To Go out and Buy a Horse. Buyer beware
To Go Out and Buy a Horse Part 1
Buying a horse for private use is a journey of choices and disappointments. It is, nevertheless, a very serious business and one must accept that any horse chosen will eventually come to dominate the owner’s daily routine. Unless one is fortunate enough to be able to afford to have the horse kept at full livery, then on the morning of every day in the future, the first commitment is to go up to the stable, to check the horse and to let it out into the paddock. Owning a horse is a full time hobby and a regime which puts especial stress on any individual who also has to earn a living to pay for that horse. It is fair to say that keeping a horse costs about the same on a yearly basis as running a modest car and that does not include the capital spent on buying the animal. One should then take into consideration that an unsuitable horse costs as much, if not more, in money and effort than a horse which is fit for purpose. It is undeniable that buying the wrong horse could eventually lead to serious injury or even death. Horse riding is a risky sport in which the mutual compatibility of rider and horse is a paramount factor in matters of safety. So for several reasons the choosing of a horse is a very complicated business and one fraught with the potential for disaster. It is absolutely essential that the horse eventually acquired is fully “fit for purpose“.
What has to be countered is the considerable amount of emotion, sometimes ill conceived, which is involved in both the selling and the buying of the animal. Emotion has a tendency to distort common sense.
The reasons for Sale:
For the seller, there will usually be a pressing reason why the horse has been put on the market.
From the buyer’s point of view the most acceptable reason is that the owner cannot afford the thousands of Pounds or Dollars it costs each year to properly maintain the creature. Yet, rarely is the seller’s lack of funds quoted as a reason for the sale.
A slightly less attractive scenario is when the owner has lost interest in the horse or as is often the case the owner has lost confidence in his/her ability to ride and control the animal. To the buyer, the discarded horse presents a bigger problem than the unaffordable horse, because it is probable that the discarded horse has been neglected which in turn could well present more problems to the new owner when bringing the horse back into work. However a buyer might consider him/her self, rightly or wrongly, to be a better horsemaster than the previous owner.
The third reason might be that the seller is competitive and wants to move up a gear in competition circles. A change of horse might bring about a better chance of success.
Then comes a sale provoked by the rider simply wanting to give up horse riding for health reasons. The horse may well have been neglected and for some time.
Then there are the dealers, some of whom are open about their trade and they can be helpful However many of the semi professional dealers adopt more devious tactics and they try to disguise their status by adopting various ruses. Buying from a dealer, professional or amateur, revolves more about money and less about the suitability of the horse.
The breeders generally speaking sell most of their horses as young stock, often through auctions prior to the backing process. Breeders don’t necessarily have the patience or the skills required to school a horse. Buying young stock involves starting from scratch with a horse.
Finally comes the sundry reasons which obviously vary significantly from horse to horse.
But whatever the reason for the sale, it is important for the buyer to know what has happened previously to the horse especially over the proceeding year and what exactly is, or could be, the real reason for the sale. Horses which have passed through several owners hands in short succession will call for sensitive handling. There undoubtedly will be an underlying and good reason for the horses being passed from pillar to post. It remains for the potential buyers to suss out from the seller a believable scenario as to why the horse has come to market. Don‘t believe or disbelieve everything you have been told - just make a note of the conversations with the seller and try to check with third parties as to whether what was said was the truth, an exaggeration, misleading, the half truth, incomplete or totally untrue.
Never ever was the expression “caveat emptor” - buyer beware more appropriate than when buying a horse. Bear in mind that this expression is written in Latin, so get some idea of how long horse dealers have been in business.
To be continued/-
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 /-
I very much appreciate your perspective on the conditions in Great Britain and horse ownership/purchase.
I do not believe that is the case in many other parts of the world.
The cost is MUCH less as the land becomes more vast.
Much of your cost is created by the conditions that you keep the horse.
As the land becomes larger the lifestyles change and the buyers change also.
Horses are subject to OUR ideas of stewardship and would not choose to live as many are kept.
The way that they are kept has a DIRECT bearing on THEIR behavior and their ability to be used and enjoyed.
In summary,a visit to the Western United States and the heart of cattle country would give you a different idea of what it would be like to live WITH your horse and even the cost savings of that lifestyle.
Here is one of the views of my horses and I would like to invite you to come and visit.
Maybe I can sell you a horse!
What a delightful image you've created in my mind.
My father shipped over to the US during WW2 and I suspect he met many a young woman during his training period for the RAF. He was a good looking young man with a twinkling smile. There have been more than one occasion when I wished that perhaps he had sown some wild oats in the US - but he only got to Florida.
Dad also spent some time in Ontario but it is a bit cold up there.
Maybe if fate had been different I would have grown up in "The Land of the Free" with all those wide open spaces instead of being born in the backstreets of Brixton in London. I never got around to asking him "what he did during the war?"
I myself have been to Los Angeles but somehow it doesn't look like part of the State you have described.
I am inclined to agree with Barry. I live in the suburbs--twenty minutes one way down the nearest state road, and its wide open cattle fields; twenty minutes the other way, and I'm near the expressway. When I was born, there were orange groves on three sides of my housing development, and the fourth was a boneyard of sorts...over the years all kinds of livestock had been kept there but it was pretty barren. Now, you'd be hard pressed to find a space to build a barn, let alone keep a herd of horses. And as for the land that is available, its way out of most middle-class buyers price range...and I live on the East coast.
It is not that I disagree with what you are saying at all,but that it is just part of the story.
If I had a nickel for every time a person showed up to look at a horse and described themselves as an intermediate rider and did not even know how to install a saddle on the horse or did not have even the most rudimentary understanding of riding.
I had one woman demand the birth date and time so she could run an astral chart on the horse to see if they were compatible...No kidding!
And why would I want this horse that I have raised from birth and enjoyed his open and free spirit to be banished to the the life of a 12x12 stall with nothing to look forward to but a couple of laps around a small pen once a week with an unbalanced rider pulling on their mouth.
I say that there is enough fault on both sides of the sales equation.
Another picture of our area.
Marecare I LOVE your land! I used to live in california, but I lived in San Jose then San Diego, so not much of that pretty landscape! lol I now live in Virginia and in some parts it looks very similar to that.
I think the cost of owning a horse definitely depends on where you live, if theres a lot of space or very little, and the quality of care your horse is given.
As far as my experience is..
30% of horses are for sale because they're lame
30% of horses are for sale because they're crazy
30% of horses are for sale because they're lame and crazy
It is the other 10% that are actually good horses to buy, but the prices are usually so high that no one will even look at them.
As far as for the cost of keeping them - I would say it is a lot more than keeping a car, it's about as much as keeping a raging crack addict going.
It's not just the board bills, it's the vet, the farrier, the equipment, etc... It all adds up!
Barry, If you ever get to Utah I have a horse you can ride and I can show you country that will take your breath away. I think you should take a vacation to the USA instead of Spain. My QH's aren't as flashy as the Andalusians but they are fun to ride. If you come in the spring I could even take you to a real calf branding done the way it's been done for 150 years. Besides the exchange rate is very favorable to those wanting to visit the US.
I'm looking at a horse thats for sale CHEAP because his owner has arthritis and can't mount him cause he's tall. :P
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