9 lies people who sell horses like to tell (and how not to be fooled)

  • Buying a horse is difficult enough as it is. Buying a horse from the small percentage of vendors out there who also just so happen to be pathological liars makes it even trickier. So to help you avoid getting hurt or ending up with the wrong horse (or both) we've de-mystified some of the commonly used phrases by dodgy sellers

    1. “He would suit you perfectly”

    What they mean: “Regardless of the list of must-haves you have just reeled off to me, and how applicable they are to this horse, I have to sell it, so it will have to suit you.”
    How not to be fooled: Ask for references from impartial people who know the horse. For example you could speak to committee members of the Pony Club or riding club the horse has competed with, or the secretary of the local hunt to find out if the dealer is being honest when he says this horse will suit you.

    2. “It’s my wife’s/husband’s/child’s favourite horse”

    What they mean: “I’m playing the emotional card so that you think we actually love this horse and never want to sell it. Really we can’t wait to see the back of him.”
    How not to be fooled: Ask to see the wife/husband/child riding their “favourite horse”. If they are “too busy” or not available then take the claim with a pinch of salt.

    3. “I thought I’d save time and have him tacked up for your arrival”

    What they mean: “It’s taken us four hours to get near this horse to tack it up. Plus the tack helps to hide some of its conformational faults.”
    How not to be fooled: Ask to see the horse stood up without tack upon your arrival to examine its conformation, before having it walked and trotted in hand. Then monitor the horse as he is tacked up so you can spot any problems.

    4. “Sorry he’s a bit damp, we’ve just given him a bath so that he was nice and smart for you”

    What they mean: “We’ve been riding this horse all morning so that he is safe for you to get on. He’s still wet from the bath we gave him to wash the sweat off.”
    How not to be fooled: Go and see the horse at least twice, at different times of day to lessen the likelihood that the horse has been worked hard before you arrived.

    Continued below…

    5. “He’s never done that before”

    What they mean: “Oh, he’s doing that again”
    How not to be fooled: Simply don’t believe that the horse has never done this before. It almost definitely has. It’s up to you whether you think you can deal with it or not.

    6. “As promised, he’s as safe as houses”

    What they mean: “The sedative has kicked in just in time”
    How not to be fooled: Look out for signs that the horse has been doped such as the horse being unusually sweaty after very little exertion, and a general sleepy look in his eye. Male horses may also dangle their penis outside their sheath. Insist on taking a blood sample when the horse is vetted. This may not completely cover you, but any sedative present at the time of vetting will be present within the blood.

    7. “There is a lot of interest in this horse and I already have several offers on the table so you will need to decide quickly”

    What they mean: “No one has put an offer in and we really need to get rid of him”
    How not to be fooled: Take your time. If the horse is sold while you are deliberating then it wasn’t meant to be. Equally if the horse does take a while to sell, you may be able to haggle the price down.

    8. “The boy/girl who had the horse before couldn’t ride”

    What the mean: “They are very good riders, but I just want you to think that you could do a better job given the state of its competition record.”
    How not to be fooled: Do your homework. Find out more about the person who previously owned the horse where possible and see what results they’ve had with other horses.

    9. “You can send him back after x weeks/months if he isn’t quite what you’re looking for”

    What they mean: “I’m just saying this. We will not take the horse back. If you do manage to persuade us to do so, you’ll be lucky to get a partial, let alone a full, refund.”
    How not to be fooled: Insist on a written and fully signed contract before you buy the horse. Make sure the contract explains in detail the circumstances under which you can return the horse and where you stand financially. This will leave you in a stronger legal position than you would otherwise be, but if you do have concerns it’s safer to walk away and save yourself the hassle of possibly going through the courts at a later date to recover your money.

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