Two new websites promising to auction horses online have met with mixed responses from the industry.

Horse Auction Online went live last month and another, Hauctions.net, is due to launch on 15 April.

Tarma Rowles of Hauctions said: “We are dragging horse selling at auction into the modern age by using the internet to match the right horse with the right buyer at the right price — whether 50 or 5,000 miles away.”

Investors have spent more than £200,000 developing the Hauctions site, which allows horses to be purchased in any currency and across the world. It predicts 12,000 horses will be sold internationally through the site during the first year — with a 3% commission.

Horse Auction Online appears to be on a smaller scale and currently has five horses for sale, start prices ranging from £200-£5,500. It charges 6% commission.

Both sites advise buyers to view horses in the flesh and arrange vettings, but claim to help buyers and sellers in their quest to find the right horse or owner.

Melanie Golby of Horse Auctions Online said: “We understand that the market is currently very weak, but what we are offering is unique. It offers the convenience of an auction, but the stability of a private sale.

“Once people see that there are so many advantages for buyers, vendors and, most importantly, the horses, we hope to have the opportunity to help the process of hundreds of sales per year.”

She said vendors should still advertise their horses with magazines and websites like H&H, but use the Horse Auction Online reference in place of a phone number. Vendors also have the power to block bidders, or ensure their horse is not exported, on both sites.

Elaine Tasker of charity Equine Market Watch said online sales have an advantage over traditional auctions in that the horse stays at home until it is sold.

She added: “Inexperienced buyers could be at risk from rogue traders, but there seems to be little difference from the way private horse trading has been conducted for centuries.”

But Rachel Wakefield of Uptown Eventing did not think buying horses this way would prove popular.

“Purchasers like to be able to negotiate and deal directly with the vendor on the spot, without the pressurised competition of others in a sale,” she said.

Richard Botterill of Brightwells Auctioneers said it is looking at making online bidding available in some bloodstock auctions.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (10 March, 2011)