Before the days of the internet, the only way to research a person in the horse industry was by word of mouth. The problems with this is that 1.) some people are reluctant to “bad-mouth” another person so they may hesitate to tell you so-and-so stiffed me on the sale of a horse; 2.) I’ve found that some of the most bad-mouthers are the very people you should avoid!; and 3.) you may not be in the loop to even know the people to talk too.
Well, the internet for better or worse has changed all of that.
For example, what I have learned from my local horse message boards is that two frequent posters are clearly horse traders. No one needs to say anything (though in the history of posts there have been flame wars which you can read), because their own posting (ridiculous photos of horses who aren’t all that, being advertised for $5,000 plus – in this economy?) has rather disclosed their own nature.
On Craigslist, a frequent pony sale person (and you know I’m always looking at the pony photos) has a consistent pattern of suddenly posting a ‘family’ pony they have owned for years suddenly for sale… the only problem is that it’s a different pony every week!
Both of these horse traders have tried to get a bit more tricksy by changing their location on their ads – though posting the same phone number with the same people in the photos are a dead giveaway.
Another interesting place to garner information is the RipOff Report. I had suspicions about a horse carrier that serves my area, and sure enough I found plenty of information about him here. Just do a search for “horse” or “equine” or “stable” or “farm” and you will get an eyeful. Check out HorseTraderTricks too.
Obviously, anyone can say anything on the Internet but when you read report after report, with many people collaborating the same thing, that should at least be a red flag for caution.
Having been a riding instructor myself, and barn manager, I thought people in the business would conduct themselves with a level of professionalism on the Internet, realizing of course that posts on message boards becomes history anyone can read. Apparently some people are still too naive to figure this out.
An interesting event that happened recently was I had posted, requesting relocation information to KCK,on a message board that serves that area. I had already compiled a list of possible barns to move the horses too, and one of those stables we will call StableNatural – because on her website the care she gives her horses synchs with my own philosophy – was actually my top pick to check out.
Imagine my surprise that my simple request, released a very terse, unpleasant and rather rude post by the owner of StableNatural! She immediately attacked me posting on this board and stated I should go look at Craigslist for that information and not bother them.
OTOH, I got a lot of other very informative posts from others, one of which was also attacked by StableNatural!
Since them I’ve been monitoring this message board and it’s dominated by postings by StableNatural to promote herself, her horses, her clients, etc… but rest assured, I will not be one of her clients.
My advice: do your research! Enter names, phone numbers, etc… and read what you can, if there is anything available to read – even photos are traceable. Thank goodness for the Internet! Where you can make up your own identity and lie all you want but where it eventually catches up to you!