Although the majority of horse transactions are fair and square, there are few people who’ve been in the horse business for any length of time who hasn’t gotten a raw deal at some point.
Their purchase wasn’t what they were led to believe it was. Shysters are in all walks of life, and the horse business is no different. Thus, “buyer beware” is always the best philosophy when purchasing horses.
While the opportunity to “pull the wool” over an unsuspecting buyer by a seasoned horse trader is what might be called “common,” when the dealings are done through the internet, the possibly of getting a “shenanigan pulled” on the buyer increases markedly.
Local sellers have received seemingly incomprehensible prices, for what are known by insiders as “very common” or mediocre horses at best, from unsuspecting internet purchasers completely the nation’s width away.
Likewise, there are true stories of area people buying “the very best horses” over the internet from sellers in distant places, and they too have turned out to be “junk,” to describe the purchases quite bluntly.
Perhaps some of these internet horse marketing scams will be reduced in the future, based on a report from the International Fund for Horses (IFH), based in Houston, Texas.
“Buying horses sight unseen on the internet proved a disaster for 34 people including 18 in Texas and 16 from as far away as California and Pennsylvania”€ according to Vivian Grant Farrell, founder and president of IFH, which has the “mission to promote and safeguard the health, safety and welfare of horses worldwide, domestic and in the wild.”
Farrell cited one of the recent cases in Texas where Attorney General Greg Abbott explained that Patricia Wilson marketed horses as healthy and gentle enough for children, but they turned out to be blind, lame, covered with skin lesions, untrained and prone to bucking.
“Sometimes animals different from the ones depicted on Wilson’s E-Tex Equine Company website were delivered,” Farrell detailed.
Wilson, 38, Avinger, Texas, used a number of aliases when selling horses, including Valerie Wilson, Patricia Ferraris, Tanja Hamilton and Molly Duck, Abbott reported.
“In the court settlement, Wilson has agreed to stop horse trading and to pay restitution of $65,300 to the buyers,” Farrell related. “In addition, Wilson will pay $10,000 in civil penalties and $15,000 in attorney’s fees and investigative costs”
However, Wilson contended she did nothing wrong claiming she “signed the agreement because of intense personal issues.” Wilson declined to speak further without consulting her attorney, who perhaps not so coincidentally is representing her in a farm implement theft charge.
Suspicions arose after a complaint to the Texas Animal Health Commission that a Coggins test report was for a horse other than the one that was supposed to have been purchased from Wilson.
“I’m the one who started all of this,” emphasized Shelia Guill of Mabank, Texas. “She really upset m. I’m a good person, but don’t mess with my horses or my money, or I’ll get vicious.”
Guill paid Wilson $1,850 for a team-roping horse that arrived sedated and couldn’t be ridden after the drug wore off. “It was like rodeo bucking stock,” she described.
Nancy Fowler, Longview, Texas, also bought a horse from Wilson for her granddaughter and shipped it to Kansas City. She paid $4,500 for a “gentle horse suitable for a child,” but a grossly underfed palomino Quarter Horse came instead.
Several victims resorted to online complaint boards to attack Wilson, but anonymously denounced themselves. Some contacted authorities including the FBI and local sheriffs’ departments.
Carolyn Godwin, who operates C-J Ranch near Granbury, Texas, said she was very unhappy with the trail riding horse she bought from Wilson, because it was not trained as advertised.
“The horse arrived loose in a large trailer with bite marks. When we saddled him, he just stood there like he’d had never been handled much before,” Godwin recalled. “Then he began to buck. Wilson said that he just needed to get acclimated to a new place, but the horse never stopped bucking and had to be sold, to a buyer who was aware of its bad disposition.”
The 424th Texas District Court ordered Wilson to pay Fermin and Jennifer Ortiz $30,995 in damages and attorney’s fees for misrepresenting the horse she sold the couple for their daughter.
“They bought a horse advertised on the internet as a good horse for children,” stated Jim Dear, who served as the family’s attorney. “It turned out to be very dangerous. The veterinarian who examined the horse said it was not recommended for adults, let alone children.
“Wilson never made a court appearance and has not paid on the judgment,” Dear noted. “We never found her or her attorney.”
Abbott recognized that Wilson owns property in two Texas counties on which liens could be placed if she fails to honor her agreement with the attorney general’s office.