The classified ads are full to bursting this time of year with horse and ponies for sale. They all sound fantastic, but how can you read between the lines and get the horse you really want? Here are our ten top tips for buying a new horse – and getting it right!
Be very clear about the job you want your new horse to do.
If you are looking for a fun horse for hacking, then make sure you try it hacking – don’t rely on someone’s word for it that it’s good in traffic. If you want a competition horse – research its recent results and if you can, go and see it competing to see how it behaves. The key message here – is see and try for yourself don’t rely on the seller’s advice alone.
Don’t overestimate your riding abilities.
You might love the idea of having a Grand Prix dressage horse with all the bells and whistles, but if you’re not at, or coming up to that level yourself, you may well find yourself unable to cope and over-horsed. Be realistic and find a horse that matches your abilities – perhaps with scope to help you improve if that’s what you want.
Ask questions before you consider leaving home
Get a list of questions written down when you phone about the advert that covers all the areas you need to know about. That way you won’t be disappointed or have a wasted journey when you arrive and find the horse is not what you expected.
Ask to see some video footage
This can be really revealing showing all sorts of things that photos can’t – from conformation, to gait, to jumping style and ability, to head carriage….you get the idea! The more you can see the better.
Ask about and get recommendations
The aim of the game is to get as much info about the animal and the seller as you can before you view. Ask about in relevant circles such as pony or riding clubs, hunt groups, show jumping and dressage networks as relevant to the animal you are interested in – someone somewhere will know all the back story on your horse and the more history you can get, the better.
Take someone with you
Two pairs of eyes and ears are better than one and it’s easy to miss things or get taken in by the seller’s enthusiasm at the time, especially if you are the type to let your heart rule your head!
Let the seller ride the horse before you
Then, if you are satisfied with its performance, ride it yourself and try to to ride it in as many different environments as you can to see how he reacts.
Go and try the horse at least twice
Like humans, horses can be different from day to day. Go and see the horse again – different weather, environments, a clear head from you all make a difference and might give you a whole different perspective on what you thought you saw the first time.
Don’t get rushed or bullied into buying
It’s easy to panic when a wily seller tells you he has three other people coming to see your dream horse, and only natural to make a knee-jerk decision to buy for fear of losing the purchase. If you want to go away and have a think about it, be honest with the seller, tell them your thoughts and ask them if they will give you first refusal on it as you got there first. Genuine sellers are looking for the right person and home for their horse -not just the first person to come along with the money.
Get the paperwork sorted
We’re talking vettings – unless you’re a vet yourself we strongly advise you to get your horse checked out by a professional, we’re talking passports – check that the details match the horse, and we’re talking sale agreement signed by both parties, including any warranties given by the seller.
And, if you can navigate your way successfully through all this – you should find yourself the proud owner of the perfect new horse! Good luck!
Cover image credit: Thanks to Faye Robinson