Before you buy a horse.

Buying a horse? Make sure to take on board these tips for what you need to know and what to look out for before you buy…

Have you made the decision to look for a new addition to your horse herd? Or perhaps you are a first-timer with a life-long love of horses but no experience in horse care or purchasing a horse. Whatever level of horse experience you bring to the table, it is important to have a checklist of what you need to know and to look for before you buy a horse! Here are some tips to help ensure that this critical decision ends in a long-term positive partnership.

Horse Handling Skills

Making sure you have basic horse handling skills is one of the most important things next to understanding what the basic health care needs of a horse are. And this is simply due to the fact that your safety depends on it! You could literally die by unknowingly putting yourself into a dangerous situation. Your actions and reactions matter when it comes to dealing with a 1000+ pound animal that can trample you, kick you in the head or throw you and/or drag you to your death. If you are new to horses, we cannot stress enough the importance of taking some basic horse handling clinics with a reputable equine professional.

Pick a programme which begins by teaching its students basic safety skills and horse communication and behavioural studies.

Basic Horse Care Knowledge

Understanding and being able to meet your horse’s basic dietary and health care needs are critical to your horse’s health. Different horses will have different dietary needs depending on age, current health status and pre-existing health issues, environment, sex, and level of exercise. Once you’ve narrowed down your search, talk to your veterinarian about recommendations for your equine candidates based on their individual situation.

Some things you need to ask about:

  • Dietary recommendations.
  • Dental care.
  • Vaccination recommendations.
  • Sex-specific care (i.e. sheath cleaning for geldings, broodmare care, etc.).
  • Special enclosures, fencing, shelter.
  • Access to water.
  • Hoof care.
  • Pre-existing health concerns.
  • Critically Evaluating Physical Attributes On The Horse

    Understand how to critically evaluate a horse by looking for physical attributes that may indicate current or potential problems for the horse. By taking this extra step, you can rule some horses out as candidates before you go to the expense of having a lameness exam done. There are also a lot of things that are currently problematic and will not show on a lameness exam as a problem, but may predispose a horse for a problem. Making note of these and making sure to cover them with your veterinarian can save you a lot of heartache down the road.

    Goals And Expectations vs. Physical And Emotional Abilities

    Have a clear picture in your mind of what you are looking for in a potential equine partner. What kinds of activities do you want to participate in? Do you have competitive or professional aspirations, or are you just looking for a horse to go on relaxing trail rides with? Are you a novice or experienced rider? If you are interested in doing competitive trail riding with your new horse, you don’t want to choose a 20-year-old schooling horses that has never been out of the arena and has physical limitations. Make sure that your performance expectations meet the horse’s physical and emotional ability to perform at that level.

    The mental and emotional maturity or innate personality of the horse should also be taken into account. If you are the kind of person that likes to take it really easy, don’t have a lot of energy, then you will want to make sure to choose a horse that complements that. A very high-energy, explosive type horse would probably not be a good choice for you even if it met the physical requirements of the job you have in mind. Some horses are ill-equipped to handle the emotional stresses of competition, while others may need more stimulating activities to keep them out of trouble.

    Proper Vetting And Lameness Exam

    When you’ve decided on a serious potential candidate always, without exception, have a lameness exam and thorough lookover done by a qualified veterinarian. Even though the horse may look at a glance to be fine, your vet can usually identify areas of concern that are not obvious to the untrained eye. Make sure to take the checklist created from the previous steps with you to cover with the veterinarian. Also, make sure that the veterinarian is someone that you choose to eliminate and possible conflict of interest.

    Now that you are armed with some important things to be on the lookout for, you will be in a better position to make a more definitive and informed decision. Having horses in your life can be one of the more rewarding things in life… or your worst nightmare when things don’t work out. Going into the process with your eyes wide open can help ensure you and your new horse ride off into many beautiful sunsets together.