About a year and a half ago, I was fortunate enough to have my first assistant join my program. I consider this a good thing because quite frankly, no one believed the stupid shit I put up with on a daily basis, and now I was blessed with a witness. At the time, I'd made a semi-decent living (for a college kid) buying horses off of Craigslist and other non-horse-specific classified sites, mainly benefitting from the ignorance of owners who had decided their horses were "too green" (which really means "too smart"), or "just junk, lame horses" (those were always my favorite). If the ad said "MUST GO!" we usually went and got it, spent a few months putting a brain back in its skull, teaching it some useful skills (NOT treating humans like scratching posts, vending machines, and crash-test dummies, for starters), and then selling it for a bit of a profit to someone much more qualified to own it than the person we bought it from.
It didn't take long before my assistant and I coined a term I still use today "Stupid-Owner-Syndrome" or S.O.S., as we called it when the owner was standing right there trying to sell us their horse. S.O.S. really means “This person is too goddamn stupid to own a guinea pig, let alone a horse”. When you say to your partner "Wow...this horse has REALLY bad SOS, I don't know if we can do anything with it...." the price gets cheaper! I've also noticed that when we showed up at these houses and it takes me three and a half minutes to turn a jackass, pushy, disrespectful horse into a nice, soft, cooperative partner, that 99% of the time, the owner had already written off the horse we were looking at and was too busy wandering around with their thumb up their ass or working on ruining ANOTHER horse to pay much attention to what I was doing. Perhaps if some of these owners had spent a minute or two watching what we did, they'd have nicer horses. But then again....
Because of my increasing frustration with driving all over Michigan and Ohio to pick up SOS horses, and the fact that I have NO desire to wear out another tow vehicle with the mileage I was driving, I’ve since changed direction and prefer to get my project and rescue horses from auctions now. Quite frankly, it’s a great deal more fun to piss off several different meat buyers in one location, plus the people watching is something you really can’t fully embrace until you’ve sat in the stands at some of these places. It’s fantastic. Think “People of Wal-Mart” plus some Amish influence, then add beer, more Lyrca, lots of camouflage and a few cowboy hats. I never heard a pair of pants cry in pain until I went to Vassar for the first time.
People lie at auctions, but their horses won’t, and I can deal with 20 stupid people trying to sell me their horse in the course of a few hours if it gives me the opportunity to look at 20 different horses. “Aw yeah, she’s real kid safe! That kickin’n’bitin’ thing she does is only cuz she’s nervous here!”. Yep, okay. I also understand that people are generally intimidated by auctions, and for good reason. Drugged up man-eaters, lame and abused horses, stuff you think you can save until you get it home and go “ohmygod, what the hell did I buy?!”, you could end up with any of them by simply raising your hand and bidding, if the one-eyed auctioneer sees you. I completely understand the aversion to buying from auctions, but let’s be honest, internet shopping and the Stupid Owner Syndrome that sometimes comes with it can often be even worse. So do me a favor, stay away from auctions (so I can buy cheaper), and buy your horses from the jackasses on Craigslist please (so I don’t have to deal with them). Thanks.
So in honor of it being springtime, and the fact that Craigslist is ripe with morons selling horses, I’ve decided to tackle some of the most frequently-seen clues that you’re dealing with Stupid Owner Syndrome in Craigslist ads, and what these phrases usually mean. I’m not going to include the ad link, because I’ll probably end up offending someone (gee, imagine that!). So I hope this helps!
“Barely green broke” – The horse has probably seen a saddle on a fence. Once.
“Too much for me” – They should have bought a dog. A small dog.
“Sometimes bucks” – Always bucks, and they allow it. Hire a PBR rider for 30 days to combat this one.
“Can be pushy” – The owners double as punching bags, feed it cookies by the bagful, and don’t have “NO” in their vocabulary. Odds are, you can push them around too and get the horse pretty darn cheap.
“Will trade for kid-safe horse” – They’re too stupid to have bought a kid-safe horse to begin with, but this one was cheaper!
“Bites sometimes” – Carry one of those hollow, plastic whiffle-ball bats when you go to look, and smack the owner upside the head with it. Very rarely can a horse NOT be taught proper manners, but something dangerously stupid, like this owner, needs to be stopped NOW.
“Needs some groceries” – When they don’t post a picture, plan on spending $500 in the first week trying to put weight and nutrients back into this horse.
“Not registered, good breeding stallion potential” – Dear lord, RUN. Well, grab the horse, then run…..all the way home and cut its nuts off. Then pray the owner doesn’t have kids and hasn’t passed on their brilliance.
“Only been a broodmare” – she probably doesn’t lead, has god-awful conformation, and no manners, but hell, SOMEONE will want to put a saddle on her after 15 years of baby-making, right?!
“Lame” – I got my one-in-a-million horse this way, a two-time world’s show western pleasure mare by a multiple world-champion sire that the owner bought to “make into a barrel horse”. He let some idiot with a pair of nippers and a rasp pretend to be a farrier and hacked apart this mare so badly she could barely walk. Then decided to dump her on Craigslist because she was lame. He never called a vet, never bothered to spend any time trying to figure out what MIGHT be wrong, just dumped her like yesterday’s trash. There’s not a damn thing wrong with this horse other than she had a dumbfuck of an owner and needed to grow some hoof back. To this day, I still jump at the opportunity to save any “lame” horse on Craigslist. You never know when you’ll find a diamond in someone else’s dumpster, and if you can get to them before the killers do, you’re doing the horse a HUGE favor.
“Foundered” – this usually means fat and crippled. Usually you can save them, but sometimes its kindest just to get them away from that particular owner who probably still has them on green pasture and put them down. Of course, sometimes “founder” doesn’t even really MEAN founder, it means the horse/pony is lazy and the owner is stupid. More often than not, that’s the real story.
“Needs work with the farrier” – He/She killed the last two farriers, but give the horse enough drugs to put them into a semi-conscious, three-legged stupor and they’re FINE!
I hope this was helpful…