But before I begin you need to know the catch. The catch is that no matter how good I might be (humble too) at reading through the bullshit, the fact is that there is no way, short of strapping that slippery sucker of a horse seller to a pressure cuff, retina scanner and shooting him up with a hefty dose of truth serum (Now there is an idea!) there is no sure fire way to separate fact from fiction. To make matters worse some horses owners dont even know that they are lying. They can be oblivious to lameness and, bless their heart, deluded by love and ignorance in to thinking their fluffy is the second coming of Big Ben.
Such is life.
But one would think there is some information in a horse ad you cant count as being "fact" such as the basics:
Age. Sex. Breed. Height. Color.
One would also assume that all such facts would be included in even the most basic of horse ad.
Here are some of the "general" rules I apply in the interest of time.
Sex: GENERALLY you can bank on the legitimacy of this information... except... in the case of a gelding with some "studly" characteristics (big jowl, muscled neck) in which case it is always good to ask when they were gelded. You might be shocked to find that "kid safe gelding" was used as a breeding stud just months earlier. If you are very serious about a gelding it also helps to google their reg. name and see if any "Sired by" pops up. I've found such geldings MULTIPLE times.
Age: For a registered horse the listed age is most often correct. However, because horse age is most often listed as year of birth beware those who suck at math. They either deduce incorrectly when coming up with the birth year (a 12 year old was not born in 1997) or when coming up with the age from the year (a 1997 is not a nine year old.)
If a horse is listed as a "three year old" be sure to ask if it will be three-year-old all year long or just until it's mid-summer "birthday" (they bucked the universally accepted January 1st birthday.)
If the age is not included in the ad the horse is ancient. If the horse is Grade and doesn't show any signs of age it will be five. If its age is beginning to show then it will always be 12 and anything that can no longer pass as 12 is "unknown age but still acts like he is 12".
Breed: If the breed is missing from the ad it is either a Standardbred, Thoroughbred, Appy, Arab or a mix of heaven-knows-what or all of the above. Read Quarab as full Arab, Morab as even 'crazier than usual Arab' and Sporthorse as anything that doesnt pass as anything else. Unpapered "warmbloods" are Thoroughbreds or (if the owner is really reaching) Standardbred. And be warned that those skimpy tailed/thin maned grade QH's are often Appys that have shed the stigma of their papers.Height: Mots people give a "guesstimate" of their horses height and they usually error the side of whatever works best for the market. A simple rule can be applied here: read anything in the 14 hand range as "small"; anything between 15 and 16 hands as "medium" and anything 16 + as "large" and just completely disregarding any of the point fractions as totally immaterial.
Color: Dont even get me started. Half of the blue roans are gray. Duns are red duns or bays with even the faintest hint of counter-shading. Palominos are sorrels with flaxen mane and tails. Some folks try really hard to be smart and include details about how their sorrel mare has a recessive creme gene or could possibly be champagne or how their gelding is bay with dun factor. If getting the color wrong is the only error in their ad then count your blessings.