By Chris Gould / CWHBA

The move to online auctions, accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, has significantly changed the horse market worldwide, perhaps especially for those countries outside Europe to which travel is more costly and time consuming.

The Alberta Chapter of the CWHBA has successfully hosted live auctions for over 25 years, marketing horses throughout Canada, the United States, and even into Europe. In October last year, however, it moved the traditional annual Fall Classic Breeder's Sale online and, to everyone’s delight, this broadened the audience and doubled the number of registered bidders.
Prices were strong, an early indication of the upward trending horse market, but also confirmation of the acceptance of online sales. At $37,000, the high selling horse went to a buyer from California, and this success gave impetus to the long-contemplated idea of a spring sale. The challenge for the new sale administration team was to maintain the quality and consistency of presentation, and this was solved by gathering the horses at one central location, Old Gate Farm near Olds, Alberta, for videos and photos.
The second challenge for the team was to secure enough quality horses during the current industry-wide boom, and spring in Canada is not the time to be selling young horses and foals. So the sale categories were modified to include older schoolmaster horses with show records, as well as active, high-level competition horses. It was a winning strategy as 15 quality Warmbloods were accepted, including two FEI level competitors.
In the end the CWHBA Spring Riding Horse Sale (April 23-26) was a resounding success with 12 of the 15 horses selling for excellent prices. Topping the sale was Lot #3 Letty Boo who has a long and extensive record in both the under-25 and the FEI classes with a young rider. With the final bid of CAD$94,000 this beautiful Lesotho x Kolibri DSP mare went to Illinois, USA.
Lot #10 the stunning Elle Carrara (Tempranillo x Indorado), was the second highest seller with a final bid of $92,000. Young prospects also sold well, with the young gelding Comic (Casparo x Quidam Blue) topping this category at $31,000, sold to an Ontario buyer. While in the schoolmaster division the phenomenal 1m60 Granit S, who has been ridden by John Anderson and Canadian team member Yann Candele, is ready to step down and take care of a very lucky rider. He sold for a final price of $41,000 to Battle Ground, WA, USA.
Online marketing presents unique opportunities as well as challenges. Extensive radio graphs, health records, and high quality video are essential, but via social media the whole world can be reached, and with each sale the audience expands. Over 500,000 people knew about the Spring Riding Horse Sale and bids came in from all over Canada, the USA, as well as Mexico and Ireland. Overall, the average sales price topped $36,000, with 40% selling outside Alberta.
It seems that both buyers and sellers are thrilled with the process and are excited for the next online edition, the annual Fall Classic Breeder’s Sale scheduled for October 1-4, 2021. Another great group of horses will be available in this sale and will include weanlings, yearlings, broodmares, two-year-old prospects and prospects under saddle (three to six years of age), as well as riding horses.
Online auctions are clearly establishing a new and successful Canadian tradition.

Results for horses sold (CAD$)

1 Janieka BF (2014/m: Bosch Blue x Damiro B) $23,000
2 Aura MS (2017/m: Aquilan Calypso [Holst] x Landor S [Oldbg]) $25,500
3 Letty Boo (2008/m: Lesotho [Holst] x Kolibri [Meckl]) $94,000
4 Northern Girl (2018/m: Hiroko x MTF Starpower [Hann]) $20,500
5 Sapphire (2014/m: Emerald [BWP] x Calido I [Holst]) $24,500
6 Emmery (2018/m: Hitchcock van Overis [BWP] x Kodachrome [Oldbg]) $10,500
8 Lulu LM (2017/m: Leeto Z [Zang] x Landover) $13,000
9 Chuxerio Z (2014/st: Chopin [Holst] x Luxury Z [Zang]) $43,500
10 Elle Carrera (2009/m: Tempranillo [KWPN] x Indorado [Holst]) $92,000
13 Comic (2016/g: Casparo [Hann] x Quidam Blue [Hann]) $31,000
14 O. Valenzano (2018/g: Valentino [KWPN] x VDL Ulando H) $22,000
15 Granit S (2005/g: Faust Z [Hann] x Graf Grannus [Hann]) $41,000