‘He doesn’t normally do that’ — 8 times horses weren’t what they said on the tin

  • Buying and selling horses sometimes goes perfectly well. But then there are all the other times when it doesn’t quite go to plan. Here, eight equestrians in search of their next horse, share their experiences of when the adverts didn't quite represent the real life product...

    The Shire horse

    “Many moons ago I was horse hunting and decided to reply to an advert for a 15.3hh Irish draught/thoroughbred (IDxTB) a few miles away. It had done a bit of everything apparently, but there was no photo, so I rang the vendor, had a chat and arrived at her yard a couple of days later.

    “She said it was already tacked up and disappeared into the first stable on the block. She was chattering away about all the things that they had done, and how she’d bought it as a youngster and then it loomed in the doorway. It was at least 16.2hh, bay, with a Roman nose, a big white blaze, four white, badly clipped, tree trunk legs and feet like bin lids.

    “I have no idea what the bloke who sold her this horse was thinking when she fell for it, but the shire in front of me could not be mistaken for a IDxTB in any way, shape or form. Even my non-horsey other half giggled and whispered in my ear ‘ask her where the plough is’. It was a moment I’ve never forgotten, and I hope I wasn’t too transparent when I told her I had several more to see and would let her know!” ~ Karen

    Identity crisis

    “I recently replied to an advert for a coloured horse, viewed the video that accompanied the advert, spoke to the current owner, asked lots of questions which seemed to tick all the boxes and arranged a viewing. Although I had arranged to see the horse, the vendor insisted on sending me more videos, which seemed a little odd. The videos were of the horse working in a lovely school, surrounded by fields of horses on what appeared to be a farm.

    “When we arrived at the directions given the horses were in a very small, over-grazed, scrubby field and we were tempted to just drive off, but she had spotted us. I went in, looked at the ‘16hh mare’ that was supposed to be the one on the video. It had a very cresty neck and so many rings round its hooves through a change of diet/laminitis, but obviously not from that field as there was hardly a blade of grass to be seen. The field also had two main roads running alongside it.

    “I believe the vendor expected me to think that this was the same horse in the video and try it out by riding it along the busy main road. I mentally made a note of the markings and left after making excuses. Upon returning home, I viewed the videos again which confirmed it was a completely different horse to the one I had been to look at!” ~ Lesley Everett

    Size matters

    “Last year I saw an advert for a four-year-old 16hh coloured sport horse-type gelding that was broken and ridden away. He was near Doncaster and very cheap. After a lot of chatting with the owner about him, I decided it was worth taking the trailer up to Doncaster to pick him up. He was in a 6’6 rug apparently — great, I have loads of those!

    “I got there excited to see meet my potential new hunter. I went into the barn to see this scrawny little coloured cob that had been fully clipped to lose his feather and mane and he was barely 14.2hh!

    “I should have turned around and gone home again, but instead I took pity on the worm infested little guy that looked so down in the dumps on life. I loaded him onto the trailer and drove him home. My other half was NOT happy to say the least that his new hunter was barely even a horse. But after a wormer, a bath, a good feed and some grass in his belly he started to look quite smart (pictured above)!

    “I started him off again under saddle, he was going sweetly and I planned to school him and sell him later that summer. Instead, a friend had (an actual) 17hh TB hunter for sale, so we made a deal and off little Buddy went to Wales and home came John Clayton, who is a super hunter and point-to-pointer, ready to start life with us here on the Cambridgeshire fens!

    “They say things happen for a reason” ~ Kerrie Aschettino

    The foal

    “Six years ago I was looking for a Welsh section A registered pony to show and bring up though to county level. I looked at a lot of ponies, including a Shetland that someone tried to convince me was a foal of six months. I also had to endure the owner of a six month old, very pretty strawberry roan filly that was standing at at least 14hh, trying to convince me it was a section A and would not grow any more! I eventually found my pony, and he has turned out to be fabulous and very successful.” ~ Alma Abrahams

    Over a hand out

    “I was looking to move from a 14.2hh Connemara pony to a 15.2hh-ish horse when a dealer my family have known for years said she had the perfect horse for me to try.

    “I got there and he looked very big! ‘Oh no he’s 16hh, this one here is 16.2hh and the one you’re looking at is clearly smaller,’ I was told. I ended up buying him because we clicked, but we later measured him as 16.3hh!” ~ Georgina Pooler

    The barge

    “Upon viewing a horse with my best friend, the owner told us she was ‘never bargy at all’. We didn’t see the horse being led into a field but the owner was correct about everything else, so we assumed she wasn’t bargy either.

    “Since she arrived she has been nothing but perfect, other than the bargiest horse I’ve ever met! She totally uses her size and weight against us, but we love her anyway!” ~ Anonymous

    Continued below…

    The rodeo

    “I went to see a horse who was listed as a great confidence-giver, suitable for someone like me who was a rider but wanted something that didn’t scare me. The horse sounded perfect. He was a good all-rounder who could turn his hoof to anything and was handsome to boot. I couldn’t wait to meet him!

    “When I arrived (a little early — I am naturally a little suspicious when it comes to buying horses!), I found the couple who owned him with him in his stable. He was wet. They said they had just given him a wash for me. Funny, I thought, he’s only wet around the saddle and girth area…. It looks to me like he’s been worked bloody hard before I arrived.

    “So anyway after he was trotted up they put on tack and asked me if I would like to get on board. No! I would never get on an unknown horse until I had seen it ridden, and if I liked it, would then pop over some fences. So they obligingly got on and had a little trot around the arena. Once they had gone around once, the horse bronced and bronced and bronced until the owner flew through the air! The other owner said, ‘he doesn’t normally do that. Would you like to ride him?’

    “I was out of there like a dose of salts. In retrospect it is hilarious but it was very frustrating at the time as I had driven a fair way and there was no way I would have bought him. It was all a good learning experience though!” ~ Emma Tumelty

    Size matters

    “I once drove for over two hours each way to view a horse that was advertised as being a solid 15.2hh Welsh section D x TB. When I arrived, he turned out to be a weedy little thing who would have been lucky if he was 14.3hh on his tiptoes. I sat on him for five minutes and didn’t dare do more than walk and have a very short trot each way because I felt so ridiculously tall on him (I’m 5’7″ so not exactly a giant). A friend took photos and it turns out I looked as daft as I felt…

    “It was just such a massive waste of everyone’s time, if the seller had been honest about his height I wouldn’t have bothered going to see him and could have saved us both half a day.” ~ Allison

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