Buyer asking sellers: Tips for being a good shopper/buyer?
I'm posting this in Hunting because that's pretty much been my horse-life for the last decade. However, it is unlikely that I will be hunting at all in the future... But I keep looking for hunt horse types so that's why I'm here. Maybe I should cross post in Eventing...
I am looking for a new horse and it has been 4 years since my last shopping foray. (And that purchase was after 2 years of looking at and trying many horses.)
I'm an amateur and I hope when I buy a horse it will be forever. But we all do make mistakes and sometimes life changes things. I have learned from every horse I've had. And I know pretty much what qualities I DO want - and those that I don't - and I have good reasons for just about every item on my wish list.
My question for sellers is this: do you want me to give you all my requirements up front? So we can both avoid wasting time if the horse you have advertised doesn't meet my needs? And do you want me to explain WHY I have certain reqs? I'm glad to go into as much detail as you want. But it often seems that many sellers don't read the emails I send when asking about a horse I have seen on line. I just love it when I have asked about a gelding, and my boilerplate wish list states geldings only, and they tell me the gelding I asked about has sold but they have this great mare I would just love... What don't they get about "geldings only"? And please don't lecture me about how wonderful mares are. I have had plenty of mares. Some of them were great. But right now, for MY situation, I CANNOT do a mare.
It scares me that if I have this much trouble communicating something as concrete as gender, how the heck am I supposed to discuss personality, trainability and learning style?
So, sellers, please tell me how to be a good buyer? How much do you want to know about my wish list? About my horsekeeping style? About my background? About the job I want the horse to do?
FWIW - my wish list does not describe a mythical unicorn or any freakishly rare skill set. Just very specific traits that I have thought about carefully. I also have an appropriate budget. And I am willing to travel to try a "made" horse, and/or find creative ways to eyeball a younger prospect. I am not a tire-kicker. And am very fortunate that I have a close friend who is a DVM, and another that is a trainer and both are happy to look at pix, vids, etc...
I have read all the threads I could find that were about buying and selling but never found an answer to the specific question: How can I be a good buyer?
Thanks much in advance for any responses!
Ps: I am currently helping a friend who is also horse shopping. On Saturday, she confirmed an appt to go try a horse today (Monday) that is about a 2 hour drive away. She called the seller this morning after we had been on the road for an hour, just to let him know we were on the way... His response? Oh - i sold that horse Saturday evening!!! WTF?? And he couldn't be bothered to call and cancel her appt... REALLY discouraging...
Thanks and response to JBRP
Check - I think I am both flexible and open-minded - within reason.
A good buyer knows what they want but will have some flexibility within reason and an open mind.
Check - I have never looked at (in person to try) any horse that I could not afford.
A really good buyer has the full asking amount not including the PPE and shipping money Before they call!!!
(Except once when the seller bugged me for days on end to come try his horse despite my having told him over and over that I could not afford him. I knew the seller and the horse. I did go ride him. I loved him. I did not buy him because I could not afford him. I asked only once if he could move on the price. He said NO and I said I'm sorry. Seller then continued to try to get me to buy that horse - at his price I couldn't afford - even had the horse sending me text messages!!! LOL!! I did not buy that horse...)
Check - on having the list of questions to ask. I do admit that I prefer to make initial contact via email, especially when I am inquiring about a horse that is advertised on line and I don't know the seller. I often think and write better in the middle of the night so emails seem more appropriate than a phone call at 3 am! :D I would never attempt meaningful communication by texting. If the email exchange results in my wanting to try the horse, then yes, at that point the phone is preferable - at a time convenient to BOTH seller and buyer.
A good buyer has a list of questions to ask or e-mail to have seller answer.***edited to add..by phone not texting!! and call when you have the time to actually talk in a relaxed atmosphere w/O barking dogs whining children or office phone demanding your attention....
Check, check and check.
A good buyer knows their riding capability and has a place to board the horse or space already,a way to ship horse etc.
Never had this situation come up but would certainly cover seller's expenses.
A good buyer will cover the sellers gas if they drive the horse any distance to be tried to convenience the buyer .
I have never strung any seller along for 2 weeks. However, I am cautious by nature and might not want to make an IMMEDIATE decision - like before I've even dismounted from the test ride. I don't think it is unrealistic to ask for a day - maybe 2 days max. (Unless there is a line of buyers out the door in a bidding war. :D) JBRP - I am curious what length of time you feel is reasonable to allow a buyer to make a decision after trying the horse? I was once pressured to make a decision after a test ride but BEFORE the PPE which I had scheduled for the morning after the ride. Guess what? Perfectly "sound" horse CROW-HOPPED away from flexions on both back legs. Didn't buy that one either. (And I drove 20 hours round trip to try that one.)
A good buyer will have the ability to make-up their minds and not take 2 weeks ask for time and then still waffle, stringing the <seller> along.
Well, that's just plain rude!
A good buyer doesn't call ask if a horse is available, video, pictures etc, and then inform seller they have the money horse is perfect BUT are leaving for vacation and won't be able to actually come see horse for a few weeks...and Oh Yeah if price goes up can they have price it is now not then..
And that is even more rude!
A good buyer won't call a seller ask for video's, photo's price negotiations/flex , arrange a time seller is to be available and then not follow thru and call to cancel or reschedule or say Thanks no Thanks.
Yes - Thanks!
And all of this goes Both Ways to Buyer as well as Seller....
That's both rude and stupid.
A good buyer doesn't ask for you to make a special video, and ask for your vet to watch horse jog to insure its sound..then say oh by the way I am still looking at other horses but have your vet call after he jogs...????
I'm a private, introverted loner who has no kids OR dogs! I will only tell you as much about me as you ask for or if there's some issue relevant to the business at hand. And I really prefer to shop and test ride alone. I have resources I can call (on the spot) if I have a question about something I haven't seen before.
A good buyer asks informed questions but doesn't feel the need to divulge all their life history. Will arrive without small children and yapping dogs in tow, they are capable of making a decision without a posse quorum.
Good for you and the buyer and the horse!
My Monday buyer was awesome...she called in a timely fashion, asked for current video and photo's and horses past performance, etc. Said they had $$$ for horse. Made appointment called on the way, came saw tried, liked, arranged for PPE, showed up Vetted, paid left with horse 5 days from start to finish..Good Buyer..:)
Maybe I should be doing business with you!
Thanks and response to HK
Agreed that a phone call is appropriate if it comes to scheduling a visit. However, see my response to JBRP about whether you would rather have a phone call or an email at 3 am? :D
I find quite a few people that have been in contact with me only want to shoot emails back and forth and then schedule times to visit, this brings me to my first pet peeve-and my first requirement of the buyer: get on the phone! Lol! If you can't call me then you are obviously not committed.
I "THINK" I am honest with myself about my skills. (But I know many people who are not.) However, I have decided that I am better off in the long run if I UNDERSELL my abilities. Just because I CAN ride a brat doesn't mean that I HAVE to!
Secondly be honest about your skill level.... This one seems to be hard for some people...
Thirdly, if you have any deal breakers let the seller know upfront-a good example would be your aversion to mares right now! ;)
Patience, HK, patience... I'll put my "specs" together after I finish comments to the other folks who have weighed in!
Btw just out of curiosity what are your requirements... That could change my answer, lol!
Thanks and response to b&b
You are right, of course. I know folks who have done exactly that. And it is a very good seller who can see what the buyer actually needs and make that perfect partnership happen.
I don't have enough fingers and toes for the potential buyers who have come looking for something totally specific (and often inappropriate) and then have ultimately left with something that didn't match very well with their original criteria, but perfect for what they actually needed -- so I wouldn't be too rough on the sellers that don't have **exactly** what you want but might offer the closest match!
Best horses I ever had were OTTBs! Hoping I find one now!
The ones that make me chuckle the most are the ones that would NEVER consider a TB because they think they are crazy, and leave with the quietest horse in the barn -- which more often than not might be a TB mare
Thanks and response to sts
I have to chuckle - EVERY one of my childhood nags was a small, gray mare. And I loved them all!
I once went with a student to buy a horse... their requirements, no mares, no greys, at least 16hh and between 6-10 years old, with a somewhat small budget... the student was a good rider but a novice and needed a horse who had been there done that and was quiet... the purchase... ;) A grey mare, 15.2hh, 12 years old, and under budget... the out come THE PERFECT horse for the girl!
Thanks and response to witherbee
No harm and you are right that I might tell someone else.
As for the person telling you about their mare, it doesn't mean they weren't reading your requirements, it's just that they have a nice mare available and want to let you know. Sometimes that is how word of mouth happens - you may not want the mare, but might tell someone else about her. What is the harm of them mentioning it?
If I get someone who is really wordy and gets into really detailed likes and dislikes or training methods up front, it tends to make me leery of them. I've had too many "touchy/feely unicorns and roses" types in the past to want to deal with them - the sale invariably doesn't happen and these people waste a ton of time (and energy).
I absolutely HATE it when other people waste my time. (Not just horse people!) So I do try very hard to not waste the seller's time. I would rather spend an extra hour of emails, phone calls, etc... in the beginning to avoid wasting several hours - or days - trying out an unsuitable horse.
We horsepeople like to talk, but I prefer someone who gets a hint that it is time to get to business or that I have to get back to work etc. Anything that is a red flag that the person is needy or the type that will waffle and take up a lot of my time for weeks is something I avoid. Not good for me or for the horse IMO.
And, yes, that does work both ways. I have had my share of bad experiences with sellers that probably lead to my own profiling!
Sometimes we jump to conclusions about buyers because of other "types" we've dealt with (profiling lol!), but usually my gut is right about whether it will work out.
Thanks and response to WG
I agree with you 100%. That's why I like to shop alone. And I can decide the personality/temperament/talent issues for myself. But I do have a very close friend, also my vet for many years and she is a superb horseman in her own right. She has seen way more horses in her lifetime as a vet - let alone her own UL competitive riding - than I will ever see. If I see some aspect of conformation or weird bumps or scars, etc... that I haven't seen before (and I have seen a lot), I am very glad that I have a resource that I can ask and trust the answer!
Not a lot of experience here but....I wouldn't wanna sell to anyone who's not making the decisions themselves...I don't wanna sell to a "committee" of "friends" or "advisors" or "vets/trainers" whatever. How on earth do you make them all happy?
OK - this may be the first disagreement of this discussion! Here's my deal about mares: I keep my horses at home. I have a small, quiet farmette that was designed by me to keep two horses. I don't have horse neighbors. My 5 acre property is surrounded by forest. I already have the companion horse that will keep the new horse company. He is my 21yo OTTB gelding that I have had for 13 years and despite all his quirks - supreme cribber, bad feet, eccentric habits - and now retired due to a pasture injury he inflicted on himself 2 years ago - he will be mine forever. He is temporarily living with a friend of mine where there are a mix of mares and geldings in various pastures. MY horse goes absolutely STUPID around mares. He was not cut late, is not a crypto, never attempts any sort of actual sexual behavior. He just gets very attached to - and protective of - "his" mares. He does not display this sort of herd-boundness with geldings. Until the last few months where he has been away from me, he has always lived with geldings and he is fine. And doesn't care where he is in the pecking order. Yes, he might holler once or twice when I take his (gelding) buddy out to ride but he will go absolutely stupid if you try to take his mares away where he is now. Because of my personal horsekeeping facilities, I CANNOT have clingy, needy herdbound horses. Whoever I have must be OK with being left totally alone while I have the other one out - whether that is a quick hack locally or a day long excursion. I KNOW that I would just be creating equine stress and personal turmoil to bring home a mare to my facilities with my other horse. I'm not going to move. And I hope my TB lives a long, long time. For me, that means no mares. (And I didn't even talk about hormones and "marish mares" or worries about other male horses I might meet on the trail or hunt field. Those might be valid considerations, but aren't even relevant in my situation.)
And really...not sure if I'd wanna sell to someone who has a sex preference even....a good horse is a good horse. If they care about color first? Nope, don't come!
I think a lot of buyers have unrealistic lists of preferences. They want perfect matches.
You are so right. Lots of buyers fit your description. I'm not one of them! :D
I think buyers are often....inflexible.
Later on, I will post my little wish list and ya'll can rip me apart!!! Actually I would like constructive feedback. But I didn't want to start with my "want ad" because I don't want to violate the advertising policies on the COTH boards. I think it's obvious by now that I am not trolling for a free want ad or sellers, just honestly asking for advice.