Q: I’m actively searching for my next 3-foot adult hunter. When I was looking online, I found an experienced, quiet gelding for sale who seems like he’d be perfect. The only problem is he is located rather far from me and I don’t think I’d be able to travel to the owner’s farm to try him.
Should I buy this horse sight unseen?
I’ve heard so many horror stories about these types of situations going wrong, but he seems perfect for me. What should I consider before going forward with this purchase?
A: The old saying “buyer beware” is a fair warning whenever someone is considering purchasing a horse sight unseen. With online shopping becoming the new norm these days, prospective buyers can easily purchase a horse at the touch of a screen or the click of a mouse. That being said, it’s always advisable to arrange a visit to a farm to try out a potential new horse, preferably with your trainer or another experienced professional. If that’s not possible, there are some things you can do to help make sure you’re making a smart decision.
At the outset, here are the two most important things when contemplating buying a horse online sight unseen:
Make sure you’re willing to take the risk. Even though this gelding may seem ideal, be aware that you are taking a calculated risk by purchasing a horse without riding him first. Even if you follow the recommendations below, it’s still a situation with an uncertain outcome. You should not spend money you cannot afford to lose. Though he might be a sound horse that is appropriate for the level of activity you want, even the most experienced riders may not be a match for some horses. You will not know whether you and the horse are compatible until you ride him. Unknown or hidden problems may not arise until after you have taken possession.
- Seek a trial period. This is important for these types of purchasing situations, and advisable whenever possible. Depending on the seller’s familiarity with the prospective buyer, they may offer a trial for a set amount of time at the buyer’s barn. In your case, since you and the seller do not know each other, they will likely request references from your trainer, veterinarian, and farrier. Additionally, before a trial period is agreed upon, you and the seller will need to address issues such as non-refundable deposits, the duration of the trial period, who can ride the horse during the trial period, the height the horse can jump during the trial period, transportation issues, the requisite insurance coverage to cover the trial period, and the terms of payment for the horse in the event of a purchase.
If you are willing and able to take the risk, here are some things that may help you avoid making a regrettable purchase:
If you have weighed all the options, done the research, and are still willing to go forward with the purchase, the gamble may pay off, and you will have a wonderful new partner. The chance remains, however, that you could be left with buyer’s remorse and your options after the purchase may be limited. Remember, it is always helpful to have the guidance of trusted professionals to help you through this process. Best of luck!
Photo by SEH Photography.
Written by Armand Leone and Jessica Choper
Armand Leone, Jr., MD, JD, MBA, and attorney Jessica Choper, Esq. of Leone Equestrian Law provide services and consultation for equestrians, ranging from riders and trainers to owners and managers in the FEI disciplines on a wide variety of issues. Learn more about Leone Equestrian Law LLC at equestriancounsel.com.