Use some horse sense when horse trading

There are more than four million horse owners in the U.S. and this should interest many local horse owners.

The "horse" scam happens when the horse is purchased. Many a buyer's knowledge about horses is limited, particularly first-time buyers. A seller can take advantage of a rookie buyer to rid himself of his undesirable animal.

A story in my family is told on Uncle Barney who sold a pretty young filly to a neighbor. Two weeks later the neighbor asked, "Barney, did you know that horse is blind in the left eye?"

"Shhh," Barney said, looking around cautiously, "that's a secret. The guy who sold her to me didn't tell me either."

Sometimes horses that are difficult to handle are drugged and seem gentle and docile at the time of purchase. Next day you find a much different animal.

Another trick is to ride the horse hard the day before the sale. The horse is gentle because it is tired. Just wait.

There are horse dealers who falsify records of the animal's age and history. The age on the bill of sale is much younger than the animal you load into your trailer.

Here are some tips to avoid being scammed in a horse trade. Take someone w ith you who knows horses. Ask for a one-week trial period prior to paying for the horse. Test-ride the horse. You'll learn a lot about a horse in a week. Consult a veterinarian. Let him examine the animal prior to purchase, sorta' like taking a car to a mechanic before you buy it.

For those of you who offer stabling service, watch for horse dumping. This happens when a horse owner wants to get rid of an animal. The animal is delivered. A fee may be charged up front and the previous owner leaves never to be seen again. The horse now becomes someone else's responsibility.

It's important to check out phone numbers and addresses. It's also suggested that you protect yourself with a contract.

The "Pet Scam" is greatly compounded when dogs and birds are added to the list. Sorry, cat owners, but they are left out. Not much need for DNA on cats. Dog owners, however, are willing to pay for a DNA lab test.

The scam here lies with the company doing the testing. Some companies are reliable but you must avoid the ones that just want your money.

Do dog owners really test their pets' DNA? When the question was googled, we found 2,030,000 websites. If you want to know the DNA makeup of your pet, just google it. Prices range from $59.95 to $79 dollars. You may want to purchase the $44.90 kit. The information is there.

Scambusters report that "rare birds are going for a song." Very colorful birds are being offered at very low prices. The usual scheme: you wire the money and neither the money nor bird is ever seen again. Never wire money prior to purchase. Treat a request for up-front payment as a "red flag" warning.

Ted Hubert is president of Milam County TRIAD, a group that alerts the public to potential scams. Contact him at

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2009-08-13 digital edition

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