The overall motto at any auction whether it is furniture, car, cattle, or a mule auction is "LET THE BUYER BEWARE" and "WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR IGNORANCE".
The first thing to ask yourself when you see a beautiful mule selling auction is a series of WHY QUESTIONS! ...WHY? Why is this fine animal at this auction? Why is this animal not being sold by the owner to a buyer? Why is this animal sleepy (drugs?)? Why is it being saddled out behind all of the trailers? The Whys are endless.
It takes years of equine experience to know how to judge the soundness, health, and training of a mule. There is risk of buying an injured or crazy mule. The auction is a world with its own language. If the auctioneer announces, "this is a mule for a real cowboy" means that you had better be one hell of a great rider or you will at best get bucked off.
It is my experience there are cheats, liars, and thieves at all auctions. Some auction sale organizers and auctioneers are less than squeaky clean and team up with insiders to drive up prices on an inexperienced buyer. However, there are some wonderful honest people with good mules that sell through auctions. Just be advised that if you are not wise to the equine sciences & auction world, then it is best to buy from a reputable seller or at the very least take a person with you to the auction that is truly an experienced expert to advise and guide you.
We at Rancho Santiago rarely buy a mule at an auction. We attend auctions to see old friends, buy quantities of tack at lower prices (if you know the true value before hand), & to monitor what is going on in the mule world in general. I drive two teams of Belgium mules that are exceptionally fine mules that I purchased from two different auctions. Yes, I had a friend look at them with me before the sale. I also have been lied to, cheated, and injured by some crazy auction mules.
When Rancho Santiago wholesales a problem mule at an auction we have announced "there are no guarantees on this mule & you get what you see".
We hear too many tragic auction stories. Here are a few emails we've received:
"We went to the Rocky Mountain Mule Days Auction since it was only a few minutes from our house. We heard they had some really nice mules. We ended up bringing home the sweetest 18 year old mule girl named Lucy who has a one in a million personality that you just absolutely fall in love with. I started riding her on trail rides and she is the reason I got the riding bug. It was awesome!
We then decided it would just be wonderful to be able to have the kids start to ride with us. That's when we contacted Rancho Santiago. Well, Saturday morning, when I went to feed Lucy she was a three legged mule. She was holding her front leg way above the ground and would not put any weight on it. Long story short and several vets later the conclusion last night was that she has a Keratoma that is invading her coffin bone. She has had a radical surgery in the past to remove a similar Keratoma which also included removing a large section of her coffin bone.
So if anyone tells you that the price of your mules is too high, you just send them our way and we can tell them our story! As for us, we will only do business with Rancho Santiago now. Take care, and give Maria our best." Tracey and the gang
"I check your site often, just admiring the mules. I can really relate to the letter about buying a mule at auction. I made that mistake. In 95 I bought the prettiest mare palomino appaloosa mule I'd ever seen. This was at the Columbia Mule sale in Tennessee. Bought her outside the sale barn from a guy from Louisiana. A young boy was riding her and although it was obvious she was young and very green, I bought her anyway. I'd always been an Appaloosa person, and really wanted a mule so I thought I was getting a "great deal".
To make a long story short, she bucked off my friend and compoundly dislocated her elbow, and then bucked me off and crushed my forearm. I have 3 pins and was in a cast for 14 weeks. Right arm no less. She was a "great deal" alright!! "Broke good" was what the man told me. Don't know where she is now, and don't really care. Some day I hope to get a "good Mule". This is why I enjoy your site so much. I believe you have "Good Mules". Hope you all are doing o.k. Happy Trails." Nancy