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What responsibility does a breeder have to point out conformation faults to a young horse buyer?

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  • What responsibility does a breeder have to point out conformation faults to a young horse buyer?

    I’ve been watching a Facebook fiasco unfold. While I don’t know the people or horses involved well enough to have an opinion about that situation, it made me think.

    Does a breeder have any responsibility to protect a buyer from their ignorance?

    Say Joe Buyer comes to see the young stock and says he’s looking for an upper level dressage prospect. He looks at the babies and decides Dobbin is the one. Dobbin, however has a straight shoulder, is post legged behind, and his neck comes out of his shoulder low.

    Removing concern for the future of the horse from the equation, does the breeder have a responsibility to point out that UL dressage might not be in Dobbins future?

  • #2
    No. I would say they should disclose relevant medical history, but not a subjective determination what the horse may or may not become someday.
    http://trainingcupid.blogspot.com/

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    • #3
      Originally posted by jonem004 View Post
      I’ve been watching a Facebook fiasco unfold. While I don’t know the people or horses involved well enough to have an opinion about that situation, it made me think.

      Does a breeder have any responsibility to protect a buyer from their ignorance?

      Say Joe Buyer comes to see the young stock and says he’s looking for an upper level dressage prospect. He looks at the babies and decides Dobbin is the one. Dobbin, however has a straight shoulder, is post legged behind, and his neck comes out of his shoulder low.

      Removing concern for the future of the horse from the equation, does the breeder have a responsibility to point out that UL dressage might not be in Dobbins future?
      Is this the actual situation or a hypothetical?

      Everyone with young stock is out there promoting their horses to the limit and beyond. Some of them are merely mediocre and some are ridiculous, especially the low end "rescue" resellers.

      I think that a breeder with a true reputation to protect would be careful who they sold to and wouldn't sell to a total idiot like this.

      But honestly a buyer who does not know anything about the basics of a discipline or conformation and doesn't even know enough to find the good advice of a trainer is going to make these kinds of errors.

      I don't actually have much sympathy for any of the players here though I can see it blowing up on social media. I would just stay out of it because it sounds like a perfect trainwreck storm of craycray.


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      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by Scribbler View Post

        Is this the actual situation or a hypothetical?

        Everyone with young stock is out there promoting their horses to the limit and beyond. Some of them are merely mediocre and some are ridiculous, especially the low end "rescue" resellers.

        I think that a breeder with a true reputation to protect would be careful who they sold to and wouldn't sell to a total idiot like this.

        But honestly a buyer who does not know anything about the basics of a discipline or conformation and doesn't even know enough to find the good advice of a trainer is going to make these kinds of errors.

        I don't actually have much sympathy for any of the players here though I can see it blowing up on social media. I would just stay out of it because it sounds like a perfect trainwreck storm of craycray.


        This is a hypothetical. I didn’t want to post the details of the FB fun, just if case someone involved frequents these boards. It was surrounding a conformation fault that either was not noticed (more likely) or not evident (less likely) when the buyer looked at the horse prior to purchase. It didn’t sound like any prepurchase vetting took place.

        My initial instinct what that horses are a buyer beware purchase, but there were enough, “Any reputable breeder...”, comments that I thought I’d check in and make sure my moral compass wasn’t misaligned.

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        • #5
          Both buyer and seller can be barn blind buyer in particular if they think they are getting a bargain.

          It sounds like there was just one conformation fault and perhaps not super evident? Buyers can be swept up by pretty colors, pretty faces, long manes and tails etc and not see something like post legs or long pasterns or a small hip. Or can mistake a high head for a high neck set. Let alone think about relation of stifle to elbow or shoulder angle.

          i think making a FB trainwreck out of one's buyer's remorse is tiresome.

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
            Both buyer and seller can be barn blind buyer in particular if they think they are getting a bargain.

            It sounds like there was just one conformation fault and perhaps not super evident? Buyers can be swept up by pretty colors, pretty faces, long manes and tails etc and not see something like post legs or long pasterns or a small hip. Or can mistake a high head for a high neck set. Let alone think about relation of stifle to elbow or shoulder angle.

            i think making a FB trainwreck out of one's buyer's remorse is tiresome.
            I was going to PM you the details, but evidently I don’t know how to send a message on here, and you’re not wrong in your assessment of the situation. I’m sure this is a tale as old as horses.

            Comment


            • #7
              I generally feel that reputable breeders should market their horses honestly - but that doesn't require them to be transparent to the point of putting themselves in a hole. "Oh, Dobbin has (super obvious example: a very long back with a weak loin connection) so he is a bad candidate for an upper level grand prix horse!"

              How many horses are actually conformationally perfect for the job? You can look at a conformation photo of many of the top international horses and by and far, can find at least one glaring flaw that someone somewhere will say "oh I would never buy a horse with (flaw), they're terrible grand prix prospects/will never make grand prix" etc etc etc what have you. The reality is, every horse is built differently and while there's varying degrees of optimal build, not every component has to be perfect for a horse to reasonably do the job at hand. A huge part of this is riding and training.

              Which comes to a second point: riders have different skill sets. Some riders may be very good at getting horses to connect/work over their backs. Especially long horses or horses with a weak loin connection may not be a dealbreaker for these riders as their wheelhouse is the skill set required to help those horses go correctly. For other riders, it may not be a skill set they have and thusly, that conformational flaw becomes a deal breaker. (Example: I am excellent at riding the hind end of a horse - I have had good luck riding horses with less than optimal leg angles and hind end conformation, because I have a very easy time influencing it.)

              Sellers/breeders do not know each rider/buyer they are coming across. What is a deal breaker for one rider is a non-issue for another.

              At the end of the day, while dishonest advertising is something I frown on, so long as a seller does not actively try to conceal what exists (eg: Long grass to hide odd foot or lower leg angles), I consider it a reasonable expectation of a buyer's due diligence to either know conformation themselves or be working with a professional who does, so they can make the most informed choices possible. If a buyer doesn't know enough about conformation or their own abilities as a rider to know what is/isn't a dealbreaker, they need to be working with another professional.

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              • #8
                No, breeders are not responsible in pointing out every little flaw in there colts. However, a responsible breeder is going to ensure that most of their stock is indeed a worthy investment for future competitions/breeding.

                IMO when you see a very reputable breeder selling a colt for well under what they normally do, that’s them handing over a red flag to you. Unless of course they are wanting to walk away from the business quickly, though established folks will still believe in placing their animals in the right homes.

                I did work for some people that had to inject a colts back but did not tell the buyers because frankly, they didn’t ask. While this is technically not wrong and the buyers should have gotten a PPE, that type of selling didn’t sit 100% right with me. A major issue should be brought up and is usually seen in the price.
                Ride with seat and a little less hand, doesn’t matter if you’re jumping a fence or chasing a can🛢

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                • #9
                  As one who use to breed and sell on a small scale, I would say that there is no inherit or implied obligation but I think many of us (if not most) really try to sell our youngstock into jobs/expectations that are in line with their capability. I have a breed that was/is an "all rounder". I had those who I felt were more suited for dressage (the level attained restricted by the rider) and those that were more suited for CDE or eventing. As such that is how I marketed them. I would let buyers know the why and what behind my reasoning but in the end what they chose to do with their purchase was up to them. This reality also facilitated my telling more than one person that I didn't have what they wanted and turned them away too. I, like many others, didn't want a bad reputation attached to my stallion(s) because of a mismatch or unrealistic expectations. I didn't want my youngstock to end up being passed around because they didn't live up to expectations or were found 'unsuitable'. Fortunately I never did; but, had I produced something that had a glaring conformational flaw I was prepared to put it down, keep it forever, or find it a suitable home where its genetics could never contribute to the gene pool (nor would I repeat the breeding). Now having said all that, I was ALWAYS very clear to my 'potential' buyers that my breed of choice does not suffer fools well; so, I have a feeling I was successful in filtering out the type of buyer you're describing.
                  Ranch of Last Resort

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                  • #10
                    The conformation may not be perfect, but is it functional to do the intended job?
                    https://www.hcbc.ca/wp-content/uploa...t-revision.pdf
                    Tracy Geller
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                    • #11
                      There are many horses who excel at a discipline they were either not bred for, or whose conformation would suggest otherwise. This is due to things you can't quantify, like heart, training, and just good luck.

                      The opposite exists as well.

                      Barring an injury, healed or not, that might limit a horse's use, I don't think the seller has any right, much less responsibility, telling a potential buyer what the horse should or shouldn't be used for. A buyer should be getting a PPE, and their vet should be giving them some information that might impact the horse's use, but even then, many vets know little to nothing about functional conformation, and outside of old tendon/ligament injuries, or obvious clubby feet, or navicular issues, etc, have no idea how to equate conformation to physical use.

                      People who don't know what they're looking at need to bring someone who does - ideally, their own trainer. Even then, things get tricky.

                      If someone buying a horse can't tell that the hind legs are straight as a board, or see that one front leg points East while the other points North, they don't need to be shopping by themselves, and it shouldn't be up to the seller to tell that person "this horse is not going to be a GP Jumper". Well, maybe if the horse was 27 with arthritic knees But not a young horse.

                      I'm really curious what fault(s) this young horse has, and how young he is. What might be seen as a conformation flaw, unchangeable, might be something that therapeutic work, whether splints (for a young foal with leg deviations), or body work (ie developing upright foot) or corrective trimming, etc could improve or even eliminate.
                      ______________________________
                      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by JB View Post
                        There are many horses who excel at a discipline they were either not bred for, or whose conformation would suggest otherwise. This is due to things you can't quantify, like heart, training, and just good luck.

                        The opposite exists as well.

                        Barring an injury, healed or not, that might limit a horse's use, I don't think the seller has any right, much less responsibility, telling a potential buyer what the horse should or shouldn't be used for. A buyer should be getting a PPE, and their vet should be giving them some information that might impact the horse's use, but even then, many vets know little to nothing about functional conformation, and outside of old tendon/ligament injuries, or obvious clubby feet, or navicular issues, etc, have no idea how to equate conformation to physical use.

                        People who don't know what they're looking at need to bring someone who does - ideally, their own trainer. Even then, things get tricky.

                        If someone buying a horse can't tell that the hind legs are straight as a board, or see that one front leg points East while the other points North, they don't need to be shopping by themselves, and it shouldn't be up to the seller to tell that person "this horse is not going to be a GP Jumper". Well, maybe if the horse was 27 with arthritic knees But not a young horse.

                        I'm really curious what fault(s) this young horse has, and how young he is. What might be seen as a conformation flaw, unchangeable, might be something that therapeutic work, whether splints (for a young foal with leg deviations), or body work (ie developing upright foot) or corrective trimming, etc could improve or even eliminate.
                        I believe the filly was a yearling. Bought from a friend, having been seen in a pen once with other horses, while drinking wine. Filly was purchased as a show and breeding animal, but a few days after receiving the horse the buyer noticed she was back at the knee. Had vet out then to take X-rays and it didn’t look good in there.
                        These horses are a newly popular, very hairy small draft. It might be difficult to see lower leg conformation on an adult, but the pics of the filly make it plain as day.

                        Buyer wants seller to take back horse with refund, or replace her with another, nicer, filly with no price change. Seller has declined to do anything.

                        Seems like a buyer beware situation to me, but maybe there’s an argument to be made that buyer was expecting the seller (supposed friend and more knowledgeable about the breed) to act as their agent.

                        I wonder if I would be so scrupulous that if someone wanted to buy a horse from me to breed/show I’d point out Dobbin’s weird knee. Doesn’t really feel like my job.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          As a buyer I would expect a breeder to tell me anything they had identified about the horse I'm looking at in a neutral manner. That includes subjective comments like, "this horse has a long back and weak loin and I don't know if he will be an upper level jumper as a result." In the same way that I, as a seller, will tell a buyer, "he's not likely to ever be as quiet as you're hoping for the hunter ring." I leave it to the buyer to decide whether they "know better" and have ways to work around that. Or in the case of conformation, can decide that they are not bothered by the issue.

                          But I would personally rather tell a buyer "too much" and potentially lose them as a buyer than have them come back to me surprised by something they maybe should have noticed.

                          So I agree with the "any reputable breeder....." comments (if the end of that sentence is ......would tell a buyer what they've identified).

                          But on that point, how it's presented is everything. Stating, "the horse has a longer back and may require additional conditioning to be as strong as a shorter backed horse" makes sense. Stating "this horse will never jump because of his atrocious long-backed conformation" is ridiculous. Same story with post-legged as in the example. Here stating, "you may notice that he's a bit straight behind which can suggest less power behind" makes sense, as does giving examples of post-legged horses who are successfully competing at a higher level. Saying "this post-legged POS is worthless" does not.

                          The goals of the buyer come into play too. Someone who's looking for a 3' hunter prospect doesn't need every drop of scope a horse may have, so I may be less inclined to stress potential conformation issues to someone not looking to "use" the horse than with someone who's gearing towards the top of the sport.

                          All conformation issues (within reason) can be worked around. One of my most successful grand prix horses was a 16h quarter horse with the longest back (and corresponding weakest loin) you've ever seen. So it doesn't deter me when I see a long-backed horse, and I would expect a breeder showing me a youngster to state the obvious. But also, I like to buy from people who are willing to be very open about what they have. So to me, as a generally observant buyer, it's very important to me that my sellers lay out what they see/know on the line and let me make my decisions. Not everyone buys that way.
                          __________________________________
                          Flying F Sport Horses
                          Horses in the NW

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jonem004 View Post

                            I believe the filly was a yearling. Bought from a friend, having been seen in a pen once with other horses, while drinking wine. Filly was purchased as a show and breeding animal, but a few days after receiving the horse the buyer noticed she was back at the knee. Had vet out then to take X-rays and it didn’t look good in there.
                            These horses are a newly popular, very hairy small draft. It might be difficult to see lower leg conformation on an adult, but the pics of the filly make it plain as day.

                            Buyer wants seller to take back horse with refund, or replace her with another, nicer, filly with no price change. Seller has declined to do anything.

                            Seems like a buyer beware situation to me, but maybe there’s an argument to be made that buyer was expecting the seller (supposed friend and more knowledgeable about the breed) to act as their agent.

                            I wonder if I would be so scrupulous that if someone wanted to buy a horse from me to breed/show I’d point out Dobbin’s weird knee. Doesn’t really feel like my job.
                            Maybe all the horses in the herd are back at the knee. Maybe seller doesn't know or care. Seller may be more knowledgeable than buyer but since buyer is a dolt that means nothing. My guess is someone at the buyers barn pointed out the knees.

                            Sounds like a real trainwreck backyard breeder moment. I would just avoid these people.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I've seen both sides/kinds of breeders. The breeder I bought from truly wants the best for her stock and wouldn't sell/suggest/promote the horse if they didn't think it would be successful in the field in which the buyer wanted to use it for. That does nothing for her, her farm, or the horse. They also are very selective in their breeding program and produce stunning babies every season. I've always admired her program and the quality of horse she produces. I guess that wouldn't keep someone from buying one of her horses and it still not being suitable, but I couldn't see her purposefully promoting a horse to someone or for something knowing it wouldn't be a good fit.

                              I've also seen the ones who do everything to hide conformation flaws to be able to get as much money out of the young stock as possible. Trying to correct clubbed feet. Putting braces on to correct wonky teeth in halter prospects.

                              I think there is a lot of weight in the 'reputable' part of breeding. If you're doing what's right for the horses, you shouldn't be breeding things that need to be lied about or hidden. Like others have said above, backyard trainwreck.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                There is definitely a newly popular super hairy small draft breed that looks to me to be a magnet for newbies and backyard breeders alike, and where the foundation stock is imported crossbred cobs with uncertain lineage but lots of hair. Scenario makes even more sense imagining that.

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                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by Scribbler View Post

                                  Maybe all the horses in the herd are back at the knee. Maybe seller doesn't know or care. Seller may be more knowledgeable than buyer but since buyer is a dolt that means nothing. My guess is someone at the buyers barn pointed out the knees.

                                  Sounds like a real trainwreck backyard breeder moment. I would just avoid these people.
                                  Oh for sure! It just made me wonder if my thoughts on seller responsibility were out of touch with popular opinion.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Not the sellers job to educate the buyer in conformation of horses. Buyer coming thinks they know enough or they bring another knowledgeable person with them.

                                    We seldom sell a horse, but it is always a PITA. We are clear in the advertisements, which no one reads anyway. Video is clear, shows everything horse can do. We still get the tire kickers calling, coming out to ride it, asking basic questions covered in the ad or video.

                                    I can usually tell the knowing from the beginners now, weeding them out in phone calls. Those who come get intimidated right off with horse size, things often do not progress further. I TOLD them he was 17h, guess they never truly saw a real 17h horse! This was even though BIG was what they wanted when they called. Riding may or may not happen as I let them saddle and bridle horse themselves. If they want to own him, they need to see how he behaves, reacts, if they can manage him at their house. I tell them how we do things so they can do what horse is used to happening in preparing to ride.

                                    Then if they do get on, I have to correct rein hold from REALLY tight, to just basic contact. Horse is not trying to run with them! That is his natural big walk!! We like big movers, though it seems to scare other folks. I may stop things there, tell them to get off, we are done. I stopped one rider over fences, she jerked him as he was taking off. He did manage to get over clean but she fell off. She got on again and I warned her about the jerking, she caused the problem! But she jerked again, he landed poorly, stumbled, she went off again!. They were not upset, evidently she falls off a lot. I said we were done riding, she was untraining him. They called back! Said they were sorry, but watching the video, it was not her fault, horse acted poorly so they did not wish to buy him. I was right beside the jumps, SAW her jerk the reins, using them to stay in the saddle. I gritted my teeth to not say "I wouldn't sell him to you now anyway!" Found out later she had 3 horses at home she could not compete because she had made them confirmed stoppers. They would not jump anything now. Had all been good jumpers, nice x-country rides for anyone, before she bought them. I am not going to sell my horse to some ignorant, unskilled rider, he doesn't deserve that fate. We keep on advertising, eventually a real horseperson will come along and buy him. Just might take a longer time. For us, it seems there is only one buyer for that horse. They click. Buyer and seller are both happy when he goes to a nice place. They call us back over the years to share his adventures! How much fun they have owning him. Always glad to hear that.

                                    But from a seller side, buyers do not believe what you tell them and as a buyer, I seldom believe the seller! We have been flat-out lied to, along with a number of minor deceptions on behaviour, training, attitude. One we were able to return because we told seller if they did not take her she would be sold for meat! Had great video of being used, a few years back, then sitting at the breeders since. However she was crazy at our Trainers, just tied to the wall of arena. Afraid of everything getting near her, double barrel kicking reactions still after 2 weeks. Trainer said she is not worth the effort. Another horse seemed great, owner answered all our questions correctly. Husband flew across the country to see it. What a mess! So many wrong things I can't list them all. Vet called out for PPE remarked to owner that the healed eye surgery looked good! One of our specific questions was had horse ever had eye problems!! Then she would not return deposit for failing Vet check, so husband had to go to police to get it returned! Not leaving without it, she would never refund it by mail. Yeah, the police knew her name and address, no trouble to drive out there to help collect our money.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by jonem004 View Post

                                      I believe the filly was a yearling. Bought from a friend, having been seen in a pen once with other horses, while drinking wine. Filly was purchased as a show and breeding animal, but a few days after receiving the horse the buyer noticed she was back at the knee. Had vet out then to take X-rays and it didn’t look good in there.
                                      These horses are a newly popular, very hairy small draft. It might be difficult to see lower leg conformation on an adult, but the pics of the filly make it plain as day.
                                      Buyer beware. If a breeder is selling a BATK horse as a breeding animal, that's the first and biggest problem right there. Breeder doesn't know? Doesn't care? It's no different from the horrible breeding going on with too many QH Halter horses who are also sometimes sold as "she rides too, she'd be a great broodmare", when anyone who actually cares and knows anything knows those posty hocks and vertical pasterns are abusive breeding practices.

                                      But I'm also curious about the xrays showing things "didn’t look good in there". Did an injury happen?

                                      Buyer wants seller to take back horse with refund, or replace her with another, nicer, filly with no price change. Seller has declined to do anything.
                                      Unless there's an undisclosed injury, buyer has no rights, and seller has no legal obligation.

                                      Seems like a buyer beware situation to me, but maybe there’s an argument to be made that buyer was expecting the seller (supposed friend and more knowledgeable about the breed) to act as their agent.
                                      If that was the buyer's expectation, that's worse than using a seller's vet for a PPE. But also, knowledge about a breed means nothing when it comes to knowledge of conformation. I bet there are any number of Halter breeders churning out posty horses who can tell you lots about the breed, and who think WBs are awful with their upright neck emergence Conformation is conformation no matter the breed. All horses should be judged by the same set of broad parameters. It's only subsets of those parameters that apply to breeds and disciplines.

                                      I wonder if I would be so scrupulous that if someone wanted to buy a horse from me to breed/show I’d point out Dobbin’s weird knee. Doesn’t really feel like my job.
                                      In the dog breeding world, the best breeders sell "pet quality" animals who don't hold up to high breeding standards. The price is lower, of course, and I'm sure some of those buyers breed them anyway.

                                      I'm sure some horse breeders do the same thing in terms of "I'm selling her because she's not up to my breeding standards, but she still has potential for upper level work based on pedigree" or whatever. I'm sure some of those buyers breed anyway
                                      ______________________________
                                      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by JB View Post
                                        Buyer beware. If a breeder is selling a BATK horse as a breeding animal, that's the first and biggest problem right there. Breeder doesn't know? Doesn't care? It's no different from the horrible breeding going on with too many QH Halter horses who are also sometimes sold as "she rides too, she'd be a great broodmare", when anyone who actually cares and knows anything knows those posty hocks and vertical pasterns are abusive breeding practices.

                                        But I'm also curious about the xrays showing things "didn’t look good in there". Did an injury happen?


                                        Unless there's an undisclosed injury, buyer has no rights, and seller has no legal obligation.


                                        If that was the buyer's expectation, that's worse than using a seller's vet for a PPE. But also, knowledge about a breed means nothing when it comes to knowledge of conformation. I bet there are any number of Halter breeders churning out posty horses who can tell you lots about the breed, and who think WBs are awful with their upright neck emergence Conformation is conformation no matter the breed. All horses should be judged by the same set of broad parameters. It's only subsets of those parameters that apply to breeds and disciplines.


                                        In the dog breeding world, the best breeders sell "pet quality" animals who don't hold up to high breeding standards. The price is lower, of course, and I'm sure some of those buyers breed them anyway.

                                        I'm sure some horse breeders do the same thing in terms of "I'm selling her because she's not up to my breeding standards, but she still has potential for upper level work based on pedigree" or whatever. I'm sure some of those buyers breed anyway
                                        From what I could see on the X-ray (definitely not an X-pert) there were some close joint spaces and the backward angle was acute enough that I thought I was looking at a hock for a second.

                                        Like, shame on the buyer for not having any kind of prepurchase done. Or, idk, actually LOOKING at the horse. But also shame on the breeder for selling an honest to goodness cull as a breeding animal.

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