How To Buy Your First Horse

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Knowing that you are one step closer to owning your own horse is extremely exciting and it can sometimes be hard not to rush into things when you have your heart set on something.

Buying a horse is a big thing and a major lifestyle choice, so it’s important that you go through the process very carefully.

Finding your perfect horse may take time and will cost a large amount of money so before buying your horse here's a few things you need to consider:

Time

Owning a horse is extremely time-consuming and you need to be able to provide your horse with all the care it needs, so you need to think about how you would adapt your current lifestyle to care for your horse. It’s important to remember this change in your routine won’t just be half an hour here and there spent caring for your horse, it will take longer. Doing things like checking rugs, providing clean water and feeding your horse can take a considerable amount of time and that doesn't include things such as grooming, mucking out and picking out hooves. 

 

You won't be able to have weekend lie-ins, a horse needs routine so if you are feeding your horse early in the morning in the weekdays this means they need to be fed at the same time on the weekends. An inconsistent feeding routine can upset them and predispose them to ailments such as colic.

You will also need to give more thought to the times you want to go away on holiday, you will need to arrange for a capable and knowledgeable person to look after your horse whilst you are away.

Ability

Think about your capabilities as a rider, this will determine what kind of horse you will be looking for. You don’t want to buy a horse that is beyond your capabilities as this is a recipe for disaster and could put both you and the horse in danger.

In terms of capabilities, you want to consider things such as:

  • Your horse riding standard 
  • Your competency of handling a horse from the ground 
  • An assessment of your horse care knowledge

To help you think about these points realistically there are some questions below to help you out. Remember, there is nothing wrong with not being perfect at everything, there is always room to learn more. This doesn’t mean that you won't be allowed to own a horse it just means you have to have a willingness to learn on the job and take advice.


Your Financial Situation

Buying a horse is a large financial commitment and you need to remember that the outgoings when owning a horse will continue while you are responsible for your horse. It’s not just the price of the horse, it also includes things like vet bills, feeding, bedding, livery, competition fees and much more.

For more information please visit: How Much Does A Horse Cost

Start by setting yourself a budget to work with for the price of the horse. This needs to be realistic and affordable for you. To meet certain desires will not come cheap but you also need to look out for horses that may be overpriced, you don’t want to end up spending too much on a horse that isn't of that value. You can make sure you avoid this happening by consulting someone with excellent equine knowledge and plenty of experience before buying.

Keep

Think about where you are going to keep your horse. This will depend on your financial situation and will also affect the amount of time you are going to commit to spending with your horse. There are plenty of advantages and disadvantages of both keeping your horse in a livery yard and on your own land. Having your own land and stabling is great and the cost of keeping your horse will be reduced but this will increase the time commitment needed compared to keeping your horse at a full or part livery.

If you don’t have your own land and stabling facilities then you will need to keep your horse at a livery yard. When finding a livery yard you will need to take into consideration the type of livery, the location of the livery yard, its facilities, the level of care offered and the costs.

Choosing The Perfect Horse

Once you have decided on all of the above you can then think about the purpose of your horse. What are you going to be using your horse for? Is it going to be for hacking, competitions or just for a companion?

If you know what you are going to be using your horse for, ask yourself if there is a particular breed that you desire that is within your height range and if there any qualities that your horse must have.

It’s very easy to be over excited about getting your first horse but it's so important not to rush the process.

Some things to think about: 

  • Height 
  • Age
  • Breed
  • Colour
  • Sex
  • Personality 
  • Abilities

Things To Think About For Long Term

Think about the horse’s future and what situation both the horse and yourself will be in when you no longer require the horse. For example, if you buy a small horse for a child, what will you do when the child outgrows the horse? Would you sell it, loan it or keep the horse until it’s at an old age? If so, have you thought about how you’d care for an elderly horse?

You also need to bear in mind things like your financial situation changing over the years. It’s not always easy to sell your horse or loan it. There are also limited spaces in a limited number of centres that have remits for taking in horses or ponies.

For more information on selling a horse, please visit: Step By Step Guide To Selling A Horse
.

Where To Look For Your Horse

You will find that horses will be advertised for both loaning and selling. You can start by looking in places such as your local saddler's shop, equestrian magazines, local papers and online.

It is also a good idea to let the equine community know that you are looking for a horse by enquiring at local riding schools, livery yards and riding clubs.

We wouldn't recommend purchasing from a sale, market or fair if you are buying your first horse, even the most experienced people can be caught out.

Wherever you find a horse you are interested in be sure to check them out to make sure they are reputable before going to see your potential horse.

Viewing Your Horse

Now it’s time to get ready for viewing your potential horse. Before contacting the seller make sure you have everything prepared for the view and that you have written down any questions that you want to ask the current owner.

It’s also a good idea to make a list of questions to ask the owner on the phone before arranging a viewing to make sure that the horse is suitable for you.

Here is a list of questions you may want to consider:

  • Why are you selling the horse?
  • Age?
  • Temperament?
  • Height?
  • Cost?
  • Sex?
  • Colour?
  • How experienced is the horse?
  • Has the horse ever had any injuries/ illness?
  • Does the horse demonstrate any stereotypical behaviours (i.e. weaving, crib-biting, box walking)?
  • Does the horse have any conformational faults?
  • What is the horse like hacking, in traffic alone, and in company?
  • What is an average daily routine for the horse?
  • How does the horse behave with other horses, both when ridden and turned out?
  • What is the horse’s breeding? Is the horse registered/ eligible for registration?
  • Are tack and rugs included in the price?
  • Is the horse vaccinated, what with and are these up to date?
  • What is the horse like to load, catch and clip?
  • How does the horse behave with the farrier and the vet?
  • How long have you owned the horse? Where did you get the horse from?
  • Has the horse ever suffered with laminitis or sweet itch?
  • Is the horse shod?
  • Is the horse in full work? When was the last time the horse was ridden?
  • How does the horse behave at shows/ competitions?
  • Would you class the horse as a novice/experienced ride?

 

Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to think after speaking to the owner on the phone. Don’t arrange a viewing with them straight away, tell them that you will ring them back to arrange a viewing to allow yourself time to really think it over.


Once you have rung back and made an arrangement to see the horse make sure you have told them the kind of things you would like to see the horse do, for example, jumping or hacking.

We advise that you take someone who is knowledgeable and experience in the equine world. Make sure you are on time to the viewing and don’t get on the horse until you have seen someone else ride it first. Take notes and make sure you are observing the horse at al times. Look at the way the horse is being handled and check the horse's condition and behaviour.

After you have observed the horse being ridden and you think that it's safe, ask if it would be possible for you to have a ride. You could try some small manoeuvres such as a walk, trot, canter and maybe even some small jumps. This is dependent on your abilities and the discipline you are interested in.

Once you are happy that you have all of the information you need, go away and discuss the viewing with your professional advisor before making any decisions. If you find you have more questions after discussing the viewing you can always ring back to ask or even arrange a second viewing. Don’t waste the sellers time if you are not interested. 

Purchasing Your Horse

Once you have followed all of the above steps and are happy that you have found a horse that fits your criteria, arrange for a vet to carry out a pre-purchase examination. This examination will cost you but it will also save you a lot of money in the future as it reduces the risk of buying a horse with any health conditions you may not have been told about or the current owner may not be aware of. 

When insuring your new horse the insurance company may ask for a copy of the pre-purchase examination

We recommend that you keep some sort of proof of purchase or even consider a sales contract which would state the terms and conditions that the horse was bought under.

All horses in the UK require a passport that is transferred over with the horse to the new owner at the time of the sale. It is then down to the new owner to get the ownership details updated.

Loaning Your Horse

Loaning a horse is not dissimilar to buying one. If you know your financial situation is not guaranteed, then loaning a horse could be the right thing for you. When loaning a horse you are still responsible for committing financially and it requires the same time commitment, however, you aren’t responsible for selling the horse or finding it a new home unless the agreement states otherwise. It is purely an agreement made between you and the owner of the horse.

 


Settling In

Once you have got your horse to its new home allow him/her a couple of weeks to get used to their new environment and adjust to their new routine. It’s always a good idea to check when your horse was last wormed. If your horse is living with other horses remember to introduce them gradually to avoid any dominance and bullying. Spend time getting to know your new horse and building up trust and reassurance with your new companion. Make sure you get your horse registered with a farrier and a vet as soon as you have arranged the purchase.

For any more information on upkeep of your horse or guides on training, healthcare, training and much more then check out the Horsemart blog

 


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