The Practical Horse-persons Guide to Buying and Selling

Jacky Green gives her unique take on the hardships and pitfalls of the buying and selling process.

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My favorite advert ever in Horse and Hound ran as follows: “ 16.3hh 7 year old gelding, hugely talented, only for sale as small lady rider fed up with being bucked off”.  I could literally imagine her dusting off the arena from her jods, storming inside and writing the ad while she was still seething with indignation.  But at least it was honest which is more than can be said for many ads.  Bellow follows a short guide for both buyers and sellers in the horse world..


The Hard Sell…

Do not assume the buyers will be on time.  They will either be irritatingly late, follow the Sat Nav which you expressly told them not to do as they will end up in a corn field, or just a no show with no response on their phones.

Do not assume they will never be early as it is embarrassing to disclose a horse standing in ice, or, worse, being ridden by a working pupil over the exact course of jumps the buyer will be tackling soon.

Do not assume they are filthy rich when they turn up in a flashy car. It probably belongs to their trainer who has become filthy rich by only allowing them to buy horses he or she recommends.

If the buyer tells you he or she has viewed 80 horses and still not has found the right one, stop all proceedings immediately and tell them to bugger off.

Do not assume they will make a decision on the day.  Firstly the famous (not) trainer must come followed by Granny who is footing the bill.  “Granny” will then scupper the deal by saying “I have never liked chestnuts since one dropped dead on me after a 30 mile point with the Belvoir in ‘59”.

After said child prodigy (usually about 15, overweight with a sulky attitude) has crashed your horse through various showjumps and nearly tipped it up whilst “testing its speed” on a flat out gallop round the arena, resist all requests to go to a cross country schooling facility where she will dent its confidence so badly it might never go again. 

And no, you do not do part exchange.  Nor does it come with tack and rugs.  Or a headcollar.  And you will only deliver if you really really want this horse off the yard as fast as possible.  And if you have tried the horse three times, watched it at a competition, studied its behavior in field and stable, hacked it alone and in company and then tell me you “just have to sell my current one first” do not be surprised if I have a total meltdown in front of you.



The pitfalls…

Beware anything that says potential Badminton horse.  These days it really could mean Grassroots.

Smell a rat when you rock up and they say do you mind hopping straight on as they don’t have a rider right now.  The last two are probably still in the local hospital.

If the groom bursts into tears on hearing you like it, buy it.  Its clearly the nicest horse in the yard.

If the groom launches into the hard sell routine don’t buy it.  She clearly hates it with a passion and wants it gone.

Be careful of “contact owner “ ads.  They have fallen out with current rider and a nasty war of words is what you don’t want when you roll up with your newest acquisition at the next event.

And the ad descriptions……

Not novice ride”……..its a crazy dude and they do not want to be sued as Wikipedia said if they include this they are not liable.

100% clip, box, shoe, catch etc”…..does all of the above but is just hideous to ride.

Stunning”.  Most overly used description and usually accompanied by a photo that makes that statement an outright lie.

Schoolmaster”.  Never ever going to win a ribbon but will teach you all about try, try and try again.  And its old.  And probably not sound.

Junior horse”  barely 14.3hh, does not go on the bit but is great fun cross country.

Unbeaten”.  Never competed.

Top Class Event prospect”.  Huh?  How do they know after 3 BE90’s?

Striking”.  Stunning to look at but that’s pretty much it.

All rounder”.  You know all about Jack of all Trades……

Potential”.  Has yet to prove he can actually do any discipline.


Happy shopping! JG

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