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Selling a trail horse... Protecting myself and potential buyer?

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  • Selling a trail horse... Protecting myself and potential buyer?

    So, I'm selling my trail horse for various reasons. I've had a few people interested and wanting to come meet and ride him. Here's the dilemma (sorry, it's long).

    I've got him advertised as needing a confident intermediate rider, not suitable for beginners and also not loving being in an arena. This is because while he's perfectly safe he can be a bit of a tweaker and needs a confident rider who won't be phased by him. I'm disclosing this, as well as his other quirks, before anyone rides him.

    I have no where to ride at my place. I haul out to the arena and trails for all of my riding. I can take him to the arena for people to try, but as state, he doesn't love to be ridden in the arena, the arena is usually crazy busy on the weekends when most people want to test horses, and people that want to buy a trail horse want to try him on trails of which there are really none at the arena I ride at.

    I've got a woman coming to see him on Saturday whom I've agreed to meet at a local trail head instead of the arena since she's only interested in how he does on trails. I'm happy to accommodate, but I'm concerned about how to make sure the rider is capable of handling him since we'll be heading out from a parking lot.

    Right now I'm planning to have her sign a liability release in which I will disclose his quirks. I'm also planning to have her depart the trail head on my dead broke gelding (who is not for sale) while I ride the horse I'm selling. Once I've seen her ride (and she's seen the sale horse under me) we'll decide if she will ride the sale horse.

    Does this make sense? What am I missing? I want to present this horse as best as possible, which is on trails, but also want to make sure I don't put anyone at risk since he's not dead broke.

  • #2
    On the release, use the standard one that is used in your state. Don't modify the release to list your horse's quirks. Modification can negate a release. Just stick to the standard words.

    I also would REQUIRE that she wore a helmet when riding any of my horses.
    Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule
    http://www.ironwood-farm.com

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    • #3
      Is your insurance up to date? Releases are great but they don't pay attorney's fees.

      Helmet is a must.

      Personally, I'd not do a first ride on a trail. I'd want to see how the horse does in a more confined environment. Maybe that's just me.

      G.
      Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

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      • #4
        Agree with Guilherme.

        Can you & buyer perhaps arrange to take a day off work when you could both meet at the arena?

        Buyer would still need to sign a release & a helmet would be a really good idea even if the arena rules do not require it.

        If she seems to be a competent rider, then maybe I'd be willing to accompany her on a trailride.
        Are there any trails close to the arena you ride at?
        You could trailer both your horses to the arena & then if things look promising, proceed to the trails.

        A bit of a PITA, but it might sell your horse.

        Whenever I've had people wanting to ride my horses & claiming to be able I've longed them first.
        After they prove they have a seat, I let them have reins. Then if things still look good I take them off the longe.
        Maybe 10-15min total to evaluate.
        Always in an enclosed area.

        No proficient rider has ever objected to this and the less-than able are safe on the longe.
        *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
        Steppin' Out 1988-2004
        Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
        Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

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        • #5
          BTDT -- I think your plan is good. You ride the horse for a while, she rides your old broke one, then if she seems capable you can switch. If things do not seem to be going swimmingly, switch back. I have never had a problem using this method.

          Personally, if I went to look at a horse and someone wanted to put me on the longeline without reins, I would decline to bother with the animal and drive home. They are not china dolls, and you can always ask them to get off if it doesn't go well. And YES, I have done that -- a simple "Dobbin doesn't seem to be a good fit, sorry" while holding the reins and waiting for the person to get off works. If you have a reluctant one, then "I think he's lame" gets them off in a heartbeat, no one wants to buy a lame horse.

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            Ironwood - I'm planning to use the Seller Liability release from Equine Legal Solutions. It has a section specifically for disclosing any know behavior issues so the potential buyer can acknowledge that they're aware and riding anyway. Seemed like a good one to use since it's specifically for trial rides not just a general horse activities.

            FordTraktor - exactly. Trail riders around here have no patience with being asked to be longed, etc. I'm happy to go out on trail with her on my broke horse as I take non-riders out on him often and know he's perfectly safe. If she seems competent she can ride the sale horse. He's not unsafe, the neighbor girl rides him, he just isn't for beginners.

            As for helmet - I've got one to offer use of, but if she declines and signs the release I think that's her right.

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            • #7
              OP

              Regardless of whether or not you think it is her 'right' to NOT wear a helmet, it is also her insurance company's "right" to sue you for failing to perform 'due diligence,' etc when putting a stranger on your horse. You may or may not be from an area of the world were helmets are common. But lawsuits are common everywhere...

              I agree it can be difficult with a horse that does not like the arena, and I'm familiar with your situation. It is understandable that the situation may very well be safer where the horse is happier (on the trail) instead of trying to get the horse to perform in ring (which the horse does not like.)

              Other ideas include asking prospective buyer about their riding experience, competitions, any video they might have, maybe you can talk to their riding instructor, etc. If the person was champ at the state fair in calf roping, has started young horses, comfortable jumping a 14hh pony 4', or says they get scared when the new lesson horse they were riding swung his head around quickly to get a fly, then those kinds of things can help you determine the skill level of the buyer.

              Ask them when was the last time they fell off what kind of things scare them when riding, and MOST importantly, how often do you ride ?

              These questions will yield entertaining responses like "Oh I've only ever ridden my Moms 35 year old ex-pleasure horse." Or "I haven't ridden in 15 years." Or "Well I haven't ridden since I recovered from a car accident last June."

              Answers to these kinds of questions will probably do more than anything else to help you set things up.
              "Friend" me !

              http://www.facebook.com/isabeau.solace

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              • #8
                You can usually tell fairly quickly if someone actually knows what they're doing around horses. At least I can tell if they have experience riding a horse, if not their actual skill level. If she can't seem to remember which foot goes up into the stirrup first I suggest you take a pass and load 'em back on the trailer. Offering her a helmet is all good, but you might want to have her sign something along the lines of "helmet offered and declined", if she declines to wear one. She might even suprise you and bring her own helmet.

                I agree with asking questions regarding her skill level and experience, don't be surprised if she inflates it though.
                "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."

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                • #9
                  When I try a new horse I always insist the seller ride him first, so I think your plan to ride him first is a good one. You'll be able to tell if she's competent and confident while on your steady horse, and she'll get a good look at your horse that's for sale, too. I've tried trail horse prospects out on the trail when horse shopping. After all, if that's where you'll be riding the horse it makes sense to see him doing that "job".

                  More often than not a horse will be good in the arena and bad on the trail, don't you think? I wouldn't mind seeing a sale horse in the arena first, though, if that's what you end up having to do. That way she'll see him in a couple of different settings and really know more of what she's getting. If he's difficult in the arena or when you're lunging him, and then stellar out on the trail she probably won't care if she only cares how he is on the trail. I know I never rode my last two purchases in an arena since that wasn't what I was looking for.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by UrbanHennery View Post
                    Ironwood - I'm planning to use the Seller Liability release from Equine Legal Solutions. It has a section specifically for disclosing any know behavior issues so the potential buyer can acknowledge that they're aware and riding anyway. Seemed like a good one to use since it's specifically for trial rides not just a general horse activities.

                    FordTraktor - exactly. Trail riders around here have no patience with being asked to be longed, etc. I'm happy to go out on trail with her on my broke horse as I take non-riders out on him often and know he's perfectly safe. If she seems competent she can ride the sale horse. He's not unsafe, the neighbor girl rides him, he just isn't for beginners.

                    As for helmet - I've got one to offer use of, but if she declines and signs the release I think that's her right.
                    Is Equine Legal Solutions licensed to practice law in your state?

                    A good "ambulance chaser" can translate "he just isn't for beginners" into "he's an outlaw" pretty quickly.

                    Your horse; your rules; she has every right to do what you permit and not a bit more.

                    G.
                    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

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                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                      Is Equine Legal Solutions licensed to practice law in your state?

                      A good "ambulance chaser" can translate "he just isn't for beginners" into "he's an outlaw" pretty quickly.

                      Your horse; your rules; she has every right to do what you permit and not a bit more.
                      G (and Isabeau)-
                      Actually ELS is licensed to practice in WA state (as well as CA, OR and NY) and so I feel pretty comfortable using her forms. And the liability release includes mention of the fact that a helmet is strongly recommended and if the rider chooses not to wear one they're assuming the risk. No liability release is perfect, and it won't keep someone from suing you, but hopefully a good one will make them aware of the risks and perhaps make them think twice about going there. And it makes it harder for them to falsely prove negligence.


                      PRS, Saddleup, Isabeau -

                      Of the 4 I've bought only 1 of them did I only ride in the arena (ironically the one I'm selling now).

                      Thanks for the question ideas - I'm sure it will be evident pretty quickly if she can ride or not. She sounds competent on the phone, but hey, a lot of people can talk a good game.

                      Right now we're set to meet Saturday morning at the trail head and take it one step at a time. If nothing else, I'll get a short trail ride in on a pretty morning and maybe meet someone new that I want to ride with in the future. And the horse will get a much needed bath tomorrow in preparation...

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