There’s not much that shocks me anymore. Career activities in the white, blue and no-collar world have given me a broad perspective on ‘the dumb things people do.’ I’m not sure whether it’s the new age of instant gratification (and reduced manners), a contracting equine industry, advertising decisions (word-of-mouth is our usual approach) or the luck of the draw, but that ‘horses for sale’ pronouncement seems to have served as a magnet to the farm for the rude, the brazen and the kooks.
Fortunately, many of the Halcyon Acres horses are now sold to good homes, but the behavior of some people has left me shaking my head.
It’s not true that the buyer is always right. When the welfare of the horse is a priority, there’s an application process that occurs in the mind of the seller. While you may think you can do or say anything in your quest to secure the mount of your choice, that’s unlikely.
The following draws from recent experience. What’s going to happen to the poor horses that land in these people’s hands?
Eleven ways to reduce your chances of being taken seriously as a horse buyer:
- Before you ask anything about the horse or explain a little bit about what you’re looking for, scribe an e-mail simply stating ‘is price negotiable.’
- Ask if the 10 YO 16.2hh TB off for four years would be suitable for your 5 YO daughter to ride (note well – put a price on your horse, otherwise it’s an assumed giveaway; free horse fanatics flock in droves to such listings, failing to recognize it costs money to care for a horse).
- Claim you’re a trainer in initial contact even if you’ve never ridden or cared for a horse.
- Don’t include a subject line, context snippet, nor horse name in your e-mail message (and if you do, make sure it’s the wrong one) then come back with an indignant reply when asked what the e-mail was in reference to.
- Shoot off an incoherent phrase posing a question that could apply to a car, a dog or a piece of furniture, but no normal horse.
- Ask if your dressage, fox hunting, eventer goes English or Western.
- Question what kind of saddle and bridle will be included with your horse purchase.
- Visit the facility for multiple rides, claim the horse is perfect, then cry poor. When that doesn’t work, complain about the age of the horse. This may seem like a good buyer negotiating tactic. To the seller, it’s bad faith. If you’re looking for recreational riding time for your kid, pay for lessons.
- Schedule a vet check then don’t show nor extend the courtesy to cancel.
- Ask if a weanling has been started under saddle.
- Brag about all the horses you’ve rescued with the pronouncement you’re willing to ‘save’ a horse for sale if it’s given to you for free (can you say hoarder).
Frankly, this is the short list. I guess I’m spoiled with the quality of buyers drawn through word-of-mouth.
It’s been an interesting learning experience.
Most of the horses are getting grabbed from out-of-state as we’ve priced horses to accommodate the costs and inconvenience of long-distance travel. Of course, we do all we can to ensure a great fit first.
Fielding cold-call queries for the first time after almost 40 years of owning horses has made me realize we need to be doing more to help future equestrians. Without a better effort to reach out, I fear the world may become a more miserable place for our equine companions. Do you have ideas on how we ensure our horses of tomorrow have caretakers prepared for the task? Happy stories of good placements? Please share in the comments below.