BY Jamie Sindell
I am a tire kicker. Though not necessarily in the way you might think.
I’m a tire kicker because a “four figure “budget may be play money for some equestrians, but for me, it’s a big life decision and investment that impacts my whole family.
I’m a tire kicker because I see nice ponies and horses for sale online with no price tag and limited details. I’m doing the leg work to find something special that we can afford, so I ask questions. Where’s this pony located? Is it clocking around 2’6″ or is it feral? If you say, “fire sale” or “very motivated,” I might make a lower offer. It’s not because I’m a “time waster,” it’s because I’m not psychic. I can’t rub my crystal ball to predict your level of motivation.
I’m a tire kicker because I’m thoughtfully looking for the right fit. Something that will MOST LIKELY work for our situation, and that’s safe for my children. Would you rather me kick your tires or end up with a horse I’m forced to unload into a sketchy situation? Or even worse, you make a fast sale, but that pony hurts someone because of my impulsive buy.
I’m a tire kicker because I’m really, really worried. I’ve been screwed over a few times, even with a knowledgeable trainer in my corner and a good program. Sure, there are many reputable and caring sellers who put the welfare of their horses first. But there are also sellers trying to make a quick and easy buck. I can’t always tell the difference, so I must ask questions, request videos, and do my best to determine which kind of person you are.
I’m a tire kicker because I’ve dealt with horses and ponies that were misrepresented. And no, it’s not because I’m uneducated or “backyard.” It’s because the truth was stretched. I’ve purchased a pony that bucked constantly at the canter who “never bucked before!” I brought an “angelic small” in on trial who swung around and bit my daughter so hard it took a chunk out of her arm. I recently paid a vet out of state to look at a large that measured under by a hand less than I’d been told. I didn’t have the time or means to see the mare in person, so I passed. I hope if I’m careful and thoughtful about my decisions and the people I trust, I can prevent some horse-heartache.
I’m a tire kicker because I wait, and I watch. In the past, after scrolling through endless ponies online, I found my favorite large pony (who ended up Reserve Champion in the Hunter Colts and Geldings at Devon) off a few short videos and lengthy conversations with the agent. He was EXACTLY what the agent said he was, lovely in every way.
I believe wonderful things can happen again. I just bought a two-year-old small after scouring Facebook for months. My stomach churned into knots waiting for her arrival. Would she be demonic or truly a sweet youngster? So far, she’s as kind and darling as I hoped. The seller sent a carefully organized folder including her papers and pertinent information. Rather than skimping, she had her feet trimmed the day before she left. She’s asked me to keep in touch. This young pony was loved, not just a money grab. A tire-kicking win!
Here’s my suggestion: Be patient with tire kickers. I know it can be a frustrating process, having sold horses myself. Be willing to deal with buyers who want to make careful, educated decisions, people who may take their time and may not buy. These are the buyers who will respect you in the end because they are fully informed, and you represented that animal accurately and honestly. In the future, if they are on the hunt again, they’ll remember to come back to you because you aren’t out for the quick buck. Horses aren’t simply income to you, or disposable.
Ultimately, as a seller, do you care where your horses land? Do you value your reputation? Are you a good person who’s not just in this for money but also for the love of it? For the sake of the horse and the buyer, I hope you can say YES, YES, and YES.
Jamie Sindell has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Arizona and has ridden and owned hunters on and off throughout her life. She is a mom of five kids, ages 3, 4, 7, 10, and 13. She and her family reside at Wish List Farm, where her horse-crazy girls play with their small pony, Cupcake, and their newly purchased 2-year-old pony, Wish. Her son and husband play with the tractor.