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Buying a Horse

How to avoid looking like an idiot when reading a horse sale ad (most common abbreviations explained)

The world is full of terms and abbreviations used in equestrian jargon and in horse sale adverts.

When you’re reading a horse sale ad, you should read it carefully and try to see what’s between the lines, because it’s often that which isn’t said that matters.

Sellers will easily omit bad points about the horse in order to get more people interested.

For example, if a horse is described as easy to catch, good with the farrier and dentist and loads well, it may mean that the horse has never been clipped (simply because there hasn’t been a need) or because it isn’t good to clip (because of previous bad experiences and lack of training).

It’s important to ask questions about anything that you don’t see in a sale ad and ask for more details on what is written in the ad.

If you don’t understand something, and a quick googling doesn’t yield any results, ask the seller to clarify what they mean.

There is no such thing as a stupid question, only you can be stupid for not asking a question.

Some common phrases used:

  • Backed – the horse has been introduced to a saddle, bridle and a rider on his back.
  • Backed and ridden away – the horse has been backed but not yet schooled.
  • Forward going – means he is responsive to leg aids but can also indicate a horse that likes to rush.
  • Easy to do – means generally well-mannered.
  • Green – means that the horse is inexperienced and requires a competent and experienced rider to train and educate it further.
  • Has competed – means that the horse has participated in at least one competition. Ask for more details because this doesn’t mean much if the horse has attended only one competition and not placed.
  • LR or Leid rein pony – is a pony that has been used for a child when being led on a lead rein. Although suitable as a lead rein pony the pony may not be suitable for when a child is ready to start riding without being led, as ponies can become used to being lead rein ponies or may have become lead rein ponies due to difficulties or poor training.
  • Not a novice ride – means the horse is not suitable for a beginner. The horse may need an experienced rider because he is inexperienced, lacking confidence, sensitive or difficult to ride.
  • Placed every time out – means that the horse has been placed at every show it has attended. However, the horse only needs to attend one show and have been placed (and it could have been a small class where all horses got placed) for this statement to be true. Ask more about the horse’s competition record.
  • Schoolmaster/schoolmistress: A well behaved and experienced horse that has seen it, done it and can school you or your kids in how to be a better rider.
  • Snaffle mouth/snaffle ride – means the horse has a sensitive and very responsive mouth and has been ridden in a snaffle bit – as opposed to a horse that is stronger or whose mouth is unresponsive and requires a stronger bit.

Some common abbreviations used:

  • AES: Anglo European Studbook
  • BCS: Body condition score
  • BD: British Dressage
  • BE: British Eventing
  • BSPS: British Show Pony Society
  • BSJA: British Show Jumping Association
  • BWB: British Warmblood
  • CB: Cleveland Bay
  • CHAPS: Coloured Horse And Pony Society
  • HT: Hunter Trials
  • ID: Irish Draught
  • ISH: Irish Sports Horse
  • KWPN: Dutch Warmblood
  • LDR: Long Distance Riding/rides
  • M&M: Mountain And Moorland
  • NF: New Forest
  • NPS: National Pony Society
  • ODE: One Day Event
  • OTTB: Off-Track Thoroughbred
  • PB: Part Bred
  • PC: Pony Club
  • PUK: Ponies UK
  • RC: Riding Club
  • SH: Show Hunter
  • SHP: Show Hunter Pony
  • SJ: Show Jumping
  • TB: Thoroughbred
  • WH: Working Hunter
  • WHP: Working Hunter Pony
  • XC: Cross Country


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