The auctions are open to the general public. They are great places to shop as one gets to see many horses during the course of the day in one place, rather than running all over the country looking at one or two. A kill buyer doesn't buy just any horse. He has to be able to make money on it as he will likely be feeding it for a while. Horses don't go directly from auction to the kill plant. Most kill buyers will sell a horse privately as long as he makes a more money that what the market pays.