The prospect, of owning your first horse, is a very exciting one, especially if you have been waiting a long time to get your own horse. Buying a horse is ultimately, what every rider aims for and aspires to do. Picture those lazy summer hacks, coming first place at your local riding show, those early morning sunrise rides - life will be perfect.
However, finding the perfect horse may not be as easy as you think, and will most probably take some time. So, don’t get too ahead of yourself.
The worst thing you can do when buying a horse is to rush into a sale. Far too many inexperienced horse owners rush into buying a horse and end up with a horse that is not the right match for them.
To help you find the perfect horse for you and your family, here are some tips to help you.
1. Be smart
Of course, it’s only natural to be excited when you are looking at horses, but make sure to stay smart.
It may sound odd, but if you are shopping with children, don’t take too much notice of them. Kids will think that any horse is perfect, as they don’t fully understand that each horse is different in terms of temperament and personality. Don’t be tempted to buy a horse because it is pretty to look at and your children love it, there are other factors that are much more important to consider.
2. Take riding lessons
If you are not an experienced rider, make sure to invest in some riding lessons. While you may have read every book there is about horses; you may not know how to put the information into practice. That’s why it is important that anyone who owns a horse has some basic riding lessons.
If you are buying a horse for your family, as well as yourself, book your children some riding lessons too. Don’t be tempted to teach them yourself, unless you are an experienced rider, you may do more harm than good.
3. Take an experienced friend with you
If you are new to riding and only have a basic knowledge, take an experienced riding friend with you. An experienced horse owner, will know how to check the horse's temperament, that the animal is healthy and rides well.
If you don’t have a friend or relative that you can ask, invite your riding instructor along with you, as they will be able to give you some help and advice.
4. Watch how the horse behaves when handled
An important part, of buying a horse, comes from seeing how it behaves when handled by its owner.
If the seller suggests having the horse ready for you to ride when you arrive, ask that they wait to put the saddle on until you are there. That way you can watch how the horse acts as he is led outside, getting groomed and tacked up. If you notice that the owner is struggling to control the horse, it might be a good idea to look elsewhere instead.
5. Watch the seller ride
Before you get on the horse, ask the seller to ride first. This will allow you to see how the horse moves and how well it behaves. If the seller is uncomfortable getting on the horse, this is not a good sign. However, most sellers will be happy to do so.
Once the seller has ridden the horse, and you are happy with how it rode, it’s your turn. Spend at least five minutes riding the horse around to get a feel for how it moves and how easy it is to ride. Bare in mind, that while some horses are ideal for experienced riders, for beginners and children they just aren’t suitable.
6. Ask about the horse's history
When buying a horse, it is crucial that you find out as much as you can about the animals history. How long has the horse lived with the seller? What is the reason for the sale? Is all the paperwork up to date? Don’t worry about asking too many questions, it is important that you find out as much as you can.
If the seller has not owned the horse for very long, ask for the contact details of its previous owner. Perhaps they can help you answer your questions.
7. Not all sellers are honest
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that all sellers are honest, sadly many sellers aren’t.
Hopefully, you will be able to judge how honest a seller is by how they act and how openly they respond to your questions. Just be careful to avoid sellers who are looking for a quick deal and be wary of who you deal with.
It is a good idea to stay away from auctions or mass horse sellers, as they trade animals in so quickly that they won’t be able to tell you much about the animal. To find a reputable, local seller, ask around at your riding stables for recommendations.
Before you buy your horse, it is important that you have everything you need to ride and look after it. Make a list of everything you need, including a saddle, helmet, and rug and then have a look online on this site about equine products and events. Or, pop into your local equine store to find what you need.
9. Take a vet to have a look
If everything else seems good, ask a vet to come and view the horse for a second time with you. Ask your vet to give the horse a basic check to make sure that it is healthy and in good condition.
It might also be a good idea to get in touch with the horse's current vet and farrier, ask the seller for their details so that you can get in touch with them. Ask them to confirm that the horse is in good health and has no underlying health problems.
10. Don’t rush
Don’t be pressured into rushing the sale, after viewing the horse go home and mull it over. Think about whether it is the right horse for you - if you have any doubts start looking elsewhere.