There's a Morgan breeder out there who even in this terrible market is selling all her foals before they are weaned. How? She trains their ground manners from Day One, and videos everything. She will board a foal for someone whose setup isn't foal-appropriate, fairly inexpensively, and she gives the foals she sells priority when they are ready to be started, if the new owner wants her to start them. These are NOT foals from the popular show lines, the "money" everyone is chasing. They're sport-bred. But *excellent customer service* gets her all the buyers she wants, and then some.
"You have to have experiences to gain experience."
There are so many good sellers out there, that is for sure true. I was spoiled when I bought my mare - I bought her as a 2yr old directly from her breeder, who was lovely and professional and knew her horses inside out. The entire transaction took less than a week and I gained my awesome mare who has been with me for nearly a decade now, and a new friend in her breeder. I've been on both sides too, I've had a horse for sale and had the same experience mentioned here - the buyer represented herself as and extremely experienced jumper rider, and when she showed up she had never ridden a horse (only ponies, she was in her 40's and about 5'7 so I didn't see that coming) had trouble mounting and was obviously terrified with no ability to steer. After that experience I would have no issue with providing video of me riding to a seller if they asked.
I've also never once asked a seller to take video or pictures, I've asked if they have existing ones to send. No is a perfectly acceptable answer to this question, I do understand it's a lot of work, and wouldn't expect any to be taken at request, especially in the winter. I also totally agree, phone calls (as long as people answer or return calls) are really important, and usually much more useful.
It's like online dating, right? People misrepresent themselves all the time!
It does help to buy locally when everyone knows each other, but sometimes that isn't possible. I am lucky to ride with a BNT with lots of connections and ride in an area with many dressage horses. Not everyone else is in that position.
Now with video cameras in almost every phone, I can't imagine having a horse for sale and not providing a video. I would not go look at a horse (unless it was literally around the corner) unless there was a video I could show my trainer. Why waste everyone's time?
I think centerline scores is a good insight for both parties. If someone generally has solid scores, you know that they can at least get a horse through a test reasonably. You know what level they have really shown at. As a buyer, you know if the seller is telling you the truth about the horse's show record.
It someone has ridden twenty tests on three different horses and they are all really low scores, you know they probably don't accurate assessment of their riding or they have some holes in their education that might be an issue.