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"I heard a rumour about your horse..."

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    "I heard a rumour about your horse..."

    Help me out, COTH ethicists!

    By a weird coincidence, I saw a horse that I tried several years ago (and liked a lot) back up for sale. The horse seems as if it would be a good fit for a friend of mine who is looking for a low-level eventer. I contacted the seller, mentioned that I knew the horse and that I was not looking for myself but for a friend who is currently out of the country doing fieldwork and can't easily be reached for the next week or two. The owner mentioned that she no longer jumps the horse because she had a bad fall and broke her arm, but admitted that she was a fairly novice rider and said that the fall was her (rider's) fault, not the horse. Everything sounds good; I set up an appointment to come and see the horse.

    At a social gathering last night I mentioned my plan to see this horse to a casual friend who knows the horse and current owner because they boarded at the same barn and shared the same trainer. She told me that the trainer refused to work with the horse and owner because the horse was dangerous over fences (the trainer suspected a neurological problem as the horse sometimes just doesn't get her landing gear down). Trainer (also the BO) asked the owner to get a neurological workup on the horse and the owner refused. Owner was asked to leave the barn, and did.

    So, needless to say, I am not planning on getting on this horse anymore! However, I need to cancel the appointment with the seller. Do I just weasel out with a vague excuse, or should I tell her what I heard? The seller knows that I know people from her old barn, so may suspect that I have heard a version of the story anyway.... WWYD?

    well, considering I'm the first to respond, i have nothing to compare my response to. But I always err on the side of honesty.

    Call up the seller and be point blank. Tell her you were so excited to come see the horse that you mentioned it unwittingly to some friends. Tell her what the friends said in a non confrontational way then explain that you want to hear it from the horse's mouth so to speak whether this information is correct.

    Her reaction will tell you plenty about the whole situation and who to believe.

    Why not weasel out? Because if this horse is truly a danger to itself and anyone who rides it, this seller needs to know that this information is out there for a buyer to discover even if she herself is hiding it. May make her think twice about trying to pawn the horse off on an unsuspecting buyer. Of course it leaves the horse in a precarious position but if he truly is neurologically impaired he's already got the cards stacked against him.
    ...don't sh** where you eat...


      Just tell her your friend decided she wasn't buying right now and cancel. Short and sweet, no reason to get more involved than that.


        wow, if I believed every rumor without finding out anything on my own I probably wouldn't have any horses.

        I had a horse years ago that a BNT labeled wild and "insane" AFTER I wouldn't sell him to him.

        Believe your own eyes. Let the seller ride the horse for you if needed.
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          Original Poster

          Thanks for your quick responses! Winfieldfarm - I left out some details in the OP for brevity's sake. Before I heard the story of the broken arm, I asked where she had kept the horse, and said that I knew the facility and some of the boarders there. She asked me if I was friends with the trainer and I said (honestly) that our paths had crossed a few times but that we aren't friends. She then told the story of the broken arm, but said that the trainer had never liked her horse, had overfaced both her and her horse and tried to save face by saying that the horse was not a good jumper. At the time, I thought it was possible as this trainer does have a reputation for pushing her clients hard.

          The situation sucks because I have a stupid soft spot for the horse from when I tried her way back when. It makes me sad to think that she might end up in a bad situation, but it scares me to think that she may be dangerous and will be passed on to someone without disclosure of her history. On the other hand, maybe there really is nothing wrong with the horse and I might be stirring the pot needlessly. I wish I was looking for myself -- then I could justify getting a PPE and knowing the answer!


            Original Poster

            Iron Horse Farm -- unfortunately, the seller told me flat out that she won't jump the horse herself. I asked if someone else would show the horse for her and she made it sound as if that was impossible....


              Boy, I NEVER get on and jump someone's horse without seeing it first. Huge red flag.
              I hate to believe rumors, could you ask someone else? Then since you like the horse so much, I would talk to owner and see what comes up. If this story is going around, seller might be doing herself a favor if she had a basic neuro exam done and got a clear report.
              I just had to put a boarder's horse down that had a neurological problem. She refused to admit it until I forced their hand. Poor horse.
              Good luck.


                All I can say is I hate rumors. Confront the seller with the knowledge you now have and see what you get from there.
                "If you've got a horse, you've got a problem"


                  Originally posted by fargaloo View Post
                  Iron Horse Farm -- unfortunately, the seller told me flat out that she won't jump the horse herself. I asked if someone else would show the horse for her and she made it sound as if that was impossible....
                  Sounds like reason enough to "weasle out" of seeing it. Regardless if you share this "rumor" with your friend who is buying are they still going to want to see the horse? I mean w/o the rumor if someone is selling a horse for eventing or any jumping discipline and you or the purchaser has to be the first one to jump it in who knows how long I suspect your friend will pass.

                  Unless as you say you are actually shopping for yourself, willing to make an offer on the horse w/o seeing it jump and then get a PPE don't think there is much you can do.

                  What about asking her to lunge the horse over a jump or a jump chute?


                    Definitely do not jump the horse without watching someone do so first. It was drilled into me when looking at horses w/ my trainer that you always have someone show you the horse first. For the 2nd horse, I looked @ a few without trainer's assistance and still would always have the owner ride first.

                    As to the rest - I wouldn't listen to the gossip. Go see the horse for yourself but insist that the owner find someone to show horse to you if you are going to jump it, which you obviously should if that's what your friend wants to do with horse. That in itself should probably encourage the owner to be honest.
                    "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
                    "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey


                      Originally posted by Event4Life View Post
                      I wouldn't listen to the gossip. Go see the horse for yourself but insist that the owner find someone to show horse to you if you are going to jump it, which you obviously should if that's what your friend wants to do with horse. That in itself should probably encourage the owner to be honest.
                      I agree to go see the horse yourself. The gossip could be true. . . or maybe not. You have a heads up that there could be a problem but we all know how chit chat gets out of hand.


                        I can't see selling a horse without having someone to ride it. If I couldn't show it myself, you best bet I'd be paying someone to show it to potential buyers for me.


                          Never get on a horse that the owner will not ride or can not find a person who will ride it.

                          You have nothing to lose by going to see the horse, but insist on someone riding it. If they will not, that is all the excuse you need to walk.

                          Just tell them that without a demo, you can't go any farther.

                          As for telling what you heard....that is not a good idea at all.

                          Assume the horse is either expensive or the person selling it is really mean or both. I am not a lawyer, but I believe the seller can put you in the position of forcing you to name the person who told you the horse is dangerous.

                          I do not know that for a fact, but I would be wary.

                          The point is that you do not need to tell what you have heard nor where you heard it. Go look and if no one will jump the horse for you, tell them that is a deal killer and hit the road.



                            I am with the person above who said that if the seller won't jump the horse, ask to lunge or free jump the horse over jumps before climbing on yourself. You should be able to tell a fair bit about the horse's ability to jump from free-jumping a gymnastic line.

                            If the horse does well on that, I'd lower the jumps, climb on and then raise them again if I felt that the horse was confident/honest/sound with a rider at lower jumps.

                            If the horse did well, I'd make sure that the prospective buyer did a thorough PPE, including a basic neuro exam, blood drawn, and have the vet watch the horse go at all gaits and on both hard and soft surfaces.

                            I guess what I'm saying is that I would not take the rumor at face value and by-pass a horse that you and your friend might otherwise find a strong partner. People (even--or maybe especially--well-meaning ones) have all kinds of reasons for repeating things they have heard; they often will couch it as something they know first-hand because they know that gives the information a sense of greater truth. IT's for that reason that I would not mention the rumor to the current owner.

                            But, forewarned (even if by a possibly scurrilous rumor) is forearmed. Do a thorough check.

                            Good luck.
                            "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky


                              Originally posted by cssutton View Post
                              Never get on a horse that the owner will not ride or can not find a person who will ride it.

                              You have nothing to lose by going to see the horse, but insist on someone riding it. If they will not, that is all the excuse you need to walk.

                              Just tell them that without a demo, you can't go any farther.

                              As for telling what you heard....that is not a good idea at all.
                              Yup! I wouldn't blindly believe the rumor. But, if nobody at their barn is willing to jump the horse, that's red flag enough even without the gossip behind it. Good luck!!


                                I just watched as a "Rumor" completely unfounded and w/O supporting merit ruined a seller's sale..(not mine)

                                If you like the horse, go have a look, see someone else ride the horse, be careful and start w/ very elementary jumps and form your own eye witness opinion.


                                  If you liked the horse before, go see it. It could be that the problem is with the RIDER and not the horse.

                                  I've had many horses come to me who were supposed to be awful and found out I didn't have a problem with them. And sadly, I've had a few here that I couldn't get to behave who did well for someone else.

                                  Sometimes there's a 'personality problem' between a horse and rider/handler and that results in bad behavior. And sometimes the human overestimates their own experience and causes problems with the horse.
                                  Visit us at Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society -

                                  Want to get involved in rescue or start your own? Check out How to Start a Horse Rescue -


                                    I agree with those who say that not all rumors are based in truth, and would not necessarily stop me from at least looking.

                                    What WOULD stop me from looking is any time the horse's owner is unwilling to ride (or jump) their own horse and makes excuses as to why someone else can't do it. I would not do anything with a horse that the owner isn't willing to do (or in a few specific instances only like injury or pregnancy, have a rider of similar ability do). Based on that evasiveness alone, I'd pass on the horse.


                                      Here in Oregon, I'm pretty sure the seller has to disclose if there are problems with the horse. I'm not sure because I've never looked it up, heard it second-hand but I've always told everything I knew about a horse so it's a non-issue with me anyway. Just tell the truth, simple.

                                      I'd watch someone else ride first at the very least. Use your head and don't go on emotions. (I know, very hard but it will save you more times than not).
                                      GR24's Musing #19 - Save the tatas!!


                                        If you like the horse, just get a full neuro workup done as part of the PPE. Remember some neuro things are fixable, such as EPM (medication) and EMND (megadose vitamin E supplementation).
                                        RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.