Summer sale season is In full swing at Ocala Breeders Sales in Marion County, and if you’ve ever been curious about what a Thoroughbred auction is like, there’s never been a better time to find out! The Thoroughbred industry is a deep part of the culture of our community, and OBS sales are a great way for the public to see up close and personal exactly what goes on at these bustling, exciting events. If you’re a first-timer thinking about attending, here are some etiquette tips to keep in mind while on the sale grounds.
1. Arrive early
Want a prime seat during the auction? Get there early! Auction area seating can fill up quickly. Try to grab a seat in the center of the room, or slightly off to one side so you can get a great view.
Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that arriving to buy without following the proper registration process will bar you from participating in the auction at all. Registration periods vary by venue, but for Ocala Breeders Sales, you’ll need to register at least 48 hours prior to the sale to ensure there’s enough time to complete the process. You’ll also need to complete a Credit Request Form and be approved in order to finish up the registration process.
2. Come prepared.
If you’re going to be out at the sale for a few hours, it’s usually a good idea to bring a bag with the essentials you’ll need for a day out. Sunscreen and sunglasses are a must with the warmer Florida weather and high UV index. Pack any necessary medication and maybe a band aid or two just in case of blisters or accidents. If you have children with you, it’s also a good idea to bring something to keep them entertained. A snack isn’t a bad idea either, however, OBS does offer a limited variety of food and drink right on the premises.
3. Wear comfortable clothes
Auctions at OBS are both indoor and outdoor events, so dress with the understanding that you’ll be spending at least a little time outside in the Central Florida sunshine. Ocala’s temperatures can range anywhere from 45ºF or lower in Winter and 90ºF or higher in the warmer Summer months. Factor in the humidity levels and the potential precipitation factors, and you have the recipe for a potentially stuffy and uncomfortable day if you’re not appropriately prepared. We recommend checking the weather outlook for the day before attending so you know what you’re signing up for.
Jeans and breathable shirts are recommended, with sturdy and comfortable shoes that are suitable for walking and being around animals. If you’re planning to attend a Winter sale you may want to wear something a little warmer, or plan to pack an extra jacket.
4. Grab a sales catalog
Available in the OBS sales office and in the lobby for free (as well as online here), an OBS sales catalog is an indispensable tool for figuring out just what the heck is going on during an auction. It provides at-a-glance information for each individual horse i The horses going through the sale are listed by what is called a Hip Number in numerical order. The consignor—the individual or farm selling the horse—will be listed at the top of the page, along with the Hip Number and barn number where the horse is stalled on either side. Below that will be the horse’s name (if they have one, otherwise they are listed by coat color and sex) and a chart listing their pedigree three generations back. The rest of the page is dedicated to a deeper look at the horse’s sire (father) and dams (mother, grandmother, etc.). There you can find a brief list of each horse’s racing and breeding accomplishments, with monetary winnings and other illustrious equine ancestors.
5. Practice situational awareness
The public is allowed to venture into most places on the sale grounds, and this includes the OBS sale barns as well as the outdoor covered walking ring immediately behind the indoor auction ring. Serious buyers can ask to view individual horses at the barns before they enter the ring, and you can watch these horses strut their stuff—at a distance.
Be aware of what’s going on around you at all times, as horses are constantly coming and going between the auction building and the barns. Thoroughbreds are notoriously high strung and a busy auction environment full of strangers can be stressful for them. If there are horses in your immediate vicinity, do not move suddenly or attempt to interact with the horses. Make sure children are kept close and not permitted to roam the sale grounds.
6. Say seated during bidding—and don’t raise your hand
When the bidding starts, the bid spotters have to keep a sharp eye on the crowd to catch bids. That gets harder for them if people are getting up and walking around. Keep your seat during bidding and wait until the hammer falls for your bathroom break. And during the bidding don’t raise your hand or wave to a friend across the room. Bid spotters may mistake this for a bid and you could find yourself on the hook for a very expensive accident!
Got any more questions about thoroughbred sales at OBS and the thoroughbred industry in Ocala? We’re here to help! Our team is deeply involved in the local equestrian industry and we’d love to hear from you. Contact us today and we’ll turn you into an auction expert in no time. We hope to see you at the next sale!