Letters, tweets, polls from your BHS.
"After having a complete nightmare trying to buy a horse, my experiences range from going to a dealers yard where I wanted to buy them all just to get them out of there , to adverts being completely different to the horse that is presented and finally getting to the stage where I had a potential horse fail the vetting on what could turn out to be a serious underlying problem, only to see it re advertised for top money a couple of days later with no mention of the fact that it spectacularly failed the vet.
How can we improve the buying and selling of horses? ...it is something we all have to do at some point. We rely on the honesty and integrity of total strangers. I shudder to think how much is spent on horses annually, in a very unregulated way. We are open to dishonesty and mis representation . Maybe it is just me that has had bad luck... Is my experience the norm? What can we do to improve and protect both buyers and sellers? I have had a few ideas and would be interested in your opinion.
The vetting records of a horse to be logged in their passports by the vet or on a national data base where buyers can access the information. The buyer sources the vet, the seller pays for the vetting. The seller then has to put the money where their mouth is. Have a quality assurance standard for dealers where they can prove their quality service with regular audits..
Horse adverts should be subject to trade description legislation and if the description doesn’t fit the horse, claims for petrol and time can be made. Could the major horse selling websites take ownership of this and charge a £1 fee for each advert to be paid into a slush fund so that buyers which have genuinely been aggrieved by the description can make a capped claim of up to £50? Trial periods should become more the norm.
Blood samples taken at the vetting should be analysed straight away. To protect sellers from timewasters, how about paying a refundable £20 viewing fee via paypal..it wouldn’t stop those genuinely interested in your horse, but will stop those people who ring up and make appointments then fail to show. The payment in those cases would be retained in acknowledgement of the preparation work done by the seller and the waste of their time. Refunded in full if you turn up.
Undoubtedly any of the above measures will increase the cost of your new horse, but would you rather pay a bit more and be reassured that what your buying is genuine?
If adverts were more accurate, you can make an informed decision about the risk of any potential problems. For some, this could be a way of buying a talented horse at a cheaper price and managing the issues. If someone bought an expensive horse which wasn’t honestly sold, potential issues soon show up, the temptation is to pass it on quickly to another unsuspecting soul. Some of these measures may help to prevent this happening.
At the end of the day, the horse itself is often the victim, if it is sold as fully fit and the new owner unwittingly puts it to work which will aggravate any issues it has, the horse could be subject to undue pain and an early demise where if it was sold honestly, a home more suited to its issues and needs could be found and it lives out a full and pain free life. I know there are some very honest dealers and private sellers out there...but it seems to me that there are many that are not. Buying a new horse should be a pleasure not a nightmare!"
Veronica Zwetsloot, via Email
"Regarding rail transport for horses in the modern era (John Edmondson’s letter, British Horse February issue). I’m not sure whether 1960 qualifies, but I recall seeing a pony onto the train at the old New Street Station in Birmingham, on its way to the docks and a new home in Belfast.
He was a lovely 14.2hh gelding called King’s Fancy, belonging to Mrs A R Price of the Mel Valley pony stud. Fancy had a successful showing career in the Midlands with several riders, but when I was 16 and out of pony classes, Mrs Price sold him to concentrate on in-hand classes with her lovely brood mares and youngstock.
We took the pony to New Street’s old-fashioned goods yard and he calmly loaded onto a wagon, with his groom accompanying him on the journey. It seemed an exciting and unusual event at the time (as well as being a sad one for me) and now, 58 years later, I feel that we are part of history!"
S Heyworth, Tal-y-bont
"Reading through the letter from jean Etherington regarding early horse travel, I live in Portsmouth and, consequently, near to the sea - and the
Isle Of Wight.
In the yard where I used to be ( some 45 years ago) there was a lady and her pony who used to travel over to the Isle Of Wight regularly - to visit her sister who lived over there.
No trailers then, she used to ride the pony onto the IOW ferry, stand on the deck with him, and enjoy the 30 minute ferry crossing!!
I think health and safety would prevent anyone from doing that now!!"
Jane Dore, via Email
Reading the letter about traveling horses by train reminds me of the time in the early 1960's when I was 15 years old and we sold my 14.2 pony to a family in Scotland. I was keen to travel up with the pony, and my parents allowed me to go off on my own, things were different in those days! The carriage was a big space for two horses, a grooms compartment and toilet at one end.
We left Newton Abbott station late afternoon and arrived at Crewe at 11.30pm and had a two hour wait where we were left among a sea of railway lines. At this point I had run out of water so hung out the window in the hope of catching someones attention. Eventually a railway man came and fetched more water. In the early morning we reached Carlisle where we were to be attached to the mail train. My abiding memory is of a porter taking me off the train to wait in the Porters room while the carriage was moved around. He offered me tea, the pot was sitting on the open fire and the brew was so strong you could have stood the spoon up! His words were "sorry, no milk but you can have as much sugar as you like". I have never taken sugar but was so grateful of his kindness that I drank the strong tea. Just as the train was ready to go he insisted I had a refill and when I protested about leaving with their mug I was told to take it with me. I still have that mug and treasure it as a reminder of a special expedition. The attached photo was taken at Newton Abbott station."
Heather Hicks, via Email
Recently I went to a talk by a pilot who flies the Dorset Air Ambulance. I had the chance to chat with him and when I told him I rode horses he informed me that riders were amongst some of his most regular 'customers'. He passed on a really useful piece of information and asked that I share it with my friends. So I thought that the best way to do this, for as many friends as possible, was to write to the letters page!
He said that although many of us now wear our hi viz on the road, unfortunately we often don't wear it out hacking. He said that some of his most awful moments are flying over an area looking for a rider on their own, completely camouflaged by the dark country clothing we wear. He told me it was really horrible knowing that someone is down there needing urgent help and yet the air crew are unable to find them, wasting lifesaving precious minutes. This really got me thinking and I will always wear my hi viz out hacking from now on.
I think your magazine is fantastic and the most informative, entertaining horsey read on the market. If only it had been around 40 years ago! I would have learned so much, a lot earlier in my life. So thank you to all concerned.
Pearl James, Salisbury, via Email
I was interested to read the excellent article about Laminitis in the April edition of British Horse. This was a poignant article for me, as I lost my pony in March after he suffered a severe attack of acute Laminitis.
We do not understand enough about this horrible disease, so ongoing research is very important. Laminitis can affect all kinds of horses and ponies, but British native ponies seem to be particularly susceptable. All horse and pony owners need to be aware of the latest research about Laminitis, so that we can care for our animals in the best possible way.
So thank you, BHS, for printing this article, and I hope there will be many more similar ones."
Ruth Parry, Dorset, via Email
I so enjoyed this article and it reminded me of last year's Gatcombe when Valegro paraded in the main ring, we all watched the 2012 Olympics dressage video and applauded and he seemed to know it was about him. It was both funny and humbling. Then to top it off we were allowed to go and see Valegro in his stable and have photos taken with him. I always meant to write and say thank you to Alan, who gave up hours of his time standing patiently with Valegro while we all trooped up and patted him. Also to Carl and Charlotte for being so generous with Valegro. I still show people that picture!
So here's a huge thank you to the team missed via British Horse, I am sure there are other readers who also enjoyed this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Wendy Cottis, via Email