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Beware when Buying or Selling

Recent cases where things have gone ‘pear-shaped’ have prompted us to post about this subject again.


It is extremely stressful for everyone involved, not to mention the poor horse.

There can be MAJOR, very expensive consequences for naivety when buying and selling horses. The same goes for purchasing property intended for equines.


A Buyer can spend a lot of money purchasing a well-mannered, healthy, impeccably trained horse, but because they didn’t understand how the change of grasses (along with other aspects of the diet) when it gets to their place, that same horse can develop issues that genuinely weren’t there before in a very short space of time.


Their first thought is that the seller must have drugged the horse before they got there to view him. This is very unlikely to be the case.


What they have failed to take into account is how much influence their different pasture has on the horse’s metabolism.

When you change a horse’s environment, in particular his forage you cannot just expect him to necessarily be the same horse as before. He may be - but equally he may not be.

Timing is an important factor. Often the horse IS the same until Spring or Autumn come along.

For instance we know of people who purchased a horse in winter but as soon as the spring grass came through, serious head-flicking appeared. On investigation they find out that the horse had actually been a head-flicker before they bought him but in winter they were not symptomatic.


Most horses adapt well to their new owner despite the fact they may ‘speak a slightly different language’ as is evidenced by the fact that horses are often perfectly fine at their new home for the first few weeks, even months.


However if the new home has unsuitable grass, especially if it includes any clover, or if it has been fertilized, the effects can kick in virtually overnight.

For example - a few years ago there was a 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’.


Blaming the previous owner seems logical to the new owner if they don’t understand how grass can have that effect on horses.

And sending a ‘Grass-Affected’ horse whose nervous system is compromised by mineral imbalances, off to a ‘trainer’ is certainly NOT the answer and in fact can end up making the situation worse because these are ‘bio-chemistry’ problems not ‘training’ ones.

The solution is to take the horse off the offending grass and feed adlib non-clover, non-lucerne hay with an appropriate feed.


Depending on the individual case the horse would return to his normal self within a few weeks. It takes time for the metabolism to adjust back to how he was before.

Over this period it is important to leave the horse alone apart from caring for him as it is too risky to be handling a horse that is not functioning normally, they are liable to be unpredictable, over-reactive and not themselves.


There is obviously potential for the same scenario to eventuate when changing properties which involves relocating your own horses.


If you are buying a lifestyle block for the purpose of keeping horses (and possibly ponies for your kids) – we strongly advise not to even consider any property which has been a dairy farm or any place that has been commercially fertilized. It is very upsetting to find out after the fact that the grass isn’t safe to graze your horses!


The moral of the story is, that if you are selling a horse, you need to check out where that horse is going, what sort of grass he is going to be on and have a list made out of exactly how and what you are feeding with a paragraph on the Sales Agreement saying that you do not guarantee that this horse will be the same on another property.


If you are buying a horse, the onus is on you to make sure you can provide the horse with suitable pasture, have plenty of suitable hay available and are willing to keep the hard-feeds the same for at least a reasonable period of time after arrival.


Education is the key to avoiding pitfalls and booby-traps! We are trying to help you avoid these situations.



PIC: Cathy riding her big Grass Affected Tb Nibbler.

Nibbler came down from the North Island with Cathy and literally went from’ Jekyl to Hyde’ overnight! He had gone from hill country station grass to a paddock of very green grass with clover.

Cathy's very first ride 2 days after arriving in the South Island ended with a severely torn thumb ligament and a very puzzled Cathy!

You can read about their (often) perilous journey together here...

"If I knew then what I know now, I would NEVER have ridden him until I sorted out his diet!'.

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