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I just want to share our experience and lessons learned to hopefully help someone else avoid the heartbreak we experienced in fulfilling our daughters dream of having her own horse. It is quite lengthy but worth the read especially if you are thinking of purchasing a horse and are not knowledgeable in the horseworld but have a child who loves horses and is a part of this world.
My daughter had been taking lessons for a year and a half when we decided to purchase a horse under the trainer/barn owners guidance. The first horse we tried (a 4 year old- mind you my husband and I are “green” and rely on trusted trainer about anything in the horseworld). The trainer loved this horse, my daughter was so excited and in a hurry to get her own horse that we decided to do a trial and ended up purchasing the horse under the trainers guidance. At the pre-purchase vet check, the vet recommended that we not purchase the horse as he did not pass the lame eval. Trainer said most horses don’t pass it and she contacted the breeder who gaurunteed the horse and said if he we had any issues with him, he would exchange him for another horse from his barn within a year. The horse was lame off and on, my daughter was scared of him and by month 3 we wanted to “exchange” him as he didn’t seem to be a good fit. The trainer said we should give him more time and it is a journey. By month 9 we had not made much progress and told trainer we wanted to take up the breeder on his offer of exchange. Trainer admonished us and our daughter and was very intimidating. We ended up leaving the barn and moving the horse to another stable. The trainer there said she could easily sell him because he came from well known blood lines. Well, he was lame again and we decided the best thing was to call breeder and exchange. The breeder sent us a 3 year old “teddy bear”. This horse truly was a teddy bear, sweet with an amazing disposition and so well behaved. We hit the jackpot! My daughter fell in love instantly! Within a month he was lame. The trainer thought it was from the new shoes the ferrier put on. Again he was lame off and on (explained by abscess, etc..) Had the vet come to do a lame eval and X-rays (month 6 with new horse) and turns out he has a broken navicular that can’t be fixed but recommended $3000 mri to see if tendon is involved to determine his future and determine if it is new or old or possibly something he was born with. Being business minded my husband refused MRi on something that couldn’t be fixed and knowing my daughter could not ride him anymore as a hunter jumper. We were researching and getting advice on what was in the best interest of the horse. He did not seem to be in pain as he would run around and play in the paddock. Within 3 weeks after this diagnosis, he gets colick and within hours he dies (the vet came shortly after it started and did the mineral oil and sedation and within a half hour he was starting again and when the vet came back he collapsed and was euthanized). It was the most heartbreaking death I have ever experienced.
The lesson I learned to help other “green” buyers when purchasing a horse for your child, read everything you can and become knowledgeable! Trust no one! I found that everyone has their own agenda. The trusted first trainer just wanted commission, board fees and money from all the extra training lessons needed, supplements and essential oils she said he needed. Second lesson - a 4 year old horse is rarely ever a good fit for beginner/novice riders! . 3. Always do X-rays as part of pre-purchase exam. 4. Make sure you can truly give and afford the same care you would provide to a family member, In my opinion the horse is another child. The cost of purchasing the horse and boarding the horse is nothing compared to the thousands of dollars in vet bills and medications (get the best insurance you can afford) plus all the other miscellaneous items you will need.
During this journey, our daughter was delayed in progressing in her riding abilities. In hindsight she would have been better off not owning a horse and just taking lessons or leasing.
It was a heartbreaking experience that I hope by sharing can help others make better decisions than we did. I can’t blame anyone but ourselves for not doing our own research and putting our trust into the wrong people. The good that came out of this is my daughter knows the dedication it takes to own a horse and experienced many joys in the short time with horse #2 that she will always cherish.
 

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I am so, so sorry this happened to you.

Honestly, it is often a bad idea for non-horsey parents to buy a horse for a child. It happened to me too. My parents gave in to my begging and pleading, but then I had a horse in our backyard and didn't know much about caring for them. I read voraciously, but I was a child and didn't have any resources to deal with issues when they came up (this is pre-Internet). I often relied on bad advice (this was the 1970s) like not giving a horse too much turnout because it will make them "wild" (my horses are now in 24/7 turnout and are certainly not wild, lol). I now feel bad for my horse who must have been miserable living in a tiny stall by himself.

My point is that parents who don't know much about horses often get in over their heads. At the very least, I recommend parents wait a number of years before taking the leap. I grew up with horses, am now middle-aged and bought my daughter her first horse 4 years after she started lessons. I see many parents jumping in too fast.

You did the right thing in working with a trainer to get advice, and it is really sad that they gave you bad advice. While it's true that most horses will have a little resistance in the flexion test (this is the part of the vet exam where they check for stiffness in the hind legs), there should not be more than a little resistance. A horse that does not pass a lameness exam should absolutely not be purchased, especially not as a first horse. I'm sorry you were misled by the trainer and seller. A lease would have been better as it is an arrangement you can get out of if things don't go well. Perhaps look into leasing in the future rather than buying. It really makes sense with a child because they often outgrow horses anyway.

BTW, we now have 3 horses in our backyard (but we have 13 acres and ample turnout) and I love every minute of it. My daughter is now a certified coach at 17. I ride with her often and it is a great joy to share this passion with my daughter. But when it comes to horse care, my daughter still turns to me for advice. She's a much better rider than I am, but I obsess over their health and happiness - probably partly out of guilt for not doing a good enough job with my horse when I was a child.
 

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Sorry this happened to you. Hurry IMO is a word that doesn't belong in horse vernacular but too many get caught up in wants and not needs. It happens to all of us at some point. I hate that you feel you can't trust trainers/instructor's based on this one but know that given time they are your best resource and the one that typically will be able to make a good solid match based on skill level and goals. 18 months was a bit early to purchase. A lease would have been a better option but waiting for that is also what I'd recommend. Especially if she is looking to compete as she'll out grow her horse in more ways than one. Let her learn and grow on lesson horses now. Lease, then purchase depending on how far she wants to take it. At some point she'll hit college age and then if you've purchased the question is what to do with horse....
 

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I'm so sorry you've been through what you have....

Sadly, there are good barns and instruction and bad....

You have learned from your mistakes and your daughter has also....it was a costly learning curve but eye-opening how easily you were taken, lied to and misled.

As a child I took lessons, continually begged for my own horse and looked outside to see if it materialized overnight as I so wished.
When my parents felt I was responsible enough, learned enough to be fair to the animal and dedicated enough to give good care to the animal...then and only then did they consent to me having a horse.
My parents were not "horsey" either, but the amount of books and literature that came into their home I read {pre-internet}, inhaled every piece of knowledge I could for the future...immersed myself and every breath in horse....they then also made contacts with trusted people in the community and used contacts of friends and neighbors to learn enough we, I was not going to be in danger...
The responsibility of daily care was mine as the horse lived not in a boarding barn but a backyard barn down the street from our house. The horse always ate before me, was stall and paddock daily cleaned, brushed and ridden daily weather permitting. Those were my responsibilities 365, 24/7...my responsibility!
The people my parents knew to go to for help were not "in it for the money", but in it for the love of horse and keeping me safe.
Thankfully, we were guided by those not looking to line their pockets...but to give hugs of support and laughter from happiness in our accomplishments.

I truly hope the next place your daughter rides at she finds a barn more like what I had as a child when I started out.
Whether she competes or is a pleasure rider she is a child and needs guidance. You now know as her parents that there are some wolves in sheep clothing to be on the watch for...
As parents you also need to be invested in this love of horse she has and have more than a open checkbook to pay, pay, & pay more ...but to do the time and research to understand what is being told to you, what norms of the industry are, and when its time to walk away from situations, people and bad advice.
Biggest thing I know my parents did is they let me learn as much as I could, gave me the opportunity to learn from many surrounding me and that they too did their own learning so a family approach of care and this feels right or not was better understood.
My parents also listened to the advice of trusted professionals of vet and farrier as those people were representing us and our best interest in the expensive investment my horse became for our family, our dedication to that animal and to me keeping us safe and healthy was paramount in everyones goals.
Life lessons are hard sometimes on all involved....and at times not only hurt emotionally but financially too.

I'm so sorry you found the distasteful side of the industry as you did.
You now know though if you venture to ownership again better who to trust, who maybe you should not and that people indeed get paid well not always doing the best for their clients. Rude lessons to learn and you not only learned them, but had the myriad of bills to prove it...
I'm so sorry... I hope the next foray into ownership is one of great success and happiness.
🐴....
 

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I'm sorry for your heartbreak!

I must say, that "breeder" really needs to re-evaluate their program. Two young horses being that lame--not good. And selling young horses to green parents/child. Sounds more like dealers/traders only interested in profit to me. Ah, water under the bridge though.

I hope that this hasn't spoiled your daughter's love and passion for horses!

If you wish to continue with horses, there are a few associations in which equine professionals can become certified with. This is a good step in trying to avoid the "snake oil" people looking to take advantage. This doesn't mean you won't still run into bad apples, but it can certainly help.

Certified Horsemanship Association – Find CHA Certified Equine Professionals <---Certified Horsemanship Association aka CHA. Strongly focuses on rider safety.

Honorary & Certified Instructors (usdf.org) <---United States Dressage Federation. Focuses on horse welfare and sportsmanship.

Good luck to you!
 

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Welcome to the forum :)
I’m so sorry this happened to you!! I hope your daughter recovers from this and I hope you’ll be able to find a good trainer who can find a horse that fits your daughter.
I can’t believe a trainer would recommend a 4yr horse for her!
well, now you have some experience of how it’s like shopping for a horse (not totally because there are good honest horse sellers out there somewhere)

my parents are not horsey people and still continue to not be horsey people, my dad had some experience with drafts but other then that I had to learn by myself and learn by my mistakes, which was hard.

anyway, good luck! :)
 

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What happened to your family stinks! I wish I could say I was surprised but there are a LOT of scheisters in the horse industry. Anybody can just hang up a sign and call themselves a trainer, or a lesson barn. Over the years I've been so disappointed to learn that any industry that makes $ off of animals in any way is highly contaminated with corruption. I totally feel your pain!

I was convinced at the age of 43 that I could buy a 6 month old horse, be riding her lightly by the time she was a year old, and have a solid trail horse by the time she was 2. The same person who sold her to me gave me references for trainers and lessons so my little filly and I got off to a horrible start! Thank God I found a forum where the people told me "nononononono do not ride that baby!" I still have her and now. at age 10, she is a solid trail horse but I've spent thousands on trainers and lessons and suffered endless hours of frustration to get here. Now that she's finally doing well for me, she has eye ulcers because I bought "gentle herbal face wipes" for her and some got in her eyes. She's suffered terribly and we're out thousands of dollars in vet bills and we're still not sure she'll heal completely - because the pet product world is horribly unregulated as well.

Now that you know how deep the water is, you can get out and then wade very slowly and carefully back in. This forum is an amazing resource.

If I had a child new to horses and I didn't know the good from the bad horse people around me, I'd be very cautiously searching for a barn or group where the kids seem happy and noncompetitive. I know in the area where we live I could find one because there are so many good equestrians here. Where I used to live, it would not have happened but I think I could have found a person to help us choose a horse to buy, board it for us, and get us started down the right path. Finding such a person would be like looking for a needle in a haystack but it would be worth it.

You'll want her on an old Steady Eddie horse. I didn't know the definition of "old" when I finally found a good horse forum that told me the same thing. I listened, and started riding a 6 year old. I was accused of "not listening" to my forum friends LOL. So - in case you might be as clueless as I was - horses live into their 30s and many can be ridden at the age of 30. I'd be looking for a horse 18 or older if it was my child, and would absolutely not try to get her into jumping for a while because whatever horse I put her on would be too old for that. I'd be looking for a place that would teach her how to groom and care for a horse and work with it from the ground, and just get her riding in an arena doing walk trot for a good long time before moving on. If an instructor tried to pressure her or me into moving on to the next level before she was 100% comfortable with walk trot, I'd be getting suspicious of the motivations of that instructor and considering moving on.
 

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This is so true. It reminds me of this one horse my barn owner has had two different people purchase for their child in the last few years. This horse , in my humble opinion, has a screw loose. She's a great jumper, yes, but she's not only hot but also anxious, insecure, and herdbound. She's willing to be aggressive toward humans. But that's not what makes me call her crazy. She just, every now and then, gets this look in her eyes and then loses it. She's also prone to injury.

I don't know why the barn owner keeps getting people to buy this horse. The nicest possible explanation is that it is a horse that she imagines she would like for herself. A more likely explanation is that she often uses boarder horses in lessons and thought this would be a good lesson horse. I mean for more experienced riders.

The last girl who bought this horse, she was riding my placid Pony for months before that. The barn owner convinced her family that they needed to buy her a horse. And she convinced them to buy this crazy horse. So the horse comes and this girl is so excited, but the barn owner doesn't actually let her ride the horse because the horse is "a little anxious" and "still settling in" etc. She puts training rides on the horse ($$$) and has advanced riders ride her in lessons. When the girl is finally allowed to ride the horse in lessons, she can't control it.

This family left the barn within a month or two of this happening. I don't know what happened to the horse. Or to them, for that matter. The same thing happened the last time someone at my barn bought this horse. I think she's a real confidence destroyer. I say the horse is crazy and I don't like her, but I've seen ads for her for sale off and on for years also. I don't think getting passed around and handed off to inexperienced people is exactly good for her.

Everyone says to have your trainer help you find a horse, and I think in most cases this is probably the right thing to do, but it isn't always. Sometimes the person isn't even deliberately dishonest, sometimes they are deluding themselves I think.
 

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edicI don't think anyone could have predicted the colic. Buying a horse is always risky. My first horse had navicular. My second had pssm type 2 (a muscle disease that no amount of x rays would have diagnosed). I had one develop recurrent uveitis and start losing vision. Horses can be expensive, heartbreaking, and may not ever be able to match up with your dreams.

As for colic prevention, you should feed plenty of hay, maximize turnout, keep water available at all times, and feed electrolytes daily year round, especially during cold weather. You can also use sand clear or related products to prevent sand buildup in the gut.

Horses that are kid safe are a rare find and usually older. If they are older, then they usually require some maintenance like joint injections or arthritis medication.
 

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@ACinATX that woman should be tarred and feathered!

I've seen some stuff those dishonest horse people do . . . . it just makes me nauseated! I knew one woman who made ALL of her money from deluding inexperienced horse people. Her targets were those without much money or a lot of resources. She would get horses from people who couldn't afford to take care of them anymore so she'd get them for free. She'd trim their feet herself and spend zero money on any type of care, and then wait for a beginner (or even better a beginner parent!) to show up at her barn asking for her advice and wisdom on choosing a horse. She'd show them some horses and recommend whichever one she thought they seemed to like. She'd sell it to them super cheap and let them bring it home and do their best to care for it for a while. They'd try to make it through the winter with the horse and when they ran out of hay and couldn't afford to keep buying it, she'd do them the favor of taking the horse back for free. In the meantime, they may have got some lessons or even hired a trainer. So then when the next person came along to buy the horse she'd tell that person the horse had been trained and used as a lesson horse :) She had a lot of horses and made a living that way.
 

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@LenoreH

You have my upmost sympathies, your entire family has been chewed up and spat out by the horse industry.

In the future, use this website to identify red flags and DO NOTS - It'll save your poor daughter from more heartbreak in the future. horse trader tricks
I'm combing through that website - we should pin it! Everyone buying a horse for the first time (or even after) should read this.
 

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I think you went about it correctly. You had a person you trusted and you used that resource. I’m sorry that it didn’t pan out. There are “bad guys” everywhere, and it’s really frustrating and heartbreaking when they end up being our own people.

The only thing I felt you did particularly wrong in this whole thing was use a vet and then not listen to the vet’s advice. I’d like to think the vet wouldn’t expect perfection, but would expect a specific level of soundness for what you were asking the horse to do. I think if you hire them, you should probably listen to their advice, unless it seems outlandish or you have the experience to know if you can manage what they point out.

My vet and I have a love/hate relationship. Sometimes I think I know better than she does, occasionally I am right, and I am sure I am wrong more often. Lol. One time she was sitting by me at this auction, and I wanted to buy this horse, and she told me how dumb I was for thinking so. I told her she was a jerk and I didn’t want her ruining my day. When I went and looked at the horse up close, she was totally accurate. She knew, and I was mad she was right, but she was. We don’t hold back with one another. It’s a weird relationship.

I think that it is awful what this person did to you. I think you trusted the wrong “trainer,” and it wasn’t your fault. She conned you. That’s all there is to it. She was getting commission on junk horses.

The colic was a coincidence that couldn’t be predicted, and I’m really sorry you went through that loss. It is terrible for you, but I am glad for the horse that he was owned by your family and loved for a chapter of his short life. He sounded like such a good guy.
 

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I think the most accurate bit of advice anyone in the horse world can give you is, "If you want to make a small fortune in horses, start with a large one.". I'm so sorry you had to find out the hard way how expensive and how untrustworthy so many people in horses are. It's truly heartbreaking. Sadly, the real losers are always the kids and the horses.
 

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I just wanted to say I am very sorry this happened to you and your family.

I agree with @Knave about listening to the vet. They have education and hopefully experience on their side so trust when they say a horse is lame. On a PPE exam sometimes the horse with be positive on an inflection test, that could turn out to be minor. However, we had a circumstance that we followed it with an xray and the horse had a fractured coffin bone when they were a yearling and not healed correctly or addressed. The horse was showing signs of arthritis and would have been very lame in 9 months. The horse was currently sound and moving really nice, just a slight head bob on the inflection at a trot.
 

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@LenoreH

You have my upmost sympathies, your entire family has been chewed up and spat out by the horse industry.

In the future, use this website to identify red flags and DO NOTS - It'll save your poor daughter from more heartbreak in the future. horse trader tricks
When this website was posted on my thread about a horse trader, I read the entire thing. It made me feel better because not everyone taken my a trader was a beginner! So, OP, even experienced horse people can be taken advantage of, and you should not feel too bad. The blame lies with the people taking advantage! And shame on those people for the way they treated you. I wish the horse world was easier, sometimes. I'm in the market for a horse right now and I'm so, so paranoid about getting a horse that turns out awful or is drugged or something. I already had one "bad" buying experience and if I have another, I'm not sure what I'll do!
 

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I sure did like reading all those stories that @Linoone posted. I know that I have been very lucky because I have dealt with many dishonest sellers but still managed to get good horses. Here is an interesting story about how I came to buy my Shadowfax.

I called a dealer looking for another jousting horse to complete our show. He said he had a good sized Appaloosa mare that would probably work out for me. I went to look at her. He had her stuck in a cavernous old barn, the only horse there, and it was clear she was terrified. She was a rack of bones, rain rot all over her topside, and her hooves were broken off to the quick. When I asked to ride her, he said he didn't have a saddle. I knew right away that was a red flag. Then he put a bridle on her, and I could see that she had never been bridled before.

I said, "She's never been ridden, has she?"

He answered, "Waaal, I sat on 'er onct. Go ahead, git on 'er. She won't do nothin'"

I got on her bareback and she shambled around a bit, clearly never having been ridden. She was shaking, she was so scared. I paid the man $350 for her. I loved her deep soft sweet eyes. Then it was time to load her in my trailer. He admitted she had never been in a trailer before. I tried to tempt her with grain, but she didn't know what it was. She had no interest in eating the grain. I put some in her mouth, and she liked it. I went up into the trailer with her lead rope.

"Come come," I crooned to her, and she walked right in.

"You sold me a heck of a mare!" I crowed. The dealer looked a little green. He knew he could have gotten a whole lot more money for her with just a few hour's work.

I took her home and turned her out into a small grassy paddock. She was starved for grass. I watched her for a bit, then called the name I had chosen for her, "Come Shadow, come to me," She left the grass and came over to me.

In two weeks, we were sword fighting off of her and she rode in a parade. I didn't like rushing her training because she deserved so much better, but I needed her for the show. In her lifetime, she earned me $21,000. About 5 years after buying her, Equus Magazine wrote about her. I sent the article to the dealer and told him how well she had worked out and how much money she had earned for me. He never answered. I wasn't surprised.

She turned out to be a very quirky mare, and the worst quirk was that she threw everyone but me. I bought her to be a jousting horse for other knights in our show, but nobody else could ride her. Because I had one-person horses in the past, I made sure that other people did all her breaking and training. That didn't work so well, because she always tossed them off. No bucking or rearing or bolting. She'd just drop a shoulder and flip them off. From the start, she wanted to be my horse. I kept her all her life. She could perform in jousting shows, foxhunt, barrel race, win ribbons in horseshows, take little kids on the leadline, and jump 4 feet.
Horse Tree Plant Working animal Bit
Horse Tree Working animal Sky Bridle
 

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Bones was probably the horse I was most taken on @knightrider. Now, I love Bones as much as I have ever loved a horse, but I was pretty flabbergasted about his purchase.

I shopped around a lot, caught some people trying to scam me, and I was willing to spend some money, but I just didn’t like anything I was looking at. I wanted a broke horse, which was different for me. I wanted a break from working on a horse. I wanted something solid and trustworthy and just fun.

So, I was calling around different trainers I knew. One was an old buddy, making a name for himself in cowhorse. I asked him if he had a reject, because that’s about what I was looking for. He said no, but he had this colt I’d want to look at. Sure, he was yet another colt, but he was bred out the tail and he was gentle as they come.

This was a friend of mine, so I didn’t think to question him. Also, I had felt I made myself vulnerable, which was different for me. Of course he would be kind to me, and if he said the colt was gentle he would be.

I rode him. He was okay, certainly didn’t feel like he had 30 days, but whatever, for everything he said I might as well just buy another colt. Plus the look in Bones’s eye was so calling and it was as if he could see through your soul.

I took him home, realized real fast he didn’t have 30 days of riding by any stretch, but whatever, I needed him for work and it wasn’t like I wasn’t used to riding colts. I simply had wanted a break from them.

The mind blowing part was when he started fighting with his imaginary friends. This horse was tearing himself apart. “Self mutilator,” was the diagnosis. That I had never heard of in all my time. They said I should put him down, and I chose not to. I was able to eventually figure out how his mind worked, and I did love the horse. He is now my daughter’s horse. He’s hot, and he’s not always right in the head, but he loves us and is extremely talented on a cow in my opinion.

Now, the part that irritated me: I didn’t judge the fact I was taken. Okay, I suppose I didn’t understand our friendship like I should have, and I should have known better. I should have questioned his goat knees instead of making up a reason for them. I should have seen a lot of things about the little sorrel, but I accepted responsibility for my own naivety in reading the human as well as the horse.

So, I walked up to him one day “hey, did you know that horse actually has a diagnosable problem? It’s not just this weird thing he does, but it’s real!” I figured he had no idea, like me, and would be interested. There was no blame. “I have no idea what you are talking about. He never did anything like that with me.” “Oh, okay,” I said and walked across the room to his wife. I played like I’d never spoken to him and said the exact same line to her. “Isn’t that the weirdest thing you have ever seen!,” she said. “He would get down on his knees and just try to kill himself. I had no idea it was a real thing. It just was so crazy!”

I knew in that moment I’d never buy another horse from that guy or trust him. No problem for me, because I owned my responsibility in being taken on the horse. It’s not like I was green by any means. What bugged me was the continued lie, like I would make a deal out of it, and also that I had specifically explained I didn’t want to ride another colt. Then he saddled me with a really hard one to get by, that obviously he couldn’t get broke. Is it because I showed my vulnerability? People suck.
 
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