Going to view a horse for sale is rather like going on a date, both of you will be wanting to show your good qualities and gloss over your bad. And much like people, no horse is perfect. Your job when looking for a horse is to find one who fits you. Be realistic and keep an open mind. Often you can find the most wonderful horses buried under mountains of hair and mud. Here are a selection of tips to help you in your viewing process.
1: Spend time on the ground with them. Walk them round in hand. Ask the horse to stand still in a relaxed fashion, this will tell you a lot about the horse. Is he happy to stand, or is he agitated? Is he climbing over you, or is he respectful of your space? Much of the success of a ridden partnership is in the relationship we form on the ground.
2: Ask to help tack the horse up. How a horse reacts to his bit and his girth are two great insights into his behaviour and any pain that he may have. If there is any reluctance, then bear in mind that it may be pain related. Consider a vetting or an assessment from a Chartered physiotherapist.
3: Be fair. The first time you sit on a new horse you are unlikely to have the best ride of your life. Don’t expect everything to feel perfect. Your aids will probably be slightly different, but as long as the horse is trying to do what you ask, then that is okay. Take your time don’t feel pressured by the owner.
4: Be honest. If you take one look at the horse and don’t like it for whatever reason, just say. It is far better than wasting everyone’s time. If you don’t want to ride the horse, you don’t have to.
5: Be respectful. It is very stressful selling horses. Do turn up on time, let people know if you are running late, and don’t go and look at a horse unless you actually want to buy one! Remember, we all interpret the world in different ways, two people can watch the same event and report it in wildly different versions. Neither person is lying. The classic example of this is the description of quiet. Quiet varies wildly from person to person, I have viewed a spectacular range of horses described as quiet, some of them were indeed quiet and some were not, occasionally people lie, but often they don’t it is simply that their interpretation of the world is different to your own.
Viewing horses can be fun, it is a good idea to take a friend or professional with you for a second opinion. And remember much like dating, if you enjoy the first date you can always ask for a second one…
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