December 28, 2022 “The Unicorn Theory” by The Horse Traders Secret

“The Unicorn Theory” by The Horse Traders Secret

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 I have been selling horses, quite literally my entire life. My grandfather sold horses throughout my mothers entire upbringing, which funded quite a bit throughout her childhood. He built several houses and sold them for a profit as well. When my mom and dad moved us out of the city, my mom decided we would go purchase a few gentle horses from a local horse trader and see if we couldn’t make something out of them and resell them. They were just gentle trail horses, we hauled them all over the world, took them camping, went all sorts of places. Some of my best memories growing up are picturing horses because of all the places we got to go. Mom would have me damn near doing cartwheels off them just to show that they were fit for the public. Mom has some pretty serious health issues so she never fooled with anything that even looked at us cross eyed. I sure didn’t have a lot of complaints on her choices in horse flesh.

Moral of the story is, this is all I know. If you asked me to open a cash register I would just stare back at you blankly. Or maybe bang on it and try to get it to open that way. Needless to say, I have never worked a 9-5 in my life. I mean I have – but horseback. I started working for a man when I was 14, had more stock laying around that place than I knew what to do with. I got hired on and I decided I would just figure it out. We rode anywhere from 10-20 and that is saddled. When the trucks pulled in we would try roughly 50 head at a time, bareback in a halter. People look at me like I’m insane when I tell them that, but the truth is if you get into a bind, it really is a lot easier to get out of it when you aren’t stuck in the center of one.

I look back on the years of trading gentle riders and it was always a pretty simple gig growing up, people didn’t rely on social media nearly as much as they do now, and there were a lot less “snowflakes” if someone bought a horse, they bought it because they liked it. If they decided they didn’t like it at a later date, hell we never really heard about it. I’m sure they just sold it and went about their business.


Now lets flash forward to selling horses professionally in 2022… the entire industry has blown up so big people are becoming millionaires left and right simply because the market is the best it has ever been and the best it probably will ever be. Hopefully I’m wrong on that and it either continues on the uphill climb or this swing of things comes back around eventually. The equine industry has thrived since late 2020 till now. 2021 was the best for for thousands and thousands of people in equine business. Horses that were once worth $3,500.00 are now selling for $10,000.00. Every sale you watch, at least one (generally a handful) are selling for over $100,000.00. Now keep in mind, with these kinds of numbers, come buyers who have EXTREMELY HIGH EXPECTATIONS. They’re coming to you with it in their minds that this horse will be PERFECT. He will never buck, never rear, he will have no crib, weave, pull back, kick, he will be great for the farrier, he will be extremely broke and even more desensitized. They expect if a train blows by and blows its horn, that Ol’ 5-year-old Sammy will simply stand there and not even blink. If you’re reading this and you’re going “well for that kind of money…” yes, you… then YOU are part of the problem in today’s equine world.

No doubt, these horses should be broke, willing, and somewhat gentle. But at the end of every single day, they are still live animals. You did not purchase a quad, you purchased a living, breathing, 1,000 IB animal with a mind of its own.

As a buyer, you are expected to have enough knowledge to base your own opinion and act as you see appropriate. As a seller, we are expected to give you our honest opinions on the horses that we sell and do our best to represent them accordingly. What buyers tend to forget is that the seller, if a professional, will more than likely be much further along in their riding career than the buyer. What I see happening often is the buyer sees this horse riding flawless, bridleless, all over the world. Buyer decides they need this horse, so they move forward, and purchase said animal. A month later, they call unhappy. In most cases (and any seller reading this will agree) they are complaining because they “didn’t have time to ride him the last thirty days so they left him in a small corral sitting” they saddled the horse, got right on, and the horse was either stingy, snorty, maybe crow hopped because it’s a cold morning and he’s fresh, and joe blow fell off. Then they go onto to say how horrible of a seller we are and how unhappy they are with this experience. We have ALL heard it before. But they never stop to think about their actions and where they went wrong. Why let a horse off that amount of time that is used to having a day job? Why did you change his feed program? Why haven’t you at least been lunging him? Why didn’t you saddle him and leave him tied a few hours a day? Why didn’t you lunge him before getting aboard after weeks off?

These are all questions that go through the seller’s mind. Sometimes we don’t even argue because really, most of the buyers do think they are completely justified in their complaints and are impossible to get through too. Once in awhile you get the “I totally messed up and I need your help” phone call and man do we love those ones. Being kind, upfront and honest with us, goes a long way.

I had a buyer purchase a horse recently through an online sale. He was all cutting horse bred, a tick watchy on the ground but rode outstanding. All was clarified in the ad. I received a phone call as bidding closed and the man says, “I just bought your horse!” I responded, “I have never had someone buy without calling first, this is a first for me, but congratulations!” he then proceeded to tell me he wanted to use said horse for the sheriff posse unit. I explained it would take a lot of time and training to get that horse to that level of gentle and that with his breeding it would be difficult. He said okay, very confident in his decision, and we set up a haul.

Flash forward 5 weeks: he calls me, explaining to me that the horse is a tick watchy and he thinks he may have made a mistake not calling first. He goes onto tell me that he really appreciates my help throughout the process and was wondering if I had a different horse in mind for him. I happened to have a gelding that was used at all the big rodeos as a pick up horse and was used to complete chaos, big, gentle and kind.

I priced him to him $4k cheaper than what he was advertised at and offered to consign his horse. He thanks me, about a million times. I sent him videos, and professional pictures, and he tells me to pull him from my website and consider him sold. He then proceeds to email me thanking me once more and asking for my address to send us a nice Christmas treat.

Moral of the story, I was more than happy to help this man. In fact, I enjoyed working with him and I was absolutely thrilled to get him fit to the RIGHT horse for him. No fault of his own for acting on the first horse he bought, he didn’t know, and he really thought he would be able to make it work.

We now have such a broad base of social media; you can google someone and find out every bad thing anyone has ever had to say about them. Which in my opinion is complete “snowflake activity” if you want to tell someone how bad you think they suck, just tell them privately, not everyone in the world needs to know your business anyway. But anyway, the biggest issue I see with social media is this: if you do one thing wrong, it is almost instantly posted… but if you do 100 things right, they are almost never posted about.

Don’t get me wrong we all make mistakes. Sellers included in “we”. Sometimes we do mess up, just like sometimes the buyers mess up. But if your seller is trying to help you, even just a little bit, be grateful. As much as you think we are entitled to do so; we are not. Generally, paperwork is signed and if paperwork is not signed, our websites and Facebook pages generally state our policies. We are helping you because we really do want to help. And sometimes, we will refuse. If you have owned a horse for 6 months plus, and you call me and complain to me that it now has EPM, no Karen, I am not going to refund you. Call your vet and get your horse treated. (yes, this has really happened).

I hope this read gives you a better understanding of your local “horse trader” (the good ones anyway) and I hope you now realize that unicorns don’t exist, although for the right price, you ought to be able to get pretty dang close.

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