Buying a horse is like buying a home. You want something that lasts for many years, but you also want one that makes you happy to spend time with it. In either case, you never want to make an impulse purchase. Buying the first horse you see could end with you owning a stubborn, unruly stallion with costly health issues. Here are a few things to look for when buying a horse:
Consider your purchasing options
Most horses are sold through a private contact or via an auction. As the University of Maine mentions, there are pros and cons for both. Purchasing privately gives a person more time to investigate the horse’s background and health, while auctions reduce the time spent researching and traveling to find a suitable seller.
In addition, be alert if you see a horse priced suspiciously lower than most others you’ve encountered. If the cost of the horse seems too good to be true, it probably means the seller is desperate to get rid of him. The horse may be in poor health, so you will end up spending a lot more on vet bills in the long run.
“Saddling and leading the horse yourself gives you a chance to see how he behaves at all times.”
Saddle, lead and ride the horse
Some private sellers will have the horse already saddled and out of his stall when you arrive, but you should kindly ask them to wait so you can do these things yourself. This gives you a chance to see how the horse behaves at all times. As Horse Family Magazine notes, a horse’s behavior while being saddled, groomed and lead around the pasture is just as important as how he acts when ridden.
Take careful notes of the horse’s health and behavior
When leading the horse, make sure he moves willingly and has good coordination. If he does not listen to one of your commands, ask the seller if he is stubborn or just has not been trained.
The University of Connecticut suggests checking the horse’s stall for signs of behavioral problems like chewed wood, scraped paint and cracked walls. See if he acts isolated when part of a group or if he is able to interact naturally with other horses. Finally, have a look at his overall appearance. Does he stand square and relaxed or tense and off balance? Do you notice any obvious injuries or disfigurements? It is up to you to decide if such things are a deal breaker, but it’s best to not let yourself get caught unawares.
Check out the horse’s history
Get as much information as you can about the horse’s background, including his age, lineage, medical history, registration and how long he has been with his current owner. Don’t be afraid to ask why he is being sold, and be wary if the owner is reluctant to answer. Not every seller is honest – some just hope to make a quick sale off a gullible person. If the person cannot or refuses to answer any of your questions, take your search somewhere else.
Have a vet look at the horse
This allows you to verify any medical information you get from the seller, and it also gives you the chance to catch anything the seller might have forgotten about or his veterinarian missed. You can never have too many eyes when it comes to buying a horse.
“A simple purchase exam costs around $100.”
A simple purchase exam costs around $100, says Tractor Supply, so it is a good idea to save this step for last after you have checked the horse’s temperament yourself. During the exam, the vet will check the horse’s eyes, ears, heart, lungs, reflexes, digestive system, skin, coat, muscles and bones. She will also check the horse’s coordination, alertness, and see if he has any parasites.
Horses aren’t a one-time expenditure – they need constant food, water, equipment and veterinary checkups. Keep these future costs in mind when looking at your options, and you will be sure to select a horse that works well with you for years to come.