The Route To Market
The underlying reason for the sale will probably influence the seller as to the method chosen for bringing the horse to market.
The Internet, whether by computer or mobile phone, must be increasingly the dominant route to market. The viewer can now search for the type of horse he/she is looking for and in an accessible region. A Google search will bring up the various sales organisations who specialise in the equine market. On some of the internet sites the prospective buyer can even see videos of the any horse in motion. Once buyer and seller are in direct contact then thru email it is very easy to exchange information.
The Breed Societies mostly have a web site and some devote pages to horses for sale. Very useful if you seek a particular stamp of horse.
In small countries like Britain the simplest method is to seek a photo of the animal in one of the horsey magazines. These specialist magazines direct their editorial content at the younger private horse owners who are mostly female. They have a web site and some adverts attract an amazing number of hits. There is always a problem when responding to these adverts because the horse can be located anywhere in the country. Indeed some overseas sales organisations do advertise, the idea being that the buyer flies over to meet the horse. In Europe this is increasing common as the horse can easily be moved by road. However in the US because of the significant distances involved maybe these magazines are not so effective.
For the bottom end of the market, where bargains are often to be found, is the local trade press and many of the country areas have on the advertising pages specialist sections for horses and their tack. The big advantage here is that usually the buyer does not have too far to travel.
A lot of horses are sold locally by word of mouth - the advantage being that in most instances the true nature of the horse can be better ascertained. Horses known amongst the local riding fraternity to be fit for a purpose will readily find a buyer. A card on a board in the local tack shop or feed merchant will be a good source of information.
Then of course there will be the personal and individual deal whereby an owner will put the message out of an amiable horse being for sale so that a suitable and reputed buyer will come forward. In such cases the buyer will be able to ascertain a lot about the horse.
The horse auction is a good source for some of the more experienced buyers, but then you’ve got to have a good eye for horseflesh. This is not a scene for amateurs to dabble in but the prices can be low.
In practice the horse buyer should consult all of the above outlets. What to be born in mind however is that the business of selling horses has been a dealer’s paradise for centuries and the professional dealer has tricks up his/her sleeve to make even a wild horse look angelic. As has already been said in the horse world, the phrase “caveat emptor“- or “buyer beware” has a resounding tone.
In olden days, a seller could be sued in court for misleading or untruthful descriptions given to a buyer as to the behaviour or performance of a horse. Seemingly nowadays this process of seeking compensation for misselling is rarely invoked. During my own search for a horse I was told some blatant lies which luckily I managed to spot in time. I was quite often not told the full story. Once or twice when put under subtle pressure, the seller was honest enough to admit that the horse in question was unsuitable. Listen to everything which is said but don’t be deceived. Towards the end of my search I began to realize that the only creature likely to tell me the truth was the horse itself, if only I could understand just what it was trying to tell me.
The true nature of the horse
The fundamental problem when buying a horse is to find the truth about the horse’s condition and its abilities. Many sellers will not necessarily lie but neither will they tell the whole truth. Much depends upon the nature of the pressure placed on the seller to put the animal up for sale.
Undoubtedly the buying of a horse is a hunt which is better done with four eyes and two people. At least one pair of eyes should be in the head of someone significantly knowledgeable about horses. Nothing in this horsey world replaces cold, hard, experience. Whilst recognising what is desirable about a horse is extremely important - knowing why not to buy that same animal is equally of paramount importance - otherwise buyer will become seller in a very short space of time. It is amazing just how often one hears in the world of horses the expression: “Oh I saw the horse and just had to buy it”. Emotion can be a strong instinct but often it can distort a logical selection process.
Every recognised breed has a Breed Standard and it is important for the buyer to know what looks to be a good example of any particular breed. Some breeds are said to have special behavioural characteristics. In theory the buyer should be able to match the description of a breed horse with his/her own needs, however, in practice it can be very difficult to do so. Always try to seek advice and comment from the experts in the breed. However when you come across a crossbreed, bear in mind that you have only half a breed and the question will arise as to which half of the horse matches the breed characteristics. Remember a horse is invariably bought for performance and not for appearance unless of course, one’s interest is in showing.
To be continued /-