Sunday 2 September 2012

A day at the horse sale

Sorry about the dearth of postings this week but I have had a busy week, one way and another.  Now today I am feeling hornswoggled after a really good day out at the Antiques Fair up at Builth yesterday, but more of that later.

On Thursday I took myself off to the Horse Sale at Llanybydder.  I forgot my camera, so I will just put up a couple of photos from previous years.

I suppose it is a good thing . . . in a way . . . that the horse sale here is a shadow of what it was in pre-Passport days (horses cannot be sold without a legitimate passport, which documents their markings, colour, distinguishing features etc) which, since it costs money, has partly quashed the indiscriminate breeding of feral ponies.  Ponies which, sadly, often had only one new owner, and that was the meat man.

Now, whilst there are still some ill-bred, unhandled, poorly fed horses and ponies coming through the sales, their numbers are less.  It is still a dumping ground, however, for horses and ponies with medical problems (some unseen without an x-ray - beware the flashy 16.2 hunter which has a wonderful track record under saddle but sells for 400 or 500 gns as it probably has been diagnosed with something incurable - navicular, blindness, wind problems, kissing spines, arthritis all spring to mind.)

Others have behavioural problems - did the "backed and turned away" 5 year old turn out to be a nutter, or just badly started?  Sometimes there is a clue in the wording of the catalogue, for instance, "has been known to buck" or "not 100% in traffic" or "strong ride" or even "goes all day without stopping"!!!  There's presumably no legal come back then . . .  Known vices are supposed to be mentioned - "has been seen to crib", this demonstrated by the horse grabbing on to the metal railings in desperation.

You do get some decent Welsh Cobs going through on occasion, and there are some nice unspoilt youngsters at times and bargains to be had.  Some of the entries are distress sales where people can no longer afford to keep their horse or pony and these may find good homes.  Some ponies are saved from the meat man - a friend bought an elderly and starving little grey Welsh brood mare and gave her four happy years before she went over Rainbow Bridge.  Indeed, our own Itsy was rescued from there and bequeathed to me and is now in the most wonderful forever home, so there are good outcomes at times.

Coloured cobs like this chap are the life-breath of Llanybydder, although the prices they are expected to fetch (often by Traveller owners) are shall we say, exorbitant at times.

Tack is obligatory for horses and ponies considered "broken in".  It is often as old as the hills and quite frequently fits where it touches - either hideously large, small, broken-treed and I've seen bits literally hanging out of ponies' mouths before now.

I do not allow myself to think about the fate of the horses and ponies.  Some I know go for meat.  Some go to less than suitable owners.  Mares (of whatever shape or persuasion) can always be bought to get a foal from and just turned out and forgotten all winter. 

Hooves are usually in shocking condition - one horse last week has feet which had grown really long and then chunks were broken off.  A dark brown brood mare had such shocking sand cracks that some ran from the coronet to the ground and one hoof was split so badly she was almost cloven-footed.  She made under 200 gns. . .

Anyway, I went principally for the tack sale, so missed out on what prices horses were fetching, but I did see an unbroken 3 year old unreg presumably Welsh Cob colt of about 14.1 or so go for just 50 gns.  Had you seen his conformation you would have understood why he went so cheaply . . .


  1. Some of these look so very sad BB - makes me glad to see the three I spoke of - out to grass - in the field near us, and obviously well loved in their retirement.

  2. You are a brave woman to go there BB. There is such sadness in the faces of those horses.

    Both Itsy and little grey Pearl found good homes after passing through the Fair, so I suppose it is the luck of the draw for them.

    I hope your buying of bits etc. in the tack sale gives you some interesting things to sell on.

  3. I can only echo the feeling of sadness about those horses, sadly we don't live in a kind world that is free of animal cruelty. I wonder if there are vets at the sale though...

  4. thelma - there used to be an RSPCA inspector in evidence, but haven't seen one the last few times I've been. Equine Market Watch visit the sales locally (check them out - they do sterling work) and take action/report on them.

    DW - This sort of thing happens all round the country. What worries me now, with the advent of Passports, is what happens behind the scenes, as you may be sure that the meat man buys up the culls just as he always did, only they may not always appear on the books . . .

    WG - your local old horses living out their retirement with love and care don't know how lucky they are.

  5. It's awful. The Chagford sale was on Saturday and I had every intention of going with a camera. On the day, I just couldn't face it. Have seen all the local herd since which is a huge relief. I don't think I could have stood watching them go the way of the bad foot maintenance at best. People seem to buy horses thinking they can do it on the cheap or without enough knowledge. Trigger's feet were pretty terrible state when I got him despite being owned by a lovely, lovely person.

    Hope you picked up some tack bargains. If I had land, I hate to think how many equine lame ducks I would be buying!

  6. Em - I have 5 1/2 acres AND stabling, so I have to sit on my hands - mind you, also absolutely no spare money, so that solves the getting tempted problem. I am so glad none of your local herd went to Chagford sale. Ignorance is bliss where horses are concerned, but round here there are plenty of farmers who think that it's quite OK never to have feet done, feed in winter, handle properly and breed indiscriminately as that's what they've always done.

  7. It's a never ending source of suprise and sadness to me how many have no idea exactly what is required if one is to properly own (ie: care for) even a single horse. In fact that's true of most all larger farm animals. It's tragically common to observe people hop skip and jump into large animals ownership with no care of clue of responsibility or cost.... Fencing, feeding, winter shelter, winter water, foot and tooth trims and cleanings and on it goes. And vet calls - tho granted it can't be done as would-be for pets - there does come a point where it can't be turned away from any longer.

    I'd not dare to visit such a sale! Like you I've the physical means of land/barns (sans proper fence) but not the means for the dailys (and in my heart I'd feel I had to bring them all home somehow, wanting to save them ALL dontchaknow? lol)

    I too add my heart to the hoping at least some found a good home...

    Hugs, Issy

  8. Having been away, I'm coming to this post belatedly. I can only echo the comments of others: I would find it heart-wrenching to see the sadly mistreated horses. It would seem that so few go to caring new owners. You are stout-hearted to venture there!

  9. The acrylic saddles are just not like the old fashioned cowboy saddle. Do you have an auction that features old saddles? one stop equine horse bits