Sunday, December 6, 2009

Horse trader or used car salesman?

You found a horse online who looks like a promising prospect. The training level, temperment, breeding and price fall under your criteria. You read and reread the ad and finally decide to call for more information. But what do you ask the seller and how do you know if you will get an honest answer?

Ads usually contain the basics, which can be considered the horses strengths- the horse leads, loads, clips, ties, stands for the farrier and vet. Easy to catch in a stall or turnout, gets along well with others, height, color, breeding and price. So what do you ask the seller about the horse? If the horse has been shown- the seller will more likely include all of this as a way to promote the horse as something great and justify their price.

Some sellers will include information which makes the buyers question the suitability though. One ad I found a short time ago stated the horse "needs a stronger rider". Stronger how? Do I have to really pull on the reins hard to get the horse to stop? Sometimes the strength needed, is in fact, the inner strength of trusting the horse and letting them go. Dropping the reins, closing your eyes sitting still and asking for a stop, instead of yanking and pulling on the horse while screaming repeatedly- HO!

Traders often get a bad rap because they are in it to win it. Flip and ship is the name of their game. A quick turnaround means less spent on feed, farrier and vet work, just get the horse sold and move on to the next one. I know of a few locals who are no more than horse traders. But they do get lucky and find a nice horse here and there. If you know what you are looking for and what you are looking at, you can score a great deal on a nice horse for a low price, simply because the trader doesn't know what they have. In their quick assessment and 'easy flip' they don't often have or take the time to get to know the horse.

A lot of times they pick up horses at the low end auctions. They give the horse a chance to find a new home, make a few hundred dollars and go back for a few more. If a horse is on their lot too long, they may take them back to the auction to dump them off and bring home another in their place. If the horse has serious issues, they go back to the auction the next chance they get.

When looking at ads online- check all adds for this seller. Quite a few of the ad websites offer this feature. I suggest you use it. A couple of horses, may not be so much of a trader. A long list of assorted breeds, temperments, accomplishments and each ad sounds the same? You are likely dealing with a trader. But even some breeders take on a shady character when it comes to selling horses. Some also prey on newby horse owners. They too can take in horses of other breeds as a 'payment' for something else and expect to flip & ship the horse for a profit.

As a buyer, keep in mind that every horse is for sale for a reason. Sometimes the reasons are good ones- job loss, sudden illness, death in the family, expensive car repairs... Sometimes the sellers are just thinning out or culling their herd, trimming the fat, downsizing, cutting costs or even getting out of horses altogether.

While everyone wants to have a nice horse, breeders and trainers fall under a little different category. We want to keep our best horses, but don't want to be known for selling a bunch of horses who are unsound, mindless, hard to handle or downright dangerous to be around. The way to build our reputation is for every buyer to be happy with their horse, feel safe while riding them and understand that they are horses and we cannot control every single thing they do. Some people get it. Others don't and some never will.


  1. I am so eternally grateful that I am not in the market for a horse.

    I have bought 3 and probably did it totally the wrong way, but have really lucked out.

    It was never online. As a matter of fact, when I bought Spunky, there wasn't an online, LOL!

    Terribly scary thing to contemplate.

  2. It is tough to sell too , I have each of my horses name with the FV prefix ,so a bad deal would swing right around and bite my ass in a big way .I am possibly too honest, sold a young filly that was a cribber , and yup I sold her to a greenie. That said I worked with her and the horse several times and she was taking her straight to a trainer,. I explained clearly that she was a cribber , when I didn't think the buyer understood I educated her and advised the trainer. Also noted it clearly on the bill of sale. I am sure these people wondered if I was nuts but... My name , my reputaion
    btw that filly went into a pen with electric fence tried , got a shock and apparent,y no longer cribs ! (who knew?)

  3. The trainer or breeder who is out to make a name for themselves will also be more expensive. People should respect that, since people like you and FV are going to work a lot harder to make sure the match is perfect.

  4. Kestrel- there are times though, when the match is right, the money doesn't much matter. I know not all people in our positions feel the same, but what you overlook on the purchase price, may be recovered in further training and lessons. Not always the case either, since egos can get in the way, but it could happen.

    CCC- I may find some online, but I have found a few through friends and one through the newspaper. I can remember when there was no web. I still refuse to do FB, myspace, Twitter and some of the rest of the stuff out there. Xbox? Won't find one here, no playstation, not even a Nintendo.

    FV- you do what you can. Like JR said, you try to teach them to use the silverware, and they still eat the damn plate.

  5. The only reason I wish I was in the market is b/c I really enjoy rehabbing. I like taking the horses that have been pushed or are in the wrong discipline. Give them some time off and some 1-on-1 and see what they have in them.

    I don't have an issue with Breeders asking top dollar IF the horse is worth it. I'm sick of seeing various Warmbloods priced at 35K or higher just because they are a Holsteiner or Hanoverian or etc. If your horse has been in the pasture for 5 yrs and is green is NOT worth 35K no matter what YOU think!

  6. CnJ a topic like this? When I am in bitch mode?

    Beware the sentence 100% sound. BULLSHIT.
    100% sound for what?
    There is using sound. And again for what? And there is pasture/companion sound which basically translates into will cost as much as a horse you can use but this one you can't. And light riding sound. Technically means light rider for little time.

    100% sound means completly fit in body and mind.
    Now what are they completely fit for?

    I generally use the words using sound.
    Translation, there have not been any problems to date as this horse has been used in the discipline it is being trained for.

    Ads that read 14.7-16.8h horse scare the shit out of me.

    This horse has been trained using Parelli or natural horsemanship methods usually do not turn me on.

    People will call and ask, "Is this horse kid safe?"
    My answer? "From the ground."
    If the horse is not declared as being child safe there is generally a reason.
    And the ones that are? Tread carefully.
    I want the grade trail horses that belong to the 12 year old girls usually who are trying to upgrade to a registered horse and have owned what they are selling for like 4 years.
    THAT horse is usally a little gold mine.

    Beware of the aww shucks man approaches. And the snotty I am sorry I don't know what you mean done with the intent of making you feel stupid.

    And for Gods sake people unless you know the seller or it is so cheap you just don't care vet these horses.

    I usually run away from newbies. Because they are almost always a danger to themselves. And if they are buying for a kid I am screwed.
    There goes thousands of dollars of my time because otherwise I can't sleep.
    I do not have beginner horses. Why do people keep referring these folks to me!?!
    Because I am a sucker that's why.

    Cattypex you funny girl homemaking skills go on my

    And Kestrel bless your heart. More expensive yes. And they should be. They are here for 1-4-5 years before they leave they SHOULD be...
    And CnJ shhhhhh...stop giving away the farm dammit.

  7. And Fern you are an exception. An honorable breeder and marketer.
    They is rare honey...

  8. Yeah CNJ, I hear ya! I talk a big story, but am as likely to give a horse to the person they choose as not. You ever notice how the horse sometimes makes the decision?

  9. Kestrel- we had a young, well bred, Arab gelding in the barn for sale. Not overly expensive, not much training on him and hadn't done much with him. He was mainly here for some serious down time and gentle reprogramming. Sweet horse, no health issues, just green.

    Buyer #1 comes along- woman was nice enough. Looked at the horse, led him out to the arena, turned him loose, he ran a little, caught him, took him back to the stall, things seemed fine enough. Until he proceeded to gently push her into the rail and held her there with his body. Just close enough to make it uncomfortable and let her know, he wouldn't be leaving with her.

    Buyer #2- guy with a cowboy hat. Nondescript, nothing to send off any warnings. Until he walked into the barn. Super sweet gelding turned into a majorly aggressive lunatic and tried going over the front of the stall to get him. No sale.

    Buyer #3- woman is into endurance riding. Brings a couple friends, everything looks promising. Gelding is behaving like an angel. Suddenly she proclaims he has serious (fictitious) joint issues and there's no way he is going to work out. Whatever, eyeroll...

    Buyer #4- woman has a few other horses, all in training and showing on the upper level of competition. Says she likes him, has to find a way to slip in another horse, under hubby's radar. Suddenly everything is called off. Found out someone we know 'killed the sale' in hopes of the woman buying a horse she had a vested interest in instead.

    Buyer #5- girl has another horse who is aging and no longer able to hold up for the long mountainous rides she enjoys. They were here for 3 hours, played with him in and out of the stall, he layed down and snoozed while we talked, sucked her thumb and stole her heart.

    Guess who he went home with?

  10. oooooo....oooooooo....(waves hand franticlly)...I know, I know....
    Ahhh..the "imagined" joint that quite a few times with Ean..Actually told a lady she wasn't a match for him if that's ALL she saw. Boy was she pissed. Also called me a horse trader b/c I had posted my friend in Iowa's horses. I laughed and said..Yep I sure am. Trading horses in Iowa while living it Texas..You know it! sigh...Stopped that side biz b/c of the bullshit I had to put up with! Did enjoy the commission checks tho!

  11. I have to admit that I get a selfish delight out of watching people like girl #5 and their horse just being happy together. The smile really is worth more than the money at that point, but I wish the smile AND the money came together more often!

  12. awwww, what a story!
    Oh, lucky Door #5!

    I was a terrible impulse buyer, when I bought my five. Yup, every single one, an impulse.
    My first mare, because she took a kick at my dad's head.

    Tad, because he looked like Northern Dancer, and he was bright bay.
    and he kicked at us, in his stall.

    BAD way to shop.

  13. No one ever said that horse people were very normal....

  14. 14th!

    CP- you got that right!

    GL- My first horse was greenbroke and turned out. I went to look at him as a 5 y/o. Never rode him, just bought him. Boy did we have a lot to learn...