You’ve made a decision and you are going to buy a horse. My advice? …Make a shopping list first.
List everything that you want your horse to be, his minimum level of experience, how you are going to fit on him and what you want to do with him. You can make it more detailed with specifics like age, breed, build, bone etc but promise yourself that if you write it down then you will stick to it. So put a lot of thought into this preparatory step before even pressing a horses for sale link!
Shopping list sorted and your ready to start looking so here is a handy focus list for you to help keep you on track.
- Decide what type of horse you are after and stick to it. It’s all too easy to get carried away when you’re looking for a horse, so If you are after a schoolmaster don’t come home with a recently broken 3 year old!
- Ask yourself will this horse do the job I want him for? “Could I see this horse in the arena, x country, hunting all day etc ?” It really helps to keep a clear picture of what you are looking for. It is so easy to get side tracked and buy on impulse based on nothing more than the colour of a horses coat.
- Keep a constant eye on the market – The good ones tend to get snapped up very quickly, in the past I’ve seen them on Horse Scout in the morning and sold be lunchtime!
- Be prepared to take your time finding a horse – sometimes it can be a lengthy and tedious process, if the first horse isn’t right it might be the second, fifth or tenth! And always try a horse twice – you will pick up on things at a second visit that you missed the first time around
- Make a list of questions and make sure you get an answer to every one before hanging up. Let the seller talk, often as you chat you can pick up things that are not written in the ad. E.g. “Is he quiet in the stable?” “Oh yes, burble on a bit…” followed by “of course if you wave your arms around he can throw up his head” no this might describe the horse exactly or it could be a way of saying you have to be very quiet around the horse as it spooks easily in its stable. Bear this in mind when you visit the horse. Don’t go mad but just see what the seller means.
- Ask direct questions about vices etc like weaving or windsucking, cold back etc by specifically asking the question. Technically a seller is oblisged to come clean but if he hesitates or changes the subject be wary. If this happens go aware to the visit if you still want to go ahead, this will save you time and money in the long run. Ask for a video of the horse inaction, this can be a great way of telling whether a horse is worth the time and cost of fuel of a viewing.
- Don’t waste peoples time If you arrive and immediately know the horse is not for you then don’t be afraid to say so, the seller should appreciate your honesty and this way you won’t be wasting your time either. It can be difficult to be blunt but better for all concerned in the long run. You may well make friends with the seller but they are not, at this point, your friend and will not mind your honesty.
- If you can then video the horse – you can watch it again and again which will help you make a decision and similarly, take someone with you that knows your riding – it can be so worthwhile to have another ‘pair of eyes’ to assess the horse
- Ask questions, questions and more questions! Buying a horse is a huge decision and you need to know everything you can about the horse before you commit to buying it. If the seller is genuine they will be able to answer all of them!
- Sleep on it. The seller is keen to make a sale but you must be certain that this is the right horse for you. After all you will have a huge time, money and resources tied up in your equine partner so make sure you are making a decision based on all the things that are on your shopping list and not on an impulse.
- Having made a decision it is advisable to get a vet check, but keep it appropriate you don’t need a 5* vetting if you are not expecting to seriously compete on your horse. However, your vet will be able to advise you if you tell him what you want to use the horse for.
Don’t go off track, pick the perfect horse for you. Good luck with your search and let us know how you get on.