Thursday, April 22, 2010

A More Serious Topic

A friend of mine sold a horse last year. She'd owned the horse for a while, but they never really connected and she had others, so this one just went on occasional trail rides. He was alright. They had a chiropractor work on him once, which did him good, but he was a horse that seemed to lack much personality. He was quiet. Nothing much bothered him and nothing much interested him. He was a quarter horse, so maybe it was breed related. I don't know.

Anyways, last year she sells him to a couple that's retiring to another state and in need of a good, solid trail horse. My friend didn't conduct the actual sale; she sent him to someone who sold horses more often and who had more time to advertise and show him. So far, so good.

Yesterday, my friend gets a call. The horse started bucking about a month ago. No one really checked into why, as far as she knows. Yesterday on a trail ride, the horse bucked his new owner off while going through a gate. The man was wearing a helmet, but it didn't help. The man died on the spot.

We don't know any more details. My friend doesn't know the owner(s). She feels awful and would have disclosed any such issues if she knew they existed, but the horse never exhibited any problem behaviors while she had him.

So I guess here's where I'm going with this. As a horse owner, how much responsibility do you take on for horses you've sold? Does it matter how long they've been gone?


  1. Sad story. Well, I think the keys are that:
    1. She used a broker to sell him. That broker is really the one responsible for any issues the horse might have had. The broker should have taken a full history from the previous owner.
    2. If they've had the horse for more than a few days and gotten a few rides in then they should have a pretty good idea of what the horse is all about and whether it had any obvious behavioral issues like bucking. Youre right, if the bucking started from out of nowhere after they'd had the horse for a while I suspect a few things:
    - they sucked at riding him and he either got wise on them or they mistreated him and he got ticked off
    - he injured himself somehow or was experiencing discomfort for any given reason (health issue, tack issue, rider issue) and was acting out because he was in pain
    I am 100% honest up front to a fault about any horse I sell. I actually gave away my last two horses to good homes because I knew that given their limitations, it would be impossible for me to ask someone to pay for them and expect a good home (meaning the person that is willing invest $2000 on a horse that wont vet out is probably not the best bet for that animal). So once they're sold and off my property I really dont assume any further responsibility. If the new owners mess that horse up with bad training, bad riding, poor horsemanship or care I cant be held responsible for how the horse reacts to that. My responsibility is to only allow the right rider to buy my horse, period and do whatever I can to ensure that before letting that horse leave my care.
    I feel bad for this horse :(

  2. Being that the horse has been gone for a year- what's done is done. We sold a horse to a local girl. She had him about 6 months and while out for knee surgery she sent him back for training. Of the numerous lessons she was allotted she showed up for 1.

    She doesn't know how to ride very well. He was bucking with her because of saddle fit. She took him home and let him sit for 3 months, rode him he was great. He sat another 3 months and on a ride- bucked her off. Same one year lapse and now she wanted us to take the horse back in trade for something else that is better trained and understandably more expensively priced.

    Um NO! You knew he was green when you bought him, he had very little training and his price reflected that. She wouldn't address the saddle fit, didn't want to pay for training and last I heard she was going to take him to a NH trainer for one, one hour lesson- per month! Yeah. That'll fix it.

    I have asked about the horse and gotten no response. If I could buy him back I would. I doubt she would let me though as ego's often get in the way...

    Another horse we sold- they have had her almost 2 years now and she just came up lame. They switched farriers and i think that has everything to do with it. I have called and left them messages with other farriers numbers for them. No response, horse is still lame. And they had another trainer come in and 'buck her out', essentially teaching her TO buck. Isn't that great?
    On this one though I have to agree with Niku. The trader is responsible for getting and disclosing the horses full history. I don't think your friend has any way of knowing what the buyers were told- if there was any truth in it or not.

    I hope the woman doesn't blame the horse in all of it and put him down. If he is put down, he is safe from being mistreated or abused though.

  3. Unfortunately for the man... I believe that the owners are fully responsible for what happened here. An ex-owner can hardly be held responsible for what a horse does a year after they sold him.

    It is the responsibility of the buyer to get to know the horse before jumping up on their back... horses have trust feelings too... how would you feel if someone just jumped in your car for a ride!?!?!? You'd throw him out! That's the answer! It is their responsibility to get to know the horse or have someone professional assess and train said horse if their are not capable of doing it.

    Second problem. A lot of newbies do not know what horses are capable of. They think horses are just put on this earth to put up with us jumping and bouncing all over them. Horses are wild flight animals and you'll get a taste if you don't act appropriately around them. You cannot just jump on a horse and go, it is not how it works... it might work for some, but mostly not. I speak from experience, I have trained many horses, all different in handling and personnality and some are very hard to get to. I have trained a 6 y-o wild mare that will not allow anyone else but me to ride her, because she trusts me the most and feels most comfortable... she still throws me off sometimes... honnestly, 6 years old is way too late to start handling a horse that has NEVER been touched or even close to a human in his life... my pick is that 3-4 years is the top to start handling (and I mean from the very bottom, ie haltering, etc.) a horse.

    Get advice and opinions from people who know what they are talking about. Saddle fit is important, any saddle doesn't fit on any horse! Have someone explain it to you... We don't care about your ego, you're a beginner and we know it... not asking questions is what makes you look extremely dumb and arogant!

    *** Well... that really escaladed!*** Sorry***

  4. I wish I had the energy to delve into how I feel about this, but it closely reflect the above opinions. I have very little sympathy for people who are ill prepared for horse ownership. While accidents can happen to the most seasoned professionals, this sounds like a case of a "casual" rider/owner. Sad for everyone, but your friend should not feel remotely guilty. I do worry for the welfare of the horse in the future. I hope he finds his way to a safe new home.

  5. If I bought a used car and it broke down a year later, I would never dream of blaming the previous owner. The same holds true for horses. A horse is a living thing with a mind of its own. It is constantly changing and being trained. When dealing with living things, there are no guarantees. When you buy a horse, you have to understand that and be prepared to take on full responsibility for the horse's care and training.

  6. You can only represent the horse as you know him, at the time of sale, and not as he might be a year from now or even a month from now.

    At one barn there was a customer who wanted a big long sales guarantee signed sealed and delievered with the horse she was hoping to buy. Her lawyer, who obviously knew nothing about horses had drawn it up. It included such things as, "The seller guarantees the horse will stand quietly on crossties and never throw her head." The document was an amazing series of seller promises no one could ever possibly promise regarding a living, breathing creature. Of course, the seller never signed the darn thing, but it just goes to show how little some people understand about horses...and life in general.

    Certainly it's tragic that the man died. That is a loss we all grieve for, but it was not your friend's responsibility. There was absolutely no way she could ever predict such a thing would, could, or even might happen.

    So sorry.


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