1. Genuine dealers rely on their reputation and trade openly – you’ll find many advertising in Horse Deals – so do your homework to find a yard with a good name.
2. While it’s often said that buying from a dealer is more expensive – like all businesses, they have to make a profit – in real terms it can be far more cost effective. Those who assess horses and riders for a living know which partnerships are likely to work, and you shouldn’t find you’ve driven miles to see a 16.1hh potential show jumper that turns out to be a 15.2hh who falls through every fence.
3. You may find a dealer can change preconceived notions about the sort of horse you need. When Anna Urda went to Emma Hinkley’s Clip Clop Traders in Sussex to look for an event horse, for example, she visualised buying an Irish Sports Horse type. “Instead, I found a 15hh piebald part-cob,” she says. But though Cracker – or Beau, as she calls him at home – might not be the stereotypical event horse, he meets all Anna’s requirements and more. “When I bought him, it was the first time I’d been to a dealer and I thought I’d go there and find all the horses looking dirty and scruffy. It wasn’t like that at all – Emma was lovely and told me which horses I should try and which wouldn’t suit me. She was totally honest about Beau and he’s been a star.”
Famous horses who’ve started life in a dealer’s yard include:
• Event rider Sharon Hunt’s Tankers Town, on whom she won team bronze at the 2008 Olympics, came from Irish dealers Shaun and Sally Parkyn, who have a great record in discovering potential world-class performers.
• Zara Phillips’ Toytown was just one of many horses that have passed through Carron Nicol’s hands. Carron, who runs European Sport Horses in Warwickshire, sold him as a green eventing prospect. Toytown, who has now retired, carried Zara to European and World individual titles.
• Donal Barnwell, who specialises in selling event horses and show jumpers both privately and through the Billy Stud he runs with show jumper William Funnell, sells to professional and amateur riders. He likes to buy athletic three-year-olds that are usually sold as four- to six-year-olds from his Sussex base and his customers include William Fox-Pitt and Andrew Nicholson. Meanwhile, Billy Stud’s home-bred stock is now making a mark worldwide.
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