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Where to find a genuine horse? Looking to buy

24 replies

FlipFlapBat · 05/12/2018 19:03


I’ve been out the saddle for about 5 years aside from the very occasional ride. Prior to this I owned horses either as a child or adult for 25 years (I’m 42 now).

I’m looking to buy a horse but struggling to find anything that seems genuine with history. I lost my confidence a bit so want something fairly rock like. The trade off is that he/she doesn’t have to look flashy or be competition worthy. Just a nice genuine hack that I can enjoy and that my daughter could potentially have a ride on too (opposite to me in that she is a beginner with no nerves, I competed to very high level on a self-backed horse but a puddle of anxiety should I be on anything especially strong or spooky nowadays).

The last two horses I owned were brought from dealers, one had (we later found) been sedated and had a lot of issues and was where I lost my confidence until he tragically passed away.

I don’t want to buy from a dealer, have a budget of £5k but can’t find anything with any history.

Where is the best place to look? I’ve phoned some adverts and explained my needs and they sound great, then had a friend call wanting a very different type of horse and they sound perfect for her needs too (ie I say a bit of a plod and I’m nervous and she says something a bit lively and that she wants to jump and bring something on and the owner says that describes him to a T to both of us!)

Where is best to look? I live in a different area now so have no local community to ask around.

OP posts:
maxelly · 05/12/2018 19:45

Word of mouth is the best really, a 'reference' from someone trusted that the horse is as described is priceless and the closest thing to a guarantee that the horse will be safe and suitable really.

Obviously this is a bit tricky if you are away from the 'scene' in your local area so if not an option the best thing you can do is look on all the normal sites (horsequest, horse and hound etc and also local horsey facebook groups) for a horse which is currently the job you want it for (so staying away from dealers is sensible, and I would also be wary of a horse that has belonged to a whizzy teenager or has been with a riding school) - before viewing quiz the owner and ask for lots of pictures and videos of the horse so you can build a consistent picture of him/her. Obviously as you've found people can be evasive or downright lie on the phone so it is important to view with a skeptical mind frame, arrive a little early for viewings just in case you 'catch' the seller exhausting the horse through working its legs off before the viewing.

View any potential horse at least twice. If hacking is your main aim, I would ideally see the horse ridden in an arena by its owner on the first viewing, then if happy you ride, then see it go down a lane or nearest road for 10 mins, perhaps you hop on for the way back? On the second viewing then make sure on you hack the horse (or see its owner hacking) down the busiest roads available and also in an open space, walk away if they fob you off with excuses as to why this can't happen. Take an experienced friend or instructor with you to at least one of the two viewings and take their views on board. Be prepared to kiss a LOT of frogs before finding your perfect prince/princess Grin and be patient - the right horse is out there.

In the meantime why not fill in the wait with some lessons at a good school or a part-loan? A good way to yet your fitness and riding skills back up to speed and also build your network of horsey contacts so you are well placed to hear if something suitable comes onto the market?

Good luck!

FlipFlapBat · 05/12/2018 22:59

Thank you. I’m not in a hurry so will take my time, I just look on the normal sites and often google the phone number only to find they are a dealer.

OP posts:
lastqueenofscotland · 06/12/2018 11:17

Word of mouth
There are a few good dealers out there, what area are you in I might know a few!

billysboy · 06/12/2018 11:21

word of mouth or get something on loan

mummyof2munchkins · 06/12/2018 19:52

I know you're not interested in dealers but Claire Davies at CnG Equine has a fantastic reputation and I believe has a waiting list of customers wanting to buy from her and also a list of customers selling horses to her to sell on to the right forever home.

I've recently bought a new horse, if I hadn't found him through word of mouth I'd decided to go to Claire to get on her waiting list. There are lots of excellent reviews about her on FB.

Worth a look and search about her if you have FB.

RatherBeRiding · 07/12/2018 11:36

Word of mouth - very difficult if you're not part of the local horsey community. Avoid dealers like the proverbial - there are good ones out there but equally there are a lot of people who would sell their own grandmother for a quick profit. Unless you can get a personal recommendation for a good dealer, then just don't go down that route. The number of people I know who have been sold totally unsuitable horses by a dealer is quite an eye-opener - and some of these were experienced horse owners who really shouldn't have been taken in!

Which part of the country are you in? There is a local FB horsey group where I live and a lot of horses posted for sale on there. If there is something near you it is worth keeping an eye on as you can often tell from the posts and comments if a horse is a genuine sale or not.

Failing all that, try to find a decent loan. Bide your time and try to get into the local horsey scene - local riding clubs are also good places to find horses for sale. Loans often turn into purchases - I've known that happen quite a lot.

Eve · 07/12/2018 11:44

make sure you are on all the dodgy dealers sites on FB - a few of the dealers run those sites themselves and its interesting to see all the different views.

Interesting you mention CnG equine - as I was looking recently she was 1 I was following - recently shes had a few horses back after sale and puts them up on her page with comments about how its not the horses fault, very much implying its the new owners. When the owners have responded its very interesting!

Moanranger · 07/12/2018 17:33

Expect it to take a long time. I would say 6 months is realistic. The type you are looking for go really quickly. I would not discount dealers, as some have good reps that they actually want to protect. Private sellers can also be dishonest & you have less consumer protection.
Be sure that you get the horse vetted. If anything seems fishy, walk away. Have a fair idea of size, breed type, although do be open-minded. (I for example am unpersuaded by ex-racehorses, but TBs can be excellent) Good luck & keep us posted. I love horse shopping, but my current mount is doing just the job.

FlipFlapBat · 08/12/2018 09:57

Thanks all.

I’ve had three horses from dealers in the 25 years I’ve had horses and none were what they were sold as although all stayed with me to the end of their lives. Personally I don’t want to ever buy from a dealer again; last time I paid my instructor to come for a second viewing, spent a lot of time in the stable and handling him. My mistake was to use the local equine vet recommended by the dealer for the full vetting... the less said about that pack of lies the better. Horse arrived and within a week was a very different animal. Of course you fall in love with them and work with their faults but this time I want one that is more pleasure than headaches; and that I can trust with my daughter. I’ve been lucky enough to own horses like that but not in years.

I am in Sussex although happy to travel to Kent or Surrey or even further afield for the right horse.

OP posts:
Asdf12345 · 16/12/2018 22:12

Take a trip horse shopping in Ireland to make that budget go further.

Sarahlou63 · 18/12/2018 13:45

I've said it (several times!) before - for your budget, including transport, you could get a lovely, genuine horse in Portugal. What are you looking for in terms of size, age, experience?

maxelly · 19/12/2018 22:14

Sorry to hijack your thread OP, but I am interested in what @Sarahlou63 says about Portugal - I assume you are talking about lusitano/Iberian type horses Sarah? I have ridden a few of these on riding holidays in that part of the world and absolutely loved them but don't think I've ever met/seen one in the UK, so fascinated by the idea you can get one easily and ship over (doing some fantasy horse shopping now!)...

When you say you can buy a lovely, genuine horse for OP's budget, would that be something suitable for your average competent-novice leisure rider to do riding club type activities and hacking, or are they generally better with more of a 'proper'/competitive job? The ones I've ridden on hols did seem like quite hot, intelligent types but is that a bit of a myth about the breed? Do they jump or are they more dressage suited? Are they used to heavy traffic/busy roads or do they need to be built up to hacking on UK roads when they come over? Any issues with change of climate and turnout regime compared to Portugal - I was under the impression turnout tends to be more limited in general on the continent and grass less rich but again that might not be true of Portugal? Sorry for all the questions but am genuinely intrigued!

Sarahlou63 · 19/12/2018 22:59


Lots of questions! We have a herd of 8 geldings, mainly Luso or Luso X (Arab/Hanoverian) plus a Section D - who is, of course, the boss!

Lusitanos are generally smart, sensible, forgiving and adaptable. Dressage and working equitation are the main activities in Portugal but yes, they are also good jumpers and (mine) love hacking out over pretty rough ground - they are all barefoot with rock solid feet. Heavy traffic isn’t common here so that would need acclimatisation but tractors and cars are fine.

Re turnout - I can only speak for my boys but they live out 24/7/365 on a paddock paradise track system with a beet/alfalfa mix twice a day and ad lib low quality hay and are in great shape. They manage temperatures from +43c to around 5c so would be best imported in the spring rather than the depths of winter but they are very hardy.

If you look in the Portuguese market, rather than the ‘tourist’ market you can have your choice of good quality all rounders Lusos from around €1500. I think transport to the UK is c€1200 so, yes, €5,000 would be a very good budget. Happy to answer any questions 😊

maxelly · 20/12/2018 11:15

Thanks so much for answering my questions, a herd of 8, sounds like a dream/hard work Grin

Interesting to hear about the prices, I can continue to fantasise about my very own luso then - although even that kind of money which is peanuts in the UK really, is a bit above my touch right now! And I guess it might be quite hard to penetrate the 'locals' market not knowing what you are doing or speaking the language...

Sarahlou63 · 20/12/2018 17:50

There's always someone around who speaks English (and all vets speak it fluently which helps) - I'm near Tomar in central Portugal and always happy to do a bit of horse shopping :)

This is a good place to start dreaming -

Nearlyoldenoughtowearpurple · 23/12/2018 22:44

I know you don’t want a dealer, but in Sussex Abbie buff Hart was great with my friend who had had a similar dealer experience to you, really helped her find something suitable, even just let her have them for a few weeks to see if they got on. She sometimes has ones with history as well as the usual Irish type. Bea fuller also has a good name and has helped another friend , after another unsuitable purchase !

zenasfuck · 23/12/2018 22:50

I know of more than one person who was mis sold a horse by cnG equine and had a nightmare with them trying to sort it out

DraughtyWindow · 24/12/2018 11:21

Yes, I can second that Abbie Buffy Hart and Bea Fuller have excellent reputations in the SE.

Somersetlady · 24/12/2018 12:21

Find the local riding clubs in your area contact the secretary and ask if they know of anything?

Nearlyoldenoughtowearpurple · 24/12/2018 23:13

I’m just not sure that I can believe in cng, every horse they have in for sale seems to be perfect in every way after their short assessment period. I just struggle to see how they can find all these paragons of virtue !

Nagsnovalballs · 31/12/2018 13:57

Where are you based?

Nagsnovalballs · 31/12/2018 13:58

Damn just spotted Sussex. Shame, as I have a wonderful horse but I don’t want her leaving my yard!

Isitwinteryet · 01/01/2019 14:22

Although she's a dealer, id recommend Claire Davies at cng is genuine.

Gin96 · 03/01/2019 20:41

I would look on the local pony club website and see what’s for sale, there should be names of instructors that you can contact and they will give you an honest opinion of the horse.

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