Every horse owner comes across situations where he needs to get himself a new horse. He may have outgrown his old horse or it may have health conditions. It might very simply have aged and lost its vigor and suppleness. It may be time to give it a well deserved rest and get a new horse to shoulder the loads.
Whatever the reasons for your decision to buy a new horse, there are some factors you want to keep in mind when doing so.
Obviously the very first step is to decide if you do need a horse, and if so, what your reasons are for needing one. Do you want a horse for pleasure riding only? Or do you intend that he participate in competitive events? Your precise purpose will determine the breed and characteristics of the horse that will work best for you.
Your choices of horses to buy will also be influenced by your budget. You will well know the exact spending cut off point beyond which you cannot go. You should not allow yourself to be hustled by a smooth talking broker or an over enthusiastic seller. The strain on your pocket does not end; it begins with the completed purchase of a horse. You now need to keep him fed, give him shelter and medical care, and maybe paying for regular grooming. You may also have to pay for a trainer.
Once your budget is firmly set, you determine the parameters: how big a horse do you want, how heavy, how old? What kind of temperament are you looking for? Do you want a horse that is big so that your rapidly growing teenage child can ride him for the foreseeable future? Do you want a horse that you will train for professional events? If so, which events are you thinking of?
When you are checking out horses, pay very careful attention to how they respond to handling. You are a stranger to each of them; observe carefully how it reacts to you. Give them a thorough once over in their stalls, devoid of any tack. Don’t be afraid to touch and feel and prod as necessary. Don’t forget to give the horse a very close inspection at various gaits: walking, trotting, galloping when led on the rein and when ridden. Try him out over a jump or two, and see how he reacts to being ridden. Does he give you the impression of being easy to control, or does he come across as a potentially dangerous rebel?
I never cease to be amazed by people buying horses without taking the trouble of leading them, riding them and trying them on activities like jumping. I consider it the height of negligence. You wouldn’t buy a car without giving it a test drive and a thorough inspection, would you? So why would you do so with a horse? You can judge a horse adequately only when you have also studied him from the saddle. Follow your gut instincts.
If you run into problems like sluggishness or excessive nervous energy, you have to ask yourself whether it is a temporary condition or a permanent state of affairs. When buying a horse, never rush the process. When in doubt, go away and think over it. Good sellers will not try to hustle you, and will be prepared to wait. Get some detective work done, see what you can find of the horse’s history. If the sellers try to hustle you, you want to be very careful, indeed.
One of the best things you can do is go on your buying inspection trips with an experienced veterinarian and a hot shot horse expert. With a combination like that in your team, there is no way you can go wrong.