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Horse shopping red flag?

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  • Horse shopping red flag?

    I went to try a low level hunter horse at a show/lesson barn. I arrived 20 minutes early and the trainer was hand grazing the horse which was soaking wet. Is bathing a horse before showing it to a prospective buyer a red flag? Hiding the fact that is was ridden or lunged to death beforehand? Or is it standard practice? The horse was gray and the weather is warm.

    The trainer did not ride the horse before I tried it.

    Thanks for any perspective.

  • #2
    It's really a toss up. Today it was 80 here, a clipped horse could easily dry from a bath in the sun in 20 minutes or so, so it's possible they just gave it a bath so it'd be shiny and clean for you. I've bathed a horse to be ready for a potential buyer before they've come before, especially a gray that decided to lay in its pee spot that morning, but usually like an hour or more before so it's completely dry by the time they arrive.
    But, it's also possible they worked the crap out of it and then hosed off the sweaty evidence. Did the horse appear tired, or was it sluggish under saddle?
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    • #3
      Maybe I'm naive, but (assuming there were no other red flags) I would assume they wanted to present a clean horse.
      http://trainingcupid.blogspot.com/

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      • Original Poster

        #4
        Thanks for the replies. I guess I am suspicious because I'm currently shopping without a trainer. The mare was a little sluggish and reluctant to canter. The trainer said she is usually ridden with spurs, which I don't use as I'm a mostly-trail-rider and I don't feel I have a strong enough leg.

        They were marketing her as a horse looking to step down from hunters and would be good for "hunter pleasure" which is my preferred discipline. So the horse is supposed to be quiet.

        ​​​

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        • #5
          That still wouldn't automatically make me think she'd been ridden the crap out of, especially since you admit you don't have a strong leg. I had a nice jumper for sale a little while ago who I had zero problems putting through any pace and schooling to 1.20m with or without spurs. Had someone come try him with their dressage trainer, and their (pompous) trainer with a trainer's certification or something from Germany couldn't even get him to canter, but the client buying easily did. It was baffling.
          My now-retired senior gelding has always been a freely forward ride for me and any intermediate to advanced rider. Throw a beginner or a kid on him, he's sooo lazy; plenty of people have had a hard time getting him going.

          I guess I meant sluggish like she was exhausted, as compared to just lazy or needs more from the rider to get her motor going.
          If you liked her, schedule a second ride. Carry a crop if you're not comfortable with spurs, and see if it goes the same. Or have the person selling ride her before you, and see how easily (or not) they get her to canter. And/or ask a more experienced friend to go with you.
          Verify the trainer's response - is the rider wearing spurs in all videos of the horse you've seen?
          Custom tack racks!
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          • #6
            If you liked the horse enough for it to be a true contender, I'd schedule a second ride and mention that you'd like to bring the horse in straight from the field or stall to do the grooming and tacking. I'll typically crack a joke about making zero judgment for any ill-placed stains and just wanting to see the horse during a typical day. If you show up 15 minutes early and the horse is once again sparkling clean or damp with sweat, I'd walk.

            Do you know anyone who knows the seller? If I'm really interested I'll pick up the phone and call a mutual friend. It is rare that someone will go on record via text or facebook messanger saying something about another trainer but on the phone people are often more transparent.

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            • #7
              I would have looked for other details that the horse was ridden, ie was the trainer wearing dirty riding clothes (I assume yes but... depending on the weather could been sweaty armpits, lower back), was a sweaty pad or girth out to dry, did the horse normally live in a stall and was there poop in it, did the horse smell like a hosed horse or a horse that had been shampooed, was the tail also wet, etc.
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              • #8
                Grey horse? I'd be more inclined to assume he was the sort of horse who rolls instantly upon being let loose in a paddock and has the mysterious grey horse talent of being able to get manure stains in a stall over every inch of his body. And to get grass stains on every square centimeter of leg, belly, and neck, even when covered by a sheet when turned out. Or it's just possible that there wasn't time to bathe him until the last minute...and since he is a grey horse, they knew they had to allocate a significant amount of time to de-staining as well as just cleaning him.
                Last edited by Impractical Horsewoman; Feb. 11, 2020, 11:33 PM.
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                • #9
                  Since I happen to have a grey who prefers the color of red clay, my first impression would be grey horse needs to be clean. I think the fact the trainer didn't ride the horse before you seems to me that the trainer is pretty confident the horse is quiet/pleasurable ride - I don't think they'd take a chance in having any behavioral issues with a perspective buyer getting on first. Usually the horse is ridden by the trainer or owner or someone to show the horse off to the buyer. I've seen some horses I went to look at that there was NO way I was interested in getting on after seeing it be lunged or ridden.I went to see one horse where the assistant trainer was riding him reporting to us what an a** he was being that day. Yeah so I want to ride him now - Not. that little episode is another thread on how not to sell horses. LOL

                  as an above poster suggested, if you liked the horse go see it again and ask if you can brush/tack him up if you didn't this time.

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                  • #10
                    I would assume bathed unless the horse seemed exhausted or worn out. If I was interested, I'd ask to see it on another day when I could retrieve horse from pasture or stall myself, groom, tack, and ride to assess ground manners. If the horse is wet and shiny when you get there, then you know something is up. Did you ask if they'd just bathed it?

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                    • #11
                      If you're taking the time to bath a horse before a client arrives for a sales appointment, you aren't the person who presents a soaking wet horse out hand grazing.

                      Yes, I would assume the horse was worked worked shortly before your appointment.

                      Bad presentation regardless.
                      Let me apologize in advance.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ladyj79 View Post
                        If you're taking the time to bath a horse before a client arrives for a sales appointment, you aren't the person who presents a soaking wet horse out hand grazing.

                        Yes, I would assume the horse was worked worked shortly before your appointment.

                        Bad presentation regardless.
                        OP said she arrived 20 mins early, and the trainer was hand grazing the wet horse outside in the sun.
                        http://trainingcupid.blogspot.com/

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ladyj79 View Post
                          If you're taking the time to bath a horse before a client arrives for a sales appointment, you aren't the person who presents a soaking wet horse out hand grazing.

                          Yes, I would assume the horse was worked worked shortly before your appointment.

                          Bad presentation regardless.
                          She did say she was 20 minutes early. If it's a low level horse they may not have anticipated how long it would take to dry. Was this a private seller or a big sales barn? They're not presenting 5 figure horses so I wouldn't expect grade A perfect presentation

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by kmwines View Post

                            She did say she was 20 minutes early. If it's a low level horse they may not have anticipated how long it would take to dry. Was this a private seller or a big sales barn? They're not presenting 5 figure horses so I wouldn't expect grade A perfect presentation
                            what ? a low level horse dries just as fast as a high level one

                            and I would expect a trainer to present any horse as if they were interesting in the best interest of their selling client , the horse and the potential purchaser.

                            I went to try MY low level hunter and the trainer had him neatly braided and groomed, the selling client was not present.

                            _\\]
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by hoopoe View Post

                              what ? a low level horse dries just as fast as a high level one

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                              • #16
                                Did you ASK? I know everyone here likes to assume that all sellers are liars, but I would still have asked why is horse wet? I'd have also asked when was horse last ridden, did you lunge ahead of time, etc. As my most recent trainer likes to say to me, use your words.

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                                • #17
                                  For future reference, I ALWAYS ask sellers not to prep the horse. No riding, no lunging, no bathing, no grooming, don't even catch it for me. I want to see it all with my own eyes. Even better if they'll allow me to do it myself. I don't care if it looks like the swamp creature when I arrive.

                                  If I have asked this, and the horse is in the crossties shiny and clean, then it's a major red flag.

                                  I am one of the people who assumes the worst of sellers because of past experience.

                                  You could go back and ask that the horse not be prepped, but in my mind, these sellers have already raised suspicion. Can you take the horse on trial?

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                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Thanks everyone. I will try to schedule another visit. I felt pressure to make a decision because "a lot of people are interested in this horse." But I will cool my jets haha.

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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by hoopoe View Post

                                      what ? a low level horse dries just as fast as a high level one

                                      and I would expect a trainer to present any horse as if they were interesting in the best interest of their selling client , the horse and the potential purchaser.

                                      I went to try MY low level hunter and the trainer had him neatly braided and groomed, the selling client was not present.
                                      Ha sorry wrote one sentence then deleted part and the 2 got mashed up. I meant it may be a low level horse so it may not be clipped so took longer to dry than if it was clipped.

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Pleasurehorsemama View Post
                                        Thanks everyone. I will try to schedule another visit. I felt pressure to make a decision because "a lot of people are interested in this horse." But I will cool my jets haha.
                                        The most classic sales tactic. When I bought my filly, the owner pressured me by sending me a draft sales contract the week before our scheduled viewing and that "people were coming on the weekend to view her and potentially throw a deposit". I stood my ground, told her I didn't feel comfortable putting money down on a horse I've never met/seen in person OR have vetted, and that if she was purchased before my arrival then it was not meant to be.

                                        Funny enough, the owner was away in another province until our scheduled date, and said she preferred to be there for viewings. She was conveniently accommodating after I stood my ground, and I'll never know if she was ever viewed by another potential buyer because they were never spoken of again. Fast forward, she vetted, and I bought her on my timeline. Don't let sellers pressure you! If it is meant to be, it will be.

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