Hi everyone,

I would like to pose a question of ethics in selling your horses.  Recently my good friend attended the Mid Atlantic sale in the hopes of acquiring a well bred mare to add to her wonderful breeding program. This lady is a very well known breeder and I can attest for her complete honesty.  She saw a few that caught her attention.  Several nicely bred mares were brought to the auction by a certain farm.  My friend asked many questions about these prospects and was given full assurance that they were either proven broodmares or great prospects with good dispositions.

To make a long story short, she purchased a nice coming three year old filly who was broke to drive and ridden through the auction. When she approached the young lady presenting the filly to find out any addition info about her, she was told nothing but good things.


My friend had come from across the country to attend this sale.  The filly was sent to me in Tennessee to rest up a bit and put on weight before making a long trip. 


Here is where the story changes.  The filly arrives in Tennessee and has completely destroyed my fencing with her cribbing and chewing. Not even a cribbing collar will stop her or even food!  She is obsessed with it.  Now after the fact, the young lady tells us she cribbed since a weanling and could never be stopped.

You might ask did she crib at the sale?  The filly had a jowel wrap on to hide her problem.  The stall there was not easy to crib or chew on I am also told.

My question- Would you as a breeder or owner feel it was the right thing to tell potential buyers when looking at a horse you might have for sale. Or do you think buyer beware..  Also, does anyone want a free horse??  

I for one have given two horses away rather than run them through a sale and saddle someone else with my problems.  I told all info good and bad.  I feel honesty is the best advice in finding a suitable home for your horses.  



25 Responses to Ethics

  1. denu220 says:

    I’m so sorry to hear things haven’t worked out :( Did you try giving the filly Quitt? It’s an oral supplement that’s supposed to discourage chewing/cribbing. Just a thought. With respect to ethics, I know in real estate it’s “buyer beware.” If you don’t ask a question, the seller is under no obligation to volunteer information—especially that which might jeopardize the sale… That’s the reason we have our homes looked at by inspectors prior to purchase. Perhaps this would be a good practice in the equine world, albeit much harder to implement… I’m sorry I can’t offer to take your filly; I’m full with four-leggers at the moment. Best of luck!

  2. swevans3232 says:

    I am not sure if I would call this “bad ethics”. Any sale (public or private) is a buyer beware situation. The difference with a private is the opportunity to have a vet check done. We all know that any time we buy a horse, we have to be VERY specific on the questions. “Any vices?”, doesn’t work…Vices is an objective term. Whenever, I even think about buying a horse at a sale, I spend alot of time hanging around the stall, watching and learning. If she wasn’t cribbing, she would have been tryng, and as someone who owns a cribber (so BTW I don’t think it’s a big deal), a true cribber will crib on ANYTHING. If there were cross ties or a water bucket in the stall she would have cribbed.

  3. Peppermintpatti says:

    swevans3232, if you don’t mind a cribber, how would you like a pretty almost black 3 yr old filly who is broke to driving and started under saddle? She is free to the first person who gets her off my property. And when I say cribber, I mean cribber, she does nothing else even with food at her feet. Oh and along with the cribbing she also chews like a beaver, with a very tight cribbing collar on. I have 100 acres and she stands at the fence all day!
    Anyone interested feel free in emailing me-

    I have purchased several at auction also and asked questions as did this lady who purchased this filly. I guess when people would ask me if there is any problems or info pertinent regarding the horse I was interested in, I would be honest but that is just the kind of person I am. I guess I am just dumb in thinking most other people are also. Plus if my prefix was on a horse, I couldn’t imagine holding back info. As soon as this filly was unloaded on this wonderful lady and here with me in Tennessee cribbing away, the people disclosed everything. She cribbed and chewed nonstop since weaning and nothing would stop it.

  4. Magnamania says:

    That’s bad luck. Sorry to hear about the situation. I’ve never bought a horse through a sale though I’ve gone to many sales. I always look at a horse going with a sale with the question in mind, Why is this horse being sole through a sale and not privately? Either the person is having financial issues and need to unload the horse quickly, doesn’t have the time or want to spend the time advertising and showing off the horse, or there is something wrong with the horse. I would always approach the situation thinking the latter no matter how many good things the seller has to say about the horse. Buyer beware. Good luck getting rid of the horse. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who won’t care about the cribbing.

  5. GoodLookinGal says:

    If a horse is that severe a cribber, the seller should disclose it. I don’t think just because the horse goes through the sale, the seller doesn’t have to be honest. Anyone who knows horses knows that cribbing is very bad, which I am sure is what the seller didn’t disclose it. “Buyer Beware” is just a way for sellers to be dishonest and feel okay about it.

  6. Peppermintpatti says:

    Thanks GoodLookinGal, you are my kind of person and someone I would be happy to purchase a horse from!

    Janie Denning

  7. PrincessPrada says:

    Cribbing is not that big of a deal, and if you walked away from any auction with a horse, and that’s the worst thing it does, you are doing better than most. I would be interested to hear the story from the perspective of the seller, or even the buyer, as we are currently only hearing from the middle man. Has this horse found a new home yet? I could be interested.

  8. Peppermintpatti says:


    Wow, cribbing is no big deal….

    Maybe someone doesn’t mind a cribber but this nice lady sure doesn’t want to breed this problem on.

    All the seller had to do was be honest and the filly would have left the sale with someone that was aware of her cribbibg and chewing and like you wouldn’t care.

    Janie Denning

  9. rubygirl82 says:

    Janie, is cribbing hereditary? If it is I didn’t know that and I will be excited to add it to my list of new things I learned today:o)


  10. jessica says:

    My understanding is that cribbing is not hereditary. Current research is pursuing gastrointestinal distress (high acidity and/or ulcers) as one potential cause for the behavior.

    Anecdotally, I have known cribbing mares that have produced non-cribbing offspring, and vice-versa.

  11. PrincessPrada says:

    Cribbing is not genetic. It is behavioral. It can also be stopped with a variety of devices. They even make little wire basket masks that the horse can wear if it is chronically cribbing and/or wood chewing.

    Everyone is in such a hurry to “get a deal,” they forget that auction horses are a lower price because they are a higher risk. I am guessing this horse was less than $5,000. You are lucky its sound. AND it rides and drives at age 3. This seems to be to be blown way out of proportion. No one was lied to. Information that obviously wasn’t significant to the seller was not disclosed to the buyer AT AN AUCTION! Welcome to the horse business…

  12. KarenL says:

    RE: Cribbers. Last I heard discussed, part of the reason for not being able to fix or deal fully with cribbing is that there are multiple reasons that can cause a horse to crib. I believe that there is a “family tendency”, but that a cribbing gene hasn’t been identified so to speak.

    We had a stallion that I called a “recreational” cribber- as long as he wasn’t too stressed out (ie- breeding season, teasing, lots of barn activity causing overstimulation), he would be fine; if he started to crib, we’d put on his collar for a few weeks & it went away again. He hadn’t done it in so long that I’d almost forgotten he did it. We put a yearling filly of his in the stall next to him once. She was super quiet & a little nervous & when he played hard in his stall (leaping, throwing his feed pan & jolly ball around) she got anxious & over the next couple of days started to show signs… I watched her & heard her *once* actually windsuck. She moved to a quieter part of the barn & I never saw it again.

    Another trigger told to me by Dr. Katherine Houpt (behaviorist at Cornell) was high-sugar diets. She’d done some research that showed that shortly after being fed very digestible grains, particularly those with molasses, could make a horse that had tendencies need to crib. They were still trying to figure out if this was somehow ulcer-related or if the high blood sugar/insulin somehow set some pattern in motion. We leased a hard-core cribber & I noticed a decrease in the behavior once I switched him away from any sweet feed & onto a low-carb/high fat type of diet.

    Either way, it is interesting stuff. I’m glad I don’t have one it the barn though— amazing how that little gulp of air can get under one’s skin!

  13. Peppermintpatti says:


    I sure would love to know your name, funny you don’t post it dearie…

    I think you must know the former owners of this filly. Your posts make no sense to me. I am 45 and I can tell by your nickname sweetheart you sound a bit wet behind the ears. That or just plain silly.

    Please let us know your name so we can all or at least me never do business with you!

    As far at the other posts about it being hereditary, I am told the mare nor the stallion crib but the owner doesn’t want to take a chance that she could possibly pass it on to her babies.

    With all said, it looks like she will be going to a wonderful family who want to show her and are fully aware of the cribbing and chewing.

    I guess PrincessPrada I have learned most from you in these posts. There are always people out there willing to lie and cheat to get their way. To bad but in the end it will bit you in the butt. Karma is a bad thing!

  14. Peppermintpatti says:

    Oh yes and my name of course is Janie Denning and I have no problem sleeping at night and would never take advantage of my fellow morgan lovers.

  15. Black Eye Beth says:

    Okay, Okay guys…obviously this is a “hot topic” and full of emotional responses. I think the question was a good and thought provoking one but can we please all act like adults? The idea of posting discussion topics on is so that one can receive different opinions and see what others think. Please keep the snide comments and comebacks out of the posts and comments, and be ready to accept that other’s opinions may differ from your own. Thanks – BEB

  16. Jan says:

    Many of us, home horse owners and trainers can deal with the the physical problems that have been mentioned, but not reporting an ulcer or quarter crack IS unethical in my book and only harms the horse and the new owner who tries to figure it out, often spending money needlessly. That’s a waste and pity the poor horse who waits to be diagnosed with an ulcer for the second time (if he’s lucky)! may be an auction and we should assume the possibility that something may be “wrong” with the horse—we also may be OK with it. But let’s be honest–ESPECIALLY when asked. If I know of a trainer or amateur who has withheld information about a horses’s health, I would not buy from them–regardless. Plain and simple there…..reputations are everything in this business and a treasure.

  17. roadhorse says:

    I have been following this problem with ethics. I can see both sides of this issue and have sympathy for all sides of the issue including the poor filly that has this problem.

    Cribbing is usually a learned habit. A horse gets good feeling endorphins from the habit. The more they do it, the better they feel. In many cases, they do learn it from their dams or another horse in the pasture or barn. I think the jury is still out as far as whether or not it is truly genetic.

    Many devices, potions, feeds, and even surgery have been employed to stop this behavior. Most do not work very well, if at all as in the case of this filly. Recently, a certain antibiotic was thought the cure it, but current research disproved that.

    What to do? Well, from my point of view, I blame the seller for not being fully truthful about the filly’s problem. However, auctions are a way to get rid of unwanted stock. Therefore, the buyer should beware.

    In the Thoroughbred racing horse sales, it is mandatory that they disclose cribbers as well as other vices. This is usually done by posting a sheet or poster with the horse number and the vice it has. This may be a way to go with the Morgan auctions, i.e. require full disclosure. Until then, we are all left to the devices of the individual sales agents and owners putting the horses through the sales.

  18. flygirl says:

    I agree with Jan, cribbing may not be a big deal to a trainer who has the time and resources to deal with a cribber, but it can be a very big deal to a breeder or owner of a boarding stable. Cribbing is a negative, extremely destructive habit, and everytime I have listed a horse for sale on any website, the first question I get from prospective buyers is does he/she have any bad habits, and particularly does he/she crib? If this is not an undesirable trait, why do people ask it so often?
    I know Janie quite well, have been to her place many times. She and her husband have built a show place, beautiful home, incredible landscaping and 160 acres with gorgeous stained wood fences, they even brought in the Amish to hand build all the fencing. You have to see it to believe it. I can understand her disbelief and horror when this horse began literally chewing down her barn and fences, and nothing she did could stop it. It will cost them thousands of dollars to replace all the damage that has been done by one horse, I have seen the pictures.
    So, not disclosing the fact that a horse has a serious vice has quite a ripple effect, all the way down to those who are just helping out another morgan friend. It is such a small, close knit breed that we would all do well to remember that disclosing everything about the nature and health of a horse in any sale venue is the best possible choice anyone could make,….do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    Hunter Novotny

  19. GoodLookinGal says:

    While I find cribbing to be particularly troublesome, it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t necessarily buy the horse. I would like to be told about it, though. Then again, I guess I can’t hold it against a person for not shouting off the rooftops their horse’s biggest faults.

    I do know that how I choose to conduct myself may not be how someone else would conduct themselves. I hate the saying “Buyer Beware.”
    It should be “Seller Be Sincere.”

    So, let me ask you this… How do you ethically sell a horse with a big problem?

  20. flygirl says:

    IMO, you sell a horse with a big problem, honestly, disclosing the horses faults, as well as it’s attributes. It is up the the buyer to decide what they are willing to deal with when purchasing a horse, and what they cannot tolerate in a horse. If the buyer has been given the health history and habits of a prospectivon horse, sold in auction or privately, then they should be able to make a decision they can live with.

    In many instances, this means the seller may have to take less for the horse, but sometimes finding the right home should take precedance over the amount of money you can get for it. Every breeder/seller should know that some horses (with big problems) are not sellable, and simply must be donated or given away in order to “move them”. As someone said earlier in this thread, “welcome to the horse business”, not all horses are perfect, some horses are going to net you a great profit, and others may cause you to lose money, but that’s life.

    It’s about being fair to your fellow horse lover. Honesty (disclosure) NEVER hurt anyone, DISHONESTY (& with holding pertinent information) always hurts someone.

    Hunter Novotny

  21. Peppermintpatti says:

    Thanks for all comments regarding this post. When I posed it, I was just interested in getting people’s opinions if I agreed or not.

    I myself apologize for the catty remarks on my part. The owner is such a dear friend of mine and I just am sick this happened to her.

    With that said, I am just happy that this nice filly even with her habits has found a loving forever home.


  22. Scottfield03 says:

    I am very glad to hear that this horse found a home!

    It is so easy to get fired up over a topic! We all have opinions, and we all have different ones, but we should all be able to agree that it is what is best for the horse that concerns us all the most. I think that statement is true for everyone on this site!

  23. nightmusicfarms says:

    This was an interesting thread and I have been really surprised by many of the answers.

    I had a similar experience years ago in buying a very expensive youngster whose seller never once disclosed a severe cribbing problem and one which had surfaced at just a few months of ago. The seller was extremely well known and it was an enormous surprise to me that they would behave so unethically. Needless to say, I neither went to them again nor recommended them.

    There are no circumstances in which I would find it acceptable to sell this horse without disclosing that it was a cribber. It is not fair to the buyer and not fair to the horse. Severe cribbing is a formidable vice and frankly, I would not buy a horse who cribs and I am not alone in that thought. Reselling this filly will be a tough proposition and that is really unfortunate.

    I really think the key to a successful, well run auction is to fully disclose information regarding the horse’s soundness, breeding health and serious vices. If people cannot have some degree of confidence that the horse is adequately and legitimately represented, the risk is simply too great to take, particularly in these times.

    Nothing takes the place of honesty in buying and selling horses and it is really unfortunate that it is not universally practiced.

    Susan Overstreet

  24. Peppermintpatti says:

    Thanks for the comments Susan. You are a very responsible breeder and certainly well know in this business.

    I too was surprised by some of the comments until I learned who was posting them…

    I was hoping to get unbiased opinions when I posed this question.

    The buyer and I have learned much from this experience and that is worth something in the end.

    By the way your Stand in Tribute colt is something special, I would love to have him in my barn!


  25. nightmusicfarms says:

    Thanks, Janie.

    I had an interesting discussion with a number of people today regarding stallion service fees, which is also an aspect of the business which requires some clean up, in my opinion.

    I stood my stallion for many years and hope one day to stand another good horse. The greatest source of satisfaction to me, by a long margin, was having a happy, thrilled to pieces mare owner on the other end of the contract.

    I personally think many stallion contracts are written to the benefit of the stallion owner and without taking into consideration the fact thst the mare owner is the client in the relationship.

    Topic for another day, but bottom line is that ethical behavior and a total desire for client satisfaction should rule every move we make when we are in a vendor or seller relationship. There are obviously a few bad apples in every barrel but in general, my experience with people buying my stock or breeding to my stallion has been a true source of joy in my life and a complete privilege.


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