Telling your storiesfrom the stables to the fields

01 November,2017

Caveat Emptor…“let the buyer beware”

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!


Image Credit: Kicky Brand



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