Horse Buying 101

Buying horses. To me it’s one of life’s most exciting, nerve wracking, endorphine-filled experiences. There’s nothing quite like unloading that new prospect at your house, and watching them scat around the pasture for the first time. Infatuated with thoughts of the future, convinced this is the best investment you’ve ever made. Tho I am in no way in the market for another horse, I still check out BHW and various “Barrel Horse’s For Sale” FB pages on a weekly, if not daily basis. You just never know when one’s going to jump out at you, and there are still a couple empty pastures at my house and I’m one of the lucky girls whose husband actually encourages my habit so…

But sometimes the prospect isn’t a good fit. And after some time you realize someone else might enjoy them more than you. Or, let’s face it. Sometimes you kinda wish that salty, hay sucking son of a gun had never come into your life.

So now what?

Well, if you’re like me, than it’s time to do the one thing that ranks second only to child birth. Selling a horse.

My family purchased my first pony for $325. And they over paid. She was the orneriest, most despicable excuse for a kid's pony God every made. The story ended well, and in hindsight she probably taught me more than any “good” pony could have, but it was a rough start for sure. I’d give good money to see the “For Sale” ad the sellers put in the paper that compelled my family to call about her. I think it probably said something like:

“Spirited, welsh cross mare, looking for an ambitious kid eager to put the finishing touches on this flashy pony. Great foundation with potential in many areas, could see her excelling in the show ring, gymkhana or trails. Good home a must.”

When it should have said:

“Carnivorous half arab in search of her next victim. Capable of walking on hind legs, slipping halters, kicking farriers, extremely barn sour and resembles a zombie when she’s in heat. Barely green broke, and will shake, rub or roll on the ground to unseat her rider. $325 obo. Just kidding, we’ll pay you to take this little demon who we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy.”

And after 30 years in the industry I’ve got a few tips for you buyers and sellers out there. I’ve learned the hard way how to decipher the “codes” used by sellers trying to church it up, how to guess the type of seller you’re dealing with. And at the sake of offending a few of you, here’s my list of the most humorous blunders beginning with the spelling mistakes and graduating to the more creatively calculated.

“Sorrel philly” = Your “filly” is not a cheese steak.

“For Sell” vs “For Sale” = Insert eye roll and proceed.

“Finished heal horse” = Heal means "to make healthy, whole, or sound; restore to health; free from ailment.”. I’m pretty sure your horse can’t do that. The word you’re looking for here is HEEL, two E’s.

“15.4 hand gelding” = 16 hand gelding. 1 hand = 4 inches.

“Out of _________ stallion”. Gah! NO! That horse did not “come out of” that stud. It’s “by” a stallion and “out of” a mare, because… you know… it literally comes out of the mare.

And here’s where it gets fun you guys…

“Can be cold backed” or “Cinchy” = It’s a buck-ity buck buck bucker folks.

“Needs an experienced rider” = This horse is nuts. Like, really crazy.

“I just don’t do him justice” = Nobody will do him justice. He’s a dink.

“She’s been on the back burner” = Because she’s my least favorite and I can’t stomach riding her.

“All business in the alley” = You’ll need a Magic Seat just to get to the first barrel.

“Push style”…“Needs an aggressive rider”…“Setty” = Be sure to stock up on the shin guards for this one. If you’ve never knocked a barrel out of the arena this one will teach you how it’s done.

“Extremely free runner”… “Not for the faint of heart” = I hope you have a brain chain, helmet and plenty of Prozak in your arsenal. Ever drove a semi truck without breaks?

“15 year old gelding, requires no maintenance” = Either he didn’t get broke until he was 14, he’s the most stoic horse on the planet, or the owners aren’t paying much attention to him.

“Currently walking the pattern” = What’s the stage before green broke? That’s right, un broke! And that’s what we have here.

“4 year old, sane and sound, would make a nice broodmare” = She looks good on paper but has zero athletic ability.

And there you have it! My over-generalized, how-to-read-between-the-lines list of Horse Shopping 101. I’m sure I missed a few, so chime in the comments below and let me know your favorites!

Until next time ~ Jess

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