Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Question of Etiquette

A while back after purchasing a horse that ended up being something completely different than what I thought I was getting, I have had the "rules" of horse selling instructed to me over and over again by my friend Jay.

1. If you are buying, the seller should "Show" you the horse. Riding first, showing you all the things the horse can and cannot do.
2. If you are buying, never get onto a horse that the owner is not willing to get on themselves.

Those are the two biggest ones.

So far out of every horse I have bought I have only stuck to these rules once and that was with Killian. His owner was fantastic about showing me what his horse could do. 
Killian and his previous owner Chris.
With Trax his owner I think was afraid of him but wasn't willing to admit it.  I said, "show me what he can do" he says, "I don't care if I sell this horse, so if you are interested you ride him otherwise I'll put him back."    So I rode him.   Jay scolded me for it.  Trax ended up being a handful but not bad and I love love love this horse. 

Trax the first time I saw him
With Sassy, she wasn't broke so there was nothing really to show. In fact you could hardly catch her, but she was "free", so the rule did not apply here. The only thing she really had going for her was that she loaded wonderfully.

The day we brought Sassy home

There was another horse I had bought for a "fair" price of 600 dollars.  She was a registered paint named "Miss Revlon".  She had a turned in foot, was awful to load, and although I did ride her it was in a round pen and very controlled. I am not entirely convinced that she wasn't a little buted up when I looked at her.  When I called the sellers and said I wanted to return her, they refused.  She ended up putting me face first in the dirt 3 times in one day, was horrible to load, you could not move her feet.  Her upside was that you could always catch her, and she was a dream to trim. I worked and worked with her and she came a long ways but was getting to be more work than I could handle. I gave her to a girl in Riverton.  She has taken this horse and done wonderful things with her.  Because of that I believe that horse and owners a predestined to be together.
Miss Royal Revlon
BUT when I gave her away I spent an hour telling her everything I could about Revlon, her good points, but especially the problems, because I wanted her to know what she was getting into.  And of course I always said, if you don't want her call me.   She loves her and sends me new pics all the time of her giving lessons on her and now she is teaching her to run barrels. I am thrilled!

Then there was Tom's first horse Gambler.  He was a Tennessee walker.  His owner did not ride him for me, she had just got out of the hospital.  Her other horse had stepped on her and done internal damage. Again I got scolded because I rode him.  But he was a nice horse and everything she told me about him was true.  One time though he dumped Tom when he shied at my hat which flew off, and Tom decided he didn't like him as much then. Not because Tom fell off, but because he would shy and jump a lot.  Plus he hated Danny and that was a serious issue.
Gambler (AKA Big G)
We sold him to a lady who only had one other gelding, and that last I heard they just loved him.  Every time I sell a horse I always leave the door open for return. I don't want any horse I have loved to end up in the slaughter house.  Or any horse period!!!!
So anyway, what prompted this post was that I just got scolded again because Bricks's owner did not ride her first for me.  He was dressed for a wedding and had to go soon.  I understood that.  So I conceded and rode her myself.  So when I told Jay I was nervous the first time I rode her at home, he didn't understand why.  Didn't I see someone else ride her?  Well no I didn't.  He says he is gonna break me like a wild horse!  It was my second ride on her.  It had nothing to do with the horse and everything to do with me...my age....my lack of confidence.  The truth is I try to follow the "rules of selling"  But not everyone does.  In my mind that doesn't mean it is a bad horse.  It means things aren't exactly how I would like them.  If I had tons of money and could buy any horse I wanted, then you bet...the seller would be SHOWING me the horse they wanted to sell. 
But I am poor.  Most of my horses are someone elses rejects.  Because that is what I can afford and because I am not very savvy I guess.  It makes for some hard lessons learned, that is for sure.
But here is my question to the few followers I have.  If you sell a horse, do you show it to the potential buyer? Do you ride first and give an honest assessment?  What if you are buying?  If the owner does not ride the horse first is that a deal breaker for you?
Am I out of mind for riding these horses I do not know?
I'd love to hear your thoughts.


  1. I had actually put my colt up for sale and showed him to someone about a week ago. I didn't write about it on my blog, and now we've decided to keep him. Anyway, the girl came out, we went and caught Scout, I tacked him up as I told her everything about him, and then I told her I'd ride him first to show her he's a good boy. That just makes sense. I guess I don't understand why someone wouldn't ride their horse first to show it off. It's not that hard to climb into the saddle. I've watched other people ride their horses for prospective buyers and been able to see then and there that while the horse was excellent for its rider, the buyer was too green and shouldn't even get on. I've also seen people try out a horse in familiar surroundings, think it's "dead broke" only to realize later that the seller wasn't lying when they said he would probably be too much for a kid.

    I understand about being too poor for a "high end" horse. I've gotten to the point where I just love mustangs, because they aren't someone else's rejects, they're a clean slate. I think even if I had a lot to spend I'd stick with my wild horses. After all, you can spend thousands on a "show horse" only to find that it's lame and been pushed too far too fast, has lots of anxiety, and then you spend a year working out the training problems and still have a slightly lame horse with limited abilities. (True story, but not mine)

    I'm rambling...

    I wouldn't be real quick to climb on a horse I don't know. I would do a lot of ground work, basically like a trainer does when they're doing a "colt starting" demo - make sure the horse acts comfortable with everything and responds to the reins and leg cues from the ground. Sack them out really well, especially up and over their back. I think if you do all this you'll have a pretty good idea how the horse will do before you climb on. And I'd do all this in a small enclosure or round pen. Of course you're having to put some faith in what the owner has told you as well, and that would depend on whether they seem trustworthy.

    1. Thank you Andrea, that is some really good food for thought.

      I have always wanted to get a mustang, but everyone else in my family puts the nix on it before it happens. Every year in Rocksprings and in Douglas they have the wild horse adoption, I always want to go, but never get to. :(

  2. I've always heard one other rule when buying a horse...which could be helpful if this isn't something you've thought of/remember or whatnot....

    When going to see a horse, never give a specific time that you will be coming by to see them, simply get an address and tell them you will give them a 30 minute warning when your in the area...that way you can avoid having the horse on a tranquilizer, etc.

    I have personally climbed on a lot of horses I don't know, while their owner is near me. However, the main difference is that the owners have always been friends with me! Also, it has been taking lessons, or leasing, or riding a new horse for fun, I've never tried out a horse to buy!

  3. I personally don't own a horse but I have read a lot about them and their different personalities. I believe that if you trust a horse they will return the favor. As with selling the horse, I think it is up to the buyer to show the horse. If they want to see the horse, they will ask for it and then you should show it (in my opinion). If you are buying, you should always check the horse which you are buying. If the seller refuses to show the horse to you, maybe you should use a little "force" in words of body language (nothing too aggressive). If the owner doesn't show you the horse, I would consider this to be a deal breaker and I would tell him that.

    Again, I'm sorry that I didn't answer sooner, but I just started reading your blog 2 weeks ago. I'm really sorry! :(