Are you a first time horse buyer or maybe have not had much experience in buying horses? Coming out of the long, cold winter months and into warmer months, many horse enthusiasts have used this time of the year as an opportune time for horse shopping and buying. Whether you are a beginner, a seasoned horse owner or looking to upgrade or grow your herd, here are some helpful horse buying tips to ensure you get exactly what you need.
Tip #1: Soundness
Obviously this is a very important factor when choosing a horse to buy. You want to make sure your horse is sound and strong, from the hooves to the ears, from the nose to the tail. Do not be afraid to ask for injury histories, vet records, and, if possible, a soundness and health vet inspection before buying. Take the knowledge and facts that you learn about the horse and then make your decision as to how it may or may not affect your long term goals with this horse before moving on.
Tip #2: Disposition, Disposition, Disposition!
We can not stress enough just how important this factor is. The disposition or temperament of your horse is going to hugely define your overall experience with your horse for years to come. Once you know that the horse you are considering is sound, next you should determine what his disposition is. This can easily be discovered even in just a few minutes of interacting with the horse. You will want to watch this horse’s overall initial reactions and responses while it is loose, being tied up, and being handled. Character traits you are looking for, for example, are stubbornness versus willingness, nervousness versus confidence, and forgiving versus easily offended (which is what you will find more of when working the horse either from the ground or in the saddle). A willing brain, confident personality, and a forgiving attitude are very important factors overall, and even more so if you are a green rider or new horse owner. Of course we all desire a horse that is loving, friendly, and easily approachable!
Tip #3: Conformation
Does the horse’s conformation fit the job you are looking to do? Conformation and breed, of course, would go hand in hand as different breeds bring about different conformations. But it is important to know what your goals and purpose will be for your horse. Whether it be trail riding, roping, show jumping, cutting, dressage, reining, the list can go on, certain athletic features in a horse can promote success within a discipline. A broad example of examining conformation would be that smaller, shorter backed horses tend to be more athletic but not quite as smooth of a ride. While longer backed and leggy horses can be very smooth gaited, but maybe not quite as athletic. Again, know your purpose and be familiar with your goals so as to choose the conformation in the horse to best suit you.
Tip #4: Age
Age is really based upon personal preference, and again, your goals and plans for your horse. The one thing we do suggest, however, is that if you are a green rider or new horse owner to consider an older, more experienced and seasoned horse to get you started. There are many great young horses out there, especially if they have been started with a good foundation. However, when it comes to their years of experience and exposure to the outside world, it is just impossible to make that up at a young age. If you already have solid equine experience of your own, then at this point maybe looking at a younger horse as a project or a challenge would be a good fit for you. It is important to know and consider the age of a horse when looking to buy so as to understand what sort of work you are getting yourself into.
Tip #5: Color
Even though color is the first thing you notice in a horse, it should be the last thing you consider when buying a horse. If the horse does not check off on tips 1-4, then its color is not going to matter anyway. No matter what color your horse is, your horse is always going to look prettier from on his back rather than from on your back from the ground. We all want pretty colored horses for sure, but if that flashy palomino does not have a good disposition, you may be setting yourself and that horse up for a long bumpy road ahead. There’s a saying that goes “you can’t ride color!” In the end, after you have done your homework and careful evaluations, it is a bonus if you come out with a dependable horse in the color of your preference.
By taking your time and knowing what to look for, the stress and unknown in the art of horse buying is something that can become a reassuring adventure. We hope these helpful tips can make that horse buying experience enjoyable for anyone who may be in the market this horse buying season! Happy horse shopping!
-Christiana Wenger of C & C Horsemanship