Auctions are on my mind because I have been going to quite a few. Not horse auctions, thankfully. I have been bidding on old tins and cookie cutter collections that were once prized by their owners. It's sad to see someone's life laid out on tables and going to the highest bidder. But I try and treat all my 'wins' with dignity--cleaning them carefully and selling them to someone who will once again collect and appreciate them. But I am bidding on objects with no feelings; horse auctions are another story.
In my past life, I went to a few horse auctions. It was never a pleasant experience. I chose two photos off the internet that illustrate the two extremes. The one below of the skinny horse was NOT the worst photo. Several made me sick to my stomach and I quickly looked away. I never went to a million dollar horse sale, but my husband did when he worked on a Thoroughbred farm (many decades ago.) His jaw was hanging through most of it. The horses were sleek and beautiful with impeccable breeding. But how many ended up broken down on the racetrack and sold at the "other kind" of auction? I am sure all of you have been to "the other kind" where horses that no one want end up. They might be lame race or show horses, unbroken three-year-olds with no breeding, a kicker, biter or cribber, or excess stock that can no longer be afforded.
Or maybe they just came from an owner who wanted a fast sale. My mother's pony ended up in such an auction and I still have nightmares about it. My mother rode until she was sixty and got royally dumped by the said pony. It was trailered off to an auction before I could protest. I do not know what happened to the mare--she was cute and well-cared for, so I am hoping she went to a good home. She was also fat, and back then, you know what that might mean. (And will mean again now that it a horse packing plant has been opened in the US.)
When I researched my mystery Shadow Horse, I spent time at a rescue farm where the volunteers went to auctions and bought horses that were slated to go to the killers. One was an old pony who had faithfully served a family until she was twenty-five and no longer healthy. An auction was her reward. The rescue farm bought her so she could have a gentle ending. The other was a strapping, rambunctious yearling Percheron cross that came from a farm with too many horses. He was in quarantine when I met him; I am hoping he found a good home (and some manners.)
I know there are auctions that serve a great purpose--matching a potential owner with a good horse. And the above are extremes. But for the rest of my life, I will be happy to make my auctions the antique kind!
What are your experiences with auctions? Have you been to both kinds? Are there some positives as well as negatives? Do tell!