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Guide to Buying a Horse

Horse Buying
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Cover all your Bases before buying a Horse. The more you know, the better you are prepared, the better your experience will be. If you do your homework ahead of time, you are less likely to end up with problems and heart aches down the road. Give it a serious thought before you go out and buy a horse. The easy part is buying, but there is so much more to know about owning a horse. Don’t be one of the many people who go out and buy a horse, just to find out a few weeks/months later, that you no longer can take care of the horse. Horse Ownership is a long term commitment, financially and time wise.

Buying a Horse

When buying a horse for yourself or your children, learn about the basics and get educated. Sadly, many people find out in retrospect that owning a horse requires so much more than just getting on the horse and riding. Thousands of horses are neglected. To many horses today are sold cheap just to get rid of. Thousands end up in auctions with the end destination – slaughter houses. Many are abandoned and left to die without food and water. You never want to buy a horse without a long term plan. Horses can live up into their thirties, so think longterm.

Laying the groundwork for horse owner ship will save you from an impulse buy. Don’t base your decision on any of these reasons:

  • you like the horse
  • you find the color of the horse pretty
  • his cute way of nudging you is adorable
  • because someone told you he is a great horse.

Ground Rules for Horse Ownership:

Take Riding Lessons – you can’t just go out and buy a horse if you can’t try him out, know about horsemanship and everything that comes with owning a horse.

Choosing the Facility – depending on your interest, riding level,  and goal you need to check out your local equestrian centers, riding clubs, farms, and barns. Talk to people and instructors to get a feel for the facility. And observe, observe, observe. Do you like what you see?

Choosing your Instructor – what you should ask an instructor and what he/she should ask you. He/or she may also be able to  advise you of what kind of horse would be suitable for you when you get ready to buy.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Buy a Horse

  • Why do I want  a horse?
  • What are the cost of owning a horse, besides the purchase price (vet bills, farrier bills, de-worming, feed, hay, boarding, supplements, medication, equipment, gear, tack, trailer, truck, registration fees, showing fees, training lessons, etc.)
  • How much time do I have to spend with my horse each day/week?
  • Am I ready for a long term commitment? Horses can live up to 30 years, some even longer. Your horse is a living, breathing anima. Too many people treat them as an object that can be ignored, neglected, sold, exchanged, or given away when inconvenient.
  • Where do I keep my horse? Remember: Providing your horse with a place which mimics his natural lifestyle (ex.pasture turnout and grazing during the day as much as possible, will keep your horse much more healthy and happy) is ideal, but often hard to find. Does the place provide help with farrier and vet visits if I can’t be there? Would they administer medication if I can’t? What are the cost if special and/or additional feed is needed? Do they have an optional private pasture turnout for my horse if he doesn’t get along with others or is targeted by others? How much is private pasture boarding?
  • Do I know what it takes to maintain a horse (ex. regular vet checks, farrier visits, grooming, exercising)
  • Alternatives of owning a horse (leasing vs. owning a horse)? What are the pros and cons of owning vs. leasing?
  • What are my goals? Recreational or Competitive? English, Western, or Jumping?
  • What kind of horse do I want? Breed, Age, Gender, Color
  • Where do I go to buy a horse? Breeder, Farms, Barns, Classifieds, or adopting? If you don’t know much about horses, take someone with you who does. Horse Traders and horse owners who sell horses will tell you anything to sell you a horse. Some people drug the horse to hide lameness issues, back issues, handling problems, and bad habits.
  • Who do I hire to do a Vet Check? Do I know a Vet who goes out to check a horse for soundness and how much does it cost?
  • What backup plan do I have if I can’t care for my horse any longer? Will I be commited to find him a good home? You never want your horse to end up in the hands of Slaughter Houses. I will not post pictures, but if you google “horse slaughter” you will be able to see for yourself, how horrific this is for horses. Be aware: you might end up with nightmares for the rest of your life.
  • What do I need to do if the worst happens and my horse dies or has to be euthanized?

What NOT To Do

  • Don’t buy on impulse – just because the horse is cute, pretty, or nice does not mean it is a match for you. It is easy to see a horse, fall in love with it, and take it home. And then you may find out that it is not a good match for you because it is not what you were looking for. Visit a few times. Ride him a few times if possible. Get a feel for his ground manners, temperament, habits, and training.
  • Don’ buy a horse for your child – unless you know for sure he/she is absolutely committed. Children loose interest very quickly and then you are stuck with taking care of the horse.
  • Dont’ buy a horse if you are not knowledgeable – ask an expert (trainer, coach, instructor, friend who knows about horses) to go with you and help you.
  • Don’t buy a very young horse – unless you know how to work with and break a young horse, and have a lot of time to spend on handling and teaching him. You can end up spending a lot of money needing to have him broken and trained by a professional. Just because you think he has potential, or someone tells you he will be a great horse, does not necessarily make him so.
  • Don’t buy a horse from an auction – unless you know what you are doing. While thousands of horses end up at the auction because they are not wanted anymore, you never know what the real issues are. He may be sick or hard to handle. If you want to save a horse make sure you don’t end up killing yourself financially and emotionally with a sick auction horse (i would personally love to save every one of them from their horrible faith).

Please give it a serious thought and don’t let your horse become another statistic! My goal is not to discourage people from horse ownership, but to help people make the right decision. Most importantly, I want to raise awareness of what it takes to own a horse, and what the terrible outcome can be when you don’t educate yourself first.

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