Vechta, Verden, Munster, Medingen and PSI are the pentagon of German young horse auctions. With over 20 auctions a year at these locations, they are a driving force for horse sales in Germany and annually generate millions of Euros, which boost the economy and breeding industry in the country.
Ten years ago, the auctions were a place where every serious dressage rider was able to buy a fine younster at a reasonable price. Right now, due to an increase in foreign buyers from North America and the rising competition between horse owners to buy a horse from the scarce amount of top quality youngsters on the market, the auction prices have tripled.
Nowadays, Elite auctions truly live up to the linguistics of their name: they present elite horses, for elite prices to elite people. The Spezial Auslese, the Equitop and the winter/summer collections in Vechta and Verden are still open to the "normal" public and are a great place to do a best buy, but if you want something really special, you have to attend the Elite auctions in either Verden, Vechta, at Klosterhof Medingen or especially at P.S.I. in Ankum.
Amaretto, Brentina, Lesotho, Weltall, Wansuela Suerte, Piccolino, Weltissimo, Weltspitze, Dollmann, Quando Quando, Rioja, are just a few names of current top dressage horses, who switched owner at the auctions in Germany.
Sissy Max-Theurer, 1979 European Dressage Champion, 1980 Olympic Champion on Mon Cherie and multiple Austrian Dressage Champion, is a fervent auction shopper and one of the persons in the fortunate situation that can afford whatever horse they want.
However, to her, auctions are not a lottery game, in which she can throw away her money and just get a horse in return, nor are they a social event at which the equestrian society socializes while spending money on new talent. When Sissy Max-Theurer goes to an auction, she's on a mission. "The horses I like to buy must have something special," Max Theurer said, "and those horses are very rare and, therefore, often expensive."
Max-Theurer's auction collection includes only price highlights: August der Starke (Oldenburg stallion by Argentinus), Edelman (Westfalian gelding by Ehrentusch), Ramina K (Hanoverian mare by Rubinstein ), Superstar (Oldenburg gelding by Sandro Hit), Royal Olympia (Oldenburg mare by Rohdiamant), Cockpit (Hanoverian gelding by Compliment), and Reve Tropical (Hanoverian mare ) are her most famous acquisitions and they all had price tags of over 100,000 Euro. Superstar, Royal Olympia, and Cockpit are currently no longer in training or owned by Max-Theurer.
Albeit, Sissy Max-Theurer is no exception amongst auction attendants. Many wealthy dressage fans prefer buying at auctions for convenience sake. Perry Thomas, Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff, Wilfried Bechtolsheimer, Nadine Capellmann and Paul Sprehe are part of the auction joy luck club. Auction shopping, therefore, is no so much a trend amongst the wealthy, it has become a system due to an excessive demand for top quality horses. Max-Theurer explains: "some years ago it was much easier to find talented horses at breeders' stables, "but now, the breeders bring their talented horses to the auctions to get a better price, or they put an agent in the process."
Max-Theurer is a little upset by the general understanding that she only buys horses at auctions, which is not true. She also has three brood mares and some stallions at her stable in Achleiten, Austria. Furthermore, she not only shops for herself but helps friends and clients buy at auction, which was the case with Fleur Rubin at the 2003 Munster Elite Auction in October. "We have some talented, inexpensive horses which we didn't buy at auctions," Max-Theurer said, "however, since the last couple of years it is easier to find talented horses at an auction. There is also a better possibility to compare and they have all had a pre-purchase exam."
Max-Theurer considers not every expensive horse sold at the auction a good one. Therefore, it is vital that you buy a high quality horse. "Lately, people are realising the importance of top quality horses. There are also many more people now looking for quality horses. If you want to train a horse, you have to believe in it. Training takes a long time and is intensive. Only special horses from the start remain special horses at the end."
Max-Theurer has no favorite auction, nor can she identify her favorite horse purchased at auction. "They are all on a different level and have such different characters and movements." Max-Theurer recently purchased the Grand Prix horse Weinrausch for her daughter Viktoria. Weinrausch, a Hanoverian gelding by Walt Disney, has an extensive auction history himself. Sold at Verden initially, the bay horse switched owners again through P.S.I.. Max-Theurer purchased the horse in Germany last year. "To buy a Grand Prix horse is much more difficult, because the good ones are rarely for sale, " Max-Theurer said. "We train most of our horses up to Prix St Georges and Grand Prix level ourselves and this gives us a lot of fun."
Sissy Max Theurer quit competing in 1994 after the World Equestrian Games in The Hague, but is still highly involved with dressage horses. She supports her daughter Victoria, who is trained by Hans Max, her father and Sissy's husband. Sissy still rides at home, but "only for fun," and is currently training the Oldenburg mare Eviva Espana (by Ex Libris x Rubinstein) up to Grand Prix level. While new horses keep filling up the stalls at Castle Achleiten, Sissy says that she loves all of them, yet her favorites are the ones she had the longest.
In 2003, Victoria Max-Theurer started competing August Der Starke at Prix St Georges level. For a while, detractors wondered whether August Der Starke would live up to his price tag, but under Annelene Justl, the bay stallion has already been successful in the FEI Young Horse ring, and under Victoria he has collected six wins and one second place out of seven rides. So, August der Starke has already fulfilled his duties. A confirmed winner in the show ring, August also has great value as a breeding stallion. "He's an approved stallion and was the winner of the stallion performance test, so he has great value as a breeding stallion, even though we haven't put him up for stud yet," Max Theurer clarified.
Text copyrighted: Astrid Appels
Images copyright/courtesy: Werner Ernst/Oldenburg Verband, Achleiten.at
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