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One of the main problems people have when buying a horse comes from not performing the proper research and preparation to ensure that their new friend is a good match for them and their abilities.
Do You Know The Horse Well?
Great care needs to be taken when buying a horse. The best way would be to buy one you know well already, from someone you know and trust. This ensures the horse is not stolen or recently bought elsewhere, and is what the person says he is - there are many cases of elaborate histories being totally fabricated, by seemingly trustworthy and reputable sources.
This happens all too frequently, and can at best mean that you find yourself with a horse that is not able to do all that you require of him, and can even be life-threateningly dangerous!
How Much Experience Do You Need To Own A Horse
The incredible rise of the internet has led to horses being advertised online, being sold all over the world on the strength of a photograph and brief history. The traditional practice of taking a horse to the local market and being sold "as seen" is still ongoing. Buyers are regularly travelling nationwide on the strength of a magazine advert, and returning with their prized new possession the same day.
What we have to remember is that these are animals with great sensitivity and intelligence. They are not cars. Many people would not consider buying a car without looking at it very carefully first - although this is also now happening - to check that it is being described correctly. When it is bought ‘sight unseen’ it is accepted that there are risks involved, and the buyer may get burned.
If this is your first horse, you have probably had some riding experience, found you enjoyed it and had some lessons - perhaps you have been riding for about a year and now feel that it is time to move on from those ‘riding school’ ponies and have some real fun!
But how many horses have you really seen? How much have you actually learned about their health? Can you tell at a glance if the horse’s confirmation is up to the job of carrying you? Or if he has a Navicular problem, or Sweet Itch, or is at risk of Laminitis? Can you tell if the horse has been doped to look calm and rideable?
So, the first consideration is to make sure you have with you, when you go to see the horse, someone who has a great deal of experience with many horses. This implies that you are going to see the horse which has been advertised. This is not an option! It must be seen as essential if you are serious about buying safely, rather than turning into a dealer who just buys and sells on when the horse has been found to be unsuitable.
What Type Of Horse You Are Looking For
But we are racing ahead of ourselves – always a temptation when discussing horses! You must first do the research as to what type of horse you are looking for – and stick to it! If you have had about a year’s experience, you will have all the good intentions of a solid, reliable, safe all rounder that you can learn more on and have a bit of fun with.
Then you will see the beautiful, athletic thoroughbred in the local paper or at the market going for a song and fall in love! It is essential at this point to stick to your best intentions and realise that there will be a reason why the thoroughbred is marked down in price, it will not be a reason you are able to deal with, and you will be putting both yourself and the horse at serious risk if you submit to such temptation.
So, when you go to look at the nice, steady horse you have your eye on, you will need to be prepared. The seller will have a list of all the positive aspects of the horse that he wants to make sure he gets over to you; it is always difficult in this situation to remember everything you wanted to ask yourself. Make a list of everything you can think of, and add to it each time you view another horse.
You should never buy the first one you look at. You will hopefully have a long and successful partnership with your new friend; you will need to make sure you have the best chance of creating one by not rushing into it.
Even if you really like the first horse, make arrangements to return several times to give him further try-outs, and be sure to ask as many questions each time as you can think of. The ‘owner’ who has acquired the horse recently through the markets and is passing him off as an ‘old reliable’ will struggle with this and you will get a feeling for something not being quite right.
You will need to be realistic also about the work load you expect the horse to be able to do; if you are thinking of riding every day, getting some lessons and going to shows, he will need to have experience of this and be proven in the area of competition you intend to go into.
If you are both new to something, you will both struggle much more and will at best need much more training and education before you can expect to be able to be up to the job. However, if the horse is too inexperienced, or too unfit, you may find that pushing him into doing too much work is risking too many vets’ bills.
Equally, if you want something you can hack out around the local lanes 2 or 3 times a week, you will soon find difficulties if you buy a horse who is used to being active and highly trained.
Remember, a horse is for life, not just the summer! Careful thought and preparation can set you both up for many years of happiness.
Read more: How Fast Can A Horse Run