One of the things you really have to watch out for when you set out to buy a horse or pony is the human tendency to rate looks over functionality. You may get so absorbed in a horse’s sleekness and good looks that you quite forget to take a deeper look into its suitability for your purposes. Make absolutely certain that you don’t let any extraneous factors divert you from your primary purpose: getting the right horse or pony for your needs.
There are lots of horses of excellent bloodlines available on the market, but that may not be enough. You need to go on your gut feelings to some extent, too. While good bloodlines ensure resale value, they are no guarantee of top quality performance in the arena. You are taking a big risk by buying a very young horse, and it is advisable for novice riders to initially use experienced horses of placid nature. The combination of inexperienced rider and inexperienced horse can spell disaster. Riders can lose their self-confidence fast with untrained horses.
And besides, you may end up paying a lot more than you anticipated on training an inexperienced young horse.
You should always involve a neutral vet to help you ascertain that the horse you like best is sound of health and temperament. Your vet can check out the condition of the horse’s teeth and its lungs – the horse should be breathing right. Teeth are reliable indicators of true age.
If you are looking for a horse or pony for event riding, concentrate on the conformation, soundness and type. The color of horse should not be of any concern, and don’t let stories you hear about chestnuts deceive you; some chestnuts have been very successful at their disciplines. Ideally, a horse’s head must be well proportioned, with wide and bright eyes. The head should lead down to a long neck. The body proportion should be pleasing, with neither too long nor too short a back. The tail should be freely swinging. The ideal horse should have powerful, wide hindquarters. The hindquarters are where the horse draws most of its power from. The hocks should be set well; horses bear down with a lot of weight on their rear legs while competing. Be alert to thoroughpins, spavins or curbs on the horse’s hock; these are symptoms of weaknesses.
Horses intended for events should not be light-boned. The horse will be subjecting itself to a lot of jars and impacts, and its needs strong bones to absorb this punishment. Good horses have both agility and stamina. They should have wide matching feet, with smooth leg movement: proper horse’s natural movement patterns are essential for correct conformation.
Lastly, make sure that the price asked is commensurate with the quality of the horse. Make sure you have planned well for all the extra and often unplanned for costs associated with horse ownership: costs of farriers and veterinarians; transportation costs; costs of tack and riding attire; costs of boarding; costs of feeding and medical care. While you should not jump at the first horse you like – ideally, you should shortlist a few likely candidates and carry out a thorough investigation of each before finalizing on one – you should not let an obviously rare opportunity go by, either, if you come across a horse on sale that is absolutely perfect for your requirements and has the perfect price tag.