There have been several cases lately where people have sold horses to good people who have experienced an immediate change in the horse because of the change in the grazing.
The first thought is that people have been duped by the seller and rest assured, this is nearly always not the case.
It is a ‘booby trap’ that is very easy to fall in to.
• It is not uncommon for perfectly good horses to ‘turn bad’ when moved on to another home.
• Some people have bought well trained, well bred, very expensive horses from overseas only to have them develop ‘issues’ such as head-shaking or random bolting, when turned out on NZ pasture
• It is not uncommon for horses to be sold because they are deemed ‘difficult’ or ‘need an experienced rider’.
• Other horses end up as ‘dog tucker’ because they have scared or hurt their owner with their Grass Affected ‘behaviour.’
• Or they are put down because they have become too ‘high maintenance’ or are just ‘too much trouble.’
• Sadly some horses are euthanized because no one can get to the bottom of the problem. We are often the last stop for horses for whom everything else has failed.
Most people are under the mistaken idea that having access to a reasonable sized paddock of grass is all you need in order to be able to own a horse.
That’s what we thought years ago too but as with most things there is more to it.
That’s the purpose of this page: to help people understand what goes wrong and what to do about it, thereby avoiding all these scenarios.
A pony who was known to be over-sensitive and sometimes explosive, is sold to a new home with full disclosure but no vetting of the new home.
The new owner did not believe in ‘Grass Affected’ horses and turned the pony out onto spring grass (rye/clover).
Three days later she went to ride the previously very quiet pony and, on saddling, he bucked like a rodeo bronc. This pony has been put to sleep.
Recently we were contacted by another woman, who sold a pony, which had been grazing coastal, dry grass and hay and had been really well behaved, to some people who had lush green grass.
Within a couple of days the horse is pulling back and ‘won’t go’. Their first thought is that the pony has not been broken in properly and that the sellers had been dishonest.
A few years ago there was a Disputes Tribunal case which arose because a horse which was deemed ‘bomb-proof’ by the seller, whose property was hill country, was sold to some people in Taranaki who lived on a dairy farm.
Within a few weeks the horse was spooking violently and they wanted their money back. Of course the seller was angry because in her eyes they had ruined the horse and the buyers were upset because they thought they had been ‘duped’.
Another, very accomplished show pony was sold for a large sum as the daughter had outgrown him. The new owners travelled north and spent the weekend learning all about him before they bought him. They received a thorough briefing on how to manage the pony especially over spring. They eventually moved him down to their own property, all went well and the new owner even won some ribbons.
However, come spring they obviously failed to follow the advice they had been given and the pony started bucking. The new owners decided they wanted their money back.
This case also went to the Dispute’s Tribunal and incredibly, the original seller lost despite the several months that had elapsed between the purchase and all the trouble starting.
We were involved in this case but were up against the fact that the ‘referee’ knew nothing about horses and did not find it remotely plausible that the pasture grass could be the cause of the problems, meaning that this was a ‘management’ issue not a ‘naughty pony’ issue.
The full purchase price had to be refunded.
We soon found a new home for this pony with people who understood and he did not cause an ounce of trouble thereafter, taking kids to pony club and winning many more ribbons. Of course there had been nothing wrong with him all along other than the pasture he had been consuming.
Meanwhile the poor sellers had been through hell over the whole stressful and very unpleasant business.