Belts, Buckets, And Bridles – At The Claremont Horse Auction


horses in pens at Claremont

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

In the countryside north of Toronto one is never too far from a livestock auction yard that sells horses. The horse auctions at these yards have changed little over the years, except perhaps to shrink a little as the way people shop for horses and tack continues to evolve. The Claremont auction is a small country auction in Kawartha Lakes, north-east of Toronto, where horses aren’t sold by the pound. I’ve been to this auction previously, but never with tack to sell – I was here to test the auction as a potential place to sell a few pricier bridles and bits, so I brought some show pads, boots, and a quarter sheet, all in great lightly used condition.

Tack sales are really just rummage sales for horse people, and a tack hoarder’s paradise. Stay for a while and you’ll see desperate people selling desperate things. There was the occasional item

This is the type of item you might regret not buying once you get home - if you can get past the "no questions asked" stipulation of the sale!

This is the type of item you might regret not buying once you get home – if you can get past the “no questions asked” stipulation of the sale!

held up that caused me to wonder, “What the hell is it? And before I could identify what it was, someone had bid on it. A lot of useless crap had been auctioned off before they even got to my stuff at the end, at which point people were fed up with the nearly 4 hours long tack auction that started 45 minutes later than advertised, and they were probably out of money. Even the auctioneer couldn’t summon much enthusiasm by the time he got to my stuff, holding up one of my Italian saddle pads half-heartedly. I only sold one saddle pad, and literally gave away a $50 quarter sheet, so I doubt that I’d return to try to sell anything else in future.

The auctioneer expressed serious disappointment in the bidding on the horses – half of the horses were “no-saled” since reserves were not met.  Today, I suppose it’s a hard lesson for the auction house – don’t take on more tack than can reasonably be sold in an hour or so. Horse prices were probably lower than normal and quite a few people had left hours ago. Only a couple of horses sold for decent amounts of money, and probably could have brought more under more favourable circumstances. Fortunately no kill buyers in sight, but horses that didn’t sell on this day might be one step closer to an auction like OLEX where the majority of horses are sold to kill buyers (current meat horse prices this week are hovering around $.70 per lb.).  With meat prices creeping higher it’s more challenging to set a reserve price on a horse that facilitates a sale yet discourages kill buyers from bidding.

This cute pony was a no-sale

This cute pony was a no-sale

All horses were clean, good weight, appeared to have been cared-for, no long hooves, cuts or abrasions, and were presented with clean tack where noted below. An auction determines the market value of a horse on any given day. Sometimes, a seller may have difficulty selling a horse, because it’s priced higher than the market will bear.

  • 2 paint yearlings, relatively unhandled, nervous, not halter broke – no sale
  • 14 year old gelding under saddle, rides, drives, quiet in the ring, appeared to be a draft cross – $1,150
  • 4 year old QH mare under saddle, nervous – no sale
  • 7 year old paint pony in hand, very flighty in ring, Mennonite origins, it was claimed that she was broke but auction staff declared that questionable – no sale
  • 14 year old gelding under saddle, QH/Arab cross, 4H and lesson horse, touted as an easy keeper, lives in/out, very nice good weight – $1,200
  • 12 year old Black Morgan gelding under saddle, 14.1, camp horse, lesson pony – no sale
  • 13 year old mare under saddle, also drives, quiet in ring, apparently owned by Mennonites – no sale
  • 14 year old pony, 11.2 WTC, jumps, lessons – no sale
  • 9 year old QH gelding under saddle, professionally trained, ground ties – $800
  • 15 year old 14.1 pony, WTC, jumps, camp horse, very resistant to going in ring – $375
  • 7 year old green broke, palomino mare in hand, nice weight and conformation – $650
  • 13 year old TB mare, never raced, hunter, jumps 3 foot – $500
  • 12 year old QH mare under saddle, described as being rideable by anyone, quiet and nice, good weight – high seller of the day – $2,000

When auctions drag on for hours it drives the price of all the items down. While there were some bargains to be had from tack store closures,  I was disappointed in the bidding on the quality items that were offered on this day.  A beautiful new and unused western saddle selling for about $3,000 retail only received offers of $300. At those prices it would be better to just display the saddle in your house or turn it into a very expensive bar stool. Yet lots of dried out crap indistinguishable from other lots of dried out crap were bid on a bit more aggressively.  At least 40 western saddles offered for sale today so there was very little variety. There were a couple of good lessons for me as well:

  • English show tack does not do well at western auctions

    Horses don’t sell themselves—people have to sell them.  This horse was the high seller of the day

    Horses don’t sell themselves—people have to sell them. This horse was the high seller of the day

  • If you have an item that you have been told has a certain value, don’t try to sell it at the equivalent of an equine garage sale.  Pawn stars come looking for bargains. They will be more interested in a box of busted halters and sinewy tie-downs from the civil war era even if they have to soak it for months in neatsfoot oil – they will not care about your lightly used Stubben bridle because they know you will have a reserve on it. If you really think you have something worth money, sell it on eBay.  There you will get something closer to fair market value
  • If you arrive at a tack auction and there’s enough tack to outfit every horse that served in the Boer War, you should probably turn around and come back on another day

Here’s one last point I think is very important.  When attending local auctions,  please keep an eye out for stolen horses.  I know that it’s virtually impossible to remember the physical details of the numerous missing horses on Net Posse and circulated through Facebook,  but if you have a smartphone,  it makes the job a little easier.  Eyes on the ground can help find horses.  Perhaps a good conversation to have with the auction staff is one where you ask them to post pictures from Net Posse to increase awareness.

When asking about this thin yearling in arena (not part of the sale), I was told that he was a camp horse. Seriously?

When asking about this thin yearling in arena (not part of the sale), I was told that he was a camp horse. Seriously?




About heatherclemenceau

Hopefully as I've grown older I've also grown wiser, but one thing I've definitely become cognizant of is the difference between making a living and making a life. Frequently outraged by some of life's cruelties, and respect diversity. But.....I don't suffer fools gladly, and occasionally, this does get me into some trouble! I have the distinction of being the world's worst golfer - no wait, I do believe that there is a gypsy in Moldavia who is a worse golfer than I. Nor am I much of a dancer - you won't see a booty-shakin' flygirl routine from me! I'm also not the kind of cook who can whip up a five-course meal on a radiator either! And I've never figured out how to get an orchid to bloom a second time. I love to discuss literature, science, philosophy, and sci-fi , or even why Seinfeld is funny on so many levels. Words move me. I'm very soft-hearted about most things, especially animals, but I have a stoicism about me that is sometimes interpreted incorrectly. I do have a definite edge and an often "retro-adolescent" sense of humour at times. I'm a big advocate of distributed computing projects to advance science. Check out if you want to find out more. I'm an eclectic plant-based eater, and as such, it's a personal practice of mine to seduce innocent meat-eaters into cruising the (salad) bars at every opportunity. You would be powerless to resist. I was recently surprised to find that a computer algorithm concluded that I write like Dan Brown, which is funny because I didn't think Dan Brown could actually write. Check out your own style - Oh, and I love impractical shoes and funky hats.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s