My family has been a 'horse' family for over two decades now. We've owned several horses, were in training programs and rode competitively, etc. Basically we have some (not saying All for sure!) knowledge.
However, we haven't had a new horse for ten years. This past month, my sister and I each purchased a new horse. Mine, thus far is fantastic. Her's, well, definitely not so fantastic.
On the Coast (Vancouver and District) there is a plethora of big barns like any large city, being a competitive market. My sister recently responded to an ad for a $6500 horse. At the level of competition she is at this is incredibly cheap, incredibly. The advert was for a Oldenburg, 9 years old, 17.2 hh, dressage training to 2nd level (with no limits), Spruce meadows jumper. It sounded a bit dodgy, but my sister went to try the gelding out. He was only owned by the 'cowboy' for a month beforehand. Apparently the cowboy got him because he had a wicked buck, which he told my sister about, but when he rode him, the horse didn't buck so it was time to resell it to make way for other horses needing training.
My sister loved the gelding's movement, his canter is beautiful, great mind, and had a WELL known vet come out to vet him. The vet loved him, noticing the 'high and low' feet in the front. But when he went to trot on the left rein, dead lame. Cowboy couldn't believe it. My sister was devestated. The vet said it's fairly common, and that they'd come back in 10 days to do flexion tests etc and see how he was then. Meanwhile Cowboy is a trainer and wants this horse gone because he has horses coming in for training. Offers the gelding to my sister for $4000. She manages to get a 90 day free trial (before any money is exchanged). How can she lose?
She takes possession of the horse and gets the farrier out (thinking the feet are off - the only differenece between when she rode him and he was fine to the lame day was he had his feet trimmed). Farrier re-shod him. He was fine in two days.
At this point she's not heeding my advice of passing on the sale and she's getting attached. So I do some internet research. And find the previous location of the horse is from a prominent training barn. I find the gelding's adverts and youtube video and price is $10000. Says he passed his pre-vet with flying colours. I show my sister the information and she contacts the trainer who had sold him. Trainer says he was imported from Germany, used as a jumper but stops at fences over 3'6 and has a wicked buck, so she didn't feel safe selling him on, hence why he was sold 'cheaply' to the cowboy to 'fix'.
I forget how we found out but the vet doing the pre-purchase exam for my sister is the same vet used to do the 'pre purchase exam' for the sales barn. She phones them up and asks for the gelding's previous records. I wasn't sure they'd discuss the file but the vet rung today and there is PAGES of vet history on this poor horse. Who was lame for 6 months, given injections, ridden on bute to get fit, has muscle atrophy in the hip (we thought the hip was out - so did my sister's trainer), and has numerous things wrong with him. All of which this very nice, 'reputable' training/sale's girl knew about.
The Cowboy honestly didn't know this, and was taken for a ride. So remember, folks. When you buy a horse you're buying however-many-owner's it has had. Not all information gets passed down the line. So even when you feel the owner is being honest, they might be!, the previous owner might not. While this sounds like commonsense, I thought I'd pass it along. This horse (besides the mild atrophy in the hip and high and low) looks amazing. You have to be Very careful, no matter what the price point is and who is involved. Always use all the tools at your disposal to thoroughly researched your horse's past. While this horse is 'registered' its papers are 'lost'. This is one huge benefit of buying a registered horse - you have a providence.
Ok, lecture/rant over. Now to go get my sister to stop crying.