People that are new to horses sometimes think that buying at an auction is the best place to find a cheap horse. Well they are partly right they will get a cheap price, but getting a well-trained horse without any behavioral, physical or health problems is a challenge.
The low prices at an auction may be tempting, but it is buyer beware as you may wind up with more than you bargained for. The majority of horses that go through the auction are there because the seller was having a hard time selling them privately.
Horses at an auction may appear to be well, but have been given a medication to cover up the problem. I know of horses that were purchased and the buyer's thought they were well, but after they got them home and the drug wore off they discovered the horse had laminitis or they had a tendency to colic easily.
There are many bad behaviors that a horse can have and you don't want to end up with a horse that has a behavior problem. Behavioral problems could be such things a chronic bucker, a biter, one that bolts, strikes or the horse may even attack people or other horses.
Horses May Be Drugged
Yes this does happen as there are some unscrupulous sellers that will give the horse something to calm them down so they appear to be gentle or sound. This can present a big problem because when the drug wears off you may have a dangerous horse or wind up with one that is crippled.
This could be things such as hard to catch, head shy, cribbing, kicking, biting, weaving or other undesirable behaviors. These things you may not see when they run them through the sales arena. Some of the vices can be destructive or dangerous.
No Try Before You Buy
Most of the time you're not able to try a horse out before you buy it when purchasing through an auction. Some horses will appear to be well broke, but because they were drugged there were no problems. Trying a horse before you make the decision to buy is important as you want to make sure the horse is a good fit for you and that you two get along. You will want to try the horse out more than one time, but you can't at an auction.
If you do decide to buy at an auction by all mean take someone with you that has a lot of experience with horses and knows how to train them. Keep in mind that this won't guarantee you a good horse because even the most experienced horse person can still get one with problems. Not all horses at an auction have problems, but most of them do otherwise they would not be there.