Sellers and Vets Misrepresenting Horses

In hopes that I can find some wonderful advice from people who have more experience dealing with situations like this.

I work in Mexico and I am a big proponent of honest sales, always asking for vet checks to be done and x-rays being a must. As well as equine insurance on any animal that comes from here. My biggest goal is for clients to be 100% happy on the purchase of horses that come from me. Horses that come from my program are always represented to the highest degree of my knowledge and no stone is ever left unturned prior to closing a deal. We have successfully exported several horses to this trainer and all have been absolutely wonderful to the point I’ve no longer have horses of my own to offer them.

Mexico is the wild west for horse shopping - theft, scams, poor horse keeping, etc. I know the place, vendors and have a network of people that I can use to get references, but always taking everything with a grain of salt.

Now I run into this add online of this registered stunning grey andalusian stallion approved for breeding, amateur safe, 16 something hands and in the high four figures. I sent it to the trainer and she liked him - throughout multiple instances I’ve mentioned that I have never worked with this seller before but he seems to be serious and I also let everyone know that I am not receiving any type of commission on either side. Just doing it because I was being nice and these gals had bought horses from me before, so it would not hurt to help them out to get their hands on another unicorn.

Now we agree on a price, set a vet check, get some xrays and videos. Seller is great about sending information quick. We draw blood for export prior to finalizing payment. All looks fine, and videos seem up to date or recent.

I always always ask for the following on PPE -> Check for signs of cribbing, colic surgery or melanomas. Both seller and vet denied the existence of melanomas… so off we go all clear to purchase. Money is sent, transport is arranged and horse is on his way to America.

Well the horse arrived yesterday to our barn in Sonora in good health, all looked well until I checked under his tail. Guess who has Melanomas???

Yup, the brand new resident has some. On the scale of melanomas 1 being little small balls the size of confetti to 10 being a huge metastasized lump that oozes… he’d probably would be in a 4.

thankfully they are not severe compared to other cases, but regardless they are still there. I called the seller to confront him about it and to which he blankly mentions that " he did not know what melanomas were but that he could reassure the horse was in excellent health". Vet report does not mention the existence of melanomas, despite me talking to the seller and the vet regarding this very important point.

Now in a few hours I will have to mention this to the buyers.
There’s no way a lawsuit would stand in Mexico, not even towards the vet, and its kind of the gamble you take when buying in the country. Not only did I invest a lot of time translating, finding haulers, coordinating transport, bloodwork, emails, invoicing etc. its been one of the most time consuming transactions ever and to have it culminate with an unhappy buyer is my biggest dread.

I was going to suggest to have the horse insured regardless, especially have him covered for colic- my vet has looked at the melanomas and has not deemed them concerning, or active, biggest one was slightly bigger than a penny. To notice them you must lift the tail up. The horse is 12 so not sure if this is relevant, but melanomas can be sort of expected at this age, or to eventually come up. Still does not justify the seller or the vet lying/omitting this … I have an eerie feeling that potentially the vet got a kick back from the seller to omit this information but at this point the horse has traveled many miles from the seller’s barn to ours. It would be extremely pricey to send him back.

The not so easier route would be to seek some for of reimbursement of the sales price through the seller - which I doubt will happen smoothly and I will most likely get blocked by the seller. In this situation what else would you do???

Final option would be to try and resell the horse and recover their loss/investment. (which is doable granted he is really nice and selling price would be between 8-10k) … I can’t shake off the bad feeling when people pull crap like this - I had been going on a great streak of easy and simple, but not everything can be smooth when meddling in the horse world.

Whatever happen, whoever ends up with the horse may want to check into Oncept melanoma vaccine:

It seems to be working very well, know of some horses that their tumors regressed and the smaller and earlier that is started, the better it seems to work.

We had the same happen, seller out of AZ said no melanomas when asked.
Horse did have some marble sized ones under the tail, seller acted surprised, didn’t care, oh, well.

Good luck sorting thru that problem, sorry it happened.


Wow thank you, will definitely be reading about this and will forward it to them.

How much does import from Mexico to the US add on top of the cost of the horse on average? Are you physically there or US based with buying excursions into the country? I’m assuming you’re in Sonora, Mexico but wasn’t 100% sure reading through. Two thoughts:

  1. It sounds like you as the agent – I realize you’re not officially contracted as such in this case but not sure what to call you otherwise – absolutely must see the horse in person for the best chance of heading off trouble.

  2. If I were the buyer, I would 100% be expecting something to go wrong. I take a chance any time I buy from a foreign country. And Mexico is one of those countries where you keep expectations low & are pleasantly surprised if all goes well. We used to import guitars from Paracho for the store. Even going through an agent, there was always some sort of issue. You just had to be Zen about it & trust that eventually guitars would show up. Despite fixes that we paid to send out to a real luthier because they were too complicated to do in house, we were still coming out way ahead. $500 for the same quality of guitar that would cost $8-10k coming from Spain.

Personally, I would view the ROI of buying a horse from Mexico the same way. The “vet” might not even be a vet at all, there’s a high probability those aren’t that horse’s X rays, & I have no guarantee that the seller owns the horse & didn’t steal it out of a field in the next state. And it is 12yo & grey. Melanoma is pretty much a given. But i’m potentially getting a well-schooled, amateur friendly Andalusian stallion for the same price as I just shelled out for a 1 year lease on a show pony for my child that realistically isn’t fancy enough to pin at an A rated hunter show.

Importing an Andalusian from Spain is on my 5 year bucket list. Hearing about this horse at that price where I’d have financial wiggle room to cover issues has me sitting here going, “Hmmm, I should ask the dressage barn if they hypothetically have room for another stallion…”


My horse has been receiving Oncept for 7 years. Here’s the saga, lots of good basic info:

Ohio State reports pretty good results - last we talked, 50% of horses show a positive response. Starting it early is a very good idea.

Sorry I don’t have any advice/help with the sales/vet situation.

Good luck!


Thank you!
Could not remember who it was that had a horse on that vaccination program.

Glad to hear all is going so well after this time, wonderful news.


I was once given a 14 year old schoolmaster with melanomas like you describe. Not huge and not oozy, but more than just a few. My vet told me the horse would die of old age long before the melanomas were a factor and that’s exactly what happened. He died of a heart attack at 28. So even though that was a crappy thing for the seller and vet to do, I would just enjoy the heck out of the horse.


Grey-horse melanomas are not always bad.
My old boy Mr P had his first set removed - of his peri-anal area at 14 years. And another couple of times other sets were removed. They never caused him any issues - we monitored them on a weekly basis and used photos to compare. He died of old age at 31 years old.

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