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Horse Shopping: Question About Ethics--Of the Buyer

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  • phippsie62
    started a topic Horse Shopping: Question About Ethics--Of the Buyer

    Horse Shopping: Question About Ethics--Of the Buyer

    I tried a gelding recently. I'd already heard that he had to be led into the show ring on a lead rope, wouldn't go in on his own. I watched a class with his regular rider. Yes, they led him in. When the rider tried to send him forward, his ears pinned and he bucked a little. Rider tapped him with the whip, horse said "Oh, all right," and started the course. Rider made all kinds of mistakes but the horse knew his job and covered. When it was time for me to try him, horse was presented all tacked up and ready to go. Again, objections. But once jumping commenced, all heart, great technique, knew his job.

    Then: Afterwards, I untacked the horse to do a once-over of his body. Yikes--on one side the saddle had rubbed him right down to the skin. It had apparently never occurred to rider or trainer that the horse's behavior might be the result of pain from a poorly fitted saddle.

    I said nothing and still feel bad about it. But my trainer was there, the other trainer was there...I guess I got intimidated and also confused about the right thing to do. Nobody had asked for my advice, and people tend to resent unsolicited advice, especially when it could be construed as critical. In a situation where I'm just trying a horse, this kind of thing may come up again. What should I do--say something and try for tact, or just keep my mouth shut? As I say, I still feel rotten about the whole thing. Poor horse.

  • OneTwoMany
    replied
    Originally posted by phippsie62 View Post
    I tried a gelding recently. I'd already heard that he had to be led into the show ring on a lead rope, wouldn't go in on his own. I watched a class with his regular rider. Yes, they led him in. When the rider tried to send him forward, his ears pinned and he bucked a little. Rider tapped him with the whip, horse said "Oh, all right," and started the course. Rider made all kinds of mistakes but the horse knew his job and covered. When it was time for me to try him, horse was presented all tacked up and ready to go. Again, objections. But once jumping commenced, all heart, great technique, knew his job.

    Then: Afterwards, I untacked the horse to do a once-over of his body. Yikes--on one side the saddle had rubbed him right down to the skin. It had apparently never occurred to rider or trainer that the horse's behavior might be the result of pain from a poorly fitted saddle.

    I said nothing and still feel bad about it. But my trainer was there, the other trainer was there...I guess I got intimidated and also confused about the right thing to do. Nobody had asked for my advice, and people tend to resent unsolicited advice, especially when it could be construed as critical. In a situation where I'm just trying a horse, this kind of thing may come up again. What should I do--say something and try for tact, or just keep my mouth shut? As I say, I still feel rotten about the whole thing. Poor horse.
    What can you tell us about the rub? Is it likely it just happened that day? Or is it likely it has been there for a long time?

    If the horse has a reputation of needing to be led into the ring, it is unlikely that a simple tack swap is all that is needed to fix his behavior. The owner/trainer of the horse would have tried that already.

    Leave a comment:


  • Ajierene
    replied
    Originally posted by Anna.m View Post

    In your situation, I would have looked at the rub mark, and said 'Oh, what happened here?' I wouldn't have said look, your saddle doesn't fit, and this is why your horse is upset. No one likes that.

    This was my thought. It could be from something different entirely. I have ridden horses with rubs under their saddle without issue. Those hairless spots are healing bite marks, not saddle rubs. So, it is not a given that a mark under the saddle is always due to the saddle.

    Whether or not I was interested in the horse, I would comment and ask questions.

    Just recently at a horse show, I saw a horse with a weird looking leg so I asked what was going on. The owner/rider told me that it was an old scar and as I was talking I approached the horse and commented that it just looked different from where I originally stood and the hair below the scar being still a but puffed out/winter hair. We had a great conversation and her tone did not reflect defensiveness at all. The conversation continued to his age, how awesome he was and note the missing eye - when he does something to himself he goes all in according to owner.

    So, a conversation isn't necessarily going to put someone off, if you start it right. If you start with "well this mark obviously means you are doing this wrong" then yeah, people are going to get defensive but if it starts with, "this looks odd, where did this come from?" it is a different story.

    We sent one horse to a new home with what looks like no muscle on the one side of his face - he rode great, great attitude, reminded owner of owner's first horse - but we didn't know where the issue came from as he came to use like that and at 8 years old seemed to be function fine that way.

    Leave a comment:


  • Anna.m
    replied
    I find I am very picky when trying horses. I think I picked it up when watching an Olympic level rider come and try out one of the horses where I was a working student. The horse was tacked,(by the barn owner) she pulled the saddle off. Looked at the bit (bubble) and said I want an eggbutt snaffle. And proceeded to re-tack the horse. I understand why she did these things. She did not want to see how well the horse can go with the harsh bit, she anted to see what she had to work with and could base training off of that. And was checking the saddle fit, and placing it where she preferred.
    Ever since, I have removed and tacked up a horse I am looking at.

    In your situation, I would have looked at the rub mark, and said 'Oh, what happened here?' I wouldn't have said look, your saddle doesn't fit, and this is why your horse is upset. No one likes that.

    Leave a comment:


  • CHT
    replied
    If I have decided I am not interested in the horse, I say nothing. If I still might be, then I ask questions. "Is this new?" is a good way to broach it. When shopping with a client, I would also be happy if they said "can you take a look at this" to me, so I can see the issue.

    Leave a comment:


  • merrygoround
    replied
    Some of us would have no trouble speaking up, protocol or not.



    But in general its a good idea to say " Thank You", and just go.
    Last edited by merrygoround; May. 4, 2019, 03:36 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • TCA Arabians
    replied
    I would not have appreciated that a seller let me ride their horse with a sore under his saddle. They were unethical to let you ride him. It's not likely that it could have happened in the course of one class and your ride. When you were looking him over and spotted the sore - you might have just said "Oh, you have a booboo" and let it go at that.

    Bringing up behavior, performance or conformation issues during a prospective sale inspection would tell me the buyer was trying to negotiate the price down. That is ok if that is what you, as the buyer, want to do. But, if you don't like what you see - say thank you and walk away.

    Leave a comment:


  • Edre
    replied
    With things like this you can ask questions like "oh I see he has a rub - have you found that he's difficult to fit tack to, or is there a particular brand that is good vs bad?" As a buyer, this is a fair question. Some horses do excellently with certain brands of tack or blankets due to shape and cuts. Some buyers need to factor in prices to outfit their potential new horse (or may have stuff that they're wondering will work for a horse). It's an innocuous way to open the door and feel out what the situation is.

    Leave a comment:


  • Scribbler
    replied
    Raw or hair rubbed off? Thats a big difference. I like the "is this new?" line.

    Leave a comment:


  • strangewings
    replied
    I think "Is this new?" is a pretty safe way of calling attention to something like this. IMO, it'd be hard to read that as judgmental or accusatory and put people on the defensive right off the bat (unless there was deliberately unethical stuff happening). They saw you looking over the horse as a buyer, so I'd expect them to be prepared to answer questions about things you found.

    It also implicitly assumes they know about it, or if they don't they have an opening to say "must be new", etc. etc. If they did know about it, then you have an opening to start asking about how they are managing it.

    With or without seeing the rub, I think you were also well within your right to ask about how they had been managing the behavior issue, if they had looked for a relationship to saddle fit or other physical issues, if it had been escalating, etc.

    Leave a comment:


  • TMares
    replied
    Not my horse, not my problem.

    Leave a comment:


  • BeeHoney
    replied
    Was it "raw" or just the hair rubbed off? Those are two entirely different things. Hair rubbed off is possibly an extremely minor issue. Either way, it's still entirely possible that this horse's dislike of entering the ring is a behavioral issue that is not rooted in pain. Without knowing the horse well, you can't say if that rub is a new thing or has coincided with his dislike of entering the ring. Unless there is an obvious horse welfare issue, I think leaving it at a polite remark is the best course of action.

    Leave a comment:


  • phippsie62
    replied
    Thanks for all your thoughts on this. I take some comfort from the idea that the trainer probably did know about the raw spot and dismissed it, so my piping up about it would only have elicited a shrug. About what was really causing the horse's behavior, who knows really. Could have been the saddle, could have been something else. But there was no denying that sore spot, and my question centered on the "if you see something, say something" idea--when to act on it and when not to. Would I be helping someone who might welcome a heads-up, or would I--as Scribbler suggested-- be letting the trainer know I was unimpressed? Or, worse, coming off as an annoying know-it-all? I guess I'll decide case by case.

    Leave a comment:


  • MsM
    replied
    Dont feel bad OP. First, as was pointed out, the owner likely knows and has dismissed it as unimportant. Second, many of us who say "I would have said..." have also been in the position in which they didnt actually say anything and later regretted it.

    Leave a comment:


  • Mango20
    replied
    I probably would have said something before really thinking about if I should or not. I recently went to look at a horse with someone. The horse was barefoot and hadn't been trimmed for at least 6 months, probably more, and had the long toes, flares and 2 inch toe crack that goes along with that. The horse was not a good fit, and we thought we saw an off step once in a while (maybe from those long flares and toe crack?). As we were finishing up, I said to the seller "you might want to do something about those toe cracks before they get any worse". She said "she's a little overdue for a trim" and then went on to tell us how great her feet are.

    So, say something or don't say something - if the seller is turning a blind eye to it, it probably doesn't matter either way.
    Last edited by Mango20; May. 2, 2019, 11:24 AM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Scribbler
    replied
    Originally posted by Beck View Post
    I'd have a problem with anyone who would tack up a horse for someone to ride and there was a sore under the saddle. What sort of behav are you potenially setting the rider up for? Good grief.

    I would have pointed out the rub. Tactfully; but it would have been mentioned.
    I agree its a red flag. And there might be times I wanted to shake that red flag a little. When were his hooves last trimmed? Hmmm, what's the blood dropping from his mouth? I noticed he gives a little hop every time he goes into the canter. Etc.

    I might or might not say these things, because I am trying to never act on my basic stir the pot impulses.

    But I would never think that I had an ethical obligation to point out poor horse keeping to a pro trainer who knows what they are doing and is making deliberate choices, whether good or bad.

    In other words, OP, yeah you missed a good chance to let the trainer see they weren't impressing you. But you did not fail in any ethical obligations because clearly they knew about the rub. That is why they saddled him up before you got there.

    My hunch is horse is being sold on because he is showing increasingly bad behavior for his rider and much much more is wrong than the rub.

    Leave a comment:


  • Beck
    replied
    I'd have a problem with anyone who would tack up a horse for someone to ride and there was a sore under the saddle. What sort of behav are you potenially setting the rider up for? Good grief.

    I would have pointed out the rub. Tactfully; but it would have been mentioned.

    Leave a comment:


  • Scribbler
    replied
    If I was seriously interested in a horse I would maybe want to ask some questions and do some problem solving. But if I'd already decided to walk away, I would just silently roll my eyes. I'm sure they knew about the rub.

    Leave a comment:


  • JustTheTicket
    replied
    I would have just said something like “oh, hey, I’m sure you know, but it looks like he’s got something going on here.” It wouldn’t be weird to make a comment about something you didn’t see when the saddle was on.

    Leave a comment:


  • Haylter
    replied
    I would have looked at my trainer, looked at bald patch, back n forth until my trainer "picked up what I was putting down" and let them take the lead...mmmmmayyyybbeeee played dumb and casually asked my trainer "oh think a little MTG will fix that or Corona?" all innocent and sweet as pie. Not saying "OH MY GOD THE ELEPHANT BARELY FITS IN THIS ROOM DON"T LET IT STEP ON YOU" but more like "Hey my eyes may be playing tricks on me...Did you see that?" This sounds more like a case of rain rot or other skin condition than rubbing of saddle, but does explain saint horse's reluctant behavior.It was not wrong of you to keep your mouth shut, especially since you had trainer ie professional with you...if you were looking at a house with your realtor and both walked into a room with a piece of plywood in the middle of a wall who would you expect to ask why it was there?

    Leave a comment:

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