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Purchasing long distance

From: Rochelle Clark

Dear Jessica,

I am a 40 year old beginner, am in the process of building a nice run-in addition to my barn, have been taking weekly riding lessons for the last 9 months at a wonderful equestrian school and am looking for a horse or pony for myself and for my daughter. Much of my shopping is being done through the internet. I live in an area that is rather horse-poor when it comes to the type I am looking for. This means I am looking at videos and pictures, talking through email and over the telephone. I found 2 sicilian donkeys this way, and it has been a successful venture. In that instance, I was able to make the 4 hour drive to get to them. How do I get a vet check done on an animal that is out of state and far away? What particular dangers lie in long distance shopping and how can I avoid them?

Thanks for your time,

Rochelle Clark

Dear Jessica. Thank you over and over for your helpful answers. I am looking for a new horse and keep seeing these internet horse ads. I see quite a few and was wondering are they okay? Is buying a horse off the internet risky? What are the pros and cons? Feel free to put this in your column.

Sincerely, Hannah Aldrich

Hi Rochelle, hi Hannah! This is a very interesting question. Internet shopping does open new possibilities, doesn't it?

Let me begin by saying that although I have never purchased a horse via the Internet, I have purchased several used saddles, and have been very happy with them all. ;-)

I don't see why there would be any more "cons" to purchasing via the Internet -- it's really no different than, say, finding and following up an advertisement in a magazine or a newsletter. The medium makes very little difference, although the Internet does allow us to find out about more horses, in more areas, and it allows us to get a lot more information in a very short time, and at much less expense than would be involved if the telephone were the means of communication. It's easier in some ways: you can send the seller a list of questions, and then have the answers in print! And you can send another note to ask additional questions that you forgot to ask the first time around. You can also use online time to ask other people questions about the seller or the horse!

I certainly wouldn't buy a horse from ANY advertisement without getting quite a lot of information, inspecting it carefully myself at least once or twice, and having a pre-purchase exam performed by a veterinarian I trust. And I wouldn't recommend that anyone else "buy blind".

But shopping through the Internet should allow you to find out about a lot of horses, get as many details as you want, and then narrow down your selections to a few within reasonable driving distance. If you are looking for a very particular sort of horse, and money is no object, you may even fly somewhere to look at the horse.

Vetting: when you arrange for your pre-purchase exam, you should not use the seller's vet, and in fact the seller's vet shouldn't consent to examine the horse for you, as that is considered to be a conflict of interest. I'm sure you can understand why. ;-) Instead, when you find a horse that you want to have checked out, why not talk to your vet at home, and ask him to recommend someone in the area where the horse is kept? It's much cheaper than paying your own vet for hours or days of travel-time.

I think that the Internet just gives us yet another way to find out about horses for sale, and perhaps even a way to check up on those horses and their owners! If you post a note to your favourite horsey list or newsgroup, saying "Does anyone know about Person X at Farm Y, who is selling Horse Z?", you may end up chatting with someone who lives down the road from Person X, knows all the horses at the farm, and can give you useful information.

In my experience, people who are truthful in person or in snail-mail are just as truthful online. Just use the 'Net as an additional source of information!


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