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Cowgirl Cadillacs Horse Sale: What to Know Before You Go

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Written by Horse Rookie

Horses From Ladies, For Ladies

Have you ever wished you could find your dream horse and support talented female trainers at the same time? Thanks to Cowgirl Cadillacs, you can do exactly that. 

The annual horse sale is held in beautiful Wickenburg, Arizona and exclusively features women consigners. I’m excited to attend the 2020 event in February, help a friend who has two amazing horses in the sale, and virtually take Horse Rookie readers with me!

For part one of this series, I want to share some basic information about the sale, explain how it works, talk through what buyers need to think about, and provide tips about how to avoid common rookie mistakes.

What is Cowgirl Cadillacs?

If your idea of an equine sale is dark barn full of dingy panel stalls, nervous horses, and gruffly-spoken salesmen, it’s time to shift your perspective. There’s a place where all the consigners are women, sale horses are beautifully trained and cared for, and the atmosphere is organized, calm, but still buzzing with excitement. 

It’s called the Cowgirl Cadillacs horse sale, and it’s proudly presented by Cowgirl Magazine.

“Every horse here is offered by a woman who strives every day to live up to the example set by those early female trailblazers.” – Cowgirl Cadillacs

This year’s event takes place February 21-22, 2020 in Wickenburg, Arizona at the historic Rancho de los Caballeros resort.

Top 10 Buyer Tips

If you’re interested in purchasing a horse from Cowgirl Cadillacs, here are a few tips to help you have a positive experience. 

Get Your Priorities Straight

We all love pretty horses, but be careful not to make purchase decisions based on “style over substance.” 

Each horse has a unique personality, story, training history, confirmation, and skill set.

You can bring home the flashiest palomino (no shade to palominos!) at the sale only to find yourself disappointed if your personalities don’t mesh or the horse isn’t well suited to the activities you enjoy. 

Write down your priorities — in order — before you start scrolling through the list of sale horses. Then reference your list during the selection, test ride, and purchasing process to ensure you end up with the right horse for you.

Be Honest About Your Situation

Every horse is different, and so is every rider. The time to be really honest about your personal situation is before the gavel drops. You’ll need to consider:

  • Financial reality (e.g. your budget)
  • Emotional state (e.g. if you run hot, you may want a chiller horse)
  • Physical capabilities (e.g. needs to hold up to long days of ranch work)
  • Discipline (e.g. you want to compete in reining)
  • Training (e.g. what level, type, and amount of training does the horse have — and who handled that training*)

*Note: While all the consignors are women, that does not mean they did 100% of the training for their sale horses. Read the horse descriptions carefully and contact sellers to get a thorough training history.

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Do Your Homework

Each sale horse has a dedicated landing page with information about it, so take time to carefully review them.

Watch the videos, read about the horses, and contact the sellers directly to learn more about the horses who rise to the top of your wish list.

Ask the Right Questions

If you’re new to buying horses, or simply want to double-check your list, check out 60 Questions to Ask When Buying the Horse of Your Dreams.

Speaking with sellers ahead of the sale is encouraged, and they will be best equipped to answer your questions. The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be the day of the sale. 

Seek Expert Advice

Even experienced horse people benefit from a second set of eyes, so don’t be afraid to ask a trusted friend or trainer for help. 

Bounce ideas off each other, talk about what’s most important in a new horse, and narrow down your top picks together.

Test Ride Your Top Picks

Once you have a few frontrunners, it’s time to test ride! If you’re able to visit the horses in person prior to the sale, it’s SO worth it.

It’s important to keep an open mind!

Don’t be surprised if a horse you thought would be absolutely perfect isn’t the right fit once you meet him or her. That said, a horse you were initially iffy about may knock your socks off in person. 

Get a Pre-Purchase Exam (PPE)

OK, so you’ve narrowed down your list, chosen your top contenders, and you’re serious about buying.

Consider scheduling a pre-purchase exam, but remember it’s on you to pay for it.

This step is optional, but it’s always safer to do a PPE before the bidding begins. Horses are sold “as is,” and you don’t want any surprises.

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Stick to Your Budget

Ugh, money talk! Auctions are exciting, and even a bit nerve-racking, so it’s easy to get caught up in the moment. 

Set your budget ahead of time, and stick to it. 

Spending more than you’re comfortable with is unwise, and you have no control over the budgets and number of other people bidding. So you need to know where you’ll draw the line before bidding begins.

Have a Backup Plan

While you’ll probably go into the sale with a favorite horse, it’s a good idea to have alternates in mind.

If your top horse sells for more than your budget, there’s nothing wrong with moving on to your second or third choices.

There are plenty of high-quality horses to choose from at the sale.

Prep Travel Home

Where a lot of folks drop the ball is thinking through post-sale logistics. You still need to get your new horse home.

Make sure you know who will be responsible for your horse’s care after the sale, as the animal is officially yours when the gavel drops.

Especially if you aren’t there in person, you need to make arrangements for the care and transportation of your new horse. The last thing you want is your wonderful prize left unattended and/or without a ride home!

Rookie Mistakes

Here are a few common mistakes to avoid:

  • Blowing Your Budget: Purchasing the horse is only the beginning of your expenses, so don’t spend more than you’re comfortable with because you get caught up in the moment. Horse care is costly, and you need to ensure you’re set up to successfully care for the animal long-term.
  • Not Being Prepared: The morning of the sale isn’t the time to pick your favorite horses, figure out your transportation options, or calling sellers for more information. You need to have all your homework done beforehand.
  • Choosing a Book by Its Cover: The length of a horse’s tail or color of its coat shouldn’t make your decisions. How the horse was trained, its personality, and the skills it possesses are far more important than how it looks on Instagram.

Who to Watch

Now for the fun part! Based on their online information and videos, here are my top five “horses to watch” at Cowgirl Cadillacs 2020.

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Legend // 2015 Friesian-Cross Grey Gelding

Stunning color, a loving personality and the solid foundation that comes from being in the best of hands from day one.

I personally know this horse and the gal who trained him from the ground up. (And up and up… he’s a big guy!)

To say he’s one-of-a-kind is still an understatement.

Legend is one of the most gentle, reliable, honest horses I’ve met in 30+ years of riding. Plus, he has stunning self-carriage, versatility to switch between english and western, and a puppy dog personality that’ll win you over in five minutes. (OK, five seconds.)

Learn more about Legend

Mr. Dulces // 2012 AQHA Sorrel Gelding

Cut, Rein, Head, Heel, Ranch Rodeo, Ranch Riding, Trail Ride, Work the Ranch, Take One Down the Fence, Rope a Cow, Spin, Slide, Take Grandma on a Trail Ride.

I may be partial to red horses with blazes, but there’s no denying this gelding is one cool guy. 

The first 30 seconds of his video was enough to get me smiling!

If you’re looking for a classic ranch horse who can rope, rein, and ride all day, Mr. Dulces (“Chavez”) should be near the top of your list. His seller originally bought him with 30 days of training and has done everything else herself.

Learn more about Mr. Dulces

Romeo // 2015 Friesian-Cross Black Gelding

With his charm, looks and confidence you’ll immediately fall in love with this classically beautiful gelding.

You know those people who seem to be talented at everything — and look good doing it all? That’s Romeo. I’ve had the pleasure of riding this horse and know his trainer well, and all I can say is wow.

Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Ladies, he’s right here!

Sure, there are quite a few black horses at this year’s sale — but you won’t find any with a more solid training foundation, funnier personality, and fancy movement. 

Learn more about Romeo

Two Roaned King /2011 Bay Roan AQHA Gelding

A big, handsome and cowboy-colored gelding with the size of a draft cross, but the agility of a quarter horse. Ranch and trail experience.

Whoever takes “Barstool” home will be getting a super-solid all-around horse. Not only is he hardily-built (and 16.1hh), calm, and quiet, he has plenty of real-life ranch experience.

He’s built like a tank, but he moves with ease and grace.

This gelding is the type of horse I’d buy for myself in a heartbeat.

Learn more about Barstool

What a Payne //2015 AQHA Red Roan Gelding

An own son of Metallic Cat with a beautiful cutting style, pretty Cowhorse pattern and amazing ease in the roping pen. Trustworthy and honest, no matter what you decide to do, he will make you look good doing it.

If competition dreams are in your future, take a serious look at “Mojo.” Cutting, reined cow horse, reining, and ranch work are all on the table with this gelding.

One thing is for sure: Mojo is fine with dogs!

He’s quiet with the stamina to work all day, but he’s also flashy enough to get judges’ attention. As if that weren’t enough, I simply love this horse’s movement.


Learn more about Mojo

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How to Participate

If you’re in the market for a new heart horse, prepare to be wowed. The 2020 batch of sale horses is simply stunning

Cowgirl Cadillacs is a live auction, meaning you need to outbid other buyers in the moment. The good news is that you can bid by phone, online, or in person at the sale. 

After you’re registered, simply mark your calendar to watch the sale livestream online or book your travel to Arizona!

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do I see the horses for sale?

You can see all the 2020 sale horses here.

Where can I find the event schedule?

Check it out right here.

How do I pay for the horse I bought?

On-Site Buyers:

  • Personal Check with Photo ID
  • Cash
  • Credit Card (3.5% convenience fee)

Phone and Online Buyers:

  • Credit card (3.5% convenience fee) to release the horse immediately.
  • Wire transfer, secured by an authorized credit card for the full amount, to release the horse immediately (your card will be credited when the wire arrives).
  • Wire transfer to release the horse once the money is received.
  • All wires must be received by noon, on Monday February 24, 2020.
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Are there any health guarantees?

Per the website, “All horses are sold ‘as is’ without any express or implied warranties. Consignors are required to provide a Certificate of Soundness with regard to sight, wind and limb, from a certified veterinarian, dated within 30 days of the sale. Horses are sold as sound under that certificate and any questions of soundness arising within two weeks after the sale will be decided by Ike Sankey.”

What do the horses usually cost?

According to the sale website, here were the 2019 average selling prices: 

  • Top 5 Average: $60,000
  • Top 10 Average: $46,250
  • Top 20 Average: $32,610
  • Top 30 Average: $25,290

Where to Learn More

Visit the Cowgirl Cadillacs website for more details.

See you at the sale!

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About the author

Horse Rookie

I began riding horses at age six, and I'm just as infatuated (OK, more!) with the sport decades later. My AQHA gelding exemplifies the versatility of the breed -- reined cow horse, reining, roping, ranch riding, trail, dressage, and jumping. We're also dipping our toes (hooves) into Working Equitation!