ESHA: Dressage horses auction on the 31st of March 2019

On Sunday, the 31st of March, the next edition of the European Sport Horse Auction will be held at the Molenheide in Schijndel. This time, it will be a very special edition: only dressage horses will be auctioned. Altogether 45 approved horses: most of them still young but some of them already experienced at Small Tour level, like the Diamond Hit-son Don’t Worry. The auction will be combined with the AES Stallion Approval on Friday the 29th of March and the annual stallion show on Monday evening, the 1st of April.


The European Sport Horse auction has known different editions, all of them organised by a team led by Dennis Swennen from Peer. In the earlier editions, especially jumping horses found a new owner, but the dressage horses, which meanwhile have been sold, inspired Dennis and his brother Jurgen to organise an auction for them as well. 

“If you organise an auction only for dressage horses, you are entering another world than the one we are used to. The trade in dressage horses somehow differs from the trade in jumping horses. We offer 40 young horses, from 2 to 4 years old, and five ridden horses, almost all of them straight from the breeder. Most of them have already passed a year at our stables, and because of that we know them inside out. On Friday and Saturday, 29th and 30thof March, the horses can be looked at and can be tried to ride as well. Sunday afternoon we will be auctioning, so then it won’t be possible to try horses anymore. And then we want an auction without nonsense, we are going to sell all the horses.”

Don’t Worry lichte tour (v. Diamond Hit)

An auction without nonsense? “We have experienced at our latest auction that ten or fifteen people approached us afterwards: ‘Where is that or that horse, because I can imagine it has not been sold.’ They adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach at the auction and then they expect us to be stuck with the horses that haven’t been sold. They couldn’t be more wrong. We sell everything. And there are no dressage people involved. Actually we bypass the people working in the dressage horses trade, the people that are involved in everything. You see, we don’t have the goodwill factor of those people anyway, so we don’t have to take that into account. And people that ask unreasonable prices as a commission fee, we don’t do those things either.”

Dennis realises that auctions are getting more and more of a reputation: “If you want to organise an auction to perform a show, you have to quit. Those actions are sprouting out. I can name them just like that at all of those auctions: which ones have been sold in advance, the ones are brought back, you name it. And buying horses at auctions, that often entails risks. We don’t want that, it has to be trustworthy. That is why all the horses are approved by veterinarian Maarten Arts of the veterinary facility De Mijerij. If someone is interested, they can easily contact them and there is always the possibility of an approval by an own veterinary at all times, at their own expense. But there is no horse in the auction of which we know there is something wrong with.”

Kees van den Oetelaar is the advisor of the brothers Dennis and Jurgen Swennen, an seasoned hand in auctions: “I have always disliked bidding along. Just during the auction in September I have told someone who was bidding along to stop it immediately! I was in Den Bosch at the auction and I had the permission of a Swedish woman to bid up to €100.000 for a young stallion. When I noticed that the owner was bidding against, I quit directly. That is the nonsense what Dennis was talking about. I try to support them, because up until now they are doing a great job. About the September auction I know for sure that all the buyers are really pleased with their horses. I know as well that a lot of them have been able to resell them very profitability.. And I know that all the horses have been approved. But I also know this: the most extended approval is actually a waste of money, it would be better to use it to feed the horses. You can keep peeling a potato until nothing is left at the end. But if people want to do so, they are allowed to.” 

The organisation wants the European Sport Horse Auction to become a concept: the place where you are able to buy a good horse a couple of times a year in a trustworthy atmosphere and at a reasonable price. Dennis Swennen notices that his approach is already paying off: “We are fully booked for March 31st. When we passed the word about what we were going to do with the dressage horses, the program was filled in no time. We have good conditions as well: We ask € 750,- of the seller and 10% of the buyer. And we always put all the cards on the table, people often aren’t used to that.”