Buying a Horse: Things to Know Before You Buy a Horse

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Important Things to Consider When Buying a Horse.

It’s most thrilling to buy your first horse, but if you are new to horses, there are several questions to ask when buying a horse. For those of you who are planning on owning a horse for the first time, check out these tips, so that your experience does not turn traumatic or disastrous.

Buying your first horse is not like buying your first house or your first car, though any first buys does require some research. The problem is that you could select the wrong horse and then become frustrated after owning it. You need some experience and strategies to make a satisfying purchase.

Related: Horse Health Care: How to Know Signs of a Healthy Horse

A Well-Trained Horse?

Before buying a horse, decide on the kind of riding you wish to do and then select a horse that is well trained for that purpose.

  • There are styles of riding, such as English and Western, both of which are done for pleasure.
  • Most horses are trained in both these riding styles, so you can select one that is schooled for the purpose, otherwise you will have to do the training after buying it.
  • It is safer for first time owners to buy an older horse already having the skills that are needed.
  • While buying a horse, opt for an older well-trained horse, as a young beginner will not know how to handle itself when faced with a scary aspect.

owning a horse

Horse with a Steady and Solid Temperament

Buying your first horse? A calm and steady demeanor is very important in a horse. Even if you have the best trained horse, it would be of no use if  it is mentally unstable. Hence, consider these points before owning a horse!

  • When you buy a horse, you want to select a horse who will ride you over trails without fussing or fidgeting.
  • You’re looking for a horse that is observant and alert, but will not get agitated or frightened at unusual sights. Avoid buying a flighty or nervous one that shies away from everything. You could be in trouble with such a horse. Just imagine a scenario where you are riding on a mountain trail with steep sides and your horse sees something scary! A sure recipe for disaster if you’re on a temperamental horse, as this is surely not a beginner horse.

Example: For instance, if there was a hole covered by a log, you’d probably want your horse to pay heed to it, but at the same time, want it to go forward and not flee from the scene.

  • While buying a horse, ensure that the horse should be a solid leader, not lagging behind. Stay away from surly ones or ones that show temper, as it could easily bite or kick another horse.

Qualities to Look for in a Horse

While horse shopping, remember that there are over 200 breeds of horses all over the world, with each one having its own specific qualities. In addition, there are also many breed combinations.  Not all of them are suitable for all types of activities or all kinds of riders. Find out everything you need to know about horses before selecting one.

  • Select a horse that matches your temperament or riding style. For instance, if you are a nervous rider, you need to go in for a calm type of breed that will not react to fear or tension.
  • If you are a beginner in riding, select well trained and calm horses. Buy a horse suitable for your purpose. For instance, a horse suitable for high performance sports may not be suitable for a beginner or learner. Buy one that matches your fitness level, and not a dream that may or may not come true after several years.
  • The right size is important. Consider personal riding goals and then select the right size. As for color, it is not advisable to buy one based on color alone. You’re not riding the color!

A fourteen hand pony cannot jump high like a sixteen hand Warmblood.

  • Research the horse breed before buying it. For instance, Arabian horses might be bore suitable for a long trail ride, as they are the enduring types. Again, a Warmblood would be suitable for hopping fences or performing in a dressage ring.
  • Select a personality that suits your style. Some horses need pushing, as they’re rather lazy while others are brimming with energy.

questions to ask when buying a horse

Finding a Horse

  • There are many websites where you can buy or sell horses.

Remember: to check out whether the site offers money back guarantees.

  • Ask questions and let the seller know exactly the type of horse you are looking for.

Be alert to scams! Sites might offer your a cheap horse, but it could have serious illnesses or injuries. Go only to recommended dealers.

  • You can get cheaper rates at some sites that buy horses directly from farms and breeders.
  • Let the word out that you are looking for a horse. You can inform vets and farriers or tack shops, your riding instructor, stable employees. You can also ask at animal shelters for information on horses that need a new home.
  • Check out sales ads in boarding stables, tack stores and horse vet offices.

If you’re buying at an auction, keep a keen eye, as it can be drugged to look calm or healthy and lameness and other defects can also be easily hidden with drugs.

Vet Checking

 This entails a detailed examination of the horse by your vet, right from its nose, poll, legs and tail. It’s a small price that you pay for a long term commitment with your horse and is one of the responsibilities of owning a horse.

things you need for a horse
Image Source: petplan.com.au
  • It is important to get vet checking done before purchasing a horse, to get an unbiased opinion about whether the horse you have selected is suitable for your purpose.
  • Vets gather important information on medical history and examine the eyes, skin, with flexion tests done on the four limbs to detect lameness and analyze the gait, etc.

Asking the Right Questions

Asking the right questions before a purchase can help protect you from nasty surprises after the deed is done!

  • Ask for a general description about the horse.
  • Learn about the gender, the age, height etc.
  • Know more about the background, its breed, where it came from and so on.
  • Ask for the reasons for selling the horse
  • If the horse has had some vicis, like bucking, rearing, health problems or any other bad tendencies you need to know about.
  • The family and breeding history, whether it is a cross breed and so on.
  • Check out the paperwork, the registration etc.
  • The feed of the horse, whether hay, haylage or any other specific preferences of the horse.
  • Questions on vetting, vaccinations, medical records and so on.

Cost and Upkeep – Things You Need for a Horse!

Horses are expensive to maintain, with initial price of purchase playing only a minimal role!

  • The cost of a horse could range anywhere from totally free to a million dollars. However, practically speaking, you should be ready to pay a few thousand dollars for the right horse, depending on the kind of horse, your location and the intended purpose, etc.
  • You will need to buy grooming equipment; tack; blankets; medical supplies and so on. These are some of the must haves when buying a horse.
  • Also factor in costs related to Feed, vaccinations, immunizations, shoes, sudden illness or injuries, boarding costs etc.
  • Payment for boarding at stables, which includes food, water and shelter.
  • You will also need appropriate gear like helmet, gloves and breeches and will have to take lessons on proper riding and handling of your horse.

buying your first horse

Horse Riding Lessons

  • Take at least a few, say six, months of training or riding lessons.
  • These lessons will help you learn the basics of controlling your horse and the correct horsemanship.
  • You will also learn safe grooming and handling of your horse.
  • You can also connect with a professional horse trainer in the area, so that you can turn to him for help if you need it.

Wrap Up

Horses and ponies can offer you a wonderful companionship as they have a long lifespan of about 25 to 30 years. However, it is a rather big investment and it requires a lot of time, money and commitment. It is important to understand how to find the right horse and be sure that you can start a long, happy and satisfying relationship with your horse.

Following the above steps will ensure that you don’t buy a horse for the wrong reasons based on its appearance or guided by emotions. This will only end up in regrets, being unfair to both you and your horse. In short,

  • Take riding lessons.
  • Find an honest seller.
  • Find a horse suitable for your purpose.
  • And, last but not least, do your homework! Finding the right one could take months, so be armed with facts and research, you will surely come across a horse that you can love and enjoy for years to come!

All the best!

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