test What is the best way to get a reference for any equine professional? Pick up the phone and call the business and talk to the owner. Use the good sense that you were born with and have garnered during your years of experience dealing with people and walking around on this planet to get a feel for the person and business first. Ask what exhibitions, shows and equine events they participate in. Satisfy yourself as to how much experience the person has and whether they are an expert in their field. Ask for a list of magazine articles, speaking engagements, honors and accomplishments. Ask for sales statistics. Non professionals, horses traders and crooks wont have these.
Then ask that person for a list of QUALIFIED REFERENCES. Call or email these references. Ask a variety of questions.
Look on thier website for customer comments and testamonials. Look at the dates...there should be many and over a period of years, there should be recent ones as well. Look for evidence of repeat customers or referrals.
Look on the Show Pages, Brag Pages and Fox Hunting Pages. These should be the horses...speaking for themselves!
There are many ways to get good objective references about a business, their policies, a breeder or trainer and the horses that they sell. As far as the official record that a business has, the Better Business Bureau is a good indication. When a consumer has what they considered to be a bonifide complaint, they can register it there and it will be investigated and the businesses rating will reflect the disposition. Our policies were reviewed and established in cooperation with the Better Business Bureau. Honest businesses communicate their policies and follow them.
Ask for QUALIFIED REFERENCES. Qualified references include professionals with a known reputation in the field in which they are offering a reference. A QUALIFIED reference for the trainability of one of our Signature Crosses would be Brock or Leisha Griffith, Jerry King (Kings Cutting Horses), H&M Cutting Horses.
Veterinarians who have performed numerous prepurchase exams and radiographic diagnostics on our horses would include Dr. Jeff Beshear, Dr. Doug Daniels, Dr. Virginia DuChant, Tryon Clinic, Tryon NC, VAlley View Clinic Dover OH. Call us and we will provide their numbers as well as the numbers of the clients whose horses they vetted.
Ask for a list of satisfied customers. We are happy to provide a long list of satisfied customers who do not mind identifiing themselves and sharing their phone#, email and time relating their experiences.
What is the WORST way to get information about a business or individual?
Two of the worst and most unreliable sources that I can think of are:
1) a random "horse person" who repeats gossip or an opinion. The opinion of a random individual does not compare to a qualified professional that is not a competitor. If a random person seeks to give an opinion...consider what their qualifications are... how many draft crosses have they foaled, raised, trained, competed, foxhunted or sold, over the course of how many years, how many articles and books have they written on the subject?.... temper their opinion relative to their qualifications.. Just because someone at the barn or your trainer knows more than you do does not make them an expert or qualified to offer an opinion on the subject, business or professional being assessed.
2) an online forum or message list. These are both places frequented by novices, disguised competitors uninformed repeaters of unqualified information, bad customers, internet "loons" and all around cowards hiding behind anonymity. Please be careful when you pose the most innocent of questions such as "has anyone heard of..." what follows will be entirely unsubstantiated and potentially both financially as well as physically harmfull. Over the few years that these boards have been in existance. Dont expect the moderator of these boards to remove or gatekeep with regards to in accuracies or outright libel... leadership comes from the top... the quality of character of the moderator is reflected directly in the posts that he/she allows. Over the last few years I have spoken to people who have suffered the following damage as a result of message board attacks 1) Loss of thousands in revenue in as short a period as one week. 2) Loss of cleints and future business 3) tresspassing on their property 4) hacking of their website and susequent recovery cost of several thousand dollar. 5) malicious phone calls 6) Physical battery in the prescence of their children. So the next time you subscribe...ask yourself...do I want my name associated with some of the people on this board? (if your going to lie with the dogs..expect fleas)...am I willing to sanction the distruction that may be the result. Would I think the same if I were the victim? If you have been the victim of slander and libel as the result of internet based communication, we encourage you to look into your first amendment rights. Increasingly, as these attacks cause real damage, legislature is introduced to protect us from libel and slander.
What is “Internet” and “Farm Pricing”?
We have a 2 tiered pricing structure for two different types of purchases. We sell most horses at “Farm Pricing”. This is a FULL LIST PRICE, traditional horse sale and it includes a sales appointment and/or vetting of the horse if necessary.
We also sell horses at “Internet Pricing”. Internet pricing is highly discounted pricing for a cash, AS IS sale WITH NO SALES VISIT. Internet customers tend to be equine professionals, repeat customers and individuals who live a great distance from Virginia and are comfortable with purchasing horses in this manner.
Is the price "NEGOTIABLE"? The word negiatiate implies a compromise or give and take on boths sides. We are always negotiable on price in exchange for other considerations. For example...we are THE MOST negotiable on price to the person who shows up at an appt with a horse trailer and cash and we sell the horse AS IS all sales final with no vetting.
We are negotiable for straight forward Internet sales...(usually weanlings and yearlings) where the person wires the funds and sends a shipper.
We are LEAST negotiable on the full service sales appt, particularly if the appt is drawn out over time, the vetting is drawn out over time, we must meet a second or third time to obtain a trainer's approval etc etc....all of these things make a sale more costly to us and we are less able to be flexible on price in this type of time consuming sales process. Like all businesses we depend on cash flow and prompt payment...if you would like to ask us to be negotiable we will be EXPECTING to conclude the transaction and payment in less than 7 days. PERIOD.
Internet sales are not for everyone. Only those completely comfortable taking a horse “AS IS” at a greatly reduced price should consider an internet sale. If you have reservations regarding an internet sale, then an internet sale is not the type of sale that you should consider.
I am looking for a “special horse”… do you think that you have a horse that will meet my needs?
It is our mission to match individuals with sane, safe and sensible, sport horse quality draft crosses. We have the widest selection of this type of horse in North America and enjoy a reputation that we have worked hard to develop. We don’t sell horses that are not a good match and we don’t schedule appointments unless we think that we have several horses that meet the list of thoughtfully developed requirements that we have worked with you to define. If a person is seriously in the market for an honest, fairly priced draft cross, then we will have several to choose from. If we don’t have a horse, chances are the person may be unrealistic about price or the type of horse for which they are suited. We do host visits for persons that are not seriously looking or who may be looking for a "dreamhorse and are in no hurry" as well as those who have "looked at hundreds"... it is necessary to charge for our time in these cases...we ask that folks be as honest with us and considerate of our time as they would like us to be.
Can you send me a video?
It takes time, money and the cooperation of nature to produce a video. We will make any video immediately for someone willing to place a deposit on a horse or schedule a sales appt to look at several horses. We will make videos for folks when we feel that they are serious and that they are requesting a video for a horse that meets their requirements. We assess level of interest by deposits, scheduling of appts and phone calls. So if you would like a video...please call us Liz at 804.514.0595.
What can I expect from a sales appointment?
Prior to any visit, we will work with you and/or your trainer over the telephone, via email, using the website, our galleries, pictures and videos to develop a well thought out set of requirements. Some have compared this phase to “E Harmony for horses”… We will help you to decide what gender, size, colors, temperament, training level and disciplines your future partner could be. Working with your stated price range, we will develop and present a list of “candidate horses”. From this list, we will work further, delving into preferences, likes and dislikes and come up with a final list. Unlike many other sellers, we are not interested in luring you to our farm in the hopes that you will buy something. Our business and reputation are based on selling horses that are the right fit. We have no desire to see our horses resurface on the market.. If we don’t have at least 5 horses that meet your criteria, then we won’t waste your time..
We will schedule one sales appointment which will begin at 9:00 am and end at 3:00 with a veterinarian on-call for a prepurchase exam if necessary. We will meet you and your trainer at a facility that has a covered or indoor arena, so that weather and footing are not an issue. Most of the facilities that we use have access to trails or have a cross country course. We will bring up to 10 horses with us to the appointment. We bring the final candidates and then fill the remaining positions with those that we feel may also be suitable. We will have a professional rider with us who is currently riding the horses that you will see that day. In that way, you can see each horse ridden in a consistant manner and to the peak of it’s abilities. You are welcome to bring your trainer or other vested person, we simply ask that whoever you bring be involved early on and be “on-board” with the selection process . You will be able to see the horse ridden, and either you or your trainer can choose to ride whichever horses are of interest to you, in the arena, over jumps, or out on the trail or over coops and logs. Perhaps one of the best ways to know what to expect is to read what a customer had to write:
I've decided to wait until I have my Connemara cross sold to purchase another horse, and in the meantime, I've been given a TB cross from someone who has stopped riding. I do think about Precious however, and how much I enjoyed her!
The sales experience was very professional and well-organized. All the horses were fairly and honestly represented, and I appreciated the fact that you brought so many for me to try, even ones that I hadn't considered from your website. The facility was an excellent place to try out the horses and it was very helpful to have your rider show each of the horses first. All of them had exceptional temperments! Your sales policies are very clear and there was no pressure to purchase. Your desire to make sure that the match between horse and rider was a good one was evident.
I will definitely consider contacting you about available horses when I'm ready to buy and will gladly recommend your horses to anyone I know who is looking.
Most of our customers have commented that the difficulty was in choosing which horse from several that met their needs and appealed to them…
Your total outlay for horse shopping will be travel expenses to central Virginia and one day of your time away from work or your family.
Where are the horses listed on the site located?
All of the horses on the site are located on one of Virginia Sport Horses farm located in Central Virginia or our youngstock farm in South Carolina. Occasionally a horse that has been purchased by Virginia Sport Horses will be in route from the breeder or in training prior to arrival.
Who do you use as a trainer?
Our horses are all professionally handled and trained. We feel strongly about sending horses to be started with trainers who specialize in just that…starting horses… We use different trainers located in the states of Ohio, Kentucky, and South Carolina. We chose the training facility based on the needs of the individual horse. We do not give out the names or contact information of the trainers who we use, however we do give referrals to trainer’s who we have used in the past and are suitable trainers for our customers. Our horses are bred and selected from stock that we have found to be highly trainable and have a good capacity for retention of training. Most of our horses receive 30-60 days initial training and then receive up to 3 yrs of professional schooling here at our training facility in Virginia. The professional riders who work for VSH ON CONTRACT are also currently or have been professional thoroughbred trainers on the race track, race and/or steeplechase jockeys as well as dressage and hunter/jumper trainers. These individuals generally ride upwards of 10 horses per day and are extremely fit.
Are your horses PMU horses?
NO.... Several years ago, we placed many pmu foals each fall. Although there are still a handfull of PMU Ranches located in Manitoba Canada, most breed drafts, or quarter horses. Most of our horses are 2nd , 3rd or 4th generation crosses containing no more than 50% TB and derived from Clydesdale, Shire Percheron or Warmblood stock. We have well developed selection criteria that yield only the most focused, trainable and sensible of horses. Most of our horses today are horses that we bred specifically for our market.
Where do your horses come from?
We breed Shire Sporthorses , VSH Signature Crosses, and Connemara Crosses. We stand 3 stallions.. Our mares are Warmblood, American Warmblood, Shire, Shire/TB, Clydesdale, Clydesdale TB and Signature Crosses.
We purchase young stock from breeding programs in Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, North Dakota and Northwestern Canada.
What about delivery?
We assist customers to make the arrangements to ship horses throughout the continental US and Canada. We do, on occasion deliver horses to preferred customers in conjuction with our travels to training facilities, exhibitions and breeding farms.
What does it cost to ship a horse?
The cost of shipping varies with the location and the type of shipping service selected. Like everything in life, many options exist and you get what you pay for.. Most reputable transport companies have websites, are DOT licensed, and carry insurance. There are large shipping companies which ship in separate box stalls in air-ride lorries and semi-trailers as well as regional shippers who generally drive heavy duty trucks and gooseneck trailers. Some shippers always have 2 drivers, and stop frequently to overnight the horses. Often shippers that quote the lowest rates may do so, by having only one driver, no dispatcher, and taking on many horses to pickup and drop off along the route to drive down cost. This can translate into missed delivery dates, delays, and poor communications. Specialty horse shipping companies are also available which ship only one horse at a time.
Generally, we recommend shippers that we use frequently and have received positive feedback from our customers. If customers are interested to price shop, we can assist them with that as well. For the most part, it is usually possible to have your horse shipped to you for less than the true cost of doing it yourself once you factor in the cost of owning and operating a vehicle as well as fuel and your time.
What other costs may be the buyer’s responsibility?
A current coggins test and health certificate is required by law for the interstate transportation of a horse. A coggins and health certificate must be issued to and in the name of the current owner of the horse. If you purchase a horse and desire to transport it across state lines, it will be your responsibility to obtain a coggins test and health certificate. Farm call, coggins and health certificate costs were $133.00 in August 2008.
If you purchase a registered horse from us, transfer fees are not included in our sales price. The fees vary depending on the Breed Registry. Please inquire prior to purchase if you intend to register the horse so that we can give you an accurate assessment of what these charges may be.
If you purchase a horse and do not pick it up in 7 days, board will accrue at a rate of $20/day.
Does the horse that I am interested have any physical deformities or conformational flaws?
NO. While no horse is perfect… Our horses are CORRECT. They have the appropriate conformation to qualify as prospects for the listed disciplines. I (Liz) have inspected thousands of horses for purchase over the past 10 years, have written articles and given lectures on the selection of horses for the Sporting Disciplines, and would not select or sell a horse with inappropriate conformation for the advertized discipline. Many other sellers of horses lack the ability to discern the conformational qualities needed to ensure that the “sport horse” they are selling has the appropriate conformation for that discipline.
Do you offer send horses out "on trial"?
Our horses are 100% sound, professionally raised and trained, "clean slates" if you will. Our sales process is well thought out and designed to do a good job of matching horse to rider. We dont sell a horse unless we think it is a good match AND has a high chance for sucess in its new environment . The customers who come to VHS come here because that is what they are seeking...rather than a used horse, or one who has been ruined by poor training or riding etc. Sending a horse out on trial is a great way for the seller of an unsound horse or horse with a particular issue to find out if the new owner can deal with the horse or not...
What we prefer and offer our cleints is the opportunity to lease and or hunt the horse on our farm and with our hunt in a supervised environment that safeguards the horse, the buyer and the seller. Lease payments are applicable towards the purchase price of the horse being leased or any other horse that the customer may switch to or purchase.
Do you offer leases of your horses?
After being taken advantage of, we have discontinued this practice.
What is a “Sport Horse”?
The definition that I am familiar with and use is: An equine athlete that possesses the appropriate temperament, conformation and athletic ability to excel in the “sporting disciplines”, which are: Dressage, Stadium jumping, Combined Training (3 day eventing) and Combined Driving.
What equine athletes are not “Sport Horses”?
Endurance, hunter equitation, saddle seat equitation, flat racing, harness racing and the western pleasure and performance disciplines are not disciplines that fall into the category that we refer to as “sporting disciplines” as it related to the definition of a “Sport Horse”.
What makes your "signature crosses" different than other draft crosses?
Our horses in general are different than other draft crosses and our "Signature Crosses" are different from our own draft crosses. All of our horses are bred and then selected based on temperament, conformation, aptitude (natural skill + learning ability) for field work and/or the sporting disciplines. They are then professionally trained at many junctures in time they are reassessed for suitability and many are removed from the program. Our prospects for field horses in general are confined to horses with a natural temperament of 1-3 on a scale of 10. Selected Sport Horses may have a temperament ranging from 2-4 out of 10, with one being dead calm and ten being crazy.
Our "Signature Crosses" represent a bloodline and breeding program that has been in existance since the early 70's. These horses originated from a breeding program which included 6 TB and 2 TB/APHA Overo stallions and appr 30 Clydesdale mares. Selected TB stallions were bred to Clydesdale mares to produce the original broodstock which was then crossed over subsequent generations with TB stallions as well as the 2 16.2H TB/APHA Overo stallions. We have selectively outcrossed with our TB/Shire stallion, and our "Signature Cross" stallion, VSH Shaman. Our broodstock consists of signature cross mares as well as selected purebred Clydesdale, Shire, Shire/TB and Clyde/TB mares.
Characteristics of Signature crosses are that they are American Warmblood Eligible Horses, distinctly Warmblood in type, standing generally between 16.2-17.2H. They tend to be agreeable in nature and accept and retain training readily. They have straight legs with plenty of bone, deep and sloping shoulder and an easlily recognized "top-line" which consists of a proportionate arched neck coming straight out of the wither and extending in an unbroken line from poll to dock. They are extremely well coupled and this give them the characteristic ability to fully utilize their hind end and step well underneath. They are well suited to the discilines of combined training (dressage, cross county, stadium jumping) and make wonderful Fox Hunting horses as well as hunters suitable for B level competition.
The "Signature Cross" is the horse of choice for the East Coast Trainers Challenge, since 2006.
Should I bring a friend to the sales appointment?
No... Its almost always counterproductive to bring a friend to a sales appt.
Prior to your sales appointment, we will have spent several hours working with you to define your requirements, come up with preliminary and final lists of candidate horses and at speak with your trainer. Present at the appt to assist you will be at least 2 professionals (people who match people to horses as part of their job). While we know that on the surface it seems reasonable to seek validation from barn buddies and friends...these are not the professionals who are vested in doing their job matching you to the right horse.
I just switched trainers or I dont really have a trainer...should I find one to come to the appt?
No. With all due respect to local trainers...its rare that a trainer has the experience that we do matching our client demographic to horses. While it is helpful to speak with a trainer who for instance has been coaching a client for 6 months or longer, it is not necessary that they attend the sales appt. We have found it to be counter productive to have a trainer who has not been working for the cleint for some to be at the sales appointment.
My trainer says that I need to only look at horses that are 8-10 or older, is this wise?
NO. Horses, like people age and develop unsoundnesses and health issues that are not always obvious. A sound, young, honest horse, properly trained, with the right temperament, properly suited to the rider makes the best choice for a mature rider in terms of safety. A horse does not wake up in the morning and say to itself " I am 10 years old today...time to start being a good horse". Good horses are BORN that way, and brought along properly.