000)
504 Black and White paint gelding, quiet, ridden in $1200
505 “Twisted Simon” 15 year old solid chestnut BS paint mare, ridden in, nervous but quiet $275 FHOTD in: Very nice mare. Attractive, kind eye, nice shoulder, nicely put together in general. Quite a deal. She went to a private party and I hope they enjoy her.
506 Fat 21 year old mare, led in, dried sweaty/wet hair but nice and quiet $210 to KB
507 6 month old black and white colt, quiet, dirty $60 FHOTD in: I about had heart failure at this one. This was a NICE colt. No, they were lazy asses and didn't bother to clean him up but this colt had a big hip, lovely neck, very pretty head...this was just ridiculous that he went for $60. Went to a private party though so I guess getting a colt of this caliber for $60 is the reward you get for having a good eye and seeing past the dirt. I should have written down his name...that one could go places and nobody'd believe where he came from or what price.
508 Black and white pinto/paint, 2 blue eyes, very green, 2 ½ years, ridden in but rider got off, (no sale?) FHOTD in: Woman was like "well I'm not selling him for $300!" and I felt like screaming "then why are you at the Enumclaw sale? Did you think horses go for lots of money here? Are you NEW? Well, at least she took him home.
509 5 year old sorrel QH, nicely bred, gelding, broke and quiet $500
510 “Cowboy” 8 year old solid chestnut paint gelding, broke $500
511 White arab type pony, Dead broke, dirty, Ron’s horse No sale at $150
512 Nicely colored chestnut and white gelding, broke, $500
513 Registered Palomino gelding (QH?) Broke and Sound, cute, fat, 16 years old, used as a trail horse, No sale at $900 (seller wanted $1000)
514 Bay appy gelding, broke and sound, gelding, trail horse $625 FHOTD in: Really, really, REALLY cute and good colored. Went level with his head naturally. Would have made a show horse, not just a trail horse, with finishing. Very good deal for $625.
Pictured - “Casper” Small white gelding, skinny, owner says it is 18 years old, broke, No bids so Ron told her to take it home and feed it. Then people started bidding. (Sold for $60?)
Nice looking black mare. Was a brood mare and is broke to ride, but was not ridden in. Cute, clean, lots of chrome $250 FHOTD in: This was an Intimidator granddaughter, Two Eyed Jack on the bottom side. Nice mare. I would not have been able to let her go to kill - thank you, private party buyer, for saving me from having to drag a horse home. Hope she works out great for you!

Dirty black and white paint weanling colt, no papers $70
Dirty black (with white) weanling filly, led in with colt, $60 No papers
Black filly (coming 2 years old?) $35
519 Chestnut Arab mare, dead broke, same owner as Casper, but this horse looked well cared for, $325
Registered Grullo colt, 2 years old $75 to KB
Registered buckskin colt, 2 years old $60 to KB FHOTD in: Very friendly colt. I gave him a really good head/neck scratch and left before he ran through because I knew where he was going and I'm not surprised to see I was right. Yeah. You color breeders. You just keep on producing fugly grullas and buckskins and thinking their color will save them. IT DOESN'T.
Older chestnut and white mare, looked well bred and cared for, dropped pasterns ($120?) to KB FHOTD in: Again, breeder who brought this mare, may you burn in hell.

Pictured - a black horse in a pen with multiple dents in his nose from a too-tight halter being left on. Great. I did not see this one go.

Here's the one that really freaked me out - even more than the $60 colt. Somebody brought a pinto-Arabian cross mare out. She was clearly a misplaced princess. She looked horrified to be there and I was horrified for her. She was gorgeous - chestnut and white tobiano, clipped, clean, rode, screamed show quality. I did not catch the name but they announced that she was a National Champion (Pinto or Arab, I'm not sure - I assume halter as a younger mare) and that she had not been ridden in 5 years but was being a good girl. She had been taken for unpaid board. They wanted $800 and the highest bid they could get was $700. For a ten year old, sound, rideable National Champion mare. Now, I have friends in the Arab world who would have jumped on that mare, so I quickly headed back to find the guy who brought her. He said that she was in no danger and that since she didn't sell at the auction, the barn owners were going to have him put refresher riding training on her and sell her for a lot more. I told him I thought that was an excellent idea and wished him well. I did not catch her name (honestly, I can't make out half of what Ron says). Maybe someone else who was at the sale did. But wow. Well, as I've said before the deals are out there in this economy. If you have an eye for quality, Enumclaw and auctions like it - New Holland, Centennial, etc. - are the place to be. No telling what you may be able to get for a song! There was a ROM halter APHA gelding there too but I didn't see him run through so I don't know if he sold or not.

What struck me about the whole sale was that there weren't many people there to buy. There were a handful of bidders but most of the audience was just like me - there to watch the train wreck and see how bad it was going to be. What I thought was most interesting is that, a year ago, the quality horses still sold well at Enumclaw. It was not unusual to see a good one go for $3000, $4000. Now? Nothing sold well. Nothing. Nothing at all. The price of gas is down, but hay is still atrocious and hardly anybody is feeling super secure about their job. It's just not a world in which people want to add to the feed bill - even when what should be a $2500 weanling is standing in front of them for $60.

I've said before that I'll never go to the "all breeding is bad" extreme but, I have to say, this would be a really good year to give the broodmares a rest...I would be wary of producing any new horses until this economy changes for the better. You'd better know for sure that what you're creating is still selling like hotcakes before you make any more of it!