Thinking of buying a horse?

This page is meant to give you some information about what to think about when starting your journey in horse ownership. There are so many variables to consider before buying. What are your expectations? What do you want to do with your new horse? Where will you be keeping it? How far will you need to travel to see your new horse... 10 minutes or an hour?  Are you willing to commit to incorporating your horse into your busy schedule? What have you done to educate yourself about horse ownership and riding? Can you afford it? (the horse is not the expensive part.) Have you considered the costs involved in tack, boarding, vet, training, feed, bug spray, medications,  vaccinations and care?  If you’ve considered these things and are still excited about this new venture- read on!

When looking for your horse, consider your time, expertise, and desires.  One option is to buy a weanling or yearling. You will need to plan on raising it, getting it started, or start it yourself.  While there is a definite “cute factor” in foals, most people aren’t in a position to buy a weanling and pay the costs involved for 3-4 years before the horse is started under saddle. After a horse has been started under saddle they are considered “green broke”. If you buy a green horse ask yourself: are you willing to put in the kind of riding and time it will take to get the horse the experiences it needs to become reliable and safe? Are you a confident enough rider to handle the ups and downs of a developing horse’s brain?

You can also purchase a horse that someone else has taken all of those steps.  Ask yourself: have you taken the steps to become a knowledgable rider or will the money you spend on a well trained horse go unrealized? You have to pick and choose the things that are the most important for you. Consider your own personality, temperament, and commitment, and don't get a horse that will continuously frustrate or scare you.

As difficult as it will be- take your time! The best advice I was given before buying my first horse was to become educated. Take lessons. Not just a few, but a few months or more of regular lessons will give you tremendous perspective on owning a horse. If you cannot commit to a weekly lesson, how will you ever commit to the time needed for horse ownership?

Don’t be intimidated- we have all been there. Look for a teacher who you get along with, and someone who will start with basic equitation skills. It is the foundation for all types of riding. Taking lessons does not mean you are committing to anything other than learning. After you get a basic education you can pursue what appeals to YOU, whether that is dressage, trail riding, reining, versatility,  jumping, or riding the roads around your house........ the sky is the limit. But, you will not limited because of a lack of knowledge.

So what are some of the factors you should consider when looking for your horse? Depending on your objectives these factors might be of major consideration or much less importance. The more criteria you have on your list of a “dream horse”, the more you are probably going to be paying. YOU have to decide what is important.

  1. 1. Make sure the animal matches your intended use.

  2. 2. Does the horse have good manners? No one likes a horse that is knocking them down, biting, and stepping on them. 

3. What are you looking for in temperament? Do you want a horse that is spirited and            really moves out, or a calmer more sedate horse? Please be realistic about your abilities as a rider as well.

4. If you are looking to experience the show world you may want to look at the horse’s show record, or its parent’s record. This may be important if you want to be competitive in the ring.

5. Consider conformation. Some flaws are acceptable, some aren't. The ones that aren’t are those that affect the potential long term use of your horse. Educate yourself before entering the buying market.

6. Many buyers place an importance on color. If color is an important factor to you, be aware you are restricting the potential pool of horses to choose from. When you find a horse that meets all of your other criteria AND is the right color, be prepared to act quickly to purchase that horse. Also keep in mind an old saying, “a good horse is never a bad color.”

7. Horses can have a wide range of training. Be realistic about your needs and abilities.  Be smart about your purchasing dollar. If you buy a green broke horse for $1,800.00 but are not willing or capable of putting the time needed to get that horse reliable to a point where you want it, you may end up paying a trainer. At $600-800 a month training costs you may be better off initially purchasing a well started horse for $5000.00.

8. Consider the older horse. They can be useful well into their late 20's and even thirties. With age usually comes a lot of training and life experience.  Older horses can be especially good for children, aged, and beginner riders.

9. Utilize a veterinarian to get expert advice on the soundness of the horse you are considering. A smart investment is a prepurchase exam.

10. One very important factor to consider is the horses past care and treatment. Reliable, consistent vet and farrier work is invaluable. Equally important is ethical, compassionate previous treatment. Buy from someone who has taken the time and effort to properly care for the horse.

11. The gender of a horse you buy is also personal preference. The only exception is say “NO- TO STALLIONS!” Only the most experienced owners should even consider a stallion.  There are a variety of wives tales out there with regards to mares versus geldings. Do not limit your search to one gender. Each horse is individual. I have known extremely level headed, non reactive mares... and others that would fall into the psycho category. But that is true of geldings too. There are good and bad in both. Keep an open mind to both.

Good luck in your search, and be patient but persistent. Your time and effort will pay off in the long run!


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