10 Things to Consider Before Buying a Horse
Buying a horse? Here are ten things to think about!
I have always been mad about horses. I think you are either mad about them or not. I was the girl who never left the house without her riding hat (just in case!) I was the girl who spent entire weekends at the local stables mucking out, really grafting, grooming, schlepping hay and carrots hither and thither in exchange for 2 pound coins and a pasty.
I used to run around the playing fields with a stick in my hand riding my invisible steed. My entire family used to reassure me that this phase I was going through would without a doubt evaporate when I discovered ‘boys’. Well the phase may have laid dormant but 2 years ago, when my 40th birthday loomed this horse infection flared up again. I’m forty! I live in the countryside! It’s now or never. I NEED a horse. Well, I ended up buying two…… So here are a few tips for anyone thinking about fulfilling their dream of owning their own horse and might be needing some guidance.
1) Your financial situation – is buying a horse outright actually feasible for you financially? Have you factored in additional or unforeseen costs such as vetinary costs, buying a new saddle as your horse changes shape, farrier bills etc.? Will you be a opting for full or part livery? Do you know the costs and work involved?
2) Your ability – how accomplished are you as a rider? Some breeds are predestined to be more patient and forgive the mistakes of their more inexperienced riders. In general, an older horse may be more suited to the less experienced rider. But your ability as a rider is not the only skill required to owning a horse. It is also vital to read up on all the peripheral topics such as health, care and conformation of a horse. I found there to be a huge difference between theory and practice! It may be a good idea to offer to help someone you know take care of their horse for some time before you own your own horse. I did this and looked after 8 horses a couple of times per week. I mucked out, took the horses to their fields and then back to their stables, I picked hooves, I did ground work and generally learned how to be comfortable around them. I learned heaps and it was great fun!
3) Your riding needs – what will you be doing with your horse? Will you want to be out hacking, competing, are you interested in jumping or dressage? Maybe you might like to pursue distance riding, or western riding? Certain horse breeds have been honed over the years to provide the perfect conformation and temperament for certain disciplines.
4) Your height and weight – if you are taller or weightier than the average person, then common sense would suggest that you would need a taller and stockier horse. Surprisingly though, some of the stockier ponies can carry the heavier rider. There are a number of indicators which determine whether a horse or pony can carry more weight compared to the next. Does the horse have a short back? Does the horse have thick canon bones? Typical pony breeds which can carry a little more weight are the Haflinger and Icelandic breeds. As a rule of thumb, the rider should not weigh more than a fifth of the horse’s overall weight.
5) Your character – are you a sensitive soul or more of a headstrong, dominant person? It’s a good idea to match your temperament to that of the horse you are going to buy. Some draft horses or ponies can be a little stubborn and require a firm hand. An Arab on the other hand will be more sensitive.
6) Your time – how much time do you have to spare every week for your horse? Some horses do well when they are left for a week or two. Some breeds for instance though, which are prone to put weight on should really be ridden and trained every day. If like me, you work long hours, it might be an idea to have someone ride your horse during the week.
7) Take an expert to view and test the horse with you – always take someone with you to view your prospective horse to give you a second opinion and always go on your gut instinct.
8) Certain breeds and indeed colours of horses are more likely to have certain genetic conditions and illnesses. Make sure you read up on this in advance and if you want to buy the horse, make sure you have the correct health checks and results before signing up.
9) If the seller is rushing you, then it is probably not a good sign. If the seller invites you to return and ride the horse several times, then do take them up on this. This is such an important purchase which could set you up for success or failure in reaching your goal.
10) In the horse community there will be so many people wanting to help you. I have found the horse community to be very supportive but with that comes a thousand pieces of advice, often conflicting. You will undoubtedly also read lots and view dozens of YouTube videos in your quest for knowledge! My advice is to limit that advice.
At the end of the day, you must decide what is best for you. Make informed decisions and stick by them! Good luck!
Written by Sonia, ex-pat living in Germany