Andrew Shiels takes a tongue-in-cheek look at horse advertising.
Caveat emptor “let the buyer beware” is regularly referred to when people talk about buying horses. So what does this quaint-sounding bit of Latin really mean? Broadly, it is taken to represent the principle that the buyer alone is responsible for assessing the quality of a purchase before buying. The only exception to this is where the seller has actively concealed defects.
Anyone who has gone to look at more than a handful of horses for sale knows that sometimes the description is hard to match with the horse or pony when you see it. With that in mind, I got to thinking about just exactly what the phrasing of “for sale” ads might mean and came up with these very much tongue-in-cheek alternative interpretations of often used phrases.
3 great paces: will walk slowly, medium or fast but nothing else!
A bit bog burnt: dying of starvation!
A load of fun: those watching you ride will enjoy watching you get bucked off!
A rare find: just in off the mountain!
Aged: no teeth and might die soon!
Broken and riding: be prepared to get bucked off once every time you ride!
Cribs occasionally: has eaten his/her way through the stable door!
Delivery arranged (1): if you saw how long it takes to box him/her we know you’d walk away!
Delivery arranged (2): Nobody came to see her/him when advertised before!
Easy to handle: provided you have protective clothing!
Easy to box: only takes four hours and five people!
Excellent on the road: useless everywhere else!
Excellent breeding: has distant relative who once won something abroad!
Excellent mover: will gallop to bucket of feed when in field!
Exceptional quality: normal!
Extremely quiet: dead!
Fast in jump off: no brakes!
First to see will buy: nobody thinks he/she’s worth looking at!
Forward going: leaves rider on the floor in yard!
Genuine: will do whatever it wants whenever it feels like it!
Genuine reason for selling (1): I’m sick of this old nag!
Genuine reason for selling (2): I realise now what a crappy horse I bought!
Gets on well with other horses (1): hates all other creatures, especially humans!
Gets on well with other horses (2): regularly eats small ponies!
Giveaway price: nobody came to look at her/him!
Good temperament: just out of therapy!
Great little mover: weaves so much that it must be sold!
Happy hacker: absolutely refuses to jump and cannot canter!
Has done dressage: was once in an arena with letters!
Has done everything: in need of retirement!
Has done hunter trials: stopped at every jump and dumped rider off!
Has done some cross country (1): refused at first and ran back to box!
Has done some cross country (2): regularly escapes from field!
Has jumped 120 at home: refuses to jump anything in competition!
Huge potential: hasn’t done anything but where there’s life there’s hope!
Ideal lead rein pony: danger, absolutely no steering!
Ideal hunter: no brakes and little steering!
Loves to jump: will not stand still under any circumstances!
May consider a swap: this horse is killing me, anything would be better!
Must be 5 star home: we don’t care who buys him/her!
Needs competent rider: completely insane with no brakes or steering!
Never kicks or bucks: close to death!
No bad habits: not until you get him/her home anyway!
No timewasters: excludes all existing horse owners!
No vices: see No bad habits!
Not forward going (1): rushes backwards!
Not forward going (2): died last Thursday!
Only for sale due to lack of time: I have completely lost patience with this old nag!
Open to offers: I can’t even give him/her away!
Plenty of feather (1): ad should have been worded as “parrot for sale”!
Plenty of feather (2): rampant mud fever!
Professionally schooled: only to be ridden by the most experienced!
Re-advertised due to timewasters: nobody came to see her/him or even called!
Rider outgrown: too many sweets and biscuits!
School Master: will take complete control of all but the best riders!
Sold as seen: not open to vet, we know what she/he would find!
Suitable for novice rider (1): unsuitable for anyone else!
Suitable for novice rider (2): only goes in walk!
Suitable for beginner: likes to stand still a lot!
Totally bombproof: dead (there is no such thing as bombproof)!
Totally reliable: dead!
Very safe around children: has been known to attack adults!
Very flashy: no brakes or steering, start your ride in Wexford and finish up in Sligo!
Very quiet hunter: frightened of foxes, hounds and red coats!
Well marked: rain scald and bruises all over the body!
Will go to the top in any field: just leave him/her out at grass!
Would make top eventer: if only you could get a saddle on him/her!