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Buyer asking sellers: Tips for being a good shopper/buyer?

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  • #21
    I've done both buying and selling. Here are some thoughts, most of which will probably jive with what others have said:

    1) Have a conversation up front with the owner or the trainer AFTER having viewed photos and video. The outcome of this conversation will help you decide whether it is worth a visit or not. Particularly important when you have to travel a distance to see the horse. Viewing the photos/video first may help you come up with questions about the horse once you see it's behavior, way of going, etc. I would plan to ask a couple of very focused questions about the horse first, then give the owner/trainer more information about yourself and see how they respond.

    In the beginning I would start with a few targeted questions to hit the most important points (whatever they may be). Some people have multiple pages of questions they send via email which can get annoying.

    2) If you decide to pay a visit, try to set it up in such a way that you can try the horse under different circumstances if that is important to you. When I bought my current horse, I set the appointment up so that there was time to do both ring work and then to do a trail ride with a group of people at the barn. It gave me a chance to see how the horse was solo and in groups in addition to how she handled herself in and out of the ring. If the horse is located at a place that is near trails and you would like to see how the horse is on trails, then try to incorporate that on the first visit. As a seller, I'd much rather have a longer first visit than multple visits that are shorter.

    3) A follow-up within a few days after the initial phone call or visit would be appreciated. Whether you plan to pursue the matter further or not, it's just nice to know so no one is left hanging.

    4) If you would like to pursue the horse, it would be nice to schedule a 2nd visit or the actual PPE itself within a reasonable time period. A week or two, particularly for local sales is good. More than a couple of weeks and it can make sellers antsy.

    5) PPE's: I have friends who are vets who never did PPE's because of how emotional these ended up being for both the buyer and seller. When you do a PPE, plan to discuss the results privately with the vet that you hire. Don't discuss the results with the seller. It's fine if you have to wait until you are off the property to have that discussion. The situation can get emotional if you were basically planning to buy the horse but then decline after reviewing the PPE results with the vet.

    If you do decide to share the results with the seller, I would only do so via a phone call. That way *you* have more control over the discussion and how it proceeds. I only had a horse vetted that I absolutely loved and that would have been an awesome horse to event. However, the PPE results came back with some findings that I decided I could not live with. The seller asked why I wasn't pursuing the horse. In retrospect, I should have kept it simple but since the seller seemed very nice and genuine I decided to tell them what the vet said. Well, the sellers husband was there and proceeded to yell and scream at me for the decision I made and fro what the vet said. It was a bit ugly. In retrospect I should have done this via a phone call.

    If you vet and the horse doesn't pass and say the seller wants the X-Rays, then it's fine to give it to them, but I'd only provide it if they agree to share a portion of the expenses.


    • #22
      I have a steady stream of sales horses at all times so I do have a pretty good idea of what type of buyer that I like.

      -first send me an email or call me with a general outline of what you are looking for. I totally get that everybody has certain height and sex requirements so that will help me rule out particular horses.

      -give me an idea of what type of horse you like to ride. Along the lines of you want a push type of ride, like them a bit hotter, have to be bomb proof, already doing xyz, etc.

      -your must NOT have list and your must HAVE list. I think we all sort of have this list in our heads. For example, I can live with a cribber but I hate a bad loader. I don't mind a horse with a grumpy personality on the ground or bad ground manners but they must be willing undersaddle.

      -what are your goals and what is your budget. I'm a seller than can be flexible on my prices to good homes but I'm not going to do some crazy price drop so just don't waste my time. If you are just learning to jump x-rails but want a horse with prelim potential than that can make shopping a challenge.

      -Can you live with any blemishes, vices, soundness issues. Some horses have them and they are awesome horses and sound for particular jobs so it helps to know that up front.

      - I sell quite a few horses sight unseen. I think it is helpful that I am fairly well known as a seller in the local community and also have a good reputation from buyers who post at COTH. Do a google search on your seller! I will do one on a buyer I am comfortable selling sight unseen if I get a really good vibe based on a few phone calls. I just had a horse ship to Illinois with somebody who followed my blog. A bunch of my buyers are blog readers and they have said that it gives them a chance to get to know me and how I bring along the horses. I think that adds confidence to the whole buying process.

      - I'm the type of seller that is going to be very honest with a potential buyer based on their description of what they like to ride and what their goals are. If you tell me that you lack confidence and are looking for something quiet and safe than I am not going to show you the gorgeous horse in the next field over that requires a very particular ride and can sometimes be very expressive in his displays of athletic behavior I'm not in it to just sell you a horse. I want it to be the right match as much as the buyer does. Why waste time showing inappropriate horses.

      - I am going to have x-rays and vet info upfront of any horses that may have blemishes or potential deal breakers. I just sold a horse that had an ankle that wasn't pretty. Before we even sold him we x-rayed (we knew he was sound but buyers would need to know what was in the ankle), contacted several experts and provided x-rays to buyers with the experts statements on the x-rays. That way if you call me saying you are looking for a 2'6 hunter I would know that he would be suitable for you if you could live with his x-rays. However, if you wanted an upper level event horse than he wouldn't work.

      I don't mind trainers and friends coming. Nor do I mind multiple rides. I am willing to ship horses off the farm for people to try within reason. I can be flexible on trials but not always. I try to decide based on each situation. I'm okay with people taking their time to decide while they look at other horses. I understand how stressful horse shopping can be to everybody involved.

      I try to make it an easy process. I will love you forever if you come on time, are polite, have a nice reasonable ride within the abilities of the horse and if you don't like the horse than just let me know and I promise not to be offended. No point in riding it for 30 min if you know in the first 5 min that it won't suite.

      Good luck with the shopping. I have met so many great people over the years that come as buyers and end up as friends.


      • #23
        I don't mind all sorts of different 'rules' by the seller, as long as the seller states upfront what the deal is.
        For example, I've bought horses where the seller has told me, I will sell this horse to the first person who gives me cash in hand, no waiting a day or a week or whatever. I KNOW that if I want that horse, I have to get there as soon as I can, and I have to make up my mind right away-or risk that somebody else buys the horse before I make up my mind.
        I've also bought horses through auctions. (I think you have to know either the horse, or the seller, to lower risk to an acceptable level on this one.) One auction seller (known to good friends of mine, as a reliable an honest person) told me that since there was no vet check at the auction as there was supposed to be, that I could take the horse home and within a week have my own vet do a PPE, and I could take the horse back if I didn't want to keep him....but within a week. (And I knew the reputation of the seller. I had another friend buy a horse this way, decide to send the horse back, and find out that the seller had no intention of actually taking the horse back! Friend was told sorry, I cant take him back and give you your money back, I spent it already.)

        Another mare I bought privately, the seller was willing to give me a week or so to come look, ride, and make up my mind.

        Again, I'll buy a horse within several situations. But I want to know from the seller exactly what the deal is!


        • Original Poster

          Critique on my new horse wishlist?

          OK - So here is my short version of the horse I would like to find. Rewritten several times based on ya'll's input. Tell me what I should change?
          I am looking for a new (and hopefully forever) horse to be my next all-rounder.
          His job will be lots of hacking out alone and with company. Hunter Paces. Athletic enough for Low level (BN/N) eventing, but most likely just schooling XC/Jumping/dressage, not competing. I don't need a fancy show horse. Would be a big bonus if he took to foxhunting, but not a requirement. Needs to be happy in a quiet setting with one horse as a companion. Needs to be bold and independent as most of my hacking and schooling work is done alone. Good manners, good mind and good personality to bond with me. HAPPY doing the jobs I listed.

          My brain sees a TB gelding, 16.2h+, plain bay/brown/black, 6-10yo, but I’ll try to be flexible.

          Dealbreakers: No rearing, no mares. Can’t be the herdbound type and gotta be happy in a quiet setting.

          Fire away - too much detail? Unrealistic skill set? If not, any info about what I should expect to pay for this creature? (And I do realize he won't be free or even dirt cheap!!)

          Note to Admins: I don't think this violates the no-ads policy. Just a continuation of my request for help in my search.
          Fox Wood Farm


          • #25
            One of my first qustions to a buyer inquiry is first, to find out how local they are and their ability to make an appt to come ride and review a horse.

            Since I advertise performance horses, they've answered an ad; for example : show or fox >hunter, or trail horse, or competitive (CTR) horse, or jumper with show miles, etc....
            so I already know what (main) discipline they are looking for ---

            I think its important for buyers to review a horse hands on ... to actually ride, rather than make a judgement based on a video, or a few photos. As far as a decision, I dont rush, it may take a couple appts to review the horse in all the settings a buyer has in mind -- just as Fox Wood has detailed a multi-disciplined horse, it takes time to review a horse at a show, then school x-try, then go for a leisure trail ride... now, of course, it isnt hard along the way for a buyer to *know* whether a horse is acceptable to them or not, and then, the easy part of deciding if its personally acceptable or not.

            >>for buyers from far-away- choosing a horse sight unseen, still, video's are taken of someone riding, right then... and sending the videos right then, with a vet in attendance to verify the actions ... thats the only way I've found it best to sell-in that circumstance.

            Its so hard to determine a horses true nature based on just facts of 16.2/blah blah.... one really needs to Ride a horse to make a decision'; and ride it in the setting desired.

            IN GOD WE TRUST
            OTTB's ready to show/event/jumpers. Track ponies for perfect trail partners.