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Have you bought a horse sight unseen?

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  • Have you bought a horse sight unseen?

    I know a few people who have bought horses from across the country via internet shopping and it's actually worked out. It makes me nervous but there are some really great deals out there even with the shipping costs added!

    What about an unbroke youngster? What would it take for you to feel comfortable making the purchase? I am requesting photos from all angles, videos....I wouldn't typically do a PPE in this price range, but thinking that would give me the 3rd party opinion?

    Scare me straight - or tell me how well it worked out for you?
  • Original Poster

    I should add that *due to the economy* another concern is that if it doesn't work out for me, it might be a hard time to move the horse along to someone else....


    • #3
      I did

      Chose mine based on a photo as a foal. I was sent a video, where I liked a lot of the other babies better, but felt bad changing my mind. He turned out to be exactly what I wanted, really

      We've had some issues along the way with lameness, though, which sort of sucked and maybe could have been avoided if I'd shopped in a more traditional way, but it's been sorted out and we should be showing soon. He's 7 now, and I wouldn't trade him for Rox Dene

      A lot depends on your willingness to roll with the punches, especially with a youngster. I told myself if he wasn't fit for what I wanted to do, I'd just change my goals. I also didn't have very high goals, except to do some local hunter showing and lots of trail riding. If I had the intent of getting a horse who could do 3'6" at A shows, I might be disappointed right now.

      Best $800 I ever spent *grin*
      "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

      My CANTER blog.


      • #4
        I've bought a horse sight unseen, got video, tons of pictures, and talked to every person involved with the horse. It worked out great for me.

        That said, I'd do a PPE no matter the price range. An inexpensive horse that is lame is no longer inexpensive. There are a million things that might show up in a PPE even on a youngster, that you would want to know about.

        I've vetted a 2yo with an illformed coffin joint and a yearling with OCD in a hock.

        The extra $$ for the PPE was well worth knowing that information.
        My adventures as a working rider



        • #5
          I have done it - Just did it again as a matter of fact.. bought two Canter Cuties in PA and I live in CO.

          Neither one had a PPE..

          Here is what I can tell you:

          1. Be prepared for it NOT to work out and have a back up plan - i.e the mare I bought is nice enought to breed and the gelding - I have tons of horsey connections that would take him if he is not sound enough to do what I want to do.

          2. I have bought two very expensive un broke youngsters and neither one worked out for me - however they both have great homes and doing great things in homes that suit them. The problem with un broke is even if you see them in person you cannot ride them. So you need to also have some kind of plan if they dont work out for you.

          3. even with the bad economy dont buy horses you cant afford to keep and sit on for awhile. I buy mine under the intention I will keep them forever.

          Good luck and it does work out!! You just need to be prepared if it doesnt.
          Hickstead 1996-2011 Godspeed
          " Hickstead is simply the best and He lives forever in our hearts"
          Akasha 1992-2012 - I will always love you sweet girl.


          • #6
            One of my favorite mares, and mother to my current three great boys, was a sight unseen purchase. I didn't even see photos. I sent a trusted friend to look at her and then had a vet go "eyeball her". She was not expensive at the time and so I asked to vet to look enough to tell me if he saw anything that would prevent her from being a 3'6 hunter. He did a bit of temperment testing too. I did not xray. I can say I was scared for several weeks until she arrived in my yard. While we waited for transportation I paid board and had my friend ride her and was able to get glowing reports on the mare's sweetness. She went on to move my daughter up from a pony and then hauled my butt around hunter courses for several years and then gave us three wonderful babies before she died leaving the last baby an orphan. She was one of the best experiences of my life.

            I know there will be lots of nightmare stories out there too but I felt from this experience that I ought to get others to pick my horses for me. She arrived looking scared and a little under weight but I was so relieved when I was able to see her for myself. The night she arrived, at minight, and we settled her in her stall was the first good sleep I had had since making my crazy decision.


            • #7
              Yes, but because of a phone call from a BNT whose judgement I trust beyond a doubt.

              Originally Posted by JSwan
              I love feral children. They taste like chicken.


              • #8
                I did it (I live in MD and horse was in Wisconsin). I saw a video and pictures. I HIGHLY agree with the other poster about having a PPE done. I bought mine as a 2 year old, and by age 4 he was a pasture pet due to severe navicular.
                I have also had a couple TB shipped over from the track without looking at them. I used to work at the track for a vet and always asked his opinion on the horse before I had the trainer ship it over. Usually the horses were what the trainers said, but there were some that were not as nice as what I expected.
                Happy Hour-TB
                Cowboy Casanova - Brandenburg


                • Original Poster

                  So no one has a horse that got off the truck a hand shorter than you thought? Or with a funky leg that somehow didn't look so funky in the photos?

                  Having recently-ish bought a horse basically straight off the track, I am all-too-familiar with the feeling "if it doesn't work out for me..." - when buying anything that is very *raw* - you really can't say with any certainty where their talents will lie and if they will be compatible with what you want to do. (Still trying to figure out just what his talents are - so far all I have come up with is that he's easy to handle!)

                  Board isn't an issue with sitting on something that doesn't seem like it's going to work for me (not counting the horse that COULD be paying board in the taken stall, that is) - more an issue of $ and time being tied up than anything.

                  In all honestly, I'm thinking, if it doesn't work out, I would probably know by the September Virginia sale....


                  • #10
                    The 2 I own now I bought without sitting on. But I have very specific taste and with my mare was fortunate that the trainer was a totally honest person<lucked out> He told me everything about her including she is a Mare, LOL.

                    My baby....I have followed the stallion for years. I had no intentions of buying another horse until I saw his videos, sigh....

                    see pictures of both in my signature link.....also....QH people do go by breeding and much of it proves out
                    Happily retired but used to be:


                    • #11
                      Never again.
                      Done it and would not do it again.
                      My ex-trainer brought my first horse from NZ and out of 2 years of owning him, he was sound only for 3 months. We got a very good deal because he wsa sitting in the pasture, but should have probably asked around for a reason of him sitting in the pasture. He passed PRE with flying colors, but had and still has defect which could only be seen on MRI, thus we missed it.
                      Should we been around the area we would have known that horse is chronically unsound.

                      Also, while being amazing ride he is very "crazy" on the ground and does not tolerate handle stall boarding to the point of having colics and dropping weight.

                      Obviously, there is no way I can sell an unsound horse, and while I love him to death, and will do everything possible to help him stay sound, I do wish we passed on him and let him live his life in that pasture in NZ.

                      With my second horse, we went to see him, asked around and I contacted a breeder back in Germany to find out as much of a history as possible.

                      Good luck in your search!


                      • #12
                        I've done it but not sure I'd do it again. I was thinking about breeding my mare to a very popular stallion known for offspring with good minds and athletiscm for what I wanted to do. I finally decided to shop instead for an unbroke youngster as that seemed to be slightly less risky. I found a yearling owned and bred by the stallion owner. He didn't cost any more than I thought I could afford to lose so I bought him. I would have gone to see him but they had a few other people lined up with trailers that wanted him, so I vetted him with a performance vet with a good reputation and shipped him home. I'll admit I've had moments where I wonder what I was thinking but he's by far the nicest horse I've ever owned. He's 5 now.

                        Make sure you don't spend more than you're comfortable losing and have him/her vetted.


                        • #13
                          YES, I have. Funny story.......breeder from Va. calls and tells me I just have to have her favorite small out of her favorite broodmare. She just finished placing very well in the yearling filly class at Devon. We talked price, and i told her I surely didnt need another pony. She kept telling me I needed her. Well, we went away at Christmas and arrived home Dec 31. Van driver calls me and says "Sandy, I have your Lucy Love on the van". I reply, "Thats funny, I never said I would purchase her nor did I pay for her". Well, an hour later she walks off the van.

                          Breeder says, when contacted, "I knew you needed her". I had so much fun with Lucy Love. I showed her in hand myself for 2 years and we started her under saddle and o'f's. She has since been sold and as I write, is #5 USEF Small Green Pony. Isn't it funny how things just work out sometimes.

                          I have had many customers purchase ponies from me via word of mouth. All went on to become show ponies.
                          hunter/jumper ponies


                          • #14
                            I just bought a foal sight unseen....

                            Not to say it is the smart thing to do. But I have his sire, who is now a gelding, three years old, and an exceptional horse with an amazing temperment. Because I own him in partnership, I am concentrating on getting him ready to sell. So when his foal was born with the same markings, and a colt, I took a chance. I can't wait to see him!!!
                            "Over the Hill?? What Hill, Where?? I don't remember any hill!!!" Favorite Tee Shirt


                            • #15
                              Yep! Bought a sight unseen gelding from Germany. Had an agent that had seen it maybe once. We had never met or done business w/ agent but she had good recommendations. Got a 10 second video clip of it running wild in an indoor. They said it had been ridden.

                              2 years later have a WONDERFUL horse that has been nothing but lovely! I think we just got him sold in the barn!

                              *Also bought a TB off the track that we had vetted and bought through an agent who we would never use again and it was totally lame when it showed up. Had to give it away.

                              *Bought another ottb that we had for several years who was wonderful. Very useful and we just sold her and they love her!

                              Its a total shot in the dark! Have had some great and awful experiences.

                              "The harder you train, the luckier you get!"


                              • #16
                                BO's daughter did. Horse was a 2 year old Fresian. She got many, many pictures and spent a lot of time talking with the owners. She had a very good feeling after talking with the owners and decided to buy him. She couldn't afford to fly up to see him but he was pretty cheap so she took the plunge. He's worked out wonderfully. He is an absolute joy to work with out of his stall. Inside his stall he kicks the door to demand your attention and dumps his water bucket However, his old owners had him living outside (all their horses did) so it's not like she would have known even if she had gone up to see him.

                                That being said, I'm not sure if I would ever be comfortable doing that. I'm very nervous by nature though.
                                No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle. ~Winston Churchill
                                For Hope, For Strength, For Life-Delta Gamma
                                www.etsy.com/shop/joiedevivrecrafts Custom Wreaths and Other Decorations


                                • #17
                                  I've bought five horses sight unseen online in the last several years:

                                  1) I bought a WB foal from Germany in 2001. Loved his conformation, had a kind eye, and just took the risk. I raised him up and he was a 10 mover, absolute head-turning gorgeous, that ended up jumping like a gazelle. Loved him otherwise, but he was sold as a dressage horse. That's more of a statement on the risk of buying a baby, cause you don't know exactly how they'll develop. The actual purchase sight unseen was fine and it was fun raising him.

                                  2) I also bought a pony foal in 2002. He turned out well- won a ribbon at pony finals and still gets leased year to year. I bought a Hidden Springs pony, so I was banking on the knowledge that they sell good hunter pony prospects. And they did. So that worked out.

                                  3) 2004ish I bought a quarter pony from Canada for trail riding. Was wonderful guy, except he had been a reiner and would spin out if you mistakenly gave him the command to spin. So I sold him.

                                  4) bought a 4 year old Holsteiner equitation prospect from Canada in 2005. Still own, he turned out to be exactly what we hoped, a good guy hunter/eq horse for juniors or amateurs, he's for sale now, but has been a good investment horse.

                                  5) I bought another 4 y/o quarter pony in 2007. He is now the love of my life. Was exactly as advertised and more. Cute as a button and learning his changes, but I'm most happy that he's just awesome on the trails.

                                  I saw videos of the German WB baby and the Holsteiner. The rest were bought based on photos/description alone. I'd say overall I'm really pleased. I'm more comfortable buying youngstock and inexpensive trail horses online. If I were shopping for a made show horse for myself, I'd for sure want to ride it first, because I'd need to click with it, and it would probably be a much bigger investment with a bigger downside if I bought it and hated it from the moment I sat on it.

                                  I'm particularly tempted by online sales horses on a regular basis, as I run a classifieds site. Sometimes it's just SO tempting when I see what's listed and then I can't resist. That's how I found the Hidden Springs foal and the Holsteiner.

                                  I'll also add that in each instance, the seller gave off a good "vibe" and for every horse I bought, there were others I just didn't feel right about. So follow your gut, because you are dealing with a stranger over the internet, and not every seller is upstanding... but that is true whether you're dealing with an online or in-person transaction.
                                  Bigeq.com First in Hunter/Jumper Sales Online


                                  • #18
                                    I did - and it was NOT a good idea. Personally - I would never buy another horse without sitting on it. I think chemistry is vital.


                                    • #19
                                      Bought and sold sucessfully that way. They don't all work out, even with a PPE and a trial. It's really a crap shoot any way you do it.
                                      Trinity Hill Farm


                                      • #20
                                        Have done both. In some ways it has worked as we got one sight unseen who has been a multiple Supreme Halter Champion. Another time we got one for 25K and she turned out to be WORTHLESS!

                                        Buyer beware. I won't buy one without going to look in person now. PPE can be a help also.

                                        EquineLVR made some excellent suggestions.