There are so many ways to go wrong when it comes to buying a horse. The worst way of all, most professionals agree, is sight unseen. But that was before the Covid-19 pandemic upended the world and all bets were off. At least that’s what my trainer Nancy Hartman and I decided this past summer when I bought a horse on the basis of videos alone.
Before I met Nancy I’d been looking for a horse for a while with no success. Each time I found a promising mount, he or she was inevitably “out on trial” or already sold. Apparently I was searching for the same horse as every other would-be horse owner: a 2’6” hunter packer with some sort of show record. Even after I increased my budget and lowered my standards, it was never quite enough to achieve success.
When I described my predicament to Nancy, she said, “I’ll find you a horse.” Nancy is the general manager and trainer at Mosefund Farm in Branchville, New Jersey and, as everyone who rides there can attest, Nancy is a woman of her word—and of action as well. Nancy trained at Crabet Park Equestrian Centre in England and has been coaching hunt seat riders all over the Northeast for almost fifty years. She not only knows her stuff but lots of people as well.
Nancy put the word out among her contacts and began checking out any horse that seemed promising on various Facebook sales groups. She turned up two horses fairly quickly in the nearby Hudson Valley of New York. One horse, an experienced show hunter, had been for sale for a while and his price had come down within range of my budget. The other horse, a 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding described as kind and experienced, had just been posted on “Hunters, Jumpers & Equitation Unicorns,” one of Nancy’s favorite Facebook groups. Nancy was one of sixty people who had contacted the seller within hours of the post, she told Nancy, who arranged for us to try both horses right away.
The experienced show horse (who we tried at HITS Saugerties) turned out to be rather high strung. After he spooked at a culvert next to the warm up ring, we realized he wasn’t a good fit for a nervous middle-aged rider like me. The kind and experienced Thoroughbred, however, was exactly that. In fact, Nancy and I liked him so much we arranged the pre-purchase exam the following day. Alas, the exam revealed advanced kissing spine so we continued the search. This time, Nancy began searching a bit further afield—well beyond driving range of New Jersey, in fact. (MORE)