Whats In A Horse? Part I

Mike and I are talking about adding to the FAS string in the next few months, and I’ve been doing some window shopping. Picking a new horse can be totally fun or totally exhausting, depending on your circumstances. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the ads, terms, prices, and options out there. You can spend hours on line, doing foot work, and making phone calls/e-mails only to come up empty handed every. single. time.

Some things to think about when you start shopping:

  • Age. What is ‘too old’ or ‘too young’ for you?
  • Height and build. A slender long-legged rider is going to want a horse whose in on the taller side, or one that takes up a lot of leg.
  • Purpose. Trail riding, show horse, re-sale? All these things effect the types of horses that you’re going to look at. Example: if you want a Grand Prix show jumping prospect, you shoul probably pass on the 9h Shetland.
  • Price. If you have a $10,000 budget (we’ll say), look at horses in the $7,000 range. Then you have a cushion to pay a trainer to look at the horse, a pre-purchase exam, travel, and shipping the horse to you. This is super important if you’re looking at horses out of state. That $3,000 cushion can get eaten  up very quickly.
  • Training. Are you looking for a greenie to bring along or flip? Maybe you’re looking for something for the husband to tool around on.
  • Mind. Some people like ’em hot. Some people like ’em cold. It’s all about your ability. If a horse is hot, I want to see that you still have trainability, and they don’t just ‘zone’ out and forget you exist.

It’s a lot of things to consider, even more so if it’s your first time. I advise you to make a list of what you want. Disregard those that don’t meet your needs (I don’t care if he looks like a unicorn. You can’t have the three year old, grey, stallion thing.) right away. Present the list to the professional that you’re working with (I’m writing this as if I were talking to a client, who is a first time horse buyer) so they can help you narrow the list down even more. Take your remaining possibilities and set aside a weekend to see them all. I print each sales ad out and put it in a binder. As I see a horse, I take a few minutes to jot down anything that sticks out in my head.

When you get there, request that you or your trainer observe the horse being tacked up (tacking up yourself is a big plus), and ask the seller or seller’s trainer to ride the horse. (If they won’t get on the horse… say thank you, and walk away) Then have your trainer get on the horse, then you get on. Don’t be afraid to ask the seller any questions that come to your mind. You’ll never know if you don’t ask.

{It also doesn’t hurt to go back and ride the horse a few times over the course of a week or two.}

If you like the horse, order a PPE from a vet that isn’t associated with the seller. The seller should not be present at the time of the PPE. I like to get x-rays on any horse, but have a chat with your vet about what they think necessary. Read the sales contract through a few times, along with your trainer, and ask any questions that you might have. Sign the check, sign the line then go home and have a drink. You just bought a horse!!

It all sounds so easy on paper, but it can be a real headache. Invest in the help of a pro to make the transaction more seemless. Trust your gut, and if you aren’t feeling comfortable by the end of your ride, it’s not the horse for you.

Finally, some red flags to consider:

  • The seller won’t ride the horse.
  • The seller won’t allow you to handle the horse on the ground, or the horse is already tacked up when you arrive.
  • The seller isn’t willing to disclose medical history.
  • The contract is written on a napkin. Y’all laugh, but I’ve been presented with one before!
  • The horse seems sluggish, and eyes are not bright. (blood work should always be done, but moreso in this case.)
  • The buyer gets bucked off. (Been there.)
  • Seller dances around all buyer’s questions.
  • Horse is named Widowmaker. (That’s a joke. I rode a great horse named Dynamite. He was anything but.)

These are just a very, very few things that would urge me to stop and reconsider a horse for a first time buyer.

Tomorrow I’ll post a ‘for example’ example for part two of this whole shebang, so stay tuned!

 

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