All the Pretty Little Ponies

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Buy a Horse with Caution

In a marvelous article on, regarding purchasing a horse, one rule states, "Be on time – not early for a showing."

While I concur with the reasoning behind this statement, in regards to its being a simple courtesy to the seller, I also want add an additional tip. Granted, the cases will hopefully be few and far in between where this is applicable, but it is still worth considering.

What I am referring to is the amount of time you give the buyer as a "heads-up" that you will be there to see the horse. Unfortunately, there are horse sellers out there that take that "heads-up" and use it to their advantage (your disadvantage) to pre-work the horse, or worse yet, drug the vices out of it.

As a rule of thumb, I have always been told that you should find out what day the seller is available, but never commit to a specific time of the day when you will show up. You may want to ask them what part of the day best works for them (morning, afternoon, or evening), but that's it. Then, let them know that you will call before you are too close. If they bulk at this, and request at least an hour of notice, then you should really begin to get slightly suspicious. Remember, in order to accurately gauge your prospective horse, you really need to see it "as is," not just as they WANT you to see it.

Now, I understand that this will sound discourteous to many people reading it. However, while there is a place for manners, and I agree they belong here, as well, you must also remember that you are dealing with someone desiring, or needing, to SELL something. While we would all like to believe everyone in the horse community is honest and sincere, the truth is slightly depressing.

So, if you still want to set up a specific time (or if you have no choice in the matter), I highly suggest requesting that the horse be caught only once you have arrived. There should be no signs of the owner previously working with the horse. Furthermore, as you do a one-over feel of the horse, be sure to be on the look-out for any tell-tale signs (usually slight bumps) that the horse has been given drugs to temporarily ease out their vices.


  1. Having been on both sides of the equation I would advise come on time the first time. If you like the horse then come back and this time be a bit vague on the time. That is more courteous to the seller while still allowing for protection of the buyer.

    Always ask about vices too. Some people believe in full disclosure but others won't offer if you don't ask.

  2. I like the idea of going twice. Generally, if I look at a horse, I don't go with a trailer the first time, because I don't want to make an impulsive decision. However, I agree that is a good rule to follow.

    Thanks for sharing the tip!