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I'm going up to the Kalona, IA sale this July on the 2nd and was wondering if ya'll had any tips for how to pick which horse to save from slaughter out of a big group of horses- I heard there was usually 350 loose horses, which breaks my heart. Especially since I can only save one.
I'd just like to get a friendly, calm, maybe older type horse that needs saving and a new life. I'd try to achieve some very, very light riding- I'm talking walk/trot type stuff. I've been riding and been around horses my entire life, but this will be my first rescue.
Thanks guys!
 

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Auctions are always a tough call. What may look good in the ring may turn out to have cancerous tumors under their halter as you're loading them up to go home (I am speaking from experience on that).

My best advice is to bring an experienced person with you, and if possible, check the horses out up close before the auction so you aren't totally guessing at what you're buying. Nothing more heartbreaking than to have a horse bought from auction be returned the next weekend.

Best of luck to you.
 

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Also don't forget that many, many horses at auction are there for a reason, whether that may be behavioral or physical. The only horses we've ever gotten that didn't have SOMETHING wrong with them were unbroke babies. Granted, this isn't true in all cases, just be careful. And I also don't personally consider buying at auction a rescue...but that's personal opinion. Good luck and I hope you find what you're looking for!!
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Look close, and keep your heart in check. Try to find the best/healthiest of the bunch. Don't look at the poor bedraggled colt that looks emaciated and on the brink, he just may be. Many of the horses that go to these sales need to be euthanized, not all, maybe not most, but many. Don't think that just because the horse approached you it has somehow chosen you.. it may be that it just associates humans with food or protection. Don't take the mare that is chasing others off, and don't take the one that has no buddy. Be logical and methodical, and get the horse that most matches the ideal in your head. Take an EXPERIENCED horse person.. there are old cowboys I know that can profile a horse, better than the FBI can a serial killer, at a glance. If you have someone like that around, see if they'll join you and LISTEN to them. Lastly and most important.. Prepare yourself now to come home WITHOUT a horse in the trailer. You need to be willing to walk away from all of them. rescuing a horse is a noble aspiration but remember you want a horse that you can someday soon gallop down the beach with arms srpead wide hair and mane flowing in the wind... oh wait sorry..lol that you can someday soon ride.. and enjoy
 

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I would look for:

1. a large, soft eye (speaks to trainability)
2. decent feet (you can tell alot if you know what you are looking at - stay away from slipper feet, stress rings, broken and flaky hooves or tenderness that can indicate navicular)
3. good legs and even hindquarters - lots of horses are there because they can't be worked anymore ... check for bowed tendons, ringbone, swollen knees, and look at the top of the hip and back/butt from behind. A horse with lameness issues often has one side higher/larger than the other as the unused side atrophies (I got bit by this personally).
4. Try to talk to the owner beforehand. With the prices of hay, some horses may be there simply because the owner can't afford them anymore... those horse owners often try to 'market' the horse during the presale... if a horse looks promising, see if they will let you handle him
5. Watch their movements in the ring carefully - as they travel see if they favor a side, wing in our paddle out, toe in or out, etc... tight circles are hard on lame horses...

Finally, definately buyer beware. I have had some amazing finds at horse auctions, and I have bought money pits with major issues. Have a cold heart, as mentioned above, because buying a bad one puts you in a terrible place - you have to decide if you are going to nurse the lame one, rehab the dangerous one, put them down or run them back through the sale - so do your best to get a good one, and if you are not sure, just walk away.
 
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I think it's a rescue if you know for SURE which ones are headed to slaughter. Talk to the sale owner or others who frequent the sale and find out who the meat buyers are and bid against them, find out what the market price is also. You'll know when they quit bidding before/when they reach that. Otherwise you are bidding up someone who's doing the same thing as you are.
What breed will be most prevalent?

As far as looking for the one to buy. Watch them closely in the pens.
I would go for one that seems quiet, inquisitive, somewhat healthy, and younger. Don't be afraid to go for a rougher looking one. Especially if it's young.
Do look for hard, decently shaped feet. CLEAR EYES, noses, and listen for coughing closely. Horses with COPD will flair up in dusty sale barns.
And of course avoid one that seems even slightly lame.
I'd go for a young unhandeld horse before an older broke or seemingly broke one. Not that a good one won't go through.

You never know what you are going to find there. But I would get an in, find out who the horse traders are, breeders, the meat buyers. Have you ever gone before just to watch? I'd do that for a couple times before making a purchase. Learn the culture, the speak, the people, and the horses going through.

This is only a little bit of advice, there are some much more experienced buyers on here.
 

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Avoid a horse with a "stupid silly bump" or "dumb bump", which is a horse that has bulge between eyes down to nose. Those are usually harder to train, more conniving, and can be dangerous too.

If you are in market for horse, there are horses in trouble in people's backyards right now, that can be more easily evaluated. And have better idea of what type of horse they are.

I'm seeing horses go on IA FB groups for 500 and under, all of which may soon be at auction themselves. And all breeds too. If you want to see any of them? PM me and I will link you to the groups, as all of them are within a couple of hours or less from you, many in IA proper.

If you are set on auction, remember that how horse acts there may be 180 degrees different from how horse will act at home, either more flighty, more worried, or more depressed. Can't tell which way it will be at home.
 

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Palomine: I am interested in your proof for this claim. I know facial conformation has long been claimed as a sign of this or that, but what you describes sounds like a roman nose, which means nothing to me as far as temperament. What is your basis for this?
 

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Moose has a roman nose.. it's why he's called moose. He didn't seem harder to train.. maybe a little in the beginning but after we got the "I'm the boss" settled he has done fine. I would be curious about the "dumb bump" theory as well..
 

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Did some sniffing around COTH and found it is something like a jibbah. Quotes from Linda Tellington's book Get in TTouch With Your Horse, which I have casually browsed and was skeptical of. I would think folks tend to anticipate these things rather than them being fact, but alas, who knows. Apparently a study done by a Polish researcher on this "dumb bump" in TBs and Arabs was done, or something to that tune.

Hmm..
 

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I think I'd look on craigslist before ever going to an auction for a rescue. Like it was said, people can and often do send dangerous horses through that have been doped just enough to take the edge off, but that they still function.
 

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I just looked up their site, loose pen horses do not require a coggins test. So be prepared to quarantine it for quite some time, as I'd do for any sale barn horse.

My first horse was a green broke mare purchased for $5 more than the meat buyer was willing to pay. She was 2 and one of the hardiest horses I've ever had in my life. Wish I had 20 of her.
My uncle purchased a fugly yearling, he was in TERRIBLE shape, emaciated, wormy, scabby, you name it. When they let him loose in the ring he tried to climb over the 15 foot fence. My uncle couldn't let such a spit fire get away, he paid $35. The only other bidder was the meat buyer.
Sarge grew up to be one of the most impressive horses I've ever seen. He was a solid black TWH/QH, stood 16hh. and weighed in at 1,500 lbs. when he grew up. Absolutely FANTASTIC animal.

So you can find a "good" deal. But do take a good old timer like suggested!
You may try and contact a "trader" or "broker" who purchases several at this sale. Let them take the risk and then resale them to you for a bit higher price. I have a family friend that scours the kill pens and gets some pretty decent horses. Takes them home, assesses them, puts some hours on them if they need it, and finds them homes. Most he's ever sold one for is $500. He's not in it for the money, only the horses and putting the right horse in the right hands.
Get to know them of course, never trust an unknown trader! But they have the eye. They win some and lose some, but if you can make friends with one you've got it made.
 
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