Results of Horse Sale Practices Survey


Equine Legal Solutions authored a series of surveys designed to gather information about internal factors that might be contributing to the horse industry's economic decline. The first survey examined horse sale practices and was conducted in 2012. Here are the results:

Survey Respondents' Profile

663 people participated in the survey

Respondents' Horse Ownership:

  • 93.1% are currently horse owners 

  • 5.3% have owned horses before

  • 1.7% have never owned a horse

Where Respondents Live:

  • Pacific West US (25.0%) 

  • North Central East US (18.2%) 

  • South Atlantic US (12.3%)

  • North Central West US (9.1%)

  • West South Central US (9.1%) 

  • Mid-Atlantic US (9.4%) 

  • Mountain West US (6.8%)

  • Canada (3.5%)

  • East Central South US (3.2%)

  • New England US (2.9%)

  • Non-US other than Canada (0.3%)

 How Respondents Described Their Equine Expertise:

  • Knowledgeable (not an expert, but know a lot): 41.9%

  • Expert amateur (not a pro, but consider myself an expert): 28.0%

  • Trainer or other equine professional: 21.6%

  • Intermediate (still learning, but not a beginner): 6.8%

  • Novice (some horse experience, but not a lot): 1.5%

  • Beginner (new to horses): 0.2%

Respondents' Primary Horse Activity:

  • Breed-specific shows: 25.1%

  • Breeding:  12.1%

  • Trail riding: 10.4%

  • Dressage: 10.1%

  • Hunter/jumper: 9.9%

  • Recreational riding: 8.5%

  • Eventing: 2.9%

  • Reining: 2.0%

  • Barrel racing or other gaming: 1.7%

  • Working cowhorse: 1.7%

  • Racing: 1.4%

  • Endurance: 0.6%

  • Driving: 0.5%

  • Foxhunting: 0.3%

  • Polo: 0.2%

  • Other: 12.6%

Misrepresented Sale Horses

67.0% of respondents have purchased a horse they believe was misrepresented.

Characteristics respondents believe were misrepresented:

  • Temperament: 48.2%

  • Soundness: 35.6%

  • Training: 32.8%

  • Suitability for respondent's intended use: 33.5%

  • Suitability for respondent's riding ability/experience: 21.1%

  • Health: 17.6% 

  • Age: 12.4%

  • Conformation issue (e.g., parrot mouth, club foot): 10.8%

  • Pregnancy (e.g., horse was supposed to be in foal and wasn't, or "surprise foal" after purchase): 8.2%

  • Registration status: 7.7%

  • Breeding soundness (e.g., cryptorchid stallion): 4.9%

  • Show/competition record: 4.4%

  • Genetic status (e.g., homozygous color carrier, HYPP status): 3.7%

  • Eyesight: 2.3%

  • Hearing: 0%

  • Other: 10.1%

What respondents believe the seller did to hide the problem:

  • Drugged the horse before the test ride: 30.8%

  • Worked the horse heavily before the test ride: 25.6%

  • Drugged the horse before the vet check: 5.9%

  • Edited photos of the horse to obscure a defect: 4.9%

  • Edited video of the horse to obscure a defect: 4.4%

  • Other: 25.1%

  • None of the above: 28.6%

How respondents found the misrepresented horses they purchased:

  • Internet ad (e.g., Dreamhorse, Equine.com): 35.9%

  • Word of mouth (e.g., from a friend): 16.9%

  • From respondent's trainer or instructor: 10.7%

  • Auction preview or catalog: 10.7%

  • Newspaper ad: 8.1%

  • Seller's website: 6.9%

  • Respondent contacted seller to see what seller had for sale: 6.4%

  • At a horse show: 3.1%

  • Magazine ad: 3.1%

  • Other: 11.6%

Assistance from Trainers and Instructors

Respondents' use of equine professionals at the time they purchased the misrepresented horse:

  • 57.0% were not working with a trainer or instructor (at all) at the time of purchase

  • 43.0% were working with a trainer or instructor

Of the respondents who indicated they were working with a trainer or instructor when they purchased the misrepresented horse:

  • 62.2% said their trainer or instructor participated in the purchase in some fashion

  • 37.8% said their trainer or instructor didn't participate at all

Compensation of Trainers and Instructors

Of the respondents who said their trainer or instructor participated in the purchase of the misrepresented horse:

  • 44.3% paid the trainer or instructor nothing at all

  • 30.2% paid the trainer or instructor a commission of 10% of the purchase price

  • 15.1% paid the trainer or instructor's out of pocket expenses, such as travel

  • 1.9% paid the trainer or instructor 20% of the purchase price

  •  8.5% paid the trainer or instructor "other"

  • 25.5% thought their trainer or instructor received compensation from someone else besides respondent in connection with the purchase, whereas 65.1% did not think so, and 9.4% were not sure.

Trainer or Instructor's Role in the Misrepresented Horse Purchase

Of the respondents who said their trainer or instructor had a role in their purchase of the misrepresented horse:

  • 61.3% said their trainer looked at the horse in person

  • 54.7% said their trainer talked to the seller

  • 40.6% said their trainer found the horse 

  • 34.0% said their trainer negotiated the purchase price

  • 32.1% said their trainer test rode the horse

  • 29.2% said their trainer talked to the seller's trainer

  • 22.6% said their trainer looked at photos of the horse

  • 19.8% said their trainer reviewed video of the horse

  • 18.9% said their trainer reviewed the sale ad for the horse

  • 17.9% said their trainer took the horse to his/her barn on trial

  • 17.0% said their trainer negotiated purchase terms other than price

  • 6.6% said their trainer didn't do any of the above

How the Respondents Purchased the Misrepresented Horses

  • Directly from the seller: 68.0%

  • Through the seller's trainer or agent: 11.5%

  • At an auction: 11.5%

  • Through the respondent's trainer or agent: 5.6%

  • Other: 3.4%

How Much the Respondents Paid for the Misrepresented Horses

  • Between $2,000 - $5,000:  29.5%

  • Between $5,000 - $10,000: 17.1%

  • Between $1,000 - $2,000: 16.1%

  • Under $1,000: 13.4% 

  • Between $10,000 - $20,000: 11.2%

  • Between $20,000 - $50,000: 7.6%

  • Over $100,000: 1.5%

  • Traded another horse: 1.5% 

  • Between $50,000 - $100,000: 1.2%

  • Nothing (the horse was free): 1.0%

Respondents' Inspection of the Misrepresented Horse before Buying

  • 81.0% saw it in person before buying

  • 19.0% didn't

Why respondents bought the misrepresented horse without seeing it in person:

  • 59.0% said they relied on photo/video of the horse

  • 53.8% said the horse was too far away

  • 38.5% said they relied on the seller's professional reputation

  • 28.2% said it was too expensive to travel to see the horse

  • 19.2% said they relied on a pre-purchase vet exam

  • 14.1% said they relied on their trainer's opinion

  • 15.4% said they relied on the horse's competition/show record

  • 12.8% said the horse was free or inexpensive

  • 6.4% said they had previously purchased another horse from the seller

  • 15.4% said they had reasons other than the above

Sellers of Misrepresented Horses

Respondents said the sellers of the misrepresented horses were best described as:

  •  Individuals or families (not professionals): 31.5%

  • Trainers or instructors: 24.1%

  • Horse dealers: 16.7%

  • Breeding farms: 13.1%

  • Auction consignors: 3.0%

  • Consignment barns: 2.7%

  • Other sale agents: 2.0%

  • Someone other than the above: 6.9%

Respondents' Prior Relationships with the Sellers of Misrepresented Horses

  • 23.2% knew the seller before the purchase

  • 76.8% did not

How the respondents knew the sellers:

  • From horse shows or other competitions: 41.5%

  • Seller was an acquaintance: 31.9%

  • Respondent had previously purchased another horse from the seller: 20.2%

  • Seller was respondent's personal friend: 9.6%

  • Seller was respondent's instructor: 7.4%

  • Seller was respondent's trainer: 4.3%

  • Seller and respondent had some other type of relationship: 13.8%

Veterinary Pre-Purchase Examinations and Respondents' Purchases of Misrepresented Horses

Of respondents who said they bought a misrepresented horse:

  • 61.0% didn't have a veterinary pre-purchase exam

  • 39.0% did

Reasons why respondents didn't have a pre-purchase veterinary exam:

  • Respondent trusted the seller: 36.2%

  • Horse was inexpensive: 35.8%

  • Exam was too expensive: 13.0%

  • Respondent bought horse at auction, and no exam was available: 12.6%

  • Respondent didn't know vet in seller's area: 9.3%

  • Respondent's trainer advised against it: 1.6%

  • Seller didn't allow it: 0.4%

  • Other reasons: 27.2%

Of the respondents who did have a pre-purchase veterinary exam of the misrepresented horse:

  • 57.7% arranged for it themselves

  • 13.1% had their trainer or agent arrange for it

  • 12.5% said the seller arranged for it

  • 6.0% said the seller's trainer or agent arranged for it

  • 10.7% said someone other than the above arranged for it

Of the respondents who arranged for the pre-purchase veterinary exam themselves, the vet who performed the exam of the misrepresented horse was:

  • The respondent's regular vet: 22.6%

  • A referral from the seller: 18.5%

  • A vet the seller had used before: 11.9%

  • A vet respondent had used before: 9.5%

  • The seller's regular vet: 8.3%

  • A referral from respondent's regular vet: 7.1%

  • A referral from a friend or acquaintance: 6.0%

  • Found via an Internet search: 5.4%

  • A referral from respondent's trainer: 4.8%

  • A vet respondent's trainer had used before: 4.2%

  • Respondent's trainer's regular vet: 3.0%

  • A referral from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP): 1.2%

  • None of the above: 12.9%

Approximate total cost of the pre-purchase veterinary exam of the misrepresented horse:

  • Under $500: 49.4%

  • $500 - $1,000: 33.3%

  • $1,000 - $1,500: 10.7%

  • $2,000 - $2,500: 2.4%

  • More than $3,000: 2.4%

  • $1,500 - $2,000: 1.8%

  • $2,500 - $3,000: 0%

Who paid for the pre-purchase veterinary exam of the misrepresented horse:

  • The buyer (respondent): 87.5%

  • The buyer's trainer or agent: 1.2%

  • The seller: 1.2%

  • The seller's trainer or agent: 0%

  • Previous buyer who opted not to buy the horse: 0%

  • Someone other than the above: 10.1%

Who attended the pre-purchase veterinary examination on the buyer's behalf:

  • The buyer (respondent): 47.0%

  • No one: 33.9%

  • The buyer's trainer: 13.1%

  • Someone other than the above: 14.3%

What the respondents said pre-purchase veterinary examination of the misrepresented horse included:

  • Soundness evaluation: 94.0%

  • Flexion tests: 82.1%

  • Check of horse's eyesight: 75.0%

  • Check of horse's hearing: 56.5%

  • Verification of horse's age: 50.0%

  • X-rays: 48.2%

  • Verification of horse's height: 35.7%

  • Blood draw - blood saved for later testing if needed: 28.0%

  • Verification of horse's natural tail function: 19.6%

  • Blood screen for tranquilizers: 11.9%

  • Blood screen for anti-inflammatory drugs: 10.7%

In hindsight, knowing what was wrong with the horse they purchased, 56.5% of respondents said they wish additional items had been included in the veterinary pre-purchase exam of the misrepresented horse.

What respondents now wish had been included in their veterinary pre-purchase exam:

  • Blood screen for tranquilizers: 44.2%

  • Blood screen for anti-inflammatory drugs: 41.2%

  • Blood draw for later testing if needed: 40.0%

  • X-rays: 20.0%

  • Flexion tests: 7.4%

  • Soundness evaluation: 6.3%

  • Verification of the horse's age: 5.3%

  • Check of the horse's eyesight: 3.2%

  • Verification of the horse's natural tail function: 2.1%

  • Verification of the horse's height: 1.1%

  • Check of the horse's hearing: 0%

  • Something other than the above: 37.9%

Of the respondents who said they now wish additional items had been included in the pre-purchase veterinary exam of the misrepresented horse:

  • 77.9% said the pre-purchase vet didn't recommend those procedures

  • 18.9% said they couldn't recall if the pre-purchase vet recommended those procedures or not

  • 3.2%  said the pre-purchase vet recommended those procedures

Why respondents didn't get the additional procedures the veterinarian recommended as part of the pre-purchase examination:

  • It would have take too much time: 33.3%

  • Respondent's trainer advised against it: 33.3%

  • Too expensive: 0%

  • Reasons other than the above: 33.3%

Of respondents who had a pre-purchase veterinary exam of the misrepresented horse, 72.0% said they received a written report, while 28.0% said they didn't

Of respondents who said they received a written report:

  • 47.9% received the report within a week of the exam

  • 38.7% received the report the same day as the exam

  • 13.4% received the report more than a week after the exam

71.4% of respondents waited to see the written pre-purchase exam report before committing to buy the horse, while 28.6% did not

Reasons why respondents committed to buy the horse before receiving the written pre-purchase exam report:

  • Respondent relied on vet's oral opinion on the day of the exam: 73.5%

  • Respondent was afraid someone else would buy the horse: 11.8%

  • Pressure from seller or seller' agent: 8.8%

  • Took too long to get the written pre-purchase exam report: 5.9%

  • Pressure from respondent's trainer: 5.9% 

  • Reasons other than the above: 17.6%

Of respondents who committed to buy the misrepresented horse before receiving a copy of the written pre-purchase exam report:

  • 79.4% weren't surprised by anything in the written report when they received it

  • 11.8% were surprised the horse was lame

  • 2.9% were surprised the blood screen results were positive for anti-inflammatories

  • 0% were surprised the blood results were positive for tranquilizers

  • 11.8% were surprised for another reason

Use of Contracts in the Purchase of Misrepresented Horses

How the respondents' purchases of misrepresented horses were documented:

  • With a simple bill of sale: 48.4%

  • With no documentation at all: 23.3%

  • With a sale contract: 15.3%

  • With a very simple receipt: 13.0%

Of the purchase transactions that were documented, who provided the documentation:

  • The seller: 62.3%

  • The respondent (buyer): 12.8%

  • The auction house: 9.6%

  • The seller's trainer or instructor: 6.8%

  • Respondent didn't remember: 5.7%

  • The respondent's trainer or instructor: 2.8%

Where the purchase documentation came from (to the best of the respondent's knowledge):

  • Person who provided the documentation wrote it themselves: 37.7%

  • Respondent not sure who provided it: 35.2%

  • Form from a book or software: 6.4%

  • Person who provided the documentation put it together using parts of other forms or contracts: 3.9%

  • Lawyer wrote it: 3.9%

  • Free form found on the Internet: 2.8%

  • Form purchased on the Internet: 0.7%

  • Somewhere other than the above: 9.3%

Looking back, how well the respondent thought the purchase documentation addressed the identification of the horse (e.g., age, breed, registration  number):

  • Very well: 44.1%

  • Fairly well: 27.8%

  • Very poorly: 8.5%

  • Somewhat poorly: 8.2%

  • Not at all: 9.3%

  • 2.1% of respondents said these terms were "not applicable"

Looking back, how well the respondent thought the purchase documentation addressed the payment terms (e.g., purchase price, deposit, installments):

  • Very well: 61.8%

  • Fairly well: 23.2%

  • Not at all: 3.9%

  • Somewhat poorly: 3.2%

  • Very poorly: 2.5%

  • 5.4% of respondents said these terms were "not applicable"

Looking back, how well the respondent thought the purchase documentation addressed the seller's name and contact information:

  • Very well: 50.9%

  • Fairly well: 26.9%

  • Somewhat poorly: 7.9%

  • Very poorly: 6.5%

  • Not at all: 3.2%

  • 4.7% of respondents said these terms were "not applicable"

Looking back, how well the respondent thought the purchase documentation addressed the buyer's name and contact information:

  • Very well: 52.4%

  • Fairly well: 23.6%

  • Somewhat poorly: 7.4%

  • Very poorly: 7.0%

  • Not at all: 5.2%

  • 4.4% of respondents said these terms were "not applicable"

Looking back, how well the respondent thought the purchase documentation addressed the horse's soundness:

  • Not at all: 49.6% 

  • Fairly well: 13.6%

  • Very well: 13.2%

  • Very poorly: 8.5%

  • Somewhat poorly: 7.4%

  • 7.7% of respondents said these terms were "not applicable"

Looking back, how well the respondents thought the purchase documentation addressed the horse's health:

  • Not at all: 50.0%

  • Fairly well: 13.6%

  • Very well: 12.9%

  • Very poorly: 8.1%

  • Somewhat poorly: 7.4%

  • 8.1% of respondents said these terms were "not applicable"

Looking back, how well the respondents thought the purchase documentation addressed the horse's suitability for the respondents' intended use:

  • Not at all: 60.0%

  • Very poorly: 10.7%

  • Fairly well: 6.7%

  • Very well: 6.7%

  • Somewhat poorly: 5.6%

  • 10.4% of respondents said these terms were "not applicable"

Looking back, how well the respondents thought the purchase documentation addressed guarantees offered by the seller:

  • Not at all: 67.6%

  • Very well: 6.3%

  • Very poorly: 5.5%

  • Somewhat poorly: 4.0%

  • Fairly well: 2.2%

  • 14.3% of respondents said these terms were "not applicable"

Looking back, how well the respondent thought the purchase documentation addressed the vet check terms:

  • Not at all: 60.7%

  • Very well:  7.4%

  • Fairly well: 5.9%

  • Very poorly: 4.1%

  • Somewhat poorly: 4.1%

  • 17.8% of respondents said these terms were "not applicable"

Looking back, how well the respondent thought the purchase documentation addressed the trial period terms:

  • Not at all: 61.7%

  • Very well: 4.5%

  • Very poorly: 3.3%

  • Somewhat poorly: 2.2%

  • Fairly well: 1.9%

  • 26.4% of respondents said these terms were "not applicable"

Looking back, how well the respondent thought the purchase documentation addressed resolution of disputes over the sale:

  • Not at all: 63.2%

  • Very well: 7.8%

  • Very poorly: 4.5%

  • Somewhat poorly: 4.1%

  • Fairly well: 3.3%

  • 17.1% of respondents said these terms were "not applicable"

Looking back, how well the respondents thought the purchase documentation addressed other special terms, such as rights of first refusal and breeding rights:

  • Not at all: 67.4%

  • Very well: 4.7% 

  • Very poorly: 2.7%

  • Fairly well: 2.7%

  • Somewhat poorly: 1.9%

  • 20.5% of respondents said these terms were "not applicable"

Resolution of Misrepresented Horse Purchase

70.6% of respondents did not try to resolve the situation with the seller, while 29.4% did

26.4% of the respondents who tried to resolve the situation with the seller said the seller offered to do something to resolve the situation (while 73.6% did not)

Proposed resolutions offered by the sellers:

  • Taking the horse back: 41.4%

  • Giving the respondent a different horse: 24.1%

  • Refunding part of the purchase price: 20.7% 

  • Working with the horse for the respondent: 13.8%

  • Attempting to resell the horse for the respondent: 13.8%

  • Refunding all of the purchase price: 13.8%

  • Providing the respondent with lessons: 3.4%

  • Something other than the above: 27.6%

When the seller offered a resolution, 58.6% of respondents thought the resolution was satisfactory, while 41.4% did not.

78.0% of respondents who tried to resolve the situation didn't consider taking any action other than talking to the seller.

As a means of resolving the misrepresented horse purchase, how the respondent viewed consulting an attorney:

  • Didn't know it was an option: 65.6%

  • Chose not to do it: 15.6%

  • Did it, got no resolution: 13.1%

  • Did it, got partial resolution: 3.1%

  • Did it, got full resolution: 2.5%

As a means of resolving the misrepresented horse purchase, how the respondent viewed filing a complaint with the seller's breed association:

  • Didn't know it was an option: 81.7%

  • Chose not to do it: 9.1%

  • Did it, got no resolution: 7.3%

  • Did it, got full resolution: 1.2%

  • Did it, got partial resolution: 1.2%

As a means of resolving the misrepresented horse purchase, how the respondent viewed filing a complaint with USEF, FEI or another governing body of equestrian sport:

  • Didn't know it was an option: 85.6%

  • Chose not to do it: 10.6%

  • Did it, got partial resolution: 1.9%

  • Did it, got no resolution: 1.9%

  • Did it, got full resolution: 0%

As a means of resolving the misrepresented horse purchase, how the respondent viewed contacting the Better Business Bureau:

  • Didn't know it was an option: 83.3%

  • Chose not to do it: 11.1%

  • Did it, got no resolution: 4.3%

  • Did it, got full resolution: 0.6%

  • Did it, got partial resolution: 0.6%

As a means of resolving the misrepresented horse purchase, how the respondent viewed giving the seller a negative rating on RateMyHorsePro.com:

  • Didn't know it was an option: 90.6%

  • Chose not to do it: 6.9%

  • Did it, got no resolution: 2.5%

  • Did it, got full resolution: 0%

  • Did it, got partial resolution: 0%

As a means of resolving the misrepresented horse purchase, how the respondent viewed taking the seller to small claims court:

  • Didn't know it was an option: 72.6%

  • Chose not to do it: 22.3%

  • Did it, got no resolution: 3.2%

  • Did it, got partial resolution: 1.3%

  • Did it, got full resolution: 0.6%

As a means of resolving the misrepresented horse purchase, how the respondent viewed suing the seller in regular civil court:

  • Didn't know it was an option: 70.8%

  • Chose not to do it: 21.7%

  • Did it, got no resolution: 5.6%

  • Did it, got full resolution: 1.2%

  • Did it, got partial resolution: 0.6%

As a means of resolving the misrepresented horse purchase, how the respondent viewed having an attorney contact the seller on their behalf:

  • Didn't know it was an option: 69.1%

  • Chose not to do it: 18.5%

  • Did it, got no resolution: 9.9%

  • Did it, got partial resolution: 1.9%

  • Did it, got full resolution: 1.2%

What Ultimately Happened to the Misrepresented Horse

  • Respondent kept it and still has it: 29.9%

  • Horse was resold in private sale: 25.9%

  • Horse was resold at auction: 9.6%

  • Horse was given away to private party: 7.3%

  • Seller took the horse back: 6.8%

  • Horse went to the trainer: 6.5% 

  • Horse was euthanized: 4.8%

  • Horse donated to charitable organization (other than rescue): 2.3%

  • Horse went to rescue organization: 0.8%

  • Something other than the above: 21.4%

How Much Money the Respondents Estimate They Lost on the Misrepresented Horse

  • $2,000 - $5,000: 20.6%

  • None: 16.6%

  • $1,000 - $2,000: 14.9%

  • $5,000 - $10,000: 14.4%

  • $500 - $1,000 10.1%

  • $10,000 - $20,000: 8.7%

  • Under $500: 5.9% 

  • $20,000 - $50,000: 4.8%

  • Over $100,000: 2.8%

  • $50,000 - $100,000: 1.1%

Types of economic damages incurred by the respondents:

  • Diagnosing and/or treating the horse's physical problem: 44.1%

  • Reselling the horse at a loss: 35.6%

  • Paying a professional trainer to work with the horse: 34.3%

  • Advertising and marketing the horse for re-sale: 21.9%

  • Giving away horse or donating horse: 12.8%

  • Injury or disability caused by the horse made the respondent miss work: 10.6%

  • Paying sales commission on resale of horse: 9.1%

  • Horse destroyed or damaged personal property: 6.7%

  • Euthanizing and disposing of the horse: 5.5%

  • Court costs and fees: 5.2%

  • Hiring a lawyer: 5.2%

  • Vet bills caused by the horse injuring other horses or animals: 3.0%

  • Something other than the above: 16.7%

Injuries Caused by the Misrepresented Horse

66.5% of respondents said no one was physically injured by the misrepresented horse.  When physical injuries did occur, the injured party experienced:

  • Minor physical injuries that didn't merit a doctor visit: 15.1%

  • An emergency room visit: 7.4%

  • Broken bones: 6.3%

  • Having to take vacation time and/or sick leave from work: 6.3%

  • Another serious injury that required medical treatment: 5.6%

  • A concussion: 5.3%

  • Physical therapy: 4.2%

  • Temporary disability: 3.5%

  • Hospitalization: 3.2%

  • Having to take unpaid leave from work: 2.8%

  • Permanent disability: 0.7%

  • Being unable to work again: 0%

  • Some other consequence of physical injury: 4.6%

Emotional Harm Caused by Misrepresented Horse

Emotional effects experienced by respondents and their families who purchased misrepresented horses:

  • Stress: 46.7%

  • Loss of confidence as a rider: 25.5%

  • Loss of faith in trainer and/or other equine professionals: 22.9%

  • None: 18.0%

  • Loss of confidence handling horses: 13.9% 

  • Gave up on horses altogether: 1.2%

  • Other effects not listed above: 22.0%

   

 


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