Horse Traders

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In 3rd Grade we had a book dealer that came to our school library for some kind of book fair.

I still remember the long tables piled high with glossy covered paperbacks. It was like discovering the holy grail.

I vividly remember the 2 books I picked out.

They had horses on the covers.

Imagine that.

I still have one of them. Yes, it has mostly turned to dust but I’ve been dragging around that much loved paperback for my entire life. Many times I imagined reading it again, turning the pages with rapture. I can still feel myself in the story like I was part of the epic journey. I don’t see words when I read books. It is like a movie in my head that I am completely experiencing. That book transported me to another world. And it was a very special book about a young girl and a horse.

Yeah, I know.

I have resisted the urge to read the book again. Afterall, it was written for, and read by, a 3rd grader. It would break my heart to find the fairytale world I had experienced was more like a Dr. Seuss book.

There was a second book, and it was called “The Horse Trader.”

That’s it!!

This book was my first view into the murky waters of truth and fiction that comes with  
selling horses. That is when I learned about the stereotype of people that sell horses professionally. The story was a vivid one. A young lady bought a horse from the local “Horse Trader”. It turned out the horse was horribly foundered. She spent most of the book soaking the horse’s painful feet in a cold mountain stream while pondering her ill fate.

I guess that is when I learned what laminitis was, and that someone might mislead you to sell you a horse.

Unfortunately the amazingly good life lessons in that book didn’t stick with me. Years later I found myself buying my first truly EXPENSIVE horse.

Now, I know that word means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.
I remember a young man that proudly offered me $200 for one of my nicest horses, and thought that was a veritable fortune. He was rather aghast when I graciously turned it down. And I had a young lady recently tell me she was looking for a nice horse. I asked her a price range and she said oh, no more than 100. ($100,000 she was talking about.)

Must be nice.

I had decided years ago that I couldn’t possibly afford a super star seasoned event horse.

So to get one, I would have to train one myself.

It wasn’t a bad idea really.

But I went about it a bit wrong.

I started breeding ponies.

Awesome ponies.

Super star ponies.

Ponies that can JUMP.

But, have I mentioned that I’m 5’9″?

A pony is probably not going to get me around Rolex.

I know I know, Teddy did it.

Have there ever been any others?

Yeah, didn’t think so.

Back to my story.

I had some money, a little money compared to some, but the most I’d ever had in my life to spend on something that could tear a leg off in the fence.

So I started my search for that gem of a horse that was the right price but still had star potential.

And in my search I saw a photo that took my breath away. The horse was soaring through the air over what looked like the biggest jump I’d ever seen. He was gorgeous.

I called about him, and before I knew it I was told that he was the perfect horse for me. This was my chance to get a horse worth twice his price. They were only selling him “cheap”   because the rider was “off to college”.

I let them know I was a BAD eventer. Seriously. I explained that I’d had some bad experiences with some ugly stoppers and I needed a horse with NO STOP.

“He’s never stopped in his entire life. This horse will jump anything you point him at. This is the horse for you.”

Then, in the most amazing set up, the seller explained that 2 ladies were coming to try him that weekend but if I would send a deposit she would not show him to them, and wait for me.

I called some friends who said, “GO BUY HIM!!” They even encouraged me not to try the horse and just to have the horse shipped home sight unseen. Wow. Rolex here I come!!

I briefly considered that. Then in an amazing moment of clarity I decided I had better actually lay eyes on the horse, and before I knew it I was overnighting a NON-REFUNDABLE deposit for more than I had ever spent on a horse in my life. Yeah, just the deposit.

I’m sure by now, you know were this story is headed. I flew to see the horse, and not only was the horse quite sick, and quite lame….. while he was being shown to me, he slammed on the brakes in front of a fairly small jump and tossed the pro riding him.

She turned to me at that moment and said “I swear to God he’s never stopped before in his life!!”

I wanted to commit suicide (or was it murder?) on the spot.

I spent more money on that wasted trip than any horse I had ever purchased and I came home without a horse.

That’s when I relearned the lesson taught in that little paperback from 3rd grade about Horse Traders.

I would like to say that was a one time experience and there is just ONE bad apple out there. However, I looked for a horse for the next 18 months and something similar happened over and over and over. (Though I learned my lesson about DEPOSITS!) I did prepurchase exams on FOUR more horses. Most of which had already had exams which the sellers did not disclose and often outright lied about. Funny what you can find out later.

In that time, I managed to spend a small fortune just TRYING to buy a horse. Imagine the horse I could have purchased if I didn’t waste all that money.

And please don’t misunderstand, I was not going to used car lots looking for an event horse. Every one of these gems was at a full time professional’s stable. 4* riders…… Olympians…..

Now, I understand they often make their living selling horses for people, so they may be given the lamest most dangerous reject to sell. And that’s a tough position to be in. But they have chosen to knowingly, willfully misrepresent those horses. That’s what I have issue with.

I am the opposite kind of horse seller. I tell people EVERYTHING. I typically try to talk people out of horses on a regular basis. I don’t ever want someone saying that I misrepresented a horse in any way. Recently I’ve been trying to give away a pony, FOR FREE. She’s free for a reason, and the amazing thing is that people have yelled at me for telling them the truth.

It goes something like this. Ad says, “Pony Broodmare – Free.”
Caller says,
“We want your fabulous pony. My daughter wants to take her to the Rolex.”

” Well, she’s really not a child’s horse. As a matter of fact I don’t think she’s safe for children, and really she’d be better just staying a broodmare. That’s what I used her for. She’s a little old to try and ride her now. That’s why her ad says “Broodmare.”

“How dare you break my child’s heart!!! She had her heart set on winning a GOLD MEDAL at the olympics on YOUR Pony!!!!!”

Was I supposed to say, “Sure, this is the next Teddy, come get her!”?

So when I have told people the truth, they get mad. When people lie to me, I get mad.

I just don’t understand this entire Horse Trading business.

All I can surmise is………………

People are nuts.

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6 thoughts on “Horse Traders

  1. smazourek

    Hiya, I'm new here 🙂

    I have no experience buying a horse (mine were given to me), so the only thing I can add is that I am highly amused by the pictures you use to illustrate your posts. The guy on the tiny dirtbike made me LOL.

  2. Rup

    Hi there. I am 31 years old and not ashamed to say Winter of the Owl was one of my favorite books ever. I have a copy sitting in my bookcase right now. Now, I'll have to pick up Horse Trader and see what that is about…

  3. Maggie Frank

    I was introduced to your blog a month or two ago…LOVE IT!!!! As a vet, besides finding something glaringly wrong…do you think PPE's are really helpful? I pulled an OTTB off the track litteraly, saw him jog down the drive without a rider, brought him home the next day, and aside from a bad hoof abcess he's been sound, healthy, and LOVES to go XC..no PPE, I took a gamble and have in the past and been lucky…or maybe its because i avoided "professional" oppurations…what do you think?

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