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Evaluating the Seller/Agent

So you've just been to a farm and seen an interesting horse.  You are excited about the horse yet you've got this pit in your stomach.  You're just not sure that you can trust the seller and you're concerned that someone may be cheating you.  The sellers seemed very friendly, but this is a big expenditure for you and you just can't afford to be ripped off.  What indicators can you use to evaluate the seller and his/her story about the horse?  Here are some tips that can help you:

Summary:

1.  How old is this horse?  If you end up pursuing a purchase, be sure to check registration papers and teeth to compare with the buyer's story.
2. What level has this horse shown?  This will tell you what level the horse REALLY is trained to; not the owners fallacy.
3.  At which calibre of shows did the horse compete?  Find out if it was Dressage at Devon or a local schooling show.

4.  What has the horse done in the last year?  If the horse has not been showing you may need to be a bit more careful about the soundness.

5.  What type of scores did the horse get at the level shown?

6.  Who rode the horse?  If it was an accomplished professional, you cant be as assured that it is suitable for an amateur.

Summary:

If the horse has been out showing at recognized shows and doing well, you have a lot of questions answered.  This means the horse probably trailers, has been clipped, can be ridden with other horses, is relatively sound, and generally competent.  That's a huge confidence builder for me as a buyer.  On the other hand, if the horse doesn't have a show record, I wouldn't discard it, but would certainly be more skeptical.

You might also ask:

1. What veterinarian does the work for this horse?  (And then ask…)

2.  Would you be willing to release the medical and soundness history to me?  (Seller’s nearly always say yes to this).  This pursuit may be very enlightening and can be as important as the vet check you have done.

3.  What medications is the horse currently receiving? 

Other Suggestions:

1.  Don’t be alone when asking questions.  Have someone with you to witness the answers and help you make observations.

2.  Take written notes when asking questions.  Make sure the seller sees you taking these notes.  If the seller is not honest, this note taking may make them be more careful.

3. Try to cross reference the seller.  The horse world is small and horse people tend to be connected to others through blacksmiths, trainers, customers, tack shops and veterinarians.  In my experience, horse people are willing to share a good word about someone, and often even more willing to tell their story if they’ve been wronged.  Ask around and find out who you’re dealing with. 

Note: 

If you are using a qualified consultant to help you with this process, you have a much better chance that your interests are protected.  Consider Graemont, Inc. to help you as you make your next purchase.

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