Talking with a friend recently who had finally bought a horse after a lengthy search, it came to me that it can be a stressful and long process. Surely finding that dream horse would be an easy and enjoyable experience? Actually, it can be far from it….. It is important that you do not buy the first horse that you see and take time to look at the advantages and disadvantages this horse purchase may bring you.
In times of financial cut backs, the amount you can afford is also a factor which can complicate the choice of horse. How many of you ideally would like a Ferrari on your drive but can only afford a Ford Focus… But that Ford Focus may be what you need to have an affordable and reliable horse in your everyday life. Buying the Ferrari may boost your looks so to speak, but they are very expensive to run and difficult to drive. Experience is needed when buying a fine tuned car….or horse. In reality, I know what I would choose!
The first decision is to make absolutely sure you want the commitment of buying a horse. Loaning one may be the better choice and give you an insight into what it is like to be a horse owner.
If you have decided to buy a horse then next thing to consider when choosing a horse is matching your experience with his. Do you want a young green horse, a schoolmaster or something in between? You have to be honest with yourself about what you can manage. Taking on a young horse needs a rider with knowledge and experience in bringing the horse on in the correct way. Bad mistakes made with these horses in their teenage phase will notoriously impact them in their behaviour and rideability later on. A novice rider will get more enjoyment and confidence from a horse who knows its job, while a more experienced rider may want the challenge and satisfaction of schooling their horse.
Before you start searching through the classified ads, take a look at the sales notices in your local equestrian feed stores. Visiting local shows, riding clubs and hearing about horses through “word of mouth” can be the ideal way of finding that right horse for you. I know searching for the “perfect horse” can be frustrating but don’t be tempted to give up and buy a horse that is not suitable. The extra waiting time will pay off in the long run.
When it comes to viewing a horse try not let your excitement cloud your judgement. Take someone with you that has some equestrian experience and knows your needs. Hopefully, their honest opinion will keep your feet on the ground and look at buying a horse objectively. When you arrive at the yard, take a note of how people are acting around the horse that you are buying? Is the horse already tacked up? Do they seem nervous when handling the horse? Ideally, when you arrive to view a horse, I think the horse should be untacked and in his stable. Do the following things to get a good idea of how the horse reacts to:
Being led in hand
Walk and trot up in hand and look for signs of possible lameness
Groom the horse including picking his feet out.
Tack the horse up ready to ride.
Ride the horse by warming him up and putting him through his paces.
When the horse has cooled down, untack him and take an opportunity to feel for any heat or swellings.
All of these things should show any reactions the horse may have negatively but hopefully, he is sound and happy with all of these. Make sure you ask the following points too, to give you as much information about the horse as you can:
What is the horse mainly used for i.e everyday hacking, dressage, riding club, show jumping etc
Does he have a passport?
Does he load and travel well?
What are his living arrangements? Is he turned out 24/7 or have a stable routine?
Who is his current farrier and is he good to shoe?
Has he had any previous injuries?
Hopefully, the owner has given you a completely honest view of the horse and you have a pretty good idea if you like him. Horses are living animals and have moods and temperaments just like we do. I honestly believe horses are like humans – some you connect with and some you don’t! Sometimes you just get a general vibe about whether this horse is right for you…or not. So be honest with yourself as buying a horse is a big commitment.
If you are happy with the horse and think it’s the one for you then you need to discuss the price with the owner and arrange a vet to check him over. Also, arrange for a second visit so you can tack up and ride the horse and don’t be pressured into buying immediately from the owner.
Having your own horse is such a rewarding relationship, but as relationships go there are inevitable ups and downs. I truly believe that it takes up to 18 months to bond with a horse. This is for you to trust the horse and the horse to trust you. Don’t throw the hat in at the first hurdle, take time and take a step back and look at the problem which always will have a solution.
I wish you Happy Horse Hunting!
Written By Samantha Hobden of http://hay-net.co.uk/
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