Animals’ Angels investigators arrived at the monthly horse sale at 11:30am with the tack sale already in full swing. The auction consists of a fairly modern auction building with a roof covered pen area overlooked by a catwalk. The pens and the installed automatic waterers were quite clean and fresh sawdust had been spread out in several areas. As investigators accessed the catwalk, there were only fifteen horses and donkeys present. Most of them were tied to the pen fencing and therefore could not take advantage of the waterers. The majority of the animals were in good condition. A grey had a small, bleeding front leg injury, apparently obtained during transport. A Chestnut mare with auction tag # 809 was thin and had an apparent eye infection. Investigators overheard the seller, a known horse trader, state that the mare was a discarded former camp horse and approx. fifteen years old. The mare was very nervous and agitated, pacing restlessly from one side of the pen to the other.
Walking the parking lot, investigators noted that the pick-up truck and stock trailer of horse trader/kill buyer supplier Jesse Austin (Cedar Ridge Farm) was parked in the back of the premises. Austin is known to frequent sales along the East Coast, such as the notorious New Holland Auction in Pennsylvania.
The horse sale started late at 2:08pm. It should be noted that no social distancing was practiced and many of the auction visitors did not wear a mask, even when standing right next to each other in the auction ring. Most horses were ridden through and the auctioneer took a long time to advertise each animal. The prices were high, ranging from $700.00 to $2,100.00. Several horses were no-saled. The handling observed was mostly calm and did not raise any concerns. However, it is important to note that even at a small, local sale like the Fauquier Livestock Exchange, kill buyers linger waiting to pick up any horse they can grab for a good price. Anyone thinking about selling a horse at an auction, needs to be aware that – no matter how small or how well maintained the sale may be – there is always the possibility that the animal will end up in the wrong hands and on a slaughter truck to Mexico the very next day.