Buying a horse is a serious decision, and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The process to find the perfect horse should take time and care on the buyer’s part. Not only can horses be expensive, they also require quite a lot of money to keep. Between feeding, stabling and training them, a horse is quite an investment, and thus, one that should be analysed carefully.
In this post, Willowbrook Riding Centre, which is based in West Sussex, share their top five tips on how to approach the process of buying a horse and ultimately how to make the best decision possible.
Before you start looking for horses, it’s very important to be realistic about your goals. This comes in several aspects, such as money, riding skill, your time availability, space to keep them, and all other relevant aspects in your life that will change when there’s a horse to care for.
This means both evaluating your life, and your goals. One important aspect is your skill level, and in this, a buyer needs to be very realistic. While many would love to have a prized competition stallion, not everyone has the skill and the time to deal with such an animal. New riders would benefit from riding school horses, for example, one that may help them in the process of learning to ride. Riding schools and equestrian centres regularly sell school horses and trail horses at affordable prices. To see those currently available at Willowbrook Riding Centre visit their website Willowbrook Riding Centre for listings of their riding school horses for sale.
Experienced riders on the other hand might want the challenge of a new, green horse they can train themselves, according to their own needs.
What you want to achieve with the horse will also influence your choice. A more expensive horse (or even buying one at all) might be overkill if you only intend to go hacking on the weekends and holidays rather than competing and aiming at international competitions.
Remember, don’t act out of emotion or impulse. While you may want to rescue that horse from a rescue centre and take it home, it will not help either of you if you cannot deal with its possible traumas, health issues and other complications. While rescuing a horse is a noble thing to do, not everyone is equipped with the time, skill and money to deal with such a horse. Of course, if you do have these things, then go for it!
Thus, the first step when buying a horse is realism: what are your goals, your skill level, and what you can afford, even accounting for emergencies.
Make a checklist
A checklist will go a long way in helping you decide. Write down the things you want in your horse, whether it’s in skill level, personality, breed, and purpose. As with tip #1, keep yourself realistic, and realise not all horses will match your entire list.
There is no such thing as a perfect horse, but having a list of desirable, undesirable and essential traits will go a long way into helping you make a decision. It will also help you act more rationally when making a choice.
Once you have a checklist in hand, you can narrow down your options and discard outright options that will not fit it. If you only want a gentle horse to teach your teenager daughter how to ride, there is no point in looking at expensive, sharp sports horses. Instead, you might focus on finding a gentle, friendly Cob instead.
It’s important to also stick to the checklist, and not be swayed by biased opinions. While it’s always good to heed other people’s advice, especially if you’re new to the horse world, the checklist will help you stay focused and not be potentially manipulated into buying a horse that does not fit your needs. If necessary, find a well-intentioned, more experienced person to help you make the checklist.
Background check the seller
Unfortunately, there are some ill-intentioned people out there. Check whether your seller is someone trustworthy who is not lying or misleading you.
Once again, riding schools and other equestrian centres might be a better bet, especially for the novice in the horse world.these places are more likely to be reliable, and easier to check as they operate as companies, rather than individuals, and under a closer scrutiny than private sellers. A riding school, breeder or equestrian centre with a good reputation is a better bet than a stranger who might be wanting to pass on the less than perfect pony. Professional dealers are also a safer bet.
Get a vetting before purchase
Whenever you buy a horse, it is of utmost importance to have a trustworthy veterinarian check it first. This is for two reasons: both to check whether the animal is fit for the intended purpose, and whether it is physically sound.
It’s recommended to have veterinary records for the animal, including vaccination and dental issues it might have, or have had in the past. Check whether the animal is or was medicated, for what, and if it has had any health issues in the past. Have your veterinarian do a complete examination as well. Also assess the horse for bad habits such as cribbing.
This avoids getting into issues when you buy a horse that looks fine but isn’t. The vet will also help you locate issues in behaviour as well, which will help guide you in your decision.
Read more on why a vetting is important by visiting the Simon Constable’s Equine Vets website: https://equine-vets.com/services/vetting/
Experience the horse yourself
While not all places will allow you to do so, you should try out the horse you intend to buy. This means both going on trial rides, handling it in-hand and attending to it in other ways to see how you might get along.
A good relationship with your horse is essential, and spending time with your potential future equine will tell you many things about the particular horse’s quirks and habits, which might not necessarily be a bad thing. More importantly, you’ll test how well you work together, and how well you fit. Even excellent horses and excellent riders might not work as well together, and it’s always best to test ride before making any permanent decisions.
If possible, seek out places where you can interact with the horse before buying it yourself. Once again, riding schools and equestrian centres might prove a better option, especially for newbie horse owners and riders.
Ask yourself: do you like the horse? Can you see yourself taking care of it for years and years, experiencing and growing in skill and in friendship with it? If the answer is yes, even if the horse is not perfect, that’s one of the most important points ticked. Even a “better” horse in all technical aspects will not be as good if you don’t like it and don’t get along with it.