Buying a horse is exciting and stressful at the same time. It’s really hard to go and look at a bunch of horses and not want to buy them all. Here are 15 Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to purchasing a horse.
1. Don’t Shop with Your Heart
Women are particularly bad about this and it’s because we really can’t help it. We see every horse, pony, mule or donkey as an animal that needs a nurturing home. Men are more subjective. So, if you tend to want to buy all creatures with four legs, have a friend, husband, boyfriend or trainer go look at the horses for you first and then go look at the ones that are real options.
2. Don’t Consider Inappropriate Horses
If you’re a new rider, older horses tend to be the better option. Reacess your riding and trianing abilities and be honest with yourself. If you can’t handle the two year old green broke colt or you’re not sure, then don’t chance it and don’t buy it. If you’re a new rider, stay away from ads that have the words “prospect” and “green” in them.
3. Don’t Get Caught Up in Hype
There really are people that are “horse traders” and they are just as bad as car salesmen. They can talk up any old horse into sounding like a Kentucky Derby winner. Use what you know about horses and don’t fall for the sales pitch.
4. Don’t Ride a Horse that Hasn’t Been Ridden by Someone Else First
When you go horse shopping, you definitely want to do some riding as well, but don’t get on until after the horse’s owner has ridden him and put him through his paces. This gives you a chance to see the horse move, but it also gives you a chance to see what his bad habits are. They will come out with the rider aboard, but he may not be so ornery if you’re riding him. You can get a clear picture of how the horse will act by watching the owner ride the horse – remember, horses know the difference in whose riding them.
5. Make Sure the Horse is Not Medicated
Many people will medicate a horse before you go to see them. The best way to find out if a horse has been medicated or if he is ever medicated is to simply ask. If the owner gets shifty, then you may need to worry. Also, ask the owner what they do to prepare the horse before they are ridden and what he has done to prepare the horse for your try-out. Legally, the seller is required to answer these questions truthfully and directly. If they don’t and you get hurt, then they are guilty of negligence and you can (and should) sue.
6. Don’t Buy a Horse You Can’t Sit On
Or that you can’t put a bit on, or one that doesn’t respond to your aids. Do your best to show up to your try-outs early and watch the horse as he is tacked up. Bad behaviors such as these will come out now. If the horse doesn’t take a bit and throws a fight, he’ll do it while you’re there. If you don’t feel like you can sit on the horse and have a conversation with the owner, friend or a trainer, then don’t by the horse. If anything about the horse makes you uncomfortable, then he’s not the one for you.
7. Examine the Horse’s Stall for Signs of Vices
Cribbers will have areas in their stall where they have chewed the wood down. They can also do crib on fence posts in the pasture, but it’s harder to spot them if they live in a pasture. Other vices such as weaving and box walking can be hard to spot. If you see ditches in their stalls from walking in circles or weaving back and forth then you know they have some sort of vice. Kickers are easier to spot because there’s usually hoof prints in the walls!
8. Think Long and Hard about “Potential”
A lot of horses with “potential” turn out to be nothing because you have to be motivated to ensure these horses get the proper training they need to be performance horses and this can be difficult and expensive for the new horse owner. Unless you are willing to put down the money to train these horses (and do it quickly) then your horse with “potential” will probably not turn out to be a performer or even broke for that matter. There are a lot of horses out there that had potential, but their new owners couldn’t afford a trainer to break and train them so they consume money on a monthly basis in board, feed and hay instead.
9. Take Your Trainer with You
If you have a trainer or riding instructor, take them horse shopping with you. They’ll be able to spot horses that are good matches for you easier than you will and they will be able to help you make a smart decision.
10. Do Buy a Horse that is Trained in Your Discipline
If you want to be an Olympic contender one day, then you better buy a horse that is trained for Hunter work, Dressage or show jumping. If you want to be the next winner at the NRHA Derby, then you need to buy a western horse trained for reining. A lot of horses are able to go either Western or English, but if you’re buying your first horse, buy one that is already trained in the discipline that you ride in.