HELP! My new 12yo horse is actually 21?

So… long story short I bought a horse as believed to be 12yo, done a little of everything, straightforward horse.

I have since found out that this horse is actually 21yo and that the person who sold him to me knew that. The horse has also basically just been a pet for his life. So, not the schoolmaster type I thought I was getting.

He’s very very sweet and hasn’t been ridden for about a year, so needs bringing back into work - which I knew and was anticipating. However, I have just paid 2k for a horse that I thought I would have at least 15 years with. I’m a bit annoyed and upset really. I have just lost my 25yo horse and didn’t want another veteran horse because I don’t want to go through that heartbreak again so soon.

What do I do? Friends are saying I should send him back and demand a refund for mis-selling him. I really like the horse and if he were younger he would be perfect. I am just concerned that his age is what is causing the stiffness and if he was maybe retired from ridden work due to age, rather than just not having a rider as was suggested. I have also been told that he is awful in traffic. I have ridden him in heavy traffic and he was okay-ish. I’m more annoyed that this information wasn’t disclosed, much like his age.

I bought him to bring back into work, fitten up and then have a career in dressage with. I’m now ‘stuck’ with a horse coming to the end of his ridden life really. I just feel sick and as though I’ve been taken for a mug. Any suggestions on what to do? I don’t want the seller to just get away with lying about something quite major but I also don’t want to send him back.

I don’t thing there’s anything you can do if you’re not willing to send him back. You might not even get your money back if you were willing to send him back. Chalk it up to a lesson learned and always do at least a quick prepurchase on future horses. Any vet would have taken one look at his teeth and told you he was older than you were told. I treat any horse purchase like buying a used car. You can’t trust anyone.


You can ask them to reverse the sale - give them the horse back and get your money back. If they refuse, you can try small claims court.


Have you talked to the seller to see if you can come to a resolution? That seems like the first step.


Make sure you have written records that the seller lied to you, AND the horse’s correct date of birth. Then - have a lawyer write to seller requesting a refund. Preferably a lawyer who is familiar with equine business.

BUT - shame on you for not doing research BEFORE buying a horse.


A vet did a check on him and estimated 11/12. He windsucks so his teeth aren’t long and he has clean legs as he was basically just a pet all his life, so has never been worked hard. He’s not greying out or anything. He looks and rides like a 12yo.


Did you do a vet PPE? Did you ride the horse before you bought him? Did you have an experienced friend or your trainer come to view him?

Also, how do you know he is 20 and not 12? Have you had a vet look at his teeth? How do you know he is unbroke? Have you had a trainer ride and evaluate him? Or is this just gossip you heard?

As we all know, “horse trading” was a synonym for dishonesty in the 19th century just like “Second hand car dealer” was in the 20th century. It’s still true. You need expert guidance and verify everything.


How long ago did you purchase the horse? How did you find out that he’s 21? Do you have proof of his age such as registration papers?

See what the seller says. Your options may end up to be small claims court, or perhaps selling this guy on with full disclosure if you don’t want to send him back.

How do you want this to turn out ideally? Do you want to keep him? Find him a new home? Lease him out?

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What color is he? Typically only grey horses turn grey with age. I’ve never seen a 20 year old bay or chestnut going grey from old age.

What was the horse represented as in the sales ad? Did you ride the horse?

Length of tooth isn’t the only indicator of age. The shape and slant of the tooth also changes. A vet would know this.

Do you actually know the horse is 21? Who told you? Do you trust them? Or are they just making trouble?



Older horses frequently have greying around their eyes and such. My old man (26) did.


26 is a lot older than 21. It’s one of those five year spans that make a lot of difference to many horses. Like the decade from 60 to 70 in humans.

My 26 year old has been greying for several years.

I also have a 19 year old that is already showing greying on his face.


Ok I guess I over generalized here.

But my larger point really was that they don’t all get grey hairs, and absence of grey hairs does not mean a horse is young. I wouldn’t base my age estimate of a horse on whether or not he had grey hairs on his face.

Indeed absent papers or a look at the teeth, it can be hard to guess that a happy fit plump horse is a senior citizen.

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I don’t like jumping on OPs based on limited info, but the info OP has provided is conflicting and making me question the issue altogether. For example, OP says horse was supposed to be a school master but also that he has been a pet his whole life and not done much work–both of which she must have known at the time of the PPE based on these posts. Which is it? If you were buying him because he was supposed to be a schoolmaster, wouldn’t “pet his whole life; no real work” status have been a red flag?

Assuming you have hard proof that you were lied to and that the horse was misrepresented, unfortunately your only option is really to send him back and demand a refund. $2K is barely enough to go to small claims court over. It seems like this horse is NOT what you were looking for, so even if he is sweet, it seems like trying to send him back is what is best for you. In addition, your friends are right…this seller could be hiding a number of other issues that you certainly don’t need on a tight budget with a horse that may not have many years of work left in him.


So you have a kind horse. Horse apparently has training you desire.

Your repurchase vet passed horse as advertised age. Possibly speak with vet?

For $2k what did you expect?


From a previous thread the OP had the horse on trial.

Who said he was 12 and who said he is 21?

Sales video supposedly showed the horse horse doing w/t/c and small jumps so what do you mean by a pet that was barely ridden? I should think that would have been obvious at the start of the trial?


The way I read it, the OP was told the horse is a 12yo school master that has not done anything for the last year.

After the sale the OP learned that the horse is 21 and has never done anything, has only been a minimal work pet its whole life.


Yes, I too am curious about where this information is coming from.

Also was the seller a low end horse dealer? A rescue? A long time owner? Was horse local to you or at a distance? What are the credentials of the person giving you the news and why only now? What does your vet say?

In the gossipy horse world it’s easy to get horses confused especially when folks are at a distance. One brown horse in a field looks much like another, and your informant’s news may be inaccurate or they may for some reason be engaging in malicious lying to undercut seller.

And also yes, I would assume a trial period would give you time to assess the horse’s skills.

I have to say, I never take stories told on here without a grain of salt. There have been times I’ve seen posters I know IRL post rather deluded accounts of their doings (I just smile and stay silent), or when posters have been very convincing, and then the accused seller or trainer or clinician comes on and blows the story out of the water.

So I also wonder if OP is having buyer’s remorse for other reasons, and is clutching at gossip to get out of the sale?

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In my area, sound, kind 12 year old schoolmaster types sell for a heck of a lot more than $2000.

You say you don’t want to send the horse back, but also that you don’t want a horse at the end of his useful life. At 21, he may well go on for years. But the truth of the matter is, at that age, every day is a gift. It is a very different scenario than you’d get with a 12 year old.

It sounds to me like you want at least a partial refund on the price. Given the relatively low starting point on the price, I don’t think the chances of that are high, but I suppose you could try.


I’m not a dressage rider, but isn’t there a division called something like “century” wherein the age of the horse and rider combined must be equal to at least 100? That would imply, to me, anyway, that senior horses can and do still perform in the sport–meaning, unless the OP has lofty goals, might this horse be able to have a successful second (?) career, even in his 20s?

I don’t think raw age is necessarily a reason to assume a horse is not capable of performing. I know people who successfully hunt horses in their mid-to-late 20s and I myself once had a former hunt horse that had a second career as a low-level eventer at 21 and counting. There is a lesson pony at my farm who is still packing kids around successfully and happily at 27. It varies from individual to individual.