Buying the Right Horse for You
Coke, one of the sweetest horses I ever owned
If you’re an equine beginner or you’ve been away from horses for years and want to get back in the saddle, how are you going to find the right horse? What horse facts do you need?
The worst scenario for any horse lover is to go to a public auction and bid on a horse that “looks good and rides good.” Sure, the horse might look good and ride good—for 45 seconds when he’s on display. But what’s he like when you get him home and try to get on his back? You might be heading for a wild ride or large vet bills with “hidden costs” of which you knew nothing.
The best way to find yourself a good horse is to look for sales by reputable horse breeders. However, you might find yourself a good horse by scanning the newspaper FOR SALE ads. I bought several horses this way and learned what to do and what not to do.
Whichever way you go, there are several things you MUST do to assure yourself of a safe and healthy mount. Have an experienced horseman and a veterinarian look over your potential purchase. Make sure the hooves are in good condition and that you can pick up the horse’s feet with no problem. Thrush is such a pain in the neck to you and a potential problem that can permanently lame your horse if you don’t clean his hooves regularly. If the horse won’t let you pick up his feet, you’re headed for big trouble. That manure he constantly stands in will eventually take its toll on the frogs of his feet, rotting them and causing you big vet bills and an unridable horse if he’s not cared for properly.
After you find a potential equine friend, walk away from him. In other words, don’t buy the horse the first time you see him. He might have a cute face with Bambi eyes, but behind that sweet little face might be a holy terror. Make sure you ride him several times in different settings: in a corral, in the pasture, in open spaces, and along the road. A horse that’s calm in a corral might go bonkers if he is on a road and a car goes whizzing by.
Another extremely important point to ponder is whether mild-mannered horsie loads and unloads easily on a trailer. A smart thing to do before you sign the bottom line is ask the owner to demonstrate. If he objects, walk away from the deal. It’s probably not a good one.
Of vital importance is how the horse allows you to tack him and mount him. If he sidesteps or fights the bit or bites you, you’re in for big trouble before you even get on his back. Make sure YOU are the one tacking him, not his previous owner. If you want to build a relationship with a new horse, there’s no better place to start than when you try to slip that bit into his mouth.
Does it matter what kind of horse you buy? How about the color? The breed? It only matters if you’re looking for a particular horse to do a particular task. You wouldn’t buy a Shire to saddle and ride, and you wouldn’t buy a Belgian for dressage. Learn your breeds.
I remember the time I was looking for a horse for trail riding. My prospective horse was expected to do nothing more than give me an hour or two of pleasure a few times a week as we would ride down the dusty trail or through the woods.
I found this absolutely beautiful black Morgan through a newspaper ad. I went to the owner’s place to check out the horse, who was stunning in appearance, and my mouth started to water, picturing him in my little red barn at home.
Well, when I arrived, the horse had already been tacked and stood waiting for me to mount. Ahem. I grabbed the reins and, as I attempted to slip my foot into the stirrup, the horse sidestepped away—again and again and again. Guess what? I never was able to get on the horse. Then I wondered what other quirks the little rascal had that I missed while he was being tacked!
Ask me if I bought him.
Marsha Hubler, best-selling author of the Keystone Stables Series
MARSHA’S LATEST RELEASE!
SNOW, PHANTOM STALLION OF THE POCONOS
Dallis Parker dreams of owning the mystery wild Mustang she’s heard about.
Does her dream ever come true?