Buying A Horse

The most important factor guiding the decisions you make when buying a horse is the reason you want a horse in the first place.

Family Ponies

If your first priority in buying a horse is finding one that both kids and adults can enjoy, consider a pony. You should look for a pony with an even temperament who likes to be ridden. If you”ve never had a pony before, consider keeping him at a stable where more experienced owners are nearby, available for advice and help.

If you choose to keep your pony on your own property, you”ll need at least an acre of space, a shelter and a reasonable budget to pay for feed, shoes and equipment.

If you plan to put part of the horse”s care in the hands of a child, you should take steps to ensure that she understands what”s involved in the job. Take your child to meet the members of the local pony club. She”ll get an idea of the tasks involved in caring for a pony, and you”ll be able to determine whether she”s ready.

Competition Horses

If you”re thinking of buying a horse to enter into competition check with breeders, trainers andrescue organizations. If you choose to use a rescue organization you may be in for a wait. Rescue shelters rarely have suitable competition horses and those quality horses that do end up in a shelter are adopted quickly.

Take a look at your local papers for horses for lease. Although leasing saves you the initial expenditure, you”ll generally be responsible for all regular expenses. If this isn”t what you want, look for a possible share with an owner who has run out of time or money and would welcome a little help. Contact your local riding centers and stables, as they may know of just the horse.

Horses and Ponies as Companions

If your reason for buying a horse or pony is to provide companionship for another horse, consider adopting an older horse who”s no longer able to work. Ensure that you have enough field space for multiple horses and that adequate winter shelter is available for both, particularly if he”s old. Be aware of any medical and financial requirements that owning multiple horses entails and that you have budgeted realistically.

Buying a Horse: Where to Look

When buying a horse, you get what you pay for and, basically, you”re paying for two things: training and breeding.

If you”re looking for your first horse, focus on training. The best horse for you is the seasoned veteran. Your new horse should be a good citizen, dependable and rational. Look for a horse you can learn from and grow with. If possible, take an experienced horseperson with you on your quest.

Adoptions: A number of different rescue organizations exist that care for injured, abandoned and abused horses and ponies. Some also retrain former racing horses into riding horses. These are horses in need of a friendly face and gentle hand. Contact your local humane society to get the name of a horse rescue organization in your area.

Auctions: An auction can be one of the worst places to buy a horse. Most of the horses that go to auction are for sale because they”re lame, sick or unsafe to ride. They may look fine, but how do you really know?

Rescuing a horse from the auction is not the same as saving a dog from the animal shelter. Selecting the wrong dog is seldom a matter of life or death for you or your child.

Riding Schools: A riding school is one of the best places for buying a horse. Riding schools are well equipped to provide a great environment for testing out prospective horses. Both instructors and students regularly observe the individual characteristics and tendencies of school horses.

School horses are typically well trained and able to accommodate the special needs of a beginner or child. These horses are ridden by riders of all sizes and skill levels and are usually very good teachers.

If you”re interested in a particular horse, ask questions and listen to the anecdotes. Riding instructors can help you find the horse that”s right for you, but be prepared to pay them a commission.

Breeders: Breeding operations are not usually a good place to buy your first horse. However, they”re great places to buy breeding stock if you”re well educated on the attributes of specific bloodlines.

If you plan on buying a young horse directly from a breeder, have it professionally trained for several months or more. Even then you”ll have no guarantee that the horse will ever be suitable for riding.

Private Parties: Private parties are a good place to look for your first horse. Ask them why they”re selling the horse and how long they”ve had the horse. Tell them how you intend to use the horse and the experience level of the intended riders. Go see the horse in its environment; this will give you a good idea of the level of care the horse has received.

Best Advice for Horse Buying

Do the legwork. When you”ve found a horse that you believe is right for you, don”t get too excited until your veterinarian gives it a pre-purchase examination. You”ll have to pay for the exam, but it”s good insurance against buying and growing attached to a horse with serious health problems.

If the owner of the horse is reluctant to have the horse examined by your veterinarian, walk away from the deal. The horse probably has a problem the owner doesn”t want you to know about.