Lately I have been watching and talking to folks who are now advertising horses for sale. Not that I'm actually wanting to buy another horse, but who doesn't love to window shop ? I'm as guilty as the next horse person...
This dishonesty /lying has been going on since I was 16 and went to my first horse auction w/ a friend. Everyyyyyone has a horse they want another person to own and as usual, said horse is Perfection on 4 legs. If one goes to horse sales- unless the horses will bring over $50K, people will lie. Heck- they'll lie in order to sell a horse that is priced at $100K. I have seen it happen way to often.
Nowadays,people just don't seem to care.To sell their horse, they'll tell you what they think you want to hear.Never mind that their horse is over 30 years old and 3 legged lame- it is the Best Horse around. Lies about soundnesses, lamenesses,and insanity *( whether it be man made or bad breeding)- they sort of forget to mention those facts.Even the younger sellers do this now! They will answer any question you ask so long as it's a positive one... if not ? They claim that " gosh, I never saw that! He's always been fine for me".
Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh- right, I hear ya....
When did humans become so rude, uncaring, and crass that they don't care where their horse goes, just so it leaves their place? We see it all the time at horse auctions.I have told folks that there will ALWAYS be a reason a horse is at an auction... Always. Might it be a wicked divorce to a terrible car accident, or worse. Might it be that someone has destroyed the horses' mind or body thru being an idiot and thinking they know all about equines? So many reasons but just the same : there's the horse in a hotbed of germs, infectious diseases, a chance to get kicked by another horse who is just as scared as the horse it wallops.And, there are the people there to tell you how sweet & kind their horsey is but their kids lost interest, or some other tall tale of woe.
Then there are the dealers.
These people (men and women alike) who see a horse as a way to make a paycheck. I don't like horse dealers in the least. Now, they are called "kill buyers"- a much more appropriate name. They used to remind me of Vultures sitting on a fence, waiting for someone to pull into the sale with a trailer and horse. They gather around,trying to look inside, asking "whatcha got in dere?" One day I had an empty trailer, all closed up and it happened; I told them I had a baby elephant inside and didn't want anyone to see it. ☺
The kill buyers have a wonderful racket going on by now- and it involves those who really don't know horses like they need to.Inexperience will most likely get you a horse that's not usable and by now? Prices are much more than the average $300.00 horse. Having seen drafters up in prices for something with registration papers at sales or little cute minis' who will chase your kids out of the fields. Registered horses bring a lot more money than say an old 'dobbin' type fresh out of the pasture. Drafters bring more because they are huge and there are a ton of people wanting one to ride them. Never mind that they're bred for being the muscle men of the horse world and can possibly jar your teeth loose at a trot.... Almost any equine that has that " awwwww" effect going on will bring more money and the dealers know it. Old horses too will bring prices they wouldn't at a slaughter house. ( and they pull on one's heart so badly)
So the dealers buy at auction sales, ship to another one, try to sell said horse to someone else, and they take the horse to yet Another auction and sell it there.Ever heard that the middle-man makes all of the money ? These dudes are the middlemen of the auction sale.
Now we have one dealer who comes up with having his own auction. He cleans up the horses he bought at a so called slaughter auction,clips their bridle paths, oils their hooves, snaps some super nice photos, and maybe even a 30 second video of the horse being ridden- and people flock like seagulls to that sale. The dealers will, ummmm, try to be honest, but when it comes to making money, that all goes right down the proverbial toilet. Again- still needing to sell that horse and make a profit, they will be the first to tell unknowing people how great the horse is. "Anything for a buck".
This has bugged me for decades. Seeing unsuspecting first or second horse owners getting ripped off by others. What to do to help stop it though ? I always ask pointed questions like- what happened to that front leg? How long has it been lame?
IF a person wants to go to an auction (even more so, a dealers auction at their own place)- then they'd better darn well know their lamenesses, unsoundnesses, signs that a horse is sore or hurting somewhere internally, good and bad conformation (letting you know what kind of ride said horse will be), bitting problems, training troubles,equine personalities, and more so, the use of drugs.
Remember that sales are a cesspool of infection- shipping fever,upper respiratory infections, strangles (strep infection) and more. Figure once you do buy a horse from a sale- it's gonna get sick, so quarantine it for at least 2 weeks- a month is better. What I do with a horse that is considered a "rescue" is to start in on antibiotics the day it arrives. Don't chance the horse causing a barn full of sick horses- it's a lot more expensive to care for a barn of sick horses than keeping one separated for a while.
If you don't pay attention, there are drugs available that'll calm a nasty tempered horse down for a few weeks. Horses can easily appear sound of mind or body but in truth, are not. Once that wears off, look out. I only had that happen one time at a sale many years ago,and that Appaloosa mare, 3 weeks later, was going to tear someone's face off, given a chance.The moment I saw and learned about drugs and horses, she was put down. No one would ever run the chance of being injured by her again. Yet there she was- at an auction and the sweetest App. around.
So put on those observation hats, KNOW what you are seeing and never ever get sucked in by a soft set of dark brown equine eyes.Buy at sales with your head and never your heart- and maybe, just maybe you'll find a great horse to take home.
Below are two 'rescues' from the New Holland sale that came to live here. The mare in front had been an Amish driving horse and the mare in back- simply was an "old" Thoroughbred.Turns out, after some researching by her new owner, she had been quite the event horse before she got "old" and was sent to the auction. The mare in front is a 5-gaited American Saddlebred. She had been all but used up, mistreated (she had learned to fight back when humans offered pain or fear,etc) and abused- then shipped to a sale. Both of these mares would have ended up on dinner plates in Europe in a couple of weeks, had they not come here. They were both sick, thin, scared, and filthy. When they left they were up to weight, slick and shining with good health. This photo was taken a few months before they left our farm.
All in all, the BEST way to make a horse purchase is to simply save your hard earned money and make a private purchase. Not from a sale... That way you do have enough time to see the horse ridden and handled,and to get what's called a 'Pre-purchase Vet Exam' done. ( ask your veterinarian to come check this horse out for any reason to not buy it)
Even then, you can easily be lied to via dishonest sellers, but you can certainly lower those odds.
Good luck to all those who see owning a horse in their future-
Get out there with a mentor and Learn!