Buying unseen ... tell me your good and bad experiences

Expo

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15 July 2016
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So, my lovely cob is now retired, aged 23, and I'm seriously considering getting back in the saddle with a new horsey pal. Having trawled through loads of For Sale ads, I've found a likely contender, but he's a very long way away - around a 6 hour drive - and I cant see myself getting there to try him out. He's for sale with a reputable (I hope!) dealer who has offered a 30day return if the horse isn't suitable. So, do I go for it and send someone over to get him, or look for something nearer home that I can feasibly get to see and have a sit on before committing?

Tell me your buying unseen stories please ..... good and bad. Thanks all .....
 

Asha

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Ive bought a few youngsters ( weanlings to yearlings unseen over the years. The first came seriously underweight and much much smaller than i thought. She did turn out great with lots of tlc. The others where as expected, perhaps a little more feral than i thought, but other than that good. My latest is by far the best. Arrived in tip top condition, superbly handled and an absolute delight.

Just do your research on the dealer. Especially if you are buying a ridden one.

I will say though that unless you are experienced / at a good riding standard i wouldnt be buying a ridden prospect unseen no matter how good the dealer is.
 

ImmyS

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I wouldn’t buy a ridden horse unseen. I think if you just want to be able
to get on and do what you want to do then I think it’s important to ride the horse first and make sure you are compatible.

Youngsters are a different matter and I think as long as buying from someone reputable and vetted then yes. I did it earlier this year and would again. He is everything I hoped for and more.
 

Elf On A Shelf

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We have bought a few youngsters and mares over the years without seeing them in the flesh first but their bloodlines were what stood out. The only ridden pony to come here unseen was Flint but his show ring record stood out for itself. He was a whizzy, get on with the job type pony But so much fun! The other one I had the choice of was much more sedate and suited to lead rein/first ridden.

I wouldn't buy unseen from a dealer.
 

Ambers Echo

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I bought Lottie unseen with the plan of selling on if she wasn't suitable. You have 30 days no quibble return so there isn't much risk really. You can always ask a pro to ride her for a coupkd of weeks to test her out in various settings first.
 

teddy_eq

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11 March 2021
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East Sussex
I bought unseen at the end of August.

He is pretty much as advertised and I am thrilled with him however, and this is a big however, he was cut late (three months ago) and the seller advised he was 'nippy' around food. This did not bother me as being based on a stud farm, I am very used to stallions but, the horse was and is not 'nippy' he is frankly bitey bitey and quite aggressive at times.

He's been seen by a highly experienced sports horse vet who thinks this is nothing more than hormones and potentially being roughed up in the past (he came from a big Newmarket yard). I guess, bottom line, he is what they said he is in terms of ridden work (the biting and face pulling stops as soon as he has a bridle on), however, always be mindful the learned behaviours of a horse bought unseen may not be exactly what you're expecting or used to.
 

texenstar

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27 February 2012
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I have bought a ridden horse unseen. She was a Lusitano mare from Portugal (mare in my profile picture). Although, I did not ride her myself, friends of mine were out there on a riding holiday and rode her for me providing lots of vidoes and info plus many people I knew had bought from this seller before and he was well known for being honest and matching the right horse to the right rider. However, even after all of that, it still could have gone very wrong by simply just not being right for each other. Luckily, we were perfect for each other and I have had her for 8 years but I don't think I would do it again knowing all the risks.

6 hours is not too far for peace of mind :) It's a pain but I am sure you won't regret it! Or make sure the dealer is actually honest about the 30 day trial and be prepared to have to send back.

Hope this helps :)
 

Peglo

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1 June 2021
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I bought unseen from Italy so definitely couldn’t return. I just fell in love and couldn’t get her out of my head.
she has been more than I knew I wanted with an amazing temperament. Just a fantastic wee lassie. I don’t know if I’d recommend or not but so far it’s been great for me. I Should add that I have no great goals with her other than having fun so didn’t have too much to loose competing wise.

on the other side, years ago when I bought my TB (I was young and inexperienced tbf) I did ride her and see her but she was either drugged or depressed as after a few weeks having her home she was a very different horse. Luckily nothing terrible but certainly opinionated but if she was that depressed that she had no personality I’m very happy she could be herself with me.
 

catembi

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N Beds
ISH mare from Ireland from a dealer with a 5 stage vetting. Had shiver & a bad hoof defect covered up with filler. The hoof grew out okay but she was lame on & off while it was doing so. I had an accident picking out her feet early on as I didn't know about the shiver & was off work for two weeks with concussion. She was also very bargey to handle & once picked me up by my jacket & pinned me up against the fence. And nastily spooky to ride. Sold at a big loss. It was hugely exciting at the time to buy unseen, but was v expensive getting the foot xrayed, getting to the bottom of the shiver etc and I still have a dent on my arm from where she bit me through a thick sherpa fleece.
 

spacefaer

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Where are you and where's the horse?
Could you ask an experienced HHOer to give the horse a once over for you? With some live WhatsApp videos?

I'd also check out the dealer on some of the numerous Dodgy Dealer FB pages.
 

spacefaer

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We've bought unseen in the past, but only incredibly well researched and through WoM. We also don't spend more than we reckon we could recoup or lose (worst case scenario!)
 

IrishMilo

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I don't think there's a huge amount of difference between buying unseen and just trying a horse once or max twice. I've known little turds of horses to behave impeccably for a viewing... that being said if I were to buy another one I'd want to ride it before buying as I need to ride something I find comfortable and enjoyable. Some people are amazing at getting lazy horses to look effortless or horses with a rocket up their ass to look easy!
 

millikins

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Well daughter and I are quite glad we bought our Dales mare unseen as I don't think we would have had we tried her! She's turned out alright and we are both very fond of her but on arrival she was a hormonal stroppy baggage who'd been allowed to intimidate people.
 

Upthecreek

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I think it depends a little bit how fussy you are about the feeling you get from a horse. If you’re not too bothered as long as the horse will do the job you want then consider buying unseen. I cannot decide this from watching videos or from someone else riding the horse and describing it to me. I need to sit on the horse, look it in the eye and see how it behaves with people. For me this is more important than watching videos of the horse doing flat work or jumping. Temperament is everything and I personally need to see it and feel it in the flesh to know if we will be a good partnership.
 

Ceriann

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Depends on the information you have been given eg does it come vetted, what you have seen by way of video, history you have been given and the dealers rep, and how concerned you are about getting the right feel with the horse. Having been to a few different viewings, most are pretty short (in the grand scheme of things) and a snapshot on the day - not always sure that deserves all the weight it’s given.
 

Vodkagirly

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This
I think it depends a little bit how fussy you are about the feeling you get from a horse. If you’re not too bothered as long as the horse will do the job you want then consider buying unseen. I cannot decide this from watching videos or from someone else riding the horse and describing it to me. I need to sit on the horse, look it in the eye and see how it behaves with people. For me this is more important than watching videos of the horse doing flat work or jumping. Temperament is everything and I personally need to see it and feel it in the flesh to know if we will be a good partnership.
I watched a video of a horse that looked perfect. When I sat on him he felt like an unexploded bomb. In a quiet school with no distractions. There was no way he would been the right horse for me.
Other horses were not sound and seller seemed unaware.
Or not a temperament that I would want.
 

TPO

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A ray of sunshine 🌞
I bought mine unseen as a 2yr old. I'd been in contact with the stud for over 10yrs, had reserved a filly 2yrs previous that I was going to view but my livery fell through so I had to back out and I knew other people that had bought from them with good reviews.

In my "wisdom" I decided not to view him as I'd decided to buy another horse on a whim so being a genius (😏) I decided that the fuel and B&B money to visit him in Wales would be better spent on transport to get him up to Scotland.

Long story short a skeleton arrived. Malnourished, teeth worn below gum line, mud fever, rain scald, matted coat, that fine wispy "poor" coat (it was mid June), over grown hooves and spinal process, ribs, shoulders and pelvis were all clearly visible. His "topline" went from spine to shelf of ribs.

The same people who raved about the stud started messaging me privately to tell me the truth about the awful conditions that they bought their horses in, the disgrace of the stud (direct quote "it makes Steptoe & Sons look like Buckingham Palace") and condition of the other horses there. Another long story!

I don't understand why she didn't breed less, feed them and then charge more. My horse was (now un)suprisingly cheap because his breeding is spot on.

It has worked out because he's a cracking wee horse, I love his breeding and his character is brilliant.

A week before he arrived I started getting the heebies that I should have viewed him. A friend said she would be worried about not liking an unseen horse's "personality" but I was more worried that a leg would be on backwards or missing! As it turns out only his neck was on upside down 😂

Everyone had different "limits" but I don't think driving 6hrs is unreasonable. My longest was down to Hereford during the bad floods in 2008, think that was 7.5- 8hrs each way and I drove that in one day.
 

Winters100

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I have bought unseen in the past, it was not a disaster, but not the horse for me so I ended up selling. That having been said my trainer had tried him and I had other horses to ride at the time.

It depends to a large extent on budget and confidence. Do you have the budget to deal with problems and are you a 'ride anything' kind of rider? When I was younger, and did not break so easily, I was not so fussed about what I rode, even if silly or hot. If you fall into this category, and can find someone independent to vet the horse, then buying unseen might work out ok.

Now I am older I am much more cautious about what I ride, and I really need to have some trust that my horses will be safe for me, so I would not consider buying unseen.

Unless you are really prepared to sell, retire or PTS then I would not do it, and in all honesty 6 hours in the car is not that much in the scale of things.

Edited to add that I drove 14 hours each way for my schoolmistress and I do not regret a single km.
 

ycbm

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30 January 2015
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I'm happy to buy unseen but only at a price I can afford to lose and knowing I will sell on swiftly if i don't like it, or even PTS if it's a huge walking vet bill. But I wouldn't do it if it mattered if it turned up a hand wrong in size in either direction.

I've bought 4 unseen and at least a dozen unridden either at auction or not backed. I've yet to have one I didn't have fun with, and several I made a lot of money on when I sold.

Joe is my latest, of course, and he's one of the best of the lot :)

Have you checked how much it's going to cost you to send it back if it's not right, assuming the dealer honours their 30 day guarantee? Is the return for ANY reason, not just fitness for purpose or not as described?
.
 
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littleshetland

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25 January 2014
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On top of the hill, Somerset.
I bought sight unseen a year ago (see pic of my Spanish Spud on the left). In a fit of menopausal madness decide to buy a PRE, and for covid related reasons was unable to fly and try, so after a ton of videos and assurances that if I wasn't happy with my new horse things would be sorted (not quite sure how, but hey, it was menopausal madness...) I parted with my euros and he duly arrived in the UK. He's got to be one of the loveliest horses Ive had the privilege of owning. I know there certainly was an element of luck involved in my case, that combined with a very positive 'gut feeling' about him, but I'm so glad he's mine. Would I do it again? yes, probably.
 

meleeka

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Hants, England
I’ve bought a companion pony unseen (I didn’t even know what colour just a welsh mare!) but wouldn’t buy a ridden horse. A friend bought a young ridden horse from abroad for a fair bit of money. Thad was 10 years ago and she now has a very large pet because it was just too much horse for her and she wouldn’t sell. Just because he was a ridden horse, it didn’t mean he could cope with being ridden in the real world and was obviously ridden hard before the videos she was sent where he was quiet as a lamb.
 

Btomkins

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7 November 2012
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Saffron Walden, Essex
I bought a 7 month old filly unseen as she was the other end of the country. She’s turning out wonderful but not without a few small issues along the way. She arrived with an undisclosed (very small) hernia which has now successfully been treated, and a few other minor issues that wouldn’t have been picked up on a viewing anyway. I would never buy a ridden horse unseen.
 

Kaylum

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29 May 2010
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Slighy different but a person I know got a horse unseen from Malta from a charity. They were charged a lot of money and the horse has had to recieve medical treatment by its new owner and cannot be ridden.

The charity wont reply to her.
 
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