Research undertaken by H&H has shown that 77% of readers have bought second-hand or pre-owned equestrian items.

The most common items include rugs, stable equipment and clothing, with the majority stating that “value for money” is the primary reason for choosing second-hand items over new products.

“I have two horses and have barely bought anything brand new as it was too expensive to buy new at the time,” said H&H reader Philippa Grainger.

Fellow reader Jackie Alexander added: “Horsey items are usually very dear so, particularly in the current economic climate, everyone is looking to save money where we can. I’m sure that this is a growing trend.”

It looks as if the second-hand market is set to increase, as 49% of the readers questioned who had not already bought used items said they would do so in the future.

Brands are best

Well-known and luxury brands tend to fare best on the second-hand market, with owners trusting their quality.

Tricia Bracegirdle, senior saddle technician for Childéric Saddles UK, told H&H that the company sees a strong appetite for already used products.

“From our perspective, our bespoke saddles are selling well but we too have noticed a growing demand in second-hand saddles,” she said.

The increase has led to the company offering anyone who has indirectly bought a second-hand Childéric saddle a check and advice for a fee of £75 — with £35 of the cost being donated to the Animal Health Trust.

“As the second-hand marketplace continues to flourish, we need to ensure that these saddles fit the horses in order to avoid discomfort and muscle and nerve damage,” added Ms Bracegirdle.

Second-hand side saddles are often more popular than new ones.

“The good old name saddles are still highly sought after, due to the quality and workmanship,” said an H&H reader. “I would buy a 1920/1930s side saddle in a heartbeat over most brand new side saddles available.”

Earlier this year the Side Saddle Association put out a call for second-hand saddles to be made available due to a “desperate need” for equipment (news, 24 July).

Dangers of second-hand purchasing

Although there are many upsides to buying second-hand, precautions must be taken to avoid fraud.

H&H reader Nicola Strong had to threaten to take a case to the small claims court after she transferred more than £200 but never received her goods from someone on a Facebook group.

The seller claimed that Royal Mail had lost the package and refused to give Ms Strong a refund.

“Shortly after the seller received the initial letter informing her that she would be taken to the small claims court if the situation were not rectified, I received a cheque through the post for the full amount,” said Ms Strong.

“Thankfully I had kept all the messages, and took screen shots of them. If I hadn’t kept the evidence it would have been more difficult as it would have been my word against hers.

“Lesson learnt though now — if I am not collecting in person — I would only buy an item using PayPal so that at least you are offered buyer protection.”

H&H products editor and eBay addict Alice Collins warns purchasers to be cautious.

“The second-hand market is booming, but I’d advise exercising caution on two fronts,” she said.

“Firstly, I would recommend only buying from websites where there is some sort of buyer guarantee and/or dispute resolution mechanism. Secondly, avoid buying items where damage may not be obvious to the naked eye, for example helmets.”

This news story was first published in H&H magazine (6 November 2014).