Any transaction that results in
the transfer of product for remuneration is a sale. But it is also a purchase!
When it comes to horses sales or purchases
there are often horror stories
about a sale or purchase gone wrong. Hind sight is always 20/20 but wouldnt
it be much better to go into such an
arrangement with all the cards on the
table and all parties knowing the same things. It is important that each party
understands the same things.
Today we have the added complication
of distance being spanned via the internet. This for the most part can be a very
good thing but can go tragically wrong if
the parties involved do not cover
all the bases prior to the transfer of ownership.
The internet broadens
the market area or the search area for that perfect horse and can be used to great
advantage when proper safeguards are used in order to
protect against scams
or disappointments caused by miscommunication or lack of communication.
are a few suggestions as to how to keep such transactions positive and happy events.
it is important to know that buying a horse in person is not much different from
purchasing long distance. If you are looking for specific talents,
training, size, color, pedigree or what have you, you would shop for a horse within
that parameter. On the internet there are scores of web
sites devoted strictly
to the buying and selling of horses. You can make a search through www.refdesk.com
or any number of search engines to find these sites
to locate horses that
may be of interest to you.
Another approach may be to go to the
same search engine and simply type in Missouri Foxtrotter. That will bring up
a list of web pages related to Missouri
Fox Trotters. Not all may have horses
for sale but it will give you a list of places to explore.
method is to visit various yahoo group lists. If it is a Missouri Foxtrotter you
are interested in there are a number of lists dedicated to
the breed. Joining
is free and anyone on the lists would be more than happy to help you locate someone
that has a horse to fit your needs.
If you are more inclined to
purchase a horse first hand then you may want to search some of the throw away
sale papers such as the Little Nickle Horse
etc. Almost every area has its own ad papers
which can often give you a good lead.
Often times feed stores, tack
stores, and even veterinarians have a bulletin board that people put business
cards or fliers on. Local horse clubs, boarding or training barns are also a source
Once you have found a horse you are interested in looking
at whether it be on the internet or in person, it is wise to ask a lot of questions
of the seller.
The list below are important questions and need to be answered
before you go any further or spend any more time with this seller.
You rarely will get all the answers if you dont ask and are lucky if you
get the answers if you DO ask! But ASK!!!
1. How old
is this horse
2. How long have you owned it?
3. Why are you selling it?
4. What has the horse been used for during the last
the horse have any vices or bad habits ( all
horses have at least some so
dont take a simple no
for an answer) Get specific. Does
the horse like to
be caught? Does the horse get along with other horses?
Does the horse behave mannerly among strange horses?
Does the horse respect
the bit or does it pull when
other horses leave it? Does the horse ride English
or western? How does the horse stand for trimming and
shoeing? Does the horse
load easily? In what sort of
trailer? Has the horse ever bolted, bucked, reared?
IF so what was the circumstance? How does the horse
respond to correction?
Is the horse easy to halter?
Does the horse have any head issues?
be afraid to ASK. IF the seller is interested
in finding a good home for the
animal they will be
more than happy to answer any and all questions. If
not, then perhaps they have something they dont want
Has the horse ever been ill or lame? If so what was
the problem and how was
7. When was the horse last seen by a vet? Who was the
8. When was the horse last vaccinated and wormed?
Ask as many questions as
you possibly can and WRITE
down the answers. Dont try to commit it all
because there is so much information coming in a short
of time you may forget some of the answers or
confuse them with other answers.
You need time to
really look over the results in order to make good
speaking with the seller you have now decided the horse is interesting enough
to want to know more. IF you are local to the horse this is the time to call
and set up an appointment time to come visit the seller and see the horse. If
you are working via internet this is a time to ask for a video and more still
shots of the horse. Those photos need to be clear and close up enough to be able
specific features such as legs and feet. You will need to see side
views taken from straight on, hind view with the horse standing squarely on all
four legs, and a front view with the horse standing up squarely. Many people are
poor photographers so when the photos arrive do not expect them to be professional.
Most generally the horse will look a bit out of balance and especially if the
standing up hill from the horse. What you actually will be
looking for is whether the legs are straight, the joints sound, and conformational
things such as
how does the neck set into the shoulders and is the back strong
and well built.
Some people still cannot send a video but if they
can and will, it is a great tool for determining the way a horse moves and how
it behaves on lead. I like to
ask that the video include segments of the seller
going to the pasture to catch the horse up. That is a very telling thing and one
you will want to see if at
The video should also
show such things as tacking up, trailer loading, bathing, picking up feet. These
things are every bit as important as how the horse
actually rides. Of course
you want a good bit of video also on the horse being ridden.
buying in person you would also want to see these things. If the seller is not
willing to demonstrate how the horse behaves, then chances are the seller is
withholding some important information with regard the horse.
the photos and video or visit to the seller has gone well the next step is to
speak to the vet that has been caring for the horse over the last year or
two. Ask for his/her number and call him./her. Ask the vet if the horse has had
any illnesses, accidents, or lameness issues and if so what they were, how they
were treated, and what the long term prognosis is. This is very important because
even if you have a vet pre-sale check up they may miss something unless they were
specifically looking for it.
Now you are satisfied that all is well
with the horse. You then need to decide whether you need a pre-sale examination.
If so, you must expect to pay for that
examination, it is not up to the seller.
The vet will go visit the horse in question and check its vital signs, view
how it moves, check it conformationally, and then will give it a stress test on
the legs. Many people find this vital, however I
have to say that I have not
found it to be much benefit if you have followed all the other steps prior to
getting to this point. The reason is that often the vet being called to vet a
horse will really have to look to find something wrong with it but feels he is
duty bound to find fault. If not, he risks his reputation or legal ramifications
if that horse ever has a problem. They would rather find fault than to risk a
law suit farther down the road. Not all vets, but a few Ive run across have
even told me this.
The thing that will veto the sale on most MFTs
will be the stress test. In this test the vet will flex the horses foot
to bend the pastern and hold that foot up for a few seconds then ask the horse
to trot off. Many horses will appear lame for a few strides after the foot is
let down. This CAN be indication there is a problem in the leg
but many times
it is simply the test was not conducted properly. Nearly
any horse will have
a problem with that test if too much pressure is applied or if the position is
held too long so that particular test is subjective and only affective when conducted
by a very well trained vet.
If a horse goes lame following the test
and does not walk out of it in a reasonable amount of time, it still does not
necessarily mean there is a problem with the horses soundness. It may, but
it may not either. Many horses, especially in this breed and in the TWH are started
under saddle at very young ages. This can cause early aging to the joints by way
of excessive wear to the cartilage in the joint. On x-rays this may show up as
early onset arthritis. This is important to know, but at the same time, the majority
of those horses still remain sound for many, many years and never go lame.
value of this test will depend largely upon how hard you expect to ride and how
often. If you are a very light rider that rides an hour or two a week,
horse may well suit for your purpose. IF, however, you plan to participate in
some exacting sport or are an avid rider that puts a lot of time in the saddle,
you may want to look for a different candidate.
This particular test
is very subjective for many reasons. It is an important test depending upon the
use you plan to make of the individual horse. X-rays are a better test in my opinion
and though they do add to the expense, they will tell much more about what is
going on in the horses joints and are not
subject to so much interpretation.
you have cleared the debris of seeing if the horse is actually as presented and
whether it will be suitable to your needs. Now it is time to get down to
business end of things.
If you plan to pay cash for the horse and
the horse is local basically all you need do is see that the seller transfers
the registration papers on the horse. The
second thing that you must do is
to get a bill of sale. Even though the transfer of ownership on the registration
papers are signed, many states do not recognize transfer of ownership without
an actual bill of sale.
When it is time to pick the horse up it
is vital that the seller produce a current negative coggins test and a health
certification. Most states require these
things to accompany a horse even
if it is only being transported a few miles. Many states also require a brand
inspection card or paper to be at hand wherever
the horse is. You may wish
to check with your local authorities as to what requirements there are regarding
such issues prior to making final payment
and picking up the horse.
you plan to pay by personal check to a local seller, be prepared to leave the
horse in the sellers possession until your check clears the bank and
funding has been released to the seller. This is becoming more and more common
due to the high incidence of bad checks today however, if you pay by
you still need to have a signed bill of sale as proof you gave the seller the
check. Otherwise a seller can say the check was for some other purpose.
you plan to pay by pay-pal, or some other form of credit card or money transfer,
be sure the transaction is acknowledged as payment for the horse, if this is not
possible then have the seller email you confirmation by way of receipt so you
have something to prove you have made payment on the horse.
where you are making payments there may be a request for an additional sum in
lieu of the seller taking those payments. Sort of interest. This
understandable and reasonable for the seller to require considering the seller
is taking the horse off the market for you and deferring the final
It is up to you as the buyer to determine whether that credit charge is acceptable
If you are making payments it is wise to have a contract
with the seller. That contract should detail clearly what you are paying total
price for the horse,
how it is to be paid, what will be the action or recourse
if payment is not made on time, where the horse will reside until such time final
payment is made, and who will be responsible for the horses expenses, veterinary
care, etc until final payment is made and delivery complete.
a horse is being purchased via internet it is frequently done on a payment plan.
The same sorts of considerations should be put in place with a good
spelling out exactly how the transfer of ownership is to be made. It should also
spell out who is responsible for the shipping costs of the horse
It pays great dividends to have all the Ts
crossed and the Is dotted before consummating a deal. When both
the seller and the buyer have full understanding of the transaction and agree
with all the terms the entire process is much less stressful and less likely to
fall into a legal haggle later on down the road.
For horses purchased
via the internet one other area should be addressed in the contract. That is when
the horse finally arrives at your home, what if it is not
What if any recourse will there be should the animal have issues that were not
brought out during your careful questioning and vet checks?
are, if you have made payments to purchase the horse, it will be an as is
agreement where you accept the responsibility for the purchase. In that
if the horse does not suit you or your needs, the only recourse to you will likely
be the resale of the horse unless there is a glaring problem that was not
disclosed. In that case legal action may be an option but they can be very protracted
and not always beneficial.
If you have paid in full for the horse
it is sometimes agreed between parties that return to the seller is an option.
If that is the case then prior to accepting
the agreement, be certain to get
in writing should such an occurrence happen, who will pay shipping costs.
is important to note that registries, do not get involved in legal disputes between
seller and buyer. Most legal actions are required to be filed in the
of the sale. There are relatively few recourses that are practical or affordable
when a transaction goes wrong. Therefore, it is extremely important to
everything down to the smallest detail in WRITING
even when dealing with
people you have been corresponding with for a long time over the internet,
doing other business with, consider friends, or even relatives. Your very best
defense is to only enter agreements that have been thoroughly researched and
then contracted clearly and completely in WRITING!
As a side note I would like to say that I both buy
and sell via the internet
and have had good
experiences in both catagories. It is the way of the
future and a very good way to broaden a search area or
sales market. It can
be totally rewarding for both
parties so long as both know what they are getting
what is expected of them.)
2004 Dyan Westvang All Rights Reserved