Buying a Horse

Buying a Horse

By Randall Holman

A horse is a companion like no other…it feels very mystical when you get a horse that’s right for you…

If you are venturing out to buy a horse, then that means you have done all of your homework and have researched and understand all that is involved in horse ownership—you are aware of the long-term commitment required and know the responsibility and costs involved in owning a horse. And you have made arrangements to provide a suitable home for your new horse.

That said, you will want to have some idea on the kind of horse you’re looking for before going horse shopping. What characteristics and personality do you want your horse to have? You can gain some idea by using your own past experience taking trail rides or riding lessons, going to horse shows, reading horse magazines or talking to horse owners. Knowing what sort of horse you want before shopping will help keep you focused and not get caught up in a spontaneous purchase, only to find out later on you ended up with the wrong horse. You also need to know what your horse-buying budget is and only concentrate on shopping for horses within your established price range.

Never rush a horse purchase. Take your time and avoid getting caught up in the excitement of horse shopping and making an impulse buy that does not turn out well. When taking your time to shop for a horse, you can reduce your risk of buying the wrong horse by at least 75%.

There are some alternatives to owning a horse if you decide you might not quite be ready. Taking riding lessons allows you to improve your skills while allowing you to be around horses. In this regard, you get to participate in all the fun activities without having all the hard work and expenses.

Horse camps are also a fun way for adults and children to be with horses. These camps are typically designed to teach you horsemanship and to provide you with horse riding training.

Leasing a horse is also a good option if you’re not too sure about the long-term commitment required to care for a horse. With a leased horse, you will have the full responsibility of horse ownership; however, you are not stuck with the horse if you later decide having a horse is not for you.

Co-ownership may also be an option. Sharing ownership with a friend who is also a horse enthusiast is another way to reduce or share chores and expenses. Both of you get the joy of owning a horse, but with less cost and labor. Co-ownership also allows you to more easily schedule for vacations and such.

Co-ownership with a friend who is also a horse enthusiast is another way to reduce or share chores and expenses. You both get the enjoyment of having a horse, but with less cost and labor. This also allows you to more easily schedule for vacations.

When horse shopping, keep in mind a good saddle horse is one that is comfortable with a saddle on its back, is gentle in nature, is in good health and has a good disposition. If you are not going to the only rider, then you will need to base your purchasing decision with the least proficient rider in mind.

For the first time owner, you are going to want a horse that has a good personality and is forgiving of small mistakes. A well trained older horse of at least 5 years or older with a pleasant demeanor is recommended.

If you are new to horses, then you should have a horse expert or veterinarian help you evaluate the condition of the horse before you buy. You will want to check the horse over and to make sure the hooves are in good shape. The horse’s coat should be shiny and smooth. Its eyes should look clear, bright and alert.

A good saddle horse should have a long straight back with flat sides (no ribs poking out). Take the reigns and walk the horse. Evaluate whether the horse limps or displays any physical problem. When climbing into the saddle, the horse should stay still and try to move away. Ride the horse and see how he responds to your commands.

You will also want to understand why the horse is being sold. When making the purchase, be sure you get a bill of sale that clearly describes the horse and its markings in addition to the purchase price and payment terms. Have the owner sign the registration papers. If the owner has lost the registration papers, then you will probably want the sale to be contingent upon obtaining new registration papers. It can be a bit expensive to get new papers with document research and replacement fees and having someone come out to authenticate the horse.

When you are in the market for a horse, a good place to start is through personal contacts. If you know horse owners or are taking horse lessons through an instructor, ask these people if they know of any horses for sale. Through their inner-circle of horse friends, vets, farriers, feed stores, tack shops, and such, they may know of where a good horse might be for sale. They can also give you some pointers on the type of horse that may be best for you.

Randall Holman, site owner of Front Range Frenzy and horse enthusiast, is the author of this article. You will find other easy and practical basic horse care information on his website:

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