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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Endurance Horse for Sale! - Part 1

Sorry Folks, Farley isn't for sale.

I think it's very interesting the perception of what a good endurance prospect acts like according to a non-endurance person, versus the skills actually necessary for a good endurance horse.

After perusing ads, I've discovered that the following characteristics make a Good Endurance Prospect:
  • Just wants to go and go and go
  • Never seems to get tired
  • Lots and lots of energy
  • Competitive, wants to be first
  • Loves the trail
  • Fast


Endurance is a neat sport because so many different types of horses can do it. However, there are skills that endurance horses do possess! I swear it's not about just pointing the horse down the trail and saying "go get'em!" :)

Since I have two soap boxes to stand on, loosely related, we shall call these posts:


Part 1 - Endurance Horse Ads - Make the buyer happy!

Part 2 - Just what skills does endurance require anyways?

Part 3 - Pointed Questions


Yes, being an endurance horse requires skill.....

Having a well written ad that lists the specific skills of an endurance horse (hint hint does not involve a horse that runs and runs and runs.....and runs until it kills itself) will help sell the horse and will generate much less eye-rolling on the part of someone actually looking for an endurance horse!!!!!

This of course, isn't limited to the endurance world. I see ads all the time describing a 6 month old colt as a "fabulous eventer/jumper prospect" because it has "jumped out of every corral we own!". Which is roughly equivalent in endurance terms to the phrase: "runs really fast all the time and doesn't get tired!"

A well-written ad doesn't equal a good horse, but I wish it did! So make my life easy and follow the rules please?

Of course, irony seems to control horses and life in general.....a well written ad doesn't necessary correspond to an equally nice horse, and vice-versa. So, even when I see an ad that causes a *head to desk* moment, I a fabulous endurance horse behind this ad?

Farley's ad wasn't all that descriptive:

  • bay, arab mare. 7 years old. 14.3 hands. Good horse, does everything, endurance etc.. $1800 (This was November 2007, before the horse market truly fell apart here in central California. I swear - this was the entirety of the ad!)

Yet, she's worked out wonderfully.

Here's another ad. It's well written, describes the personality requirements that will probably make a good endurance horse. (I've deleted all of the info that could possibly identify the specific horse, you will see why in a minute) -

  • Athletic Al Marah bred endurance prospect $3500, Mare, Grey, Age: 5, 14.1H, 900 lbs, , Al Marah bred, sweet Arab mare. Very friendly, loves attention and loves people. Perfect trail/endurance horse for teenage girl or lady. Greenbroke. 90 days with a trainer and loves going down the trail. Not spooky, playful, clips, bathes, ties. Huge, hard feet, good bone, has never had shoes. Never even got ouchy going over rocky trail. Has been up and down hills, through manzanita, over logs, on the road. Not bothered by bicycles or cars. $3500 OBO, (FYI this is also a November 2007 ad)
I actually DID check out this horse, a week or two before I met Farley. During conversations prior to looking at the horse, I confirmed that it loaded, among other non-negotiable criteria. was a wasted trip. Here is an excerpt from an e-mail describing the visit to my aunt, soon after the visit:
  • "mmm....where do I start. She hadn't been ridden in a year, which was fine. Lady put the saddle on and climbed up. Got her into a very little trot, that lasted less than 30 seconds and then stopped. Lady asked (very nicely) for a trot again, and again and again and again and the horse did a tiny rear. Lady stopped. I got on. I walked her around. Then asked for a trot. Got one. very slow. She tried to stop. I asked again. She said yeah right. I demanded. she reared. I demanded again, she reared higher etc ect etc. Finally lady comes in and says "here let me lead you around...." and that was it for me....Getting a trot was a fight and a canter out of the question. This little horse had probably not been made to do anything in her entire life which is a shame because she was very nice. Did not load well. So there were a couple of reasons I rejected her: Wrong personality and would require too much retraining for the money"
In the first ad, if the seller had been more descriptive about the horse's specific skills, Farley may have gotten more lookers (not that I'm complaining). Even though she was all that was promised, not everyone has the time to follow up on slim leads! No information is given to give the buyer confidence that the seller even knows what is required of the horse during endurance! The only reason I even went to look at Farley was because she was the right gender, size, and breed. Nowadays I would be much more picky about specific criteria because I don't have the time to follow up on every single likely candidate. I would argue that this ad is STILL better than an ad that lists such qualifications as "runs really fast all the time and doesn't get tired"; as the ad with no info gives the seller the benefit of the doubt.....where as the latter confirms a lack of knowledge.

The second ad is an example of a well written ad....If I was looking for a horse today, I would probably skip over Farley's ad and instead check out an ad like this one. Even if the horse that this specific ad was for didn't exactly work out, it was still a well written ad that highlights the characteristics that make this a good endurance prospect.

Of course....there was a small problem with honesty with the second ad......Be honest! Dishonesty through omission only hurts the seller. I was absolutely disgusted after leaving. A lot of time and effort was made to see this horse and it could have been easily avoided through honest assessment of the animal (I will give the seller the benefit of the doubt and assume she was unaware of the reality of the horse's behavior). I don't expect a full disclosure of the past history of the horse, but I think all communications between seller and buyer should be honest. If I ask a pointed question, I expect an honest answer, especially if it's something I'm going to find out about anyways when I come see the horse! Although a well written ad might get the buyers foot in the will quickly slam shut if the horse is remarkably different.

Accepting Applications!

I like to think of the for sale ad as a resume and cover letter - it lets potential buyers know if the horse conforms to their basic requirements. A well written ad should be detailed enough to let the buyer know if it roughly conforms to their basic criteria, but not so detailed a potential buyer is turned off because of a detail that really is insignificant to the overall picture. The for sale ad is the first step in the conversation between seller and buyer. A well written for sale ad saves time and energy - the buyer doesn't want to waste their time with a totally unsuitable horse, and the seller doesn't want to waste time communicating with a buyer looking for a totally different kind of animal.

Farley's for sale ad might include the following:
  • Eats and drinks well at rides
  • Barefoot
  • Great recoveries - is able to trot (mounted) into gate and goes at Tevis and reach criteria in less than 1 minute
  • Does well in hot weather
  • Showing training level dressage, schooling first level
  • Calm and sweet, suitable for a beginner in the arena, confident beginner on the trail. Recommend intermediate rider for competitive endurance rides because she is forward with a big trot, but a confident beginning who is comfortable at a trot would be fine.
  • Conditioning rides done in a hackamore
  • Proven endurance record
  • Very gentle on the ground, good manners, easy on fences.
  • Learning to jump (18"-2'). Very honest.
  • Doesn't need a long warm up - is easy to ride, even if she's been off for a while.
  • Sensible

During the phone conversation, I would share additional details with the buyer such as:

  • Occasionally pulls back when tied when startled and when hits the end of the rope.
  • Healed minor bow. No problems with it, sucessful endurance career after bow, recent ultrasounds showing normal fiber patterns
  • Healed front splints
  • Has a big wither (plus and minuses....)
  • Is not crupper trained
  • Is not efficient at the canter - dressage is helping tremendously but it's still a work in progress.
  • Occasionally bucks. It's small and very manageable, but it does happen.....
  • Most of the time she starts competitive rides on a loose rein.....but occasionally (~2 starts a year) she's fairly hot.
  • Lazy in the arena
  • I have fired a pistol off of her, but she still needs work if going to be used in pistol competitions.
  • Probably best for a feather or light weight rider, although a medium weight would do fine if they rode and weren't just a passenger....

During the actual physical visit, if asked I would provide additional information such as:

  • the wire cut on the foot occured prior to my ownership and has not caused any issues since I have owned her.
  • Teeth need to be floated regularly (at least once a year at this point).
  • A hard keeper since starting in 100's, but easy keeper if out of work.
  • Loads fine in my 3 horse trailer, however was inconcsistent in my 2 horse straight load. As I have not tried loading her in anything by a slant since selling the 2 horse, I'm not sure how she would load in a straight load today.
  • Any other questions the buyer might have! (part 3 of the series will be on good questions to ask a seller...)


  1. I cannot believe the ad was asking $3500 for that horse! She reminds me of a horse I looked at for a friend. The horse absolutely refused to trot in hand, even with a whip. To my surprise, the owner agreed to get on to show us "how the horse went" and she was thrown off in less than 60 seconds. My golden rule is always watch someone else ride the horse first. Ironically, the only time I have broken this rule was when I tried the horse who would become mine. As with love, sometimes you just know.

  2. I always laugh at the ads bragging about a horse top tenning it's first couple of rides. Even worse when they'd won or top tenned a LD ride.

  3. Fiddle's profile (via a rescue) said that she was 15 hands. age 3. By the time she was adopted the first time (a year prior to me) she was 15.2, and she'd grown another inch between age 5 and 6. If I'd known how freakin' huge she'd finish (at age 7.5!) I wouldn't have considered her...and missed out on the mare she has grown to be. She really is too tall for me, but we've learned to compensate.

    Like enduranceridestuff, I hate to see ads for a horse that has top tenned the first 5 rides, ESPECIALLY for a horse that isn't 7 years old yet. Too much too fast, IMHO. Someday you may HAVE to slow down (metabolic or safety issues, for example), and might not be able to convince the horse to do it. Thanks but no thanks.

    Great topic!

  4. Makes me think of the time our mutual friend DL answered an ad for a free horse and it seemed just fine when she went to visit it but then when pick up time came it was a lunatic. So she knew it had been doped the first time. And she then said no thanks and drove off.

  5. Val - how funny! Both of the horses I ended up with (Minx and Farley) I never saw anyone ride them either before mounting up. Which is funny because now I'm very very concious of the horse's I ride and very rarely will get on a horse not mine. I think I bought Farely when I was still willing to ride just about anything......good thing I got over that!

  6. I just want to add that a first-time buyer (like I was a year ago) or a rider switching to a completely different discipline would do best buying from a reputable breeder/trainer.
    Craigslist and online ads have their place but there are so many things to consider when buying a competition horse, you don't also want to worry about dealing with crooks, backyard breeders, liars, or just well-meaning but incompetent "trainers."
    I felt completely taken care of by the trainer I bought my horse from and was assured of her professionalism when she vetted me as much as I vetted her and her horse. I took a lesson with her, went on a trailride, observed her training and helped around the barn. I learned a lot from her and we remain in touch to this day.
    So a great first-time buyer experience ;)

  7. I bought a really great endurance horse just about 9 months ago thru Craigslist. I didn't ride him or watch the owner ride him first. It was just dark by the time I could go get him. I took him on pedigree alone and he was a great price! Plus, I knew as long as he was half way broke to ride I could ride him. And no he had never done endurance before.

    I guess, I did sort of the same thing with my wonderful mare. I didn't ride her or watch someone else ride her. I traded another mare I had for her at an endurance ride. But she got there late at night. In the morning I rode the ride (on another horse) then by the time we were done. My ride (I came with another lady in her trailer) was ready to go. So I just glanced her over and then loaded her up. The owner said I could bring her back in a couple weeks if I didn't like her. Good thing I did because she is about 6 hours away from me.

    I like the post but why? Are you looking for another horse?

    When bored, I like to check the local craigslist for Arabs. I like to look at the (good and bad) ads. And hope all the horses find good homes.

    BTW, I'm not recommending my way of buying a horse. Funny thing is, if I were selling a horse. I wouldn't let the horse go until I seen the new owner ride the horse and see that they are a suitable match.

    Oh, and I'd recommend pre-purchase vet checks. Can't say I've always used them but have a few times.


  8. Not looking for another horse, but I think like most people I keep an eye out and read different ads. Mostly I compare Farley to what's out there.


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