Avoiding Scams

Smart Buyer's Guide to Horses

There was a time when just about everyone owned a horse of some kind.  They were used as the main form of personal transportation as well as for transporting goods and pulling ploughs.  Those days are long gone and owning a horse is now considered a luxury.  As such, it is important that the buyer get good value for money when buying a horse.  Here are some tips to help you get the horse that you want and need.

Tips for spotting a valuable horse

1) Check its breeding.

It is a good idea to take a look at the dam and sire of a horse that you are intending on buying.  Since this is the genetic material that the horse has to work with you can get some idea of what you are getting.  Try to find other horses by the same dam and sire and see how they are getting on.  If they are doing well then you might well be on to a good thing.  Make sure that the dam and sire and any siblings you can find are doing well in the discipline that you intend on using the horse in.  A horse that has a dam or sire with a record on a site like www.KentuckyDerbyBetting.com filled with wins is going to cost more than a horse that has never even competed.  A Kentucky Derby winner in a horse's pedigree is more likely to have talent than one that has been bred from nondescript farm horses.

2) Ride the horse.

You can never really know what you are getting unless you actually sit on the horse and try it.  If you are not a skilled enough rider then get your instructor to have a ride.  Make sure that you put the horse through its paces so that you can see what it is capable of.  It is a good idea to make sure that you have a professional along with you as a second opinion.  It is likely that they will be a good judge of scope and be able to give you an idea of what the horse might be capable of in the future.

3) Evaluate the temperament and attitude.

It is important that the horse is eager to please.  A good attitude will always go further towards making a good horse than plain talent will.  A horse that is willing to try and wants to please its rider will always be more pleasant to ride and willing to learn.

4) Check its track record.

If you are looking at a horse that has competed before you should look at the horse results for the given discipline.  This will help you see what the horse has already accomplished and give you an idea of what it might still do.  For example, ushja.org is a good place to look for information on registered jumpers.

5) Watch out for scams.

There are always people out there that are looking to make a quick buck out of someone else.  If you are not able to see the horse then there could be something fishy going on.  Read more about common horse buying and selling scams to have more information.

6) Do not stop at the first likely candidate.

Good horses do not come along every day.  You really have to look at a lot of sites to find horses for sale that meet your requirements and then be sure to try all of them before you commit.

Finding a good horse is like buying a second hand car.  You need to have them thoroughly vetted and try each one out to be sure that you are going to get your money.s worth.  If you do not like how the horse feels under you, then move on.  You will eventually find the right horse.  Remember, each person will have a different idea on what the perfect horse is.  This is generally determined by what you want to use the horse for and what your riding ability is.  Be sure to take a professional rider or instructor with you so that they can also evaluate the horse.  They might see something that you missed which could make or break the horse for you.


Buyers and sellers will very likely receive offers that are scams.  Horsefinders receives emails every week from vigilant buyers and sellers asking us questions about inquiries or transactions that are suspicious.  However, despite the frequency of the inquiries Horsefinders has not had any contact from any buyer or seller who has lost money through a scam.  However the danger is real and steps should be taken to protect your self from the possibility of fraud.

Internet horse scams, so far have take several forms.  There may be others, there will be others, and scams will change as they become well known.

Buyer Overpayment

The buyer sends some form of payment to the seller that is in excess of the price of the horse.  The payment is a counterfeited check, cashiers check or money order.  Before the bad check clears the sellers bank, the buyer requests that the seller send the over payment to a third party.  This is often to a shipping company or agent.  The payment turns out to be no good and the seller is out the overpayment.

How to prevent Buyer Overpayment

  1. Allow all forms of checks to clear your bank before you allow the horse to leave your control.
  2. Never accept any payment over the price of the horse and never send money to any third party.

Horses for sale that the seller does not own or do not exist.

There are endless variations of this but basically someone is representing themselves as a horse seller.  The buyer may have difficulty actually seeing the horse.  The seller usually can not show the horse to the buyer for any number of reasons.  The seller asks the buyer to pay for the horse or just pay for shipping.  When the buyer pays for shipping or for the horse, the horse is not shipped and the seller can not be found.  Often the horses are very inexpensive or are free to a good home.

How to prevent this scam.  Never pay for shipping or for the price of a horse until it is under your control, i.e.  it is standing in your trailer.  Never buy a horse sight unseen unless it is from an unimpeachable, reputable, seller you personally know.

The Switch

There have been reports of buyers inspecting one horse and are shipped a different horse.  Be sure that you take possession of the same horse you rode or inspected.  Make sure that you have recourse against the seller if you are shipped a different horse; meaning don't pay for a horse until it is in your possession.

Scam Guidelines

  • Be very suspicious of buyers or seller who are not forthright about their names, address, phone numbers or the location of the horse.
  • Be very suspicious of any buyers or sellers outside the country.
  • Be wary of anyone you can't talk to over the phone.
  • Never accept overpayment.
  • Never release a horse to the buyer before you have verified funds in your possession.  Check with your bank.
  • Never buy a horse you have not seen unless it is from someone you know personally.
  • Remember everything can be easily forged like: checks, papers, vet reports, ownership, registrations.  Verify everything!
  • Do not send money outside the county.
  • There are scams within the country so be cautions.
  • While some people do buy horses that they have not personally inspected, be cautious of those that don't inspect the horse and don't ask lots of questions about the horse.
  • Never let the horse out of your control until you have converted any type of payment into cash.
  • Cashiers Checks, money orders, Western Union, travelers checks, purchase orders, personal or business checks are all just paper until they are converted into cash.  Do not let the horse out of your control until the issuing institution has released funds to your bank with no further recourse on the funds by either your bank or the issuing institution.
  • Don't let the buyer rush you for any reason.
  • Neither accept overpayment nor send overpayment to a third party for any reason.
  • Foreign buyers must be suspected as scams.
  • Don't let your enthusiasm in buying or selling a horse cloud your judgment.
  • When you take delivery of a horse make sure it is the same horse you inspected.
  • Trust your instincts; if you are suspicious there is probably a good reason.
  • Be suspicious of horses listed on Horsefinders that do not list a phone number.

Horsefinders Disclaimer

We would hope that this page is helpful, however, scams mutate like viruses.  There are more variations than we have outlined on this page.  We may have omitted important warnings.  You may read this page and still get scammed.  Horsefinders is not responsible for your sale or purchase.  We only intend this page to be informative and get you thinking about how to make a good sale or purchase.

Stay in Touch

If you encounter more or different scams let Horsefinders know about them.  Contact Us here