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Buying a (young) horse, sight-unseen

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  • Buying a (young) horse, sight-unseen

    Just a general inquiry post about buying a young horse, sight-unseen. Hypothetical scenario:
    I see what appears to be a very nice, attractive, well-put-together youngster (ie. yearling/two year-old) in a magazine or online ad. Unfortunately, said horse is nowhere near where I live, so it would be very difficult to travel very far just to see this one horse, especially seeing as I will NOT be trying out this horse (ie. under saddle), as it is only a baby. How do I go about judging the suitability of this horse? What questions do I ask of the seller? Should I ask for/expect a video? Has anyone purchased a young horse in the above scenario? How did you go about it? (**If you're reading this, Forte, I'll call you later to talk to you**). Thanks!
    Designer Sport Ponies...never go out of style!
    **Breeding quality riding ponies for dressage and sport**
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  • #2
    I agree with JRey, we did the same thing with a baby we bought who was in TX at the time. The sellers were very accommodating. I then sent the video clip to friends to get their input, including my farrier.

    I bought her on the stop, she was 3 months old when I bought her and she shipped to me when she was 5 months old. She is a coming 3 year old now and I have never regretted one day with her. She is an amazingly talented young horse with a heart and mind of gold.


    • #3
      The other thing I would suggest is to try to get some idea of temperament as well. Parent background etc. I too know someone who bought without actually seeing the horse and if they had done said they would not have bought just because of the temperament. Not that it was bad, just too over the top for that particular person. Vet should be able to give you an idea when you do a pre-purchase exam.


      • #4
        Buying a (young) horse sight-unseen

        I do not believe it is a good idea. You never really understand a horse until you have been around them. It is important to see how the hrose reacts to new experiances. The vet can tell you alot and you still have to have x rays to be sure there is no OCD or other chips. Many young horses with no work can have these problems. Maybe you can do a vet check and then make a trip if the vetting is good? Or at least then you will have the vets input. Good luck!


        • #5
          Sometimes it works

          I have sold several youngsters out of my breeding program sight unseen. However, they always went to clients who I knew very well (I also knew what they really needed) - and they knew me very well. THe problem is that great photos can be taken of any horse, even the not-so-great ones (have hundreds to prove it) - videotape can be made and edited. Also, the temperament and the level of handling can be very deceiving - actually the way a lot of babies are raised and handled is suspect a lot of times. I think personal connections are the best to base such a decision on and not a magazine ad (although I think it may have worked for some folks). Andras www.prairiepinesfarm.com


          • #6

            I bought an in-utero contract on a mare from someone I met on a dressage board, but I did fly to see the mare and meet the owners to make sure the mare was as represented and the owner was someone I wanted to do business with. I am just not comfortable doing business with someone unless I have met them, gotten references from someone I know or it is a large well known breeding farm. After all most times we are sending thousands of dollars to someone for a transaction.

            Best to check it all out. Make sure the Dam and Sire are to your liking and the owners are reputable


            • #7
              We bought our young stallion as a pre-weanling - off photos. Breeder sent a video of him playing in pasture. We knew he was what we had been looking for for over a decade, so we bought him.

              Of course, knowing a lot about his sire and dam and their families meant a lot! and the breeder is above reproach in reputation and knowledge of the breed.
              Homesick Angels Farm
              breeders of champion Irish Draught Sporthorses
              standing Manu Forti's Touch Down RID


              • #8
                I bought a horse off the internet, and I would probably do it again. I was looking for an unstarted young horse because I felt it was the only way I could find a good one within my means.
                My reasoning was that I was buying an unstarted horse so I couldn't even ride if I went to see the horse anyway. Flying around would severly have cut into my already limited budget. I did get lots of video, lots of photos (legs and feet), had my trainer give me her opinion, had a vet check (the first horse I had picked out didn't pass, so that actually gave me more confidence about getting a "mail order bride"), and spoke to the breeders about the horse's temperment, training, and so on. I spoke to others who knew the breeders, and then took the plunge and bought the horse.
                I took something of a chance on temperment, which I do feel is important, but based on the breed, the information I got from the breeder, and the fact that I have managed to get along pretty well with almost any horse I've ridden (and I pretty much never rode a made horse- but I rode a lot of "projects") made me feel like it wasn't a huge risk. I think there is a greater risk with any horse you buy for soundness or health problems (So many things can happen even with a good vet check - accidents, colic, so on and so forth), or issues you don't uncover on the first couple of trial rides.


                • #9
                  I agree with those who have said it's a risk worth taking, but to make sure you do your homework, especially on temperament.

                  I would also discuss very frankly with the seller exactly what he/she would do in a variety of situations. For example, what happens if the horse turns out to have some sort of genetic problem that doesn't manifest itself for a few months? I know someone going through this right now and I don't envy her. You might put it in the sales contract that the horse is healthy and free of birth defects (Can one do that?). At any rate put the word "healthy" in there, just in case, and talk to the seller about different scenarios.

                  Also, specify (as most sales contracts do) when ownership begins and insure as soon as possible.

                  Good luck!
                  Kendra -- Runningwater Warmbloods
                  Home of EM Raleska (Rascalino/ Warkant) and Donatella M (Furstenball/ Jazz Time)
                  'Like' us on Facebook


                  • #10
                    Ask for the video to be unedited, and have them show footage of them catching the baby in pasture, bringing it in and doing whatever normal handling the baby knows how to do right now: leading, tying, handling feet, grooming, standing, leading to arena and running around, leading to new spooky area. Be clear with seller that you are looking at temperament and you don't care if they need two handlers or if they need to bring a buddy along to keep the baby calmer, or if he doesn't know how to tie or do much, or he won't do something. The reason you are getting a baby is so that you can teach some of these things, right? And actually, seeing how he handles things he doesn't want to do is more enlightening than if he did it.

                    I did this with babies I was looking at. Turns out I DID do a 6 hour drive for the one I got, but I knew the second I stepped on the place that I would buy. Only in hindsight did I realize it was also important for me to see the breeder/seller's barn. I could quickly get a feel for how particular she was about things, whether her horses grew up as horses or flowers, what was their general level of care, etc. THAT was worth a lot to me. The breeder ran a very comfortable barn, not too fancy, horses were appropriately horses, things were safe, everyone healthy, students were having fun, dogs were barking, etc.

                    I can see how a reputable breeder might not want to go to this trouble, and they might already have professional videos done and they know their babies will sell -- but if they don't have one made yet, it can't hurt to ask, and maybe they can get some farm shots in there too!



                    • #11
                      I agree with Andras on this and have certainly bought several horses sight unseen, BUT they came from a person I have known for years and have great trust in. The last one I bought strictly on pedigree - I knew the dam and and sire - so when the filly showed up it wasn't even a big surprise.

                      So to me it knowing and trusting the seller is key when buying horses sight unseen.
                      Siegi Belz
                      2007 KWPN-NA Breeder of the Year
                      Dutch Warmbloods Made in the U. S. A.


                      • #12
                        We have sold, and bought several horses sight unseen and it has worked out well. Plenty of video is always nice as well as good communication. Maybe we have just been lucky but we have found more good, honest people out there than bad.
                        Follow us on facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/River...ref=ts&fref=ts


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by siegi b. View Post
                          I agree with Andras on this and have certainly bought several horses sight unseen, BUT they came from a person I have known for years and have great trust in. .....


                          So to me it knowing and trusting the seller is key when buying horses sight unseen.
                          Ditto. And I wouldn't do it unless you have experience evaluating horses both in terms of their qualities and in terms of suitability for yourself.

                          Also, I was recently in the market for a young horse and saw quite a few very good ones with excellent pedigrees in person; if anyone needs a lead I would be happy to share information.
                          Roseknoll Sporthorses


                          • #14
                            I would never buy a horse sight unseen, unless I had someone I trust look at the horse first. Someone has to see it and find out what it's really like before I'd spend the money on it.

                            Do you have someone you trust who can go and look at it in person and then evaluate it for you?
                            "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"


                            • #15
                              I have sold quite a number of young horses without the buyers seeing more than a video, doing a health exam (x-rays aren't of great use with horses under 18 months old) and having LOTS of conversations with the buyer.

                              I always include plenty of footage of legs & feet in the video, basically trying to mimic the way most horse people look at a horse -- front, back, side, etc.

                              Oddly enough, I have NEVER seen a stallion video set up this way...but that's another story.

                              Also, because it is the horse that suffers if things go wrong, I am very forthcoming in describing the temperament of the sire, dam and the youngster in question.

                              The vast majority of the time this has worked out great for all concerned -- only one time was the buyer not thrilled with the horse. It seems to have been a temperament issue (buyer put the horse back up for sale 14 months after she bought it), which I don't really understand, as I never had a problem with this particular horse.

                              I am currently in touch with the new owner of the horse, and she doesn't have much of a problem either, so I think the first buyer simply didn't know what she was doing.

                              But I think it can work just great if care is taken.


                              • #16
                                Don't do it unless you are a professional yourself AND buying from someone you know or through someone you can trust.


                                • #17
                                  It really doesn't cost all that much to go and look at a horse when you consider the investment you are making.

                                  In total it cost me $450 in total to go to see my current horse. I flew out on a Friday (NJ to MO). Rented a compact car. Looked at the horse that same day. Stayed in an Econolodge not the Ritz. And flew out the next morning.

                                  Before I went I had enough information about the horse to know that as long as nothing was wrong with him (lameness, temperment) that I would buy. My trainer talked at length with the sellers and we had a very good video.

                                  If you don't care about temperment AND you trust the seller - go for it but understand it is a risk. If you do care about temperment OR if there is any doubt about the seller (even if the doubt is just in your head, not on paper) then I wouldn't do it. Temperment is such a subjective thing - one person's angel is another's devil. And even if he is an angel - he may not be your type of angel.

                                  Good luck.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Kyzteke View Post
                                    I always include plenty of footage of legs & feet in the video, basically trying to mimic the way most horse people look at a horse -- front, back, side, etc.

                                    Oddly enough, I have NEVER seen a stallion video set up this way...but that's another story.<SNIP>

                                    Wow, I am so glad you said that! We are just now setting up new webpage etc to market our newly approved boy - and I was ruminating about getting current video of him. I actually did videotape him for an advisory inspection as a two year old, and did all of that - showed exactly the things I'd want to see in person, including horsey smooches when I ducked down to place a foot straight. I think a closeup walk-around will be part of my plans, thanks for the reminder!
                                    Homesick Angels Farm
                                    breeders of champion Irish Draught Sporthorses
                                    standing Manu Forti's Touch Down RID


                                    • #19
                                      I just recently did it and didn't regret ANYTHING about my experience. I got lots of photos, good video that showed him being handled, led, chased around an indoor arena, and caught again. Also how when he was loose in the arena he wasn't scared of a darn thing, and would rather follow everybody around like a puppy dog than run around like a banshee.

                                      I talked to both the owner and trainer, and had a good prepurchase exam done by a vet other than the seller's vet. She commented on how wonderful he was to handle, and what a tremendous amount of potential she thought he had.

                                      He is everything and MORE of what he was represented to be. I am just thrilled with him, and he moves even better in person than how it looked on video.

                                      If it's a young unstarted horse, I wouldn't hesitate to buy from video, as long as the video shows as much as possible about temperament and handability in addition to conformation and gaits.


                                      • #20
                                        It is absolutey the most risky thing you could do and only an idiot would consider it - which makes me an idiot. I met a lady at an event, we chatted the night away in our camper and drank a bottle (or 2) of wine; with the outcome that we would meet half way and trade horses. He was the biggest, gangliest, bay TB that then had to squeeze into my QH trailer. He bit me. When I got him home I decided he was exceptional - exceptionally bad or exceptionally good. I was 9 months pregnant. He had come off the track with bucked shins and only did walk, trot, gallop. Few years went by. He became an outstanding, fun, fieldhunter, gobbled up cross country courses and eventually an offer came in that would pay off our morgtgage. I sold him "ready for Intermediate eventing", and cried a lot. He won his first Intermediate three months after I sold him, went to Young Riders twice, went Advanced for his young rider and retired sound and happy as her Dad's horse under lemon trees in California.
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