How to avoid selling scams when buying a horse

When buying a horse or pony it is important to be aware that some unscrupulous horse dealers and even private sellers may use selling 'scams' or dodgy sales practices to push up prices and sell on unsuitable or even possibly dangerous horses or ponies.

Caveat emptor 'let the buyer beware' is particularly appropriate when purchasing a horse.

Some of the examples of equine scams may sound far fetched but it can be very easy for people to be taken in by someone with a horse for sale who appears to be trustworthy.


  • Horses that are not the vendors to sell - they may be on loan
  • Faked competition results
  • Seller taking a "finder's fee"
  • The horse or pony not being as described in the advertisement
  • Horses being doped to make them calmer or to mask lameness
  • A seller providing false references
  • A horse dealer pretending to be a private seller
  • Horses being worked hard before you view them to make them appear more docile - watch out for sweat marks!


If the horse for sale is registered for competition or is a recognised breed, you can check with the relevant breed or equestrian sporting organisation that the seller is its current owner. This will be much easier if it is currently competing.

A horse's passport or vaccination certificate should give the owner's name.

Always get a horse or pony thoroughly vetted before you buy. You can ask for blood samples to be taken check if the horse has been doped with tranquilizers of has been given anti-inflammatories to mask lameness or other causes of pain.

check a horse's competition record when buying


Sellers can also be scammed.

Many online equestrian advertisers have been contacted with dubious offers by individuals involved in attempted internet-based scams.

The supposed buyers are nearly always based overseas and make contact by email.

The purchasers then promise to send a cheque that more than covers the cost of the horse and transportation, before asking the seller to wire the excess amount back to their agent.

The cheques, if they ever arrive, bounce.

Always insist on exact payment only and under no circumstances, part with goods until payment has COMPLETELY cleared .

Avoid selling scams when buying a horse or pony - be aware unscrupulous horse dealers and private sellers may use dodgy sales practices to push up prices and sell unsuitable or dangerous horses